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Thursday, August 04, 2005
The path taken and the path not taken.
Flipping around the myriad of cable stations I have the other night, I passed by SciFi's presentation of Star Trek: Generations. I stopped in, watched a few minutes and then kept on going despite the fact that this is one of those movies that I will generally stop and watch to the end if I flip past it. Why? Well, I'd just watched it over the weeknd on my super-deluxe 2-disc DVD special-edition. And, quite frankly, the movie is just one of those where seeing it unedited is more appealing to me if only becuase the joke of Data saying, "Oh s***!" as the saucer section hurtles toward Veridian III works better with the original cussing and not an FCC approved equivalent.

As I sit back and think about the movie, it's hard to believe it's been over 10 years since the movie first hit the big-screen. I was in college at UT at the time and saw it at least three times on the big screen--once on a sneak preview Thursday with Barry and Laura, once on opening night (I'd driven all my friends so crazy with my zeal to see it opening night that they made me go again..yeah, like that too a lot of pursuading!) and then again at the discount cinema with a girl from a class, where I missed the clue that this could be a dating type situation until it was far too late (story of my life, really). This was a movie that convinced me why widescreen is better than pan and scan (the space battles suck in pan and scan) and why you should always, always, always buy movies in that format.

I've lost count of how many times I've seen Generations. It's enough that I can recite entire chunks of dialogue with the film, but not nearly as many as I've seen Star Trek II.

Which, it's ironic that I've seen it this much as it's not my favorite of the Next Gen movies, much less the Star Trek movies. Overall, I like it, but some things drive me a bit crazy about it. For example, in the first 20 minutes, Kirk is perfectly in character but in the last half hour in the Nexus, it's like they distilled William Shatner playing Kirk who is acting a lot like William Shatner. Also, if shouldn't have been some new love interest that tempted Kirk away from Starfleet, but instead Carol Marcus....there's so much more resonance to that. And it's one of those things that since we never see the woman up close on-screen, that it doesn't matter if it's Antonia or Carol Marcus. But Carol Marcus gives the fanboys (like me) something to get all a twitter over.

Also, another thing that drives me nutty is that Patrick Stewart seems to whisper a lot in the film. I never have quite got this acting choice and Stewart is universally a great actor. But he just gets rings acted around him, esp. by Shatner late in the film when the two captains meet. (Thankfully Rick Berman is not George Lucas, so we don't have to go back and digitally insert Archer in there as another Enterprise captain for sake of completeness). And the interiors of the Enterprise seem too dark in contrast with the seven seasons we'd just seen on TV. I always find myself wondering if Picard paid the electric bill or not more than appreciating the cool effect lighting.

But as I was watching the movie this time, I was struck again by one of the central themes of the film--the road not taken. In the case of both Kirk and Picard, each is struck by regrets over the choices they've made in their lives. Kirk sees the command seat on the Enterprise B and regrets that someone else is sitting in it, not him. And Picard questions what his life would have been like if he'd found time for a family. (Offscreen, Picard's brother and his son are killed in a fire, thus bringing up Picard's fear of the family name not continuing.) Both men are swept into a space anamoly called the Nexus, that is described as "being inside of joy." In the Nexus, both men are given the opportunity to see their lives as they could have been and aren't. And they have the ability to go foward, backward and sideways into thse new lives.

However, both quickly realize that this is a false sense of's not a sense of really accomplishment. It's fake and hollow. And both men make the choice to leave pure joy and pursue their own lives and possibly save civilization as we know it. But it's a hard choice for both. We see both men able to relive moments of regret for the choice of the road not taken and see how life might have been differrent. Indeed, the Nexus scenes almost scream out for a reading of the Robert Frost poem "Two roads diverged..."

It's an interesting question...playing the "what if?" game. Shoot, I've kind of played it myself writing this post, wondering what might have happened if I'd picked up the clue that the girl I went to see the movie with at the discount cinemas wanted to be more than just friends? What if I'd realized--hey, this could be a better date if you'd not go see that Star Trek movie you've seen twice before or--better yet--realized that the woman in question was sharing my enthusiasm for something that interested me and wanted to see it with me.

But unlike Kirk and Picard, we don't get the chance to jump back into our own lives and make new choices, seeing how it might all turn out. And honestly, I think that's for the best. I am not saying I don't have a few regrets in my life, but I have to say that I also realize all the paths I've taken have made me who I am today. Change one small thing and I lose part of who I am. I mean, let's say I go back to the fateful hot summer afternoon when my dad flipped over to Dr Who for the first time and thus an obssession was born. Or if I maybe avoided making a phone call to someone at the right time or maybe stopped myself from doing something stupid that doomed another relationship or friendship.

As appealing as that may sound at times, it's just not me. I mean, I am not perfect, but I like who I am today. And you know, the thing is that I'd have to trade some of the good things in my life along with the bad things. And that's not what I want. Sure, if I can keep all the good and reject all the negative, sign me up. But ya know, life has the ups and the downs in it. And I don't really regret any of them.

Not even the million and one times I've watched Star Trek: Generations. In a lot of ways, it's like my's got it's good points and bad points. But overall, I'd have to say it's a pretty good thing and let's face it--it's much better than Insurrection, which is just a movie that is trying too hard for its own good to be loved...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/04/2005 03:14:00 PM | |
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