With the majority of the original Star Trek cast shuffled off into obsolescence after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it falls to the cast and crew of television's Star Trek: The Next Generation to keep Paramount's gravy train rolling. Not that the film studio has any confidence in the ability of Patrick Stewart and pals to immediately grab a big screen audience's attention. Just in case movie goers hadn't been keeping up with the multi-season adventures of Picard and Data on TV, Star Trek Generations is bookended by sequences built around the incredible bravery of William Shatner's Kirk - a proven box office draw. The Enterprise's most famous captain sacrifices his unnaturally extended life, not once, but twice while attempting to upset the genocidal machinations of Malcolm McDowell's crazed scientist. Comparatively, Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard is introduced in the midst of a strained, holographic, fantasy.
Captain Picard heads up a pompous haze in which the Next Generation crew have stepped away from their daily duties in order to spend an afternoon standing around as 19th century sailors. No doubt designed to inspire a sense of nautical whimsy, the sequence instead has the brutal thrum of a workplace team-building exercise. One that, in truth, simply caters to the head honcho's desire to dress up and preen rather than build any actual interdepartmental connection. Screenwriters Ronald D Moore and Brannon Braga double down on Picard's strange pretensions when building the benign prison he experiences after being sucked into The Nexus, an ill-defined cosmic phenomenon that bombards sentient beings with wish-fulfilment. Kirk, when sucked into this intergalactic energy ribbon, decodes his failings; intruding on key moments from his recent past in an attempt to build a lasting connection with a woman - he's realised all too late - that he loves. Picard's emotional lock-up is empty and bizarre when measured against these, all too real, regrets. He sees himself as a minor lord in a Dickensian Christmas scene, one with almost nothing in common with any of Jean-Luc's actual, lived, experience.