Space Ramblings

10 Reasons the Star Trek The Next Generation Movie Franchise Failed

1. Transitioning a Burned Out TV Series to the Big Screen – Star Trek TOS came to the movie theater after a prolonged absence. Star Trek TNG came too quickly after the end of Star Trek The Next Generation after seven years and a 7th season that most viewers agreed was significantly diminished in quality, and utilized the same writers and directors from the series.

2. Failure to use professional writers and directors – Where the Star Trek TOS movies launched with a good number of professional directors and writers in the mix, Star Trek TNG simply tried to transition the TV writers and directors to the big screen. It obviously didn’t work and what they produced was actually below even TV quality. This kind of incestuous arrangement doomed the TNG movies to be seen as nothing more than expensive TV movies.

3. Overdose – Anticipation is the key to making your movie appealing. Few people were anticipating even the first TNG movie. Where the TOS films were a rebirth, the TNG movies were rolled out on a schedule that seemed mechanical and artificial.

4. The Song remained the same – Where the TOS movies launched by reimagining the story and changing the narrative from one of pure exploration by a brash young Captain, to the story of his aging self trying to recapture that sense of adventure, the TNG movies never reimagined the story. They just gave us the same characters on the big screen with no sense of time having passed.

5. Lack of innovation – See 4, the TNG movies were little more than 2 part episodes on a much bigger budget. When screenwriters beyond the dreaded Ron Moore and Brannon Braga duo got to tackle the material, namely Piller and John Logan, their original ideas got castrated and drained of energy. See 2.

6. Alienating TOS fans – When the decision was made for the TOS movies to give way to the TNG movies, graciousness was the right way to do it. Instead Generations cut out most of the TOS cast and killed of Captain Kirk, unnecessarily and ridiculously. Add to that reports of on set tensions between Shatner and Stewart and the damage was done.

7. Treating Star Trek as an action tentpole – Star Trek movies were meant to be Science Fiction epics, not James Bond in space, but between Patrick Stewart’s desire to be involved in action sequences and Paramount executives, the TNG movies seemed to involve a villain trying to destroy Earth, over and over again. The action movie crowd remained underwhelmed and Star Trek fans remained bored.

8. Attempts to imitate the style but not substance of TOS movies – From killing off Picard’s family to an action oriented second film, to killing off Data, TNG movies attempted to imitate TOS movies in a formal way without ever doing the hard work of finding their own identity.

9. Failure to respect TV series canon – TOS movies often upstaged series canon, but they usually had a good reason for doing so. By contrast when TNG movies tampered with their own canon, they usually did it senselessly and for the worse. From watering down the Borg by giving them an evil hypersexual queen to introducing a new enemy we don’t care about in the Sona to putting the Romulans aside in favor of a whole new second Romulan race we never met before, TNG’s movies contributed nothing with these additions except to alienate fans who wanted to see the actual Romulans and Borg on screen.

10. Failure to compete- TNG movies were being made in a more competitive marketplace, yet no real acknowledgment was being made of that. Paramount and Rick Berman continued to take audiences for granted, until it was too late, and even when they knew the situation was bad, they chose to release the final film a week before the release of Lord of the Rings The Two Towers. No one could be surprised by the results. The death of the TNG film franchise.

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  • skorsky July 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    C’mon. I just finished listening to auidobook by a certain Vulcan – and his memoir clearly indicates that the first ST TOS movie sucked ass. The next two were good, and then another failure (the one that was searching for God). And then the last, really sucked balls big time. So the timing argument does not hold water.

  • O_Deus July 11, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    The first movie got mixed reviews, it had high intentions and did really well at the box office. That’s a long way from something like Generations. TOS really didn’t deliver a bomb until ST5 and between the writer’s strike and Shatner helming it, it was an inevitable disaster.

    ST6 was a pretty good movie and well liked, so I’m not sure where you’re coming from on that one.

  • Terrahawk July 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    The first TOS movie was weak but was a solid attempt. One thing that hurt it was that there was too much focus on new characters. After that you had 3 great to solid movies. Five was a bomb but six is good. TNG had one decent movie (First Contact), two mediocre, and a bomb.

    #8 is true which is interesting if you think about it. The poor first two seasons of TNG were the ones where they attempted to recreate TOS. Once they gave up on that and decided to shift to their own series it vastly improved.

  • O_Deus July 12, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Yes I agree. TMP overreached but that was typical of the series itself in a way. After that the movies solidified into an extended narrative, each one connected to the other. Something TNG never really managed, instead doing James Bond in Space

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