Star Trek: Generations (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Mar 28, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Star Trek: Generations (4K UHD Review)


David Carson

Release Date(s)

1994 (April 4, 2023)


Paramount Pictures (Paramount Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: B

Star Trek: Generations (4K Ultra HD)




[Editor’s Note: This title is also included in Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation 4-Movie Collection box set.]

In the 23rd century, retired Starfleet captain James T. Kirk and two of his former officers, Montgomery Scotty and Pavel Chekov, are guests at the launch ceremony for the next Starship Enterprise... NCC-1701-B. Retirement has been a poor fit for Kirk, but as luck would have it, on its maiden flight, Enterprise-B receives a distress call from a pair of El Aurian ships caught in a mysterious energy Nexus in deep space. The rookie captain of Enterprise asks Kirk and his officers for help, and they quickly spring into action, eager to get the old blood pumping again. Together, they manage to rescue some of the El Aurian passengers, including the enigmatic physicist Soran (Malcolm McDowell), but Kirk is lost in the effort.

Seventy-eight years later, another Enterprise captain, Jean-Luc Picard, receives troubling personal news. As he struggles to deal with this, Starfleet orders his Enterprise-D to assist a scientific observatory in the Amargosa system that’s come under attack. When they arrive at the station, the crew discovers that one of the survivors is the mysterious Soran, who’s been conducting dangerous experiments in the system—experiments that endanger the lives of countless millions of people... and he’s got Klingon help in the effort. So when Soran escapes, Picard and the crew of Enterprise-D quickly give chase, knowing that they might have to pay the ultimate price to stop him.

Star Trek: Generations is far from perfect, but it’s perhaps the most cinematically interesting film in the Trek franchise. Adeptly helmed by British director (and TV veteran) David Carson, it was lit and photographed by a true legend, the late cinematographer John Alonzo, whose previous work included Chinatown. Consequently, Star Trek: Generations is a visual marvel, epic in location, lush in color, and highly atmospheric (the Age of Sail holodeck environment is particularly appreciated). Rather than completely redesigning all of the sets, props, and costumes (the usual approach when new Trek films are made), the producers here chose simply to take the existing ones and shoot them in a more sophisticated way. Greater attention is therefore paid to the cast and performances, allowing Generations to feel familiar, yet more dynamic at the same time.

Malcolm McDowell (of A Clockwork Orange fame) delivers a terrific threat in Soran, a man of off-kilter intelligence who’s driven by loss and mortality, even as Patrick Stewart’s Picard grapples with those same issues. The other members of the Next Generation cast rise to the occasion too and composer Dennis McCarthy’s brassy score walks an interesting line, bridging his voluminous work from the TV series with a larger orchestral palette. Unfortunately, Generations’ other villains, the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor, are far less compelling and their plot to destroy Enterprise is ridiculous to put it mildly. What’s more, the death of William Shatner’s James T. Kirk—on a literal bridge while helping Picard to stop Soran, rather than on the bridge of a Starship—is one of the greatest missteps in Star Trek history.

Star Trek: Generations was shot on 35 mm photochemical film using Panavision Panaflex Gold II and Platinum cameras with anamorphic lenses. For the first time in the Trek film franchise, digital models were used by ILM for some effects shots. The film was ultimately finished photochemically at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for theatrical release. For its debut on Ultra HD, Paramount has completed a new 4K scan of the original camera negative and master interpositive elements to produce a new 4K Digital Intermediate, complete with color grading for High Dynamic Range (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available). The result is an image that dramatically improves upon the 2009 Blu-ray release, which was plagued by edginess, compression artifacts, and excessive grain removal. Detail is abundant in live action shots, with well-refined texturing in skin and costume material, while grain remains organic at all times. Effects shots, titles, and transitions are a bit softer looking—particularly the digital work, as was typical of the period—but not distractingly so. The overall palette is more vibrant and accurate than ever before, with natural skin tones, a fact apparent right from the opening scenes on the Enterprise-B—every display panel on the bridge seems to pop with color. So too does the paintwork on the stern of the two-masted sailing brig Enterprise in Picard’s holodeck simulation, not to mention the warmly sun-lit environs of Ten Forward and Picard’s office. Contrast exhibits an improvement too, with deep blacks, strong highlights, and good shadow detailing. All in all, this is a lovely visual upgrade.

As was the case with the Original Series films, primary audio on both the 4K UHD and remastered Blu-ray is included in English 7.1 surround in lossless Dolby TrueHD format, essentially the same track found on the 2009 Blu-ray (though with subtle adjustments, as the BDs were 5.1 only). While it’s disappointing that there’s not a new Atmos mix, the TrueHD remains a rich sonic experience. The soundstage is medium-wide across the front, with more active use of the surrounds for panning (spaceship flybys, weapons fire, and the crackling Nexus all benefit from this), as well as music and environmental sound effects (computer chirps, hissing gas, random conversations in Ten Forward, etc). Bass is robust, dialogue is clean, and McCarthy’s score is offered in excellent fidelity. Standout moments include the Enterprise-B rescue, the space battle with the Klingons, and the crash landing of Enterprise-D’s saucer section. Additional audio options include English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (German 5.1 Dolby Digital on the Blu-ray) and Spanish, French, and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles on both the Blu-ray and 4K are available in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish. There are even subtitles for the commentary tracks (including the text commentary) in English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese.

Paramount’s new 4K UHD release is a 2-disc set (UHD and Blu-ray). Each disc offers a simple menu interface featuring the theatrical poster artwork for the film. The 4K disc includes the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary by David Carson and Manny Coto
  • Audio Commentary by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda

The audio commentary with Carson and Enterprise producer Manny Coto was created for the 2009 Star Trek: The Next Generation Movie Collection Blu-ray box set. The pair has a history of working together and delivers a good running dialogue. The commentary with screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ron Moore (who would later produce the successful Battlestar Galactica reboot, as well as Apple TV’s For All Mankind) carries over from the film’s original 2004 DVD release and it’s thoughtful, often funny, and always interesting. Braga and Moore have many stories to tell about the development of the script and the production itself, and their interplay is fascinating. (It’s worth nothing that Braga and Moore wrote many episodes of The Next Generation together, including the series finale.) Thankfully, the trivia-packed text commentary by veteran Trek consultants Michael and Denise Okuda also carries over from the DVD release.

Generations is offered in remastered 1080p HD on a Blu-ray in this package as well (and this disc is also available separately). It includes the following additional special features:

  • Audio Commentary by David Carson and Manny Coto
  • Audio Commentary by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  • Library Computer Viewing Mode (HD)
  • Production
    • Uniting Two Legends (SD – 25:40)
    • Stellar Cartography: Creating the Illusion (SD – 9:23)
    • Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire (SD – 22:42)
    • Scoring Trek (HD – 8:57)
  • Visual Effects
    • Inside ILM: Models & Miniatures (SD – 9:39)
    • Crashing the Enterprise (SD – 10:44)
  • Scene Deconstruction
    • Main Title Sequence (SD – 3:32)
    • The Nexus Ribbon (SD – 7:08)
    • Saucer Crash Sequence (SD – 4:50)
  • The Star Trek Universe
    • A Tribute to Matt Jeffries (SD – 19:38)
    • The Enterprise Lineage (SD – 12:49)
    • Captain Picard’s Family Album (SD – 7:05)
    • Creating 24th Century Weapons (SD – 13:48)
    • Next Generation Designer Flashback Andrew Probert (HD – 5:04)
    • Stellar Cartography on Earth (HD – 7:39)
    • Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond – Part One (HD – 10:21)
    • Trek Roundtable: Generations (HD – 12:23)
    • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 007: Trilithium (HD – 3:06)
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Orbital Skydiving (SD – 5:48)
    • Walking the Plank (SD – 2:22)
    • Christmas with the Picards (SD – 11:08)
    • Alternate Ending (SD – 13:51)
  • Archives
    • Storyboards: Enterprise-B (HD)
    • Storyboards: Worf’s Promotion (HD)
    • Storyboards: Two Captains (HD)
    • Production Gallery (HD)
  • Teaser Trailer (HD – 1:30)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:22)

Again, most of these extras were produced for the 2004 DVD release. They include Scene Deconstructions that examine the creation of the main title sequence, the Nexus energy ribbon effect, and the crash of Enterprise’s saucer section. The Visual Effects clips reveal how the Enterprise-D model was refurbished for Generations and how ILM’s John Knoll and his team filmed the crash scene (using a 12-foot model of the saucer and an 80-foot, outdoor miniature of the planet’s landscape). The Star Trek Universe section includes a tribute to Original Series production designer Matt Jeffries, a Starship Enterprise design history, a look at Picard’s family album, and an interview with Klingon armorer Gil Hibben. Archives includes a gallery of production and publicity photos as well as storyboards for three scenes. Production adds featurettes that focus on the actual filming and include interviews with members of the cast and crew (including both Shatner and Stewart). And there are four Deleted Scenes, including the infamous “orbital skydiving” opening, with context provided by producer Rick Berman. You’ll also find additional HD featurettes produced for the 2009 Blu-ray, including pieces on Next Generation designer Andrew Probert and actor Brent Spiner, as well as a roundtable, and a look at Scoring Trek. Nothing new has been created for this release sadly, but at least you don’t lose any content. And of course, there’s a Digital Copy code on a paper insert in the packaging.

Star Trek: Generations isn’t perfect by any means, but it was the first film to feature the Next Generation characters and it remains one of their best big-screen outings. For one brief moment, the first two Star Trek casts stood side by side on a larger canvas, and the future of the franchise seemed bright. But due to lackluster storytelling and declining box office results, nearly three more decades would pass before these characters finally got a proper cinematic send-off (on the final season of Star Trek: Picard). Until that series is released on Ultra HD (and it certainly deserves to be), Paramount’s new 4K remaster of Generations is a fine upgrade and is recommended for all Trek fans.

- Bill Hunt

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