Star Trek: Generations
There were only two ways for "classic Trek" cast members to appear in a movie with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation: either Capt. Kirk and his contemporaries would have to be very, very old, or there would be some time travel involved in the plot. Since geriatric heroes aren't very exciting, Star Trek: Generations unites Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in a time-jumping race. When the just-retired Kirk is happily trapped in the timeless purgatory of the Nexus, Picard must convince him to leave this artificial comfort zone and confront Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell), the madman who will threaten billions of lives. Passing the torch to the Next Generation with dignity and entertaining adventure, the movie isn't going to please everyone with its somewhat hokey plot, but it still ranks as a worthy big-screen launch for Picard and his stalwart crew.
Star Trek: First Contact
Even-numbered Star Trek movies tend to be better, and this one (number eight in the popular movie series) is no exception--an intelligently handled plot involving the galaxy-conquering Borg and their attempt to invade Earth's past, alter history, and "assimilate" the entire human race. Time travel, a dazzling new Enterprise, and capable direction by Next Generation alumnus Jonathan Frakes makes this one rank with the best of the bunch. Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his able crew travel back in time to Earth in the year 2063, where they hope to ensure that the inventor of warp drive (played by James Cromwell) will successfully carry out his pioneering flight and precipitate Earth's "first contact" with an alien race. Sharply conceived to fit snugly into the burgeoning Star Trek chronology, First Contact leads to a surprise revelation that marks an important historical chapter in the ongoing mission "to boldly go where no one has gone before."
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek fans were decidedly mixed in their reactions to this, the ninth big-screen feature in Paramount's lucrative Trek franchise, but die-hard loyalists will appreciate the way this Next Generation adventure rekindles the spirit of the original Trek TV series while combining a tolerable dose of New-Agey philosophy with a light-hearted plot. This time out, Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his executive crew must transport to a Shangri-la-like planet to see why their android crewmate Data (Brent Spiner) has run amuck in a village full of peaceful Ba'ku artisans who--thanks to their planet's "metaphasic radiation"--haven't aged in 309 years. Many humorous asides make this film as entertaining as it is slightly disappointing. Without the laughs, this is a pretty routine entry in the franchise, with no real surprises, a number of plot holes, and the overall appearance of a big-budget TV episode. --Jeff Shannon