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'Generations' Gaps Leave Some a Bit Lost in Space : In "Star Trek: Generations," the 24th-Century captain of the USS Enterprise, Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart), plucks Capt. Emeritus James T. Kirk (William Shatner) from retirement in the Nexus, a cosmic heaven, to help fight the evil Klingons and Soran, a mad scientist who is imploding planets. (Rated PG)

November 24, 1994|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for the Times' Life & Style section

There are plenty of nits to pick with this, the seventh movie version of the sci-fi TV series that began in 1966.

"There's not enough action," complained Drew Ostrowski, 16.

"It was really confusing for kids to understand," chipped in Scott Fracalosy, 12.

"There's no Spock," added Ned Algeo, 12, lifting up both ear tops to imitate the logical Vulcan. "How can you make a 'Star Trek' movie without Spock?"

This version is also the first to feature the stars of the revamped TV show, so there's neither a Dr. McCoy nor a Sulu, although Scotty returns from retirement to do some beaming up.

But none of the kids' gripes really seemed to matter. The main thing, as Kirk explains in endearing self-parody, is that "the odds are against us and the situation is grim. It sounds like fun."

The kids were wowed by the special effects that woke one kid out of a doze, sent another flying off his seat and left a third wondering whether she would ever hear normally again.

"Some parts were sort of shocking, and it was really good," said Nadeem Hakim, 8.

Reed Glyer, 12, snoozed through the beginning scenes of a champagne bottle turning over through space, until it smashed into the hull of the Enterprise B, to christen the exploratory vessel.

"That thing woke me up. Phwoop! It started the movie off with a bang," he said.

One hi-tech highlight was a jumbo screen computer graph on which the Enterprise crew could chart how Soran's diabolical plan to implode various planets in different galaxies would change the trajectory of the Nexus ribbon, so that it would scoop him up and deliver him to a place of endless joy.

But the most thrilling special effect by far, the kids agreed, was a crash landing of the Enterprise in a valley that resembled Yosemite. As the saucer-shaped ship sliced off mountaintops, trees and finally dug into the dirt, the digital sound seemed to shake the theater's very seats.

"It was really exciting," Scott said. "It was kind of like a weed whacker. On impact, I just flew across my seat."

Kimberly Moss, 7, who sat right under a speaker, said the scene was loud. Maybe too loud. (Warning: Younger children could easily be frightened by the noise or the sight of bodies or children being separated from their parents during the crash.)

On the other hand, the artificial life form, Data, drew plenty of laughs as he was forced to learn how to deal with human emotions after an "emotions chip" became fused to his circuitry.

Most kids preferred this movie to the TV series.

Action buffs, however, debated whether there was more action in the film.

"I think it was better than the TV show," said Adam Hoyt, 12. "There's not enough shooting on the TV show."

Amazingly, no one mentioned that Soran, Kirk and Picard were near or past retirement age. Now, that's science fiction.

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