Originally Posted by samwiseb
Oh, it's definitely a mess. When your producer and scriptwriter are re-writing each other's work up until almost the last day of shooting, you know it can't be good for your movie. In fact, just on the script level, I actually think Insurrection -despite its disappointingly shallow execution- has the edge over TMP and TFF put together. If only the designing, production and post-production of INS didn't come across looking like an overbudgeted TV episode. And the story went much, much deeper.
For a time I rated TMP lowest of all, just because I felt that everyone's constant bagging on TFF had become passe (this would've been before the TNG films started going downhill, mind). But TFF has only ever worked for me on a spiritual/metaphorical level --and I happen to be agnostic. Taken as a sci-fi story, it completely falls apart for me. As a 2nd grader would say, I don't 'get' it. They jumped to the galactic core, did not get sucked into a supermassive black hole or fried by a thousand suns, found an alien pretending to be 'god', blasted it with photon torpedoes and drank a toast. They found nothing. And I don't get it.
But isn't TFF a very materialist movie that uses the "aliens pose as gods" idea from Who Mourns for Adonais? There is Nimbus, an attempt to recreate paradise, a prophet who guides lost people to the real paradise which turns out to be a prison for just another false god (Eliza once made a great point here ages ago that the creature behaves very much like the Jewish God when he strikes down Kirk. Obviously no ambiguity Shatner intended although he should have but interesting nonetheless.) ... and then you have the Christian "God is us, the community" ending (although, as you have pointed out, Kirk, Spock and McCoy have found their comradery before). I can roll with that as a hardcore atheist.
I also like the pain scene and not because they explain what drives McCoy and Spock but because these key events in their lives feel natural to their characters. The movie doesn't sink into stupid, popular "explain and psychologize everything" mode in these moments.
So I'd say that there were some good ideas in TFF but that's it. In TMP you have other problems but at least a cinematic experience, something that is worthy of the big screen.