Star Trek: First Contact

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Star Trek: First Contact
Genre: Science Fiction
Action
Photography: Color
Running Time: 111 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: November 22, 1996
Directed by: Jonathan Frakes
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Brannon Braga
Rick Berman
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner
Levar Burton
Michael Dorn
Gates McFadden
Marina Sirtis
James Cromwell
Alfre Woodard
Alice Krige
Previous film: Star Trek: Generations
Next film: Star Trek: Insurrection


Star Trek: First Contact is a 1996 science fiction film. It is the eighth film in the Star Trek franchise, and the second to feature the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Plot

The Borg launch a second invasion of the United Federation of Planets, and the new USS Enterprise-E helps destroy their ship. Before it explodes, however, it launches a smaller ship which travels back in time to prevent the Federation from ever being formed, forcing the Enterprise to follow them back to the year 2063. Once they arrive, Commander Riker leads a team who beam down to a post-apocalyptic Earth and help Zefram Cochrane, the creator of the warp drive, make his first faster-than-light flight, which will be the key event that leads to the Federation's founding. Meanwhile, Captain Picard is forced to face down a Borg invasion aboard the Enterprise, and confront his personal demons that remain from his own brief assimilation by the Borg six years prior.

Why it Rocks

  1. Brings back the Borg for their first major showing as villains since the critically acclaimed two-parter "The Best of Both Worlds" back in the TV series six years prior - since then they had only two, comparatively minor appearances on the show (one featuring just a single, injured Borg drone, the other featuring a bunch of rogue Borg under the command of Data's evil prototype, Lore). What's more, the higher budget and PG-13 rating helps them to look far more intimidating.
  2. The new Enterprise-E looks awesome, and far more like a military ship, addressing some of the criticisms people had aimed at the older Enterprise-D.
  3. They manage to bring back Worf, who had since joined the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in a way that doesn't feel contrived.
  4. Great special effects, probably the best in the series prior to the 2009 reboot film. The opening pull-back from an extreme close-up on Picard's eye out to the interior of the Borg cube that assimilated him back in the series stands out in particular.
  5. Picard's "The line must be drawn here!" speech is arguably Patrick Stewart's finest hour in the role. Stewart also does a great job of showing Picard as initially managing to keep in control despite his traumatic history with the Borg, but slowly slipping into paranoia and borderline insanity as the situation deteriorates.
  6. During the scene with the aforementioned speech, Picard angrily throws a rifle into a glass case containing models of the previous USS Enterprises, and ends up smashing the model of the Enterprise-D, a far more affecting moment than that ship's actual destruction in the previous film.
  7. Zefram Cochrane, who had briefly appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series as a fairly generic inventor-type person, is turned into a much more interesting character who is clearly a brilliant scientist, but possessed of many vices and motivated far more by money than any desire to advance science or mankind; an obvious parallel to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
  8. They revisit the holo-novel "The Big Goodbye" from the series, with the sequence starting out as a nice little re-imagining of it on a much bigger budget, before providing the first hint that Picard's seriously starting to lose control when he angrily guns down a bunch of Borg drones (having only needed to kill one to extract its memory chip) then goes to beat a drone with the empty rifle.
  9. A nice little cameo by Dwight Schultz as Lt. Barclay, who makes his only appearance in the film series here.
  10. After the hodgepodge of TNG and DS9 uniforms in the previous film, they finally created some new, much better-looking uniforms for this one, which would later be carried across to DS9.
  11. The sequence of Picard, Worf and a redshirt walking on the Enterprise hull in order to destroy a transmitter the Borg are building is very impressive.
  12. The film's main villain, the Borg Queen, comes across as both scary and sexy at the same time, and the sequence of her body being assembled is visually impressive for the time the film was made.
  13. Data's getting an emotion chip in Generations pays off much more effectively here, with the Borg Queen exploiting it to first force him to experience fear over his situation, and then try to seduce him in order to get him to let her take over the Enterprise.
  14. Great soundtrack by Jerry and Joel Goldsmith, the title theme being one of (if not the) best in the series.
  15. Good ending, with the Vulcans landing on Earth for the first time after detecting Cochrane's warp-speed flight, and Cochrane himself moving past being an ineffectual drunk into being an ambassador for all of humanity.

Bad Qualities

  1. While a memorable villain, the Borg Queen contradicts one of the most fundamental aspects of the Borg back on the show, namely that they don't have a single leader or weakness - she clearly acts as a leader to the Borg aboard the Enterprise, and her death wipes them all out.
  2. It's never actually explained why the Borg are travelling back in time to prevent the Federation's formation, considering that assimilating technology is one of their main reasons for being, and the Federation's technology would be erased along with them (though their actions in this film would later be indirectly explained away by the finale of Star Trek: Voyager).
  3. The tonal shifts between the grim plot aboard the Enterprise and the much more goofy and light-hearted scenes on Earth (likely left over from earlier scripts, which were more a time-travel comedy with a Borg subplot) can be a bit jarring.
  4. For some reason Troi suddenly changes from having the vaguely alien accent she had in the series and Generations to having a British accent.