An attempt by the Borg to invade the Earth is defeated
by Starfleet, but the merciless cyborgs have a back-up plan.
They send a squad back in time to prevent the very formation
of Starfleet. In pursuit, Picard and the crew of the Enterprise
E find themselves in 2063, the year in which Zefram Cochrane
conducted the very first warp flight and made first contact
with an alien species...
It's debatable whether First Contact is the best
Star Trek movie of all. I certainly think it is, though
it does face stiff competition from the classic Wrath
of Kahn. However, few would argue with the
assertion that this is the finest of the movies starring the
Next Generation cast.
of the main reasons for its success is the presence of the
Borg, surely the most chilling and implacable foe ever faced
by a Starfleet crew. At the time of the film's release, some
fans raised a Spock-like eyebrow at the introduction of the
Borg Queen (Alice Krige) as a spokesperson for the previously
leaderless and homogenous collective, but Krige succeeds in
making her character sinister yet unnervingly sexy at the
same time. Her emotionally charged scenes with Data (Brent
Spiner) make the introduction of the android's emotion chip
in the previous film, Generations,
and the embarrassing over-acting that ensued therein, all
could be argued that the plot of First Contact is two
episodes weaved together. While the "A" plot deals
with Picard's (Patrick Stewart) battle against the Borg as
they assimilate his ship, the "B" plot concerns
Riker's (Jonathan Frakes) attempts to get Star Trek history
back on track by helping Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell)
carry out the first warp flight. It has also been argued that
the film's lighter moments indicate an unevenness of tone
and undermine the more dramatic moments. The Borg plot is
certainly the more exciting, but its horror and tension are
accentuated, rather than undermined, by the lighter tone of
the Zefram Cochrane segments. Cromwell is excellent as the
surprisingly unimpressive legend-made-flesh, and both plot
arcs come together in a nail-biting conclusion.
very end of the film, which establishes the Vulcans as the
species who made first contact with Earth, provides rich source
material for the subsequent series, Enterprise.
At the time I wondered why such an aloof and austere race
as the Vulcans would want to forge a long-lasting alliance
with the relatively primitive and overtly emotional humans.
Just look at their reaction when Cochrane "treats"
them to some music and his dancing. The consequences of this
incident are convincingly developed in Enterprise.
Holding the whole thing together is director Jonathan Frakes.
After helming several excellent television episodes, he is
the perfect man for the job of bringing the Next Generation
crew to the big screen and coaxing some of the best performances
ever out of Stewart, Spiner et al. My estimation of his ability
to create movie magic has only been increased by the revelation
(by writer Brannon Braga in the featurettes and audio commentaries)
that only eight full Borg costumes were ever made for this
harshest criticism that I can level at First Contact is
that, as with all the other Next Gen movies, it fails
to serve Dr Crusher (Gates McFadden) very well. That's the
only real criticism I can think of, though, and each of the
remaining cast gets a good look-in.
include more than three hours of documentary featurettes,
covering such subjects as the development of the Borg Queen,
the realisation of the impressive deflector dish scene, and
a touching tribute to the sorely missed composer Jerry Goldsmith.
There are two audio commentaries: one by Frakes, the other
by scriptwriters Braga and Ronald D Moore. Frakes' commentary
is by turns amusing and annoying, as the ebullient actor/director
has a habit of announcing things every time he sees them -
such as "Ah! Borg vision!" whenever the cyborgs'
point of view is presented - and he frequently leaves his
musings incomplete as he gets distracted by the next scene.
There's also a fascinating text commentary by Michael and
Denise Okuda, who raise and solve some nit-picks along the
way (our own Johnny
Fanboy would heartily approve).
Whether or not this is your first contact with the film, it's
well worth picking up this two-disc release. The Borg have
never come closer to achieving perfection.
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