Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
Patrick Stewart, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner,
LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Alice Krige.
Written by Brannon Braga and Ronald H. Moore.
Directed by Jonathan Frakes.
Review by Carlo Cavagna.
With Star Trek: First Contact, the cast from TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation flies solo on the big screen for the first time, and, based on their horrid previous outing with members of the old Trek cast in Star Trek: Generations, you might have foreseen another dud. The Next Generation cast, with the exception of Patrick Stewart, doesn't have the screen presence of Kirk, Spock and company, but First Contact nevertheless is one of the better entries in the Trek movie series--primarily because it features the most memorable of villains from the Next Generation television series: the Borg.
The Borg are a race of part-machine, part-humanoid beings who attack everyone in their path. They absorb prisoners into their hive-like culture, where they lose their individuality and become part of the Borg's collective consciousness. Because humans have proven themselves capable of defeating the Borg, in First Contact the Borg attack Earth by going back in time to the year 2063, on the day when Earth tested the first warp (faster than light) engine and encountered an alien species. The Borg's goal is to prevent this from happening, thus preventing humans from evolving into a technologically superior race and becoming leaders of the Federation alliance. Captain Picard (Stewart) and the crew of the Enterprise pursue the Borg into the past, where they meet the inventor of the warp drive, Zefram Cochran (James Cromwell) and his colleague Lily Sloan (Alfre Woodard). Then the storyline splits in two: Picard and half the crew fight the Borg aboard the Enterprise, while the other half stays on Earth to make sure that Cochran's test flight begins on time.
First Contact is highly entertaining and the special effects are marvelous, but this wouldn't be a Star Trek movie if something didn't mar the story. In this case, it's not the simplistic morality that characterizes many of the other Trek movies. Rather, it's the fact that the film jumps unevenly back and forth between the thrilling confrontation with the Borg on the Enterprise and the dull Zefram Cochran subplot on Earth. The poorly-written Cochran, supposedly a brilliant scientist, is some sort of hippy-like drunk (apparently classic rock is big in the year 2063). Drunkenness seems to be very funny to writers Brannon Braga and Ronald H. Moore. In any case, Commander Riker (played by director Jonathan Frakes) and Lieutenant Commander Laforge (LeVar Burton) spend most of their time trying to control Cochran's erratic behavior. After convincing Cochran that they do indeed come from the future, they make the mistake of telling him that the test flight will make him an icon, and Cochran can't handle the idea that he will become famous. Who cares. Smack some sense into him and get on with the movie.
Review © March 1999
by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Image © 1996 by Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.
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