Review: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Star Trek: First Contact

Rating

Director

Jonathan Frakes

Screenplay

Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore

Length

111 min.

Starring

Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, Alice Krige, Neal McDonagh, Robert Picardo, Dwight Schultz

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for some sci-fi adventure violence.

Buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

The first outing of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast wasn’t well received, but it needed to transition from the original cast to the new. While it wasn’t the grand debut one would have hoped, the franchise took the first full feature with just the TNG cast and turned out one of the franchise’s best outings with Star Trek: First Contact.

Bringing the deadliest and most iconic bad guys in Star Trek history into the big screen universe was just what the series needed. The Borg, a hive-minded technological construct that absorbs knowledge from races it assimilates into its collective, were a potent enemy on The Next Generation and make an even more menacing one on the silver screen.

As the Borg are destroying the United Federation of Planets’ fleet, including the newly rebuilt U.S.S. Enterprise, the Enterprise and its crew notice that a lone Borg Sphere has launched and is approaching Earth. In pursuit, the ship is caught in the wake of the Sphere as it opens a temporal gateway taking it back into Earth’s past to a point prior to Earth’s contact with the Vulcans in an attempt to stop the meeting from happening and re-write history in favor of the Borg.

The crew must combat the Borg while orbiting the planet, sending caretakers to Earth to ensure that the man who would launch the planet’s first warp-capable ship into space to initiate first contact carries out this imperative task.

Almost everyone in the TNG cast gets a chance to shine. Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes excel on Earth alongside James Cromwell’s Zefram Cochran; Brent Spiner gets a rare attempt to break from his uncaring automaton opposite the chilling portrayal of Alice Krige as the Borg Queen; Patrick Stewart and Alfre Woodard as Cochran’s assistant Lily are equally memorable as they fight against the Borg’s attempted assimilation of the Enterprise.

Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and LeVar Burton each have moments as does future TV star Neal McDonough, but they aren’t given a large amount of emphasis in this particular outing.

In a story written by series stalwarts Brannan Braga and Ronald D. Moore, this taught narrative explores several themes as it embraces the boldness of the big screen. From the pursuit of humanity to the protection of a species. From the possibilities of the scientific future to the loneliness of being among the stars light years away from home. What the film doesn’t have to say about human nature and connectedness it makes up for in thrilling action set pieces and near-perfect pacing. Frakes proved the right man to direct the film even if his later outings for the franchise weren’t nearly as commanding.

When the crew of the original Enterprise made their big screen debut in 1979, audiences were unimpressed with the effort put forward. However, when the second film, Wrath of Khan, opened, legions declared the film a huge success and it has subsequently been considered the greatest film in the Star Trek canon.

The same can now be said of Star Trek: First Contact. While the first film, Star Trek: Generations wasn’t a huge success critically or financially, the second effort of the Star Trek: The Next Generation saga was not only a resounding success, but marked both the best outing of the TNG cast on the big screen and a solid contender for one of the best of the franchise entire.

Review Written

October 22, 2015

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