Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

The 31st film I have seen in theaters…

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Picard and crew make their best film. Picard also goes full Scarface. lol.

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In the 24th Century, The dastardly Borg attack Earth, the capital of the Federation. In the final moments of the conflict, the Borg open a wormhole through time. The brand spanking new U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701-E gets caught in the temporal disturbance and realizes that the Borg have time travelled to the past! The Earth is now colonized/assimilated by the Borg. They must follow them back to the mid-21st century to reverse the damage. In the past, Zefram Cochrane is about to fly humanity’s first warp spaceship, which leads to the birth of the Federation. He is the Borg’s target. The crew need to save Cochrane and make sure that his warp flight happens. All through this, Picard must deal with the PTSD still lingering after the Borg captured him several years earlier…

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Patrick Stewart is amazing in everything, and this is no different. His Picard was an intellectual. He avoided a fight if possible and always sought a peaceful resolution. Here he becomes Rambo, lol. Now, the film does a decent job of explaining why Picard is acting strange (lingering trauma from his time as Locutus), but its a bit jarring. Luckily the action is good enough to make you ignore this.

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This was one of my favorite Data performances. While captured by the Borg, Data’s emotion chip is reactivated and he is given real skin in an attempt to convert him. Spiner plays this beautifully, right up through the final battle where you wonder who’s side Data is on.

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Jonathan Frakes has some great scenes as Riker on Earth as he assist Cochrane with the warp ship, but his real contribution is as Director of the film. Frakes knows his stuff, especially Trek. He got terrific performances out of the cast and made one of the best Star Trek films.

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Marina Sirtis plays a drunk Counselor Troi, and it is hilarious. She basically gets into a drinking competition with Cochrane. For me, while slapstick, it 100% works. Overall the series continues to have no idea what do with her. This carries over to the remaining cast as well. They just didn’t do all that much. Worf said his famous line “Perhaps today IS a good day to die”, George got new eyes, Crusher did… medical things. lol. 

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The PHENOMENAL Alfre Woodard plays Lily, Cochrane’s assistant. This is one of the strongest performances in the film. She KILLED it. Excellent work.

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The Original Series showed a “young” Cochrane, kind of a bland science guy who was still alive, magically, 200 years after the events of this movie. Here we get a far superior performance from James Cromwell. His Cochrane is a rocking drunk, cynical and defeated. Over the course of the movie he becomes inspired to be the Cochrane history remembers. I love this performance.

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Rounding things out is Alice Krige as the Borg Queen. This character would go on to have a longer life in the tv series, with Krige eventually returning to the part. This was a very cool addition to the lore. If the Borg were a collective, drone like society, it makes sense for there to be a queen bee at the center of it. I don’t know why the Borg Queen is sexy, but somehow it works lol.

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This is one of the best Star Trek movies, hands down. Definitely the best of the Next Generation quartet. Yes, they “sold out” and moved away from the cerebral nature of the series, but that is hardly new. The original pilot “The Cage” was not well recevied by the studio because of the lack of action. Out went Pike and in came Captain Kirk to shake things up. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was similarly slow and thoughtful. Out went V’ger and in came Khan! This film makes sense in the broader view of things. Trek on TV has the time to develop complex ideas and delve into moral issues. The movies should feel special, and this does that.

November 22, 1996 is a day I remember well. It was my first trip to New York City! A place I love. A school trip, we saw the sights, ate some great pizza, and caught the Radio City Christmas show. I can still recall the billboards all over Times Square for this movie. A Trekkie, I was champing at the bit to see it. The very next day, a Saturday, I caught the first showing after work. Those were good times.

Trek Film rankings:
  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  4. Star Trek: First Contact
  5. Star Trek Beyond
  6. Star Trek (2009)
  7. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  8. Star Trek Nemesis
  9. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  10. Star Trek Generations
  11. Star Trek into Darkness
  12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
  13. Star Trek Insurrection

 

 

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