A lot of skilled talent went into this flick, and it pays off at every turn. And you know what? They owe it all to The Borg! Yes, the evil hoard, the collective hive mind, the Bio-Mechanical Nightmares who put the ASS in assimilation are the "Featured Villain" in Star Trek: First Contact! And they've never looked better or scarier!
After an ambitious and epic-promising credit sequence (yes, I know how that sounds) featuring the incredible music of Jerry Goldsmith, we immediately shoot into the mind of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick "Dad" Stewart) as he relives his assimilation and conversion into Locutus of Borg through his nightmares! But this is more than a mere recap of "The Best of Both Worlds"! Frakes enhances the suspense and dreamlike state of this chilling process, granting a set up to the newbies and throwing a bone to the fans.
Quicker than Jean-Luc can say "Oh, my prophetic soul!" he's awakened from his dream to discover that The Borg are on an invasion course for Earth. First Contact gives us our first look at the streamlined Battleship that is the Enterprise NCC-1701-E (the Enterprise D having been wrecked by Butterfingers-Riker in the previous film). As cool as this ship looks just cruising around the Neutral Zone, it looks even greater leading the fleet against the single cube intent on spanking Earth into a bad case of the red-ass.
Starfleet shows that grudge it's still holding over "The Battle of Wolf 359" as it unloads everything it's got onto the Collective Rear End of the Borgenators. Not the least of the players here is Deep Space Nine's own The Defiant, captained by none other than Worf himself (Michael Dorn). Yep, they managed to get Worf onto the Enterprise after his defecting over to DS9 in a NON-Contrived way! Hot Damn!!!
While the Federation fears a repeat of Wolf 359 by having the one man the Borg know inside and out in command, it turns out Picard knows just as much about dat dere Borg Crap, and the spanking is reversed. But I'll be damned if they don't have an ace up their sleeve in the form of a huge pile of Time Travel. To prevent an Earth populated by 9 Billion... All Borg, Picard shoots back to just after World War III to put right what once went wrong... And it took another several years to get Ol' Quantum Leaping Bakula on a Star Trek Show.
From this point on, the characters take turns pissing all over The Prime Directive as the crew not only has to defend themselves against the Borg (who can turn any enemy into a part of the collective), but also has to help one Dr. Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) achieve the single most important rocket launch in the history of Trek lore. I'll give you a hint... it gives this movie its title.
First Contact introduces the thrilling and chilling concept of The Borg Queen (Alice Krige), the sinister (yet somehow uncomfortably sexy) Bondage Freak who brings Order to Chaos. While her Locutus experiment didn't quite work out six years prior, she's got her eye on a new beau in the form of Brent Spiner's Data (now comfortably in control of his "Emotion Chip"). We're also introduced to this new version of The Borg, featuring less obscuring implants and a richer make-up designed by Michael Westmore! A darker movie than any before it (hell, Frakes directs this one as a horrific Zombie flick in places) the new, ash-gray Starfleet Uniforms are debuted here. Man... I want one.
Frakes manages to balance a very complex story told on multiple fronts and varied levels. The triumphant and often hilarious saga of Cochrane and his launching of the Phoenix is both juxtaposed by and complimented by the horrific and action-packed war scenes. First Contact also features Alfre Woodard as Lily Sloan, a woman from Cochrane's time who becomes Picard's voice of reason, simply because she sees things from the outside, unlike any of the other characters. It's also noteworthy to see that all the principal cast (though many of their parts are short) are given fine balance here. From Gates McFadden's Dr. Crusher to LeVar Burton's Geordi La Forge, to Marina Sirtis' Deanna Troi to even Frakes' own Will Riker, they all get their fair share here. Surprisingly, there's still room for cameo appearances by the likes of Dwight Schultz (as "Wretch" Barclay of course) and Star Trek: Voyager's humorous flavors of the month like Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips!
Sound overloaded? Somehow it all works and remains well balanced throughout. This is, of course, a credit to Jonathan Frakes (a feat all the more noteworthy as this is his first Big Screen directing job). But the script by Moore and Braga is peerless. The apt handling of the scary and the funny, the dramatic and the action packed is great to see. But First Contact is an incredible collection of great lines, spread out perfectly among the cast. This is especially noteworthy as the ordinarily poised and precise Captain Picard slowly turns into the mad and obsessed Captain Ahab. Man, is this something to see and hear, especially in the incredible "Holodeck Nightclub" Scene and, of course, the finale. Patrick Stewart's acting here is some of the best of his career. Even as the film collects the ensemble cast into a well-represented whole, Stewart stands out among the best. Bravo!
In a film this well-written, this well-acted, this well-effected and this well-directed, the Musical Score by the great Jerry Goldsmith deserves a special mention. Goldsmith is a great, this is true, but he almost outdoes himself here. He incorporates great motifs not only from his original thoughts, but also his own work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. For example, the now-ubiquitous theme (that became Star Trek: The Next Generation's main title) is blended into the best moments here. It rises to a crescendo all its own, transcending mere repetition of a few bars and becoming a unique and brilliant new homage to a great series. This goes even more for Goldsmith's "Klingon Battle" theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The reveal of Worf on the bridge of the new Enterprise is accompanied by this familiar Klingon theme, and is tastefully repeated at the best Worf times. Jerry Goldsmith makes a great film even greater.
SPOILER WARNING STARTS HERE!The flaws here are miniscule, and would take a geek to even mention. Considering the fact that I am just such a nerd, here we go. A scene in which the Borg Queen (who condemns "primitive" verbal communication) gestures to her Borg Hoards in a real dope-slapping of the whole "Hive Mind" concept. Further, the "Legend" of Zefram Cochrane kind of takes a beating here. The "Finest Crew in the Fleet" not only helped him launch his bird (and make First Contact), but also accompanied him into the sky, worked on the ship with their advanced technology and even gave him his most famous quote. So... what'd he do again? Hell, he could've gone to join "The Companion" early and the outcome would have been the same.END SPOILER WARNING!
Star Trek: First Contact is still a great movie, nearly perfect, and much better than virtually every other Trek Flick out there. It's a great Sci-Fi Flick, it's a great Borg episode, it's a great entry into the Next Generation's Canon, it's a hell of a Zombie film, and it's also a very human story. Not bad for a first time film director, a TV Cast and a then Thirty-Year-Old concept (now 40, man!). Five Stars out of Five for Star Trek: First Contact! It's hard to get much better than this without actually getting assimilated. Borg Month is now at a fitting end, and its Happy Halloween time. Is there any better bridge between these two concepts? Of course an appearance by Seven of Nine could have worked... Maybe a Retcon "Special Edition" insert for DVD release. Maybe she'll show up, start a Hot Woman Pie Fight and... Oh, I'm doing that thing again, aren't I? That's what I get for standing in line three times when God was handing out the Libidos. Hit on you in the Next Reel, baby!
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