Star Trek: First Contact review
I had a strong conviction that the eighth Star Trek film, which would be the first solo big-screen production for the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, needed to be a spectacular adventure. The film would be a time-traveling romp, and it came as very little surprise that, to create a high-stakes adventure worthy of Picard, Rick Berman and the writers would turn to the greatest nemesis we had seen on Star Trek to date… the return of the Borg.
The film upgrades the look of the Star Trek universe, such as with the introduction of the USS Enterprise-E and, thanks to the increase in budget from television to film, a visual updating of the Borg. The “E” is sleek, beautifully streamlined, and looks like she’s at warp standing still, yet she retains the design perceptions of the TNG-era Starfleet. As for the Borg, they look like true “bionic zombies” in this film, which only serves to enhance their fearsomeness, making them look suitably creepy.
Although I considered time travel to be an overused trope in general, the era in which the writers chose to have our heroes go back to fortunately serves this story’s purpose brilliantly. The tale is appropriately epic, and the stakes are indeed appropriately high, as we are not just fighting for survival, but the very existence of the Federation!
I found it refreshing that warp-drive inventor Zefram Cochrane is far from the nobleman that 24th-century history books have made him out to be, and it’s fun to see both Reg Barclay (Dwight Shultz, in a nice cameo) and Geordi succumb to their star-struck hero worship of him. It’s also nice to see our heroes ultimately treat him as though he doesn’t have to be one of Gene Roddenberry’s perfectly awesome Humans to fit in with Roddenberry’s vision. Lily Sloane also is a breath of fresh air, calling Picard out on his desire for revenge against the Borg.
The Borg Queen, also introduced in this film, was played with seductive sadism by Alice Krige. Since she had been present during the Borg’s assimilation of Picard (as Locutus), having the victim be male and the attacker female makes for a fascinating reversal of a rape victim facing their attacker.
So high are the stakes that, at one point, the Enterprise-E crew set the auto-destruct for their new vessel, the Borg having apparently assimilated too much of it for the ship to still be salvageable. Due to the loss of the Enterprise-D in the previous film, I, as Picard and company set the auto-destruct, was thinking, “Jeez! They’re going through Enterprises like they’d go through SHOES!” However, the fact the Enterprise‘s destruction was averted this time made me really happy.
While there was a certain lack of originality in the film’s title (there had already been a TNG episode by this name), it is appropriate for the story. Gene Roddenberry’s optimism is ultimately shown in full light as Picard and company bear witness to the first extraterrestrial species that humankind meets: the Vulcans.
With Roddenberry’s optimism both challenged and winning out, the destruction of the Enterprise-E averted, and the triumphant return of Jerry Goldsmith to the film series, First Contact proved to be a spectacular, bold solo flight for our TNG heroes on the big screen.
A freelance writer, Douglas has several years experience writing newsletters, sales copy and movie reviews. He is also the author of the screenplays Supralight and Bloodstone: The Sorceress and the Warrior. His reviews of Star Trek films (as well as a DS9 retrospective) have been published on the TrekSphere website.