Having gotten the obligatory crossover film (GENERATIONS) over with, the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation series now had to prove they could make a great film that was all their own, without any ties to the Kirk - Spock years. They not only proved that with STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, they did even better, making the one Next Generation film that could arguably be called the best Star Trek film ever.
STAR TREK; FIRST CONTACT borrows its basic time-traveling plot from THE VOYAGE HOME. The Borg, those unstoppable cybernetic nasties from the Next Generation series, send themselves back to Earth of the past to stop the creation of the warp drive engine, thus keeping Earthlings Earthbound and easily conquerable. Captain Jean Luc Picard, having once been assimilated by the Borg, will have none of it, and follows the Borg into the past to keep them from changing the future. It's not a plot you want to think about all that much - the humpback whales actually makes a lot more sense - but it does bring back the Borg, which is a plus for any Star Trek-related entertainment vehicle.
FIRST CONTACT highlights Captain Picard's Ahab-like quest to seek revenge on the Borg, and Patrick Stewart reminds us once again why his Captain was sometimes preferred to Captain Kirk, an unthinkable idea when the new series first began. Picard is naturally calmer and more prone to rational decision than Kirk, making his emotional outbursts that much more powerful. To be sure, Stewart can be just as hammy as William Shatner. Witness the dramatic pauses before his catchphrases such as "Engage" or "Make it so", or how he chews and spits out his words in his big speech toward the end: "The liiine must be drawn he-yah!". But because he is a much more polished actor than Shatner, his hamminess comes off as classy rather than amusing. Brent Spiner, who plays the popular Spock-like character Data, the android who wishes to become more human, is also given much to do. The rest of the main television cast is given little to do but guest stars James Cromwell, Alfre Woodard and Alice Krige make up for the lack of screen time devoted to series regulars. Krige is especially good as the seductively evil Borg Queen, a character who was so much fun, she was resurrected several times in the Star Trek: Voyager TV series.
The Next Generation series could never establish themselves as a viable movie franchise. Fan and box-office disappointment with the next two films put an end to the film series. Nevertheless, FIRST CONTACT ranks with the best Star Trek films and the best sci-fi adventures. ½ - JB
IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR GOOD MOVIE QUOTES
"According to Starfleet medical research... Borg implants can cause severe skin irritations. Perhaps you'd like an analgesic cream?"
ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY
Michael Dorn, who played the Klingon Worf on the series, had moved to Deep Space Nine after Next Generations ended, but was brought back to the Enterprise for this film. Robert Picardo, who was playing the holographic Doctor on the other Trek series, Voyager, at the time of filming, makes a fun cameo appearance in the film.
The character of Zephram Cochrane was taken from
"Metamorphosis", a second season episode of the original Star Trek series.