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Star Trek: First Contact

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Star Trek: First Contact

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: November 1996
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Alfre Woodard, Gates McFadden, James Cromwell, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Neal McDonough, Robert Picardo

Review by Brian Koller
1½ stars out of 4

"First Contact" is the latest in the long-lived series of "Star Trek" movies, but the first not to include any cast members from the original 1960s television series.

The film begins in the 24th century. The spaceship "Enterprise" is part of a fleet of Federation (good guys) ships defending the universe against a Borg invasion (bad guys). The Borg aim to conquer the universe by converting all intelligent beings they encounter to Borg form. This means that they become part machine, and lose their individuality, responding only to orders from the Borg Queen (Alice Krige).

The Enterprise must go back in time to the 21st century Earth to prevent its assimilation by the Borg. There, they fight a Borg invasion of their ship, and help Earth resident Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) launch his history flight that leads to the first encounter with aliens.

I know that I am mostly alone in my dislike of this film. The movie received critical praise and commercial success, unlike the "Generations" film that preceded it. I have many faults with the film, which I will describe below:

The character Data (Brent Spiner) is an android who looks completely human except for green pancake makeup. If he wants to be more human, why doesn't he wipe it off?

Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is supposed to be French, but has a British accent. When prompted, he can flawlessly recite passages from "Moby Dick". He is fond of grand statements like "accumulation of wealth in the 24th century is no longer important." This is about as believable as character Geordi's assertion that all of Earth's problems (poverty, disease, etc) are solved after they first encounter aliens.

Worf (Michael Dorn) is an alien from another planet, but he looks and sounds human except for wearing a mask that is an apparent castoff from a "Planet of the Apes" movie.

The emphasis is on special effects, makeup and costumes. This is typified by a scene of the Borg Queen's head and shoulders lowered by cables onto her waiting body. What is the point of this except to impress the naive, the equivalent of an exploding car in an action movie.

Worf, a Klingon warrior, whines about zero gravity making his stomach upset. This leads a lengthy spacewalking scene where Picard, Worf and a doomed noname battle the Borg to blow up a beacon. The Borg are kind enough to fight only one or two at a time while the rest hang around listlessly. Worf has his space suit punctured but this has no effect on him.

In many scenes, Picard and other crew walk past Borg who ignore them. Picard says that they are safe as long as the Borg don't view them as a threat. This doesn't jive with the Borg goals: of course they would pick off strays.

The Borg try to assimilate Data. Picard is captured and taken to Data, who is now an apparent Borg confederate. Data makes several remarks to demonstrate he is now a bad guy. It eventually turns out that Data was never converted, and turns the tables on the Borg. Why didn't he do that earlier in the scene? It is an artificial contrivance to extend dramatic tension. At the movie's end, the Enterprise has been repaired, but Data still has his faceplate off.

Copyright 1996 Brian Koller

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