"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