Star Trek: First Contact

Robot Chicken: Star Trek Experience (Warning: Contains Suggestive Language and brief nudity. Parental discretion is advised)

Star Trek: First Contact

Director: Jonathan Frakes

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, Alice Krige, Michael Horton, Neal McDonough, Marnie McPhail, Robert Picardo, Dwight Schultz, Adam Scott, Jack Shearer, Patti Yasutake, Don Stark, Cully Fredricksen

Synopsis: Captain Picard and his crew pursue the Borg back in time to stop them from preventing Earth from initiating first contact with alien life.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi adventure violence

Note: In honor of the upcoming new film, "Star Trek Into Darkness", I've taken it upon myself to review every movie adaptation of the franchise; with the notable exception of the 2009 reboot because I already reviewed it.

Captain James T. Kirk vs the Borg

Locutus of Borg

Star Trek: The Next Generation's Night Crew (warning: This video has brief nudity, alcohol use and sexual references. parental discretion is advised)

Resistance is Futile

Have you ever noticed that after both the original crew and "next generation" cast made their cinematic debuts with mixed reactions, that they both followed it up with a personal story that relates back to the events of what happened to each captain, in each of their perspective series?

Granted, "Star Trek: First Contact" is a bit more complicated than a simple revenge story, but I'm merely stating an observation. If you stop to think about it, there is some truth to that though. In "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", it was about Kirk being pushed to his limits by an old adversary that he met in the TV series, while Khan was seeking to destroy Kirk personally for the death of his wife.

In "Star Trek: First Contact", Picard follows the Borg to stop their latest plans for conquering the Earth. However, he's still haunted by memories of when he was assimilated by the Borg, in the TV series, so there is some aspects that show he has a vendetta against the enemy that took away his humanity years ago. Yeah, kind of coincidental if you ask me, but both surprisingly work. Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing the second "Star Trek" film to this one, or vice versa. However, I'm merely making an observation.

For those who don't know who the Borg are, then I'll briefly explain before delving into the rest of the plot and review. The Borg are essentially a race of half humanoid and half machine beings. It's never exactly clear how they were formed, but there have been a lot of theories about it over the years.

Maybe it's been explained in other "Star Trek" mediums, but as far as I know, there isn't an exact reason given for the Borg's creation. But as I mentioned in my "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" review, I'm only a casual fan of the franchise, so if I'm missing something here, then I apologize.

Anyways, the Borg essentially assimilate other beings into their collective, as they're sort of like bees. Almost everyone in the hive is one collective consciousness, while they have a queen that brings order to them. And since they act more like machines, they can't be reasoned or bargained with either.

Needless to say, the Borg have become something of a cult phenomenon since their debut on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." In fact, TV guide once named them one of the nastiest villains of all time, so they were quite popular. And given Picard's history of being assimilated by them at one point, it only made them the perfect antagonists to use for the inevitable sequel to "Star Trek: Generations."

The film essentially picks up years later after the first film, as the federation fleet is trying to stop the Borg from assimilating Earth. Unfortunately, the enterprise is asked to monitor the neutral zone in case of Romulan interference, which turns out to be an excuse because the federation doesn't want to put Picard against the Borg; considering he was assimilated years ago by them at some point. However, Picard eventually defies orders when things start to get worse between the Borg and the federation, so the enterprise rushes over to stop them. With Picard's knowledge of the Borg's ship, he's successfully able to lead the attack on them; hence stopping their initial plans to assimilate the federation.

However, the Borg aren't willing to give up so easily, so they launch a smaller probe into the past to assimilate the Earth back in 2063. Not only preventing Earth's first contact with friendly aliens that inevitably changed the course of history, but assimilating them while there would be little to no resistance. In 2063, it's the post World War III era, where most of the population is desolated; hence making it easier to conquer. Needless to say, the enterprise follows the Borg, and tries to undo whatever damage they've done.

However, it turns out that the Borg transported some of their collective onto the Enterprise; which leads to quite a bit of drama. Now, our heroes must stop the Borg by any means necessary; while ensuring that Cochran makes historic first contact, to ensure the future of humanity. Also, Data goes through his typical, "I want to be human" schtick again.

Out of all the "Star Trek" films featuring the "next generation" cast, it's been said that this is arguably the best one, and I'd have to agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. Not only is the story very engaging, but it also shows how a lot of our heroes are normal everyday people. How sometimes greatness can come from anyone, by merely being themselves. Sometimes it can even happen by accident, as our own history shows. After all, Christopher Columbus was never looking for America, but he did by accident. Sometimes that's all it takes. As a great man once said, "Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history dictate the rest." Truer words could not be spoken.

It's a great innovative "Star Trek" story that not only explores the origins of the franchise, but also expands upon it as well. Carrying strong themes about how heroes can come in all shapes and sizes; while showing how even though heroes can be normal people like us, it doesn't take away from the accomplishments they've done to make us admire them, in the first place.

As for Captain Jean Luc Picard, his story is a very tragic one to say the least, and it's the glue that holds the movie together. As I mentioned before, Picard is haunted by his past of being assimilated by the Borg years ago. Although he tries not to let it bother him at first, we soon find out how it drives him to madness, when the Borg try to take over the enterprise. As one scene eloquently puts it, Picard becomes something of a Captain Ahab, who wants nothing more than to seek revenge against the monster that crippled him. It's a tragic reference to the classic literary story, "Moby Dick", and it suits the theme of Picard's journey perfectly in this film.

Although Picard isn't quite as obsessed as Ahab ever was, but he almost shares that same passion towards the Borg; which nearly costs him everything he holds dear. As some critics have alluded to, it seems like Jonathan Frakes wanted to push Patrick Stewart to arguably his finest performance yet. And to be honest, I don't think he could've done a better job. Patrick Stewart is a great actor in any role he plays, but the level of intensity and drama he brings into "Star Trek: First Contact" is simply breathtaking to watch. Out of all the "Star Trek" films featuring the "next generation" cast, you won't find a finer performance by Patrick Stewart.

As for the subplot involving Data (Brent Spiner), it was handled tastefully. "Star Trek: First Contact" continues Data's evolution to aspire to be more human; in spite of the fact that he's an artificial lifeform. Ironically through his meeting with the Borg Queen herself, Data finds himself drawn more closer to humanity than he's ever come before. I won't ruin it for readers that haven't seen the film, but it's brilliant how the writers developed his character into this movie.

As for the special effects, this film features arguably some of the best ones that I've ever seen out of all the Trek movies; excluding the 2009 reboot. If you've never seen a single episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", then you should still be able to get through this one just fine. There's enough exposition to allow newcomers to follow it; while not overdoing it for the hardcore fans. However, if you have seen the series, then it'll only give you more of an insight on what happens in the movie.

Overall, I would have to say that this is one of the best "Star Trek" movies that I've ever seen, and it's certainly worth checking out at a rating of four out of four.

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