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Film Review: Star Trek: First Contact

Updated on December 21, 2016

Background

In 1996, Jonathan Frakes directed Star Trek: First Contact, based on the 1987 television series Star Trek: The Next Generation created by Gene Roddenberry, as the eighth film in the franchise. Starring Patrick Stewart, Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, and Alice Krige, the film grossed $146.03 million at the box office.

Synopsis

In an attempt to assimilate Earth, the Borg make use of time travel to prevent Earth’s first contact with the Vulcans and stop the inventor of warp drive from making his historic flight. However, Picard will have none of it and prepares to ensure first contact happens. Yet, the man hailed as a visionary is really a cynical drunkard looking for money and in the meantime, the Borg have invaded the Enterprise.

Review

Where Generations failed in an attempt to tell a cohesively decent story, First Contact succeeded in delivering a great story that touched on the difference between loyalty and obsessiveness using Picard and his relationship to the Enterprise. At first, not surrendering the ship to the Borg comes out of loyalty for the vessel as well as Starfleet. In time though, that loyalty turns into a self-destructive, revenge filled obsession centered on wiping out the Borg. The film makes the comparison to Moby Dick, presenting the Borg as Picard’s White Whale and it fits because he wants to take revenge for what they did to him during the series. Further, he is unwilling to let the Enterprise go as it is a blow to his pride along with admitting defeat. It’s not until he realizes that he is giving into the primitive behavior of revenge, established as not existing in the 24th century, does he make the decision to abandon ship and self-destruct. Ironically, making the decision to destroy the ship is what leads to her salvation. Had Picard followed through with his desire, it would have been destroyed and everyone aboard would have been killed or assimilated.

It’s fascinating to note that in out of context, Picard’s speech about drawing lines actually seems quite rousing and inspirational. However, in context, it really showcases how blind Picard’s obsessiveness and hatred is making him. It doesn't showcase his prowess as a leader in any way and instead, it’s just pathetic.

Yet, true loyalty is found when Picard decides to not go with the crew members evacuating the ship, rather using the time the ship has left to find Data. Here, instead of risking everything for the possibility of saving the ship, he is only risking himself in order to save his friend and crew member. In this act of true loyalty is where not only Data is saved, and also restored to his former self, but where the salvation of the ship comes in.

Then there’s Cochrane, the man who discovered warp drive. He’s a belligerent drunkard who really just wants wine, women and song as well as be left alone. He doesn’t see anything in himself and can’t seem to understand why anybody would respect him or anything he’s done. It goes so far that when Geordi tells him how the future has made him into a highly respected visionary, he tries to run away to avoid it all. Him doing so really makes sense as he’s just reacting to all of the hero-worship like an average person would. When confronted with the idea that the act they are about to accomplish is going to change the course of history along with the admiration that goes with it, many wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as anyone more than simply trying to accomplish something for a less than average goal. For some, like Cochrane, it could be money, for others, it could just be the thrill of doing something new and exciting. The idea that a random act would generate respect and admiration because of its historical implications is just overwhelming.

5 stars for Star Trek: First Contact

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Brent Spiner)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Alice Krige)
  • Best Costumes

BMI Film & Television Awards

  • BMI Film Music Award

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Picture
  • Best Sci=Fi/Fantasy/Horror Actor (Patrick Stewart)
  • Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Actress (Alice Krige)
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling


Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Makeup

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Actor (Patrick Stewart)
  • Best Director
  • Best Writer
  • Best Music
  • Best Make-up
  • Best Special Effects

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Favorite Actor - Science Fiction (Patrick Stewart)
  • Favorite Supporting Actor - Science Fiction (Jonathan Frakes)

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation

Image Awards

  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Alfre Woodard)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Actor (Brent Spiner)
  • Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Actress (Alfre Woodard)
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Sound Effects Editing
  • Best Visual Effects

Satellite Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

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