Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 111 minutes
Release Date: November 22, 1996
Directed by: Jonathan Frakes
Overview – Star Trek: First Contact
Many critics, including Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli, considered the 1996 hit “Star Trek: First Contact” to be the best of the eight “Star Trek” movies that had been filmed up until that time. “Star Trek: First Contact” did something no other movie in the franchise had done-it completely eliminated the original cast that had been guiding the USS Enterprise since 1968, including William Shatner, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan.
Eliminating these beloved characters was a risk, but one that paid off. Under the careful watch of director Jonathan Frakes, “Star Trek: First Contact” managed to keep both longtime fans and newcomers to the series enthralled. Dedicated Trekkies delighted in the ramped-up special effects that were lacking in earlier films, which ultimately garnered the movie several award nominations while still retaining a firm feeling of the original 1960s television series.
“Star Trek: First Contact” takes audiences on a thrill ride through time and space as the crew of the USS Enterprise-E travels between the twenty-fourth and twenty-first centuries to save the future from the Borg who have changed Earth’s timeline, allowing them to take over the planet.
The story begins when Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) learns of a new Borg attack against Earth from Starfleet command, but he opts to avoid the fray so as not to get in the way of the Starfleet vessels already engaged in battle. When he discovers that Starfleet is not holding its own very well.
He heads to Earth just in time to defeat a Borg ship and save Lieutenant-Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) and his ship, the USS Defiant. Although he was in time to save the Starfleet vessel, he soon learns that he was too late to save the Earth, and the Borg have managed to change history by exploiting their ability to travel through time.
After Borg survivors invade the USS Enterprise-E, Picard and his team, including Lieutenant Hawk (Neal McDonough) and Worf, switch into high gear to try to defeat the enemy. The android Data (Brent Spiner) is captured by the Borg Queen (Alice Krige), who attempts to barter him to Picard in exchange for the ship’s codes.
As is usually the case in “Star Trek” movies, Starfleet defeats the enemy. In this case, it is Data who ultimately shifts the odds into Starfleet’s favor, although the entire crew has a hand in helping to set Earth’s timeline back as it should be. When the Earth is safe, the Enterprise journeys back to the twenty-fourth century to await their next mission.
The “Star Trek” franchise is known for having its stars direct some of the movies. Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock, directed “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” in 1984 and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” in 1986. The original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, directed
“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” in 1989. Jonathan Frakes, who played the role of the ship’s first officer, William Riker, took on the task of directing “Star Trek: First Contact” with great success.
In a film that travels back and forth in space-time shuffling between plotlines and sub stories, Frakes managed to ensure that the audience always knew where the movie was and what was going on. Famed film critic Roger Ebert proclaimed that Frakes managed to bring “great energy and clarity” to “Star Trek: First Contact.”
Patrick Stewart again took on the pivotal role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, his role in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” television series, as he did in several other “Star Trek” films in addition to “Star Trek: First Contact.” These films included “Star Trek: Generations,” “Star Trek: Insurrection,” and “Star Trek: Nemesis.”
Patrick Stewart began his acting career in 1964 and has played a diverse set of characters since then, drawing inspiration from several of them for his role as Captain Picard. Although he had some big shoes to step into, essentially taking the limelight away from William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, he managed to portray the character perfectly. The role of Captain Picard readied him to take on the persona of Professor Charles Xavier in the “X-Men” franchise, for which he received critical acclaim.
Stewart was ultimately nominated for two Golden Globes for his roles in the 2003 mini-series “The Lion in Winter” and the 1998 made-for-TV movie “Moby Dick” where he took on the role of Captain Ahab. He has gone on to win four major awards and has received seventeen additional nominations.
Although “Star Trek: First Contact” may be noted more for the absence of the original cast and the breathtaking special effects, this movie is more about ideas and theories than it is about action and adventure. This movie manages to adequately put the ideas of humans, artificial intelligence, and aliens to the test.
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