‘Star Trek’ movies rewatch: ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

Posted Filed under

> Buy the complete Star Trek movies boxset on Amazon.

The story

Set after The Next Generation series had ended, the Enterprise finds itself out of favour when the Borg launch an attack on Earth. Dubious of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s relationship with the Borg (having been assimilated by them in the television series), the Enterprise is sent away, far from the battle.

Of course, when the rest of the fleet falls, this leaves the Enterprise as Earth’s only hope. And not only Earth – but the whole of humanity! When the Borg travel back to Earth’s past, they intervene in humanity’s first contact with an alien race, changing the future and damning humanity to Borg assimilation. Travelling back with the Borg, it’s up to the Enterprise to ensure that first contact happens as planned.

Best moments

While there are plenty of explosions, shooting and punching aboard the Enterprise during First Contact, the best moments are unquestionably the quieter ones, focussing on the characters.

Alice Krige’s weirdly sexy, slightly amphibian Borg Queen is a wonderful creation, and the moment she swoops down as just a head and metallic spine is a brilliantly unsettling introduction.

Brent Spiner’s android Data and his quest to be more human was always one of the major selling points of the Next Generation era, and his scenes here are the best in the film. As the Borg Queen gives Data human flesh grafted onto his android frame, Data experiences human sensations for the first time. The Queen exploits this, feeding him pain and pleasure, and it gives Spiner some great material to play, whilst also providing a genuinely believable scenario whereby he might turn against his crew.

There’s also the moment when 21st Century Lily stands up to Captain Picard in a way that nobody on his crew would ever dare to do and helps him see sense. Patrick Stewart is obviously a seasoned thesp, and by the time he’s quoting Melville’s Moby Dick you’ll forget that you’re watching a knock-about sci-fi flick. Sheer class.

There’s also a surprisingly dark moment for the franchise, when Picard is faced with a crew-member in the midst of being assimilated by the Borg, and elects to shoot him rather than help him, knowing that he’s already lost. It’s a cold, chilling moment, but an understandable one that demonstrates why many feel Picard is the best Trek captain of all.


» As director, Jonathon Frakes prepared for the job by watching, among other films, Ridley Scott’s Alien. As evidence, just witness the scene where a crewman enters a maintenance tube only to be stalked by an unseen predator; an undoubted homage to Dallas hunting the Xenomorph in Scott’s classic.

» James Cromwell as Zephrym Cochran, the man to make first contact in the film, is also – appropriately – the first person in Star Trek history to actually utter the words “star trek” in a sentence.

» First Contact features several actors from the Star Trek universe, including Robert Picardo, who cameos as the holographic Doctor that he plays on Voyager, and Ethan Phillips, better known as Neelix on that same show, who appears here sans make-up in an uncredited cameo. There are also minor roles for Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers) and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation).

» The eyepiece of one of the Borg contains the front canopy of a Star Wars TIE fighter toy, thus uniting the two biggest sci-fi franchises of all time.


» Picard: ‘Starfleet has every confidence in the Enterprise and her crew, they’re just not sure about her Captain.’

» Picard: ‘We may encounter Enterprise crewmembers who have already been assimilated; don’t hesitate to fire. Believe me; you’ll be doing them a favour.’

» Picard: ‘Reports of my assimilation have been greatly exaggerated.’

» Worf: ‘Assimilate this!’

» Picard: ‘I won’t sacrifice the Enterprise. We’ve made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far; no further! I will make them pay for what they’ve done.’

The verdict

The first Trek film to feature none of the original series’ cast, First Contact made the future look very bright for the franchise. The special effects were a marked improvement over previous instalments, as technology opened up all sorts of new possibilities, and if some of the action seems somewhat stilted by today’s standards, there’s no denying that the Borg remain one of sci-fi’s most effective villains.

Many of the supporting characters admittedly get lost in the mix – Troi, Crusher, even Riker – but this is Picard’s film, and Patrick Stewart is more than able to carry things. His captain has never been more of an action-hero than here, and Stewart and Brent Spiner do fantastic work throughout, ably supporting by James Cromwell’s booze-addled Cochran and Alice Krige’s sultry Borg Queen.

Certainly the best of the Next Generation related films, First Contact is also the favourite of many of the cast and crew, and that should be telling. It’s confident and exciting, and accessible to Trekkies and non-fans alike, making fantastic use of a genre-defining nemesis. It’s just a shame that the subsequent instalments couldn’t quite match it.

> Buy the complete Star Trek movies boxset on Amazon.

What do you think of the movie? Let us know below…