As a TOS fan who came to the other Star Trek series relatively recently, I have to admit that The Next Generation, although entertaining, didn’t grab me as much as its predecessor. Nor did the first entry in the TNG run of movies — Generations.
Fortunately, First Contact fares quite a bit better than that installment.
Part of the appeal this time around, in this the eighth of the Star Trek movies, is that it centers on the Borg. Who were the most effective of all Star Trek villains, in my opinion. They first appeared in Star Trek: Next Generation and then in each of the TV series after that. They turned up very frequently in Voyager, which featured Seven of Nine, a “recovering” Borg/human, as a regular member of the cast.
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The short version on the Borg, in case you missed it, is that they were cyborgs linked to a collective mind and whose primary goal seemed to be assimilating other species, which basically meant turning them into Borg and adding them to the collective. I haven’t seen all of the many Borg episodes and I do recall that there were a few duds, but the Borg at their finest made for good entertainment.
This time around they are up to their usual tricks and, following some thrilling space battle stuff, one of their ships travels back in time to Earth, about a half century past our own time. The Enterprise gets swept up in the time travel jump and all parties concerned land at about the time of the first warp drive-powered flight… and also the first meeting of Earthlings with an alien civilization (Vulcan, as luck would have it), events the Borg want to fiddle with in order to rewrite history.
On Earth, the crew need to make sure that warp drive inventor, Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell), goes ahead with that first warp flight. Which is all well and good but crusty, crabby Cochrane is reluctant to do so and doesn’t care much for these people from the future making a big fuss over him and his substantial contribution to history.
Meanwhile back on the Enterprise, Captain Picard, who has his own rather unpleasant history with the Borg, squares off against the plodding, leather-clad automatons who are proceeding to assimilate as much of his crew as they can. Amidst all of this there’s a side plot with the queen of the Borg, who kidnaps Data and gives him the third degree in hopes of gaining valuable information.
It wouldn’t be giving away too much to reveal that, for the most part, it all works out in the end. The plot is fairly standard for Star Trek, and don’t bother to think too hard about the logic of the time travel stuff, which doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny.
Alice Krige does an admirable job of playing the Borg queen with a quiet sort of menace, but the fact there even is a Borg queen and the fact that she speaks and emotes, after a fashion, kind of works against what made the Borg so creepy in the first place.
Which sounds like I might be damning this installment with faint praise or perhaps none at all, but that’s not actually the case. These few quibbles aside, I thought First Contact was very well executed and one of the better Star Trek movies.
I’d even go so far as to say its one of the best of the bunch.
The previous articles in our Star Trek Rewatch are:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek V – The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
See all of our epic Star Trek coverage here.
William I. Lengeman III’s last article for us was Old Dark House Double Feature IV: Two Haunted Honeymoons. He holds forth at www.wileng3.com.