1996), directed by cast member Jonathan Frakes for Paramount. Now, the cast is mostly on record as saying that they enjoyed working on this science fiction film more than any other, but that is probably just because it was their first film without the original crew anywhere nearby.
"First Contact" isn't bad, and it certainly has its moments, but it sure doesn't blow off my socks, either. It doesn't compare with the films made by the original cast, and has too many similarities to the "Next Generation" series for me to take it seriously as something above and beyond. I think of it as simply an extended TV episode. That may be just what you want, in which case, why are you reading a review - go see it! However, if they are just aiming at people who want to see their old favorites doing the same old things in the same old ways, they should just go and do another tv show, or maybe a tv movie. Don't bore me with feature films that are simply blown-up tv episodes. I will admit that James Cromwell gives a big league performance, better than any seen in the series, but the regulars are just running through the motions. Their characters are so set in stone that they might as well pose together as Mount Rushmore. Take it for what it is and enjoy, just don't expect too much from this movie unless you are a big Data (Brent Spiner) or Captain Picard fan.
Viewers usually go into a film like this with strong convictions. Either you a
fan of the numerous Star Trek TV series and the Starship Enterprise, or
you aren't. Let me get right out front on this and say that my
loyalties always have been with the original series, not the various
remakes/sequels/prequels/etc. I would imagine that if you grew up with
the pablum that was "Star Trek: The Next Generation," this film will
prove a wholly satisfying experience, as it reunites all of those epic
heroes while still in their prime. Here they all are, frozen
as if in amber, doing their things exactly as they did on the
long-running TV series.
So, with that huge fraction of the audience satisfied and out of the way, let's look at the film as a film. "First Contact" is wildly uneven. There are some great scenes and a few fine characterizations, but there also is some seriously poor acting, too much emphasis on the "old gang" atmosphere, and a plot that, well, to say it is sketchy is probably an understatement. The score by Jerry Goldsmith isn't necessarily bad, but it is slow and ponderous. The original series had a fast, bright, lively theme that got your pulse racing. As the franchise has progressed and become an institution, like McDonald's or something, the themes have gotten slower and slower and slower. By this point, the Star Trek theme is more likely to make you nod off than it is to get you ready for some phaser blasting and Borg-kicking.
The script is a combination of seen-it-all-before elements from "The Next Generation" and plot points ripped off and subtly altered from the original series. Evidently, they didn't think that the previous film, "Star Trek: Generations," provided enough of a link to the original series for fans, so they go back and co-opt one of that series' episodes. James Cromwell, though, who plays the character from that episode, is the film's saving grace. As the eccentric Dr. Zephram Cochrane, he dominates every scene in which he appears. He acts rings around everybody in the cast with the sole exception of Patrick
Stewart. If you are at all a fan of any of the many incarnations of
"Star Trek," it is worth watching this film to see how he breathes life
into a minor character from the original series. Alice Krige also is
appropriately creepy as a very odd nemesis for our heroes.
|The regulars are all back, somebody give them a pep pill|
|If I don't get that Yankess game score, I'm coming in blasting!|
|Data, you're looking a little rough, dude|
|You kiss your mother with that mouth? Oh... no mother... sorry.|
|You vill be my sex slave....|
At the very bottom of the acting heap is Alfre Woodard, in a truly embarrassing role as, well, somebody Cochrane likes. I mean, being the big guy's main squeeze gives her the cred to talk down to a starship captain, right? She somehow gets mixed up in the Enterprise's problems for no apparent reason at all. One of the most annoying characters in the whole "canon," she is given so many diva moments that they might as well have given her an aria to sing. I'm sure her hyperactive over-acting is not wholly her own fault (she tries to kill the Enterprise crew at first, then faints aggressively upon learning their identities, how precious), but injecting her into scenes where she has no business shows how slack the writing was. They needed somebody to be an antagonist on a personal level (the Borg are so cold), and she manages that as self-righteously as the screenwriters could get away with. I believe she is a fine actress, but not in this.
|A Magic Carpet Ride|
|Oh, never mind, I just put this in to see who's paying attention|
|The climactic moment - two guys casually shaking hands|