Saturday, October 12, 2013

Star Trek: First Contact review (with spoilers)

The screenplay was written by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore and Directed by Jonathan Frakes. It is the 8th Star Trek film and the first not to feature any of the original series cast.


Captain Picard wakes up from a nightmare about the Borg, only to learn from Starfleet about attacks by them on a deep space station. They have finally entered Federation space. He violates Starfleet's orders and
decides to head toward Earth after a Borg's ship's trajectory was indicated.

Picard, being familiar with Borg ship's weaknesses, summons other Federation ships in the area to fire upon
them in a certain location. The Borg engage a pod and create a temporal time wave which allows them to change history, stop first contact and assimilate Earth's inhabitants. The Enterprise follows it into the wave in order to undo the damage and get history's course back on track.

The crew splits up into two factions---one is making sure Zephram Cochrane gets his warp drive ship up into space on April 5 2063, which alerts an alien ship of Earth's warp drive capability and initiating first
contact. The aliens become one of the federations' biggest allies in the future---the Vulcans.

The other faction stays on board the Enterprise to fight off the Borg that have invaded the ship, who have beamed aboard without the Enterprise crew detecting them. The plan is to break the coolant tanks in the engine core, destroying the hive. But before the plan can be implemented, we are treated to a game of cat and mouse and Data's attempted assimilation by the Borg queen.

The Borg Queen, we learn, is the central mind in the hive--their center. "I bring order to chaos" she tells Data when he asks her if she is their leader.

After his meltdown with the emotion chip in "Generations," Data is now able to deactivate it at will,
allowing him to go on a hunt for Borg roaming the ship without the uncomfortable sensation of anxiety. "Data, there are times I envy you," Picard tells him.

The Borg work to find the encrypted codes to the computers main computer that Data has in his prositonic net while the Queen introduces him to organic sensations with implanted skin. The Queen entices him by reactivating the emotion chip and even manages to get him aroused.

On Earth, Deanne Troi endures several drinks of tequila with an uncouth man who supplies information on the whereabouts of Cochran. Turns out to be Cochran himself---not quite the man depicted in their history books. It's up to the Earth crew to get Cochran sober and back on his feet and get his ship's warp drive ready in time. This portion provides the film's comic relief. Cochran is played exceptionally well by James Cromwell. His assistant Lily, played by Alfrie Woodard, is sent aboard the ship for medical help after the Borg attack on Earth.

At one point Picard, with Lily, activates a chapter of Dixon Hill and leads the Borg into a trap,
deactivating the holodeck's safety and killing many Borg. He retrieves a memory chip out of one of the Borg
(and assimilated crew member) to learn of their next plan. Their new plan is to use the deflector arrays as
an interplexing beacon to get the remaining hives to their quardenance. Picard, Worf, and Lt. Hawk work to
keep the Borg from doing this via magnetic boots on the ships surface in space suits--a plan Worf isn't too
crazy about.

The crew, except Picard, abandons ship after setting the auto destruct sequence---destroy the ship, destroy the remaining Borg. But Picard stays behind to repay a debt to a fellow crewmember who once helped him after his encounter with the Borg---Data.

The two manage to carry out the original plan to break the coolant seal in the engine core, just in time for
Cochran to carry out his mission of first warp flight.

The Good:

There are some good highlights, such as an appearance of "the doctor" mostly seen in Voyager played by Robert Picardo. Dr. Crusher is leading her medical team through the sickbay as the Borg start to break down the barrier. She activates the ships stand-by doctor whom she tells to stall the Borg as they escape. "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop," he replies.

Lt. Reggie Barclay is working with the ground crew and is star struck with the 21st century rocket scientist.
Cochran hates this new found attention and plans an escape by telling Geordi he has to take a leak. "I don't detect any leaks" Geordi replies. "Don't you people pee in the 24th century?" he responds. He also states to Riker, Geordi, and Troi, after they reveal the truth to him about their mission "You're all astronauts on some kind of star trek?"

Captain Picard's run in and adventure with Lily is also fun, especially in the beginning when after talking her down from shooting him with a phaser, he relays that she had the setting on maximum. "It's my first ray gun." And toward the end, she talks him down from risking the remainder of his crew on a hollow pursuit---"Just like Captain Ahab and his whale."

And then there's the confrontation between Picard and Worf. Worf tells Picard he believes his decision to stay aboard the Enterprise is showing lack of objectivity due to his encounter with the Borg. Picard accuses Worf of cowardness. "If you were any other man, I'd kill you were you stand!" yells Worf. "Get off my bridge,!" Picard yells back.

The Not So Good:

The Borg Queen. She's hideous and seems like an afterthought of the writers--writers who have written many of the TNG episodes. I find it odd too that in order to explain her presence now, Picard admits remembering her even though he never made mention of her in the series. Why was his memory about her awakened now? Unless it's because his memory was jarred upon see her (again) in person.

And what about Picard's order for his crew to shoot any Starfleet crew members who have been assimilated? I can see it if they were a threat, but one crew member held out his hand and begged for help. Picard's shoots him! He explained his orders this way---you'd be doing them a favor. Yet Picard himself was brought back from the collective and restored to normal, so why not allow his crew members the same consideration if they are not a threat?

All in all, a pretty good film since the good outweigh the bad. I liked the switch between the lighter story on Earth to the drama and suspense on the ship. And I liked the opening--it was very unique and one of two Star Trek films directed by Frakes.

I give it 4 stars out of 5

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