Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Star Trek: First Contact (1996), directed by Jonathan Frakes.


Hot damn, you're heroic!


You're astronauts on some sort of star trek...

-- Zefram Cochrane

The Borg are back! The Enterprise arrives in time to destroy their mammoth ship as they attack Earth, but the villains have gone back in time -- Terminator (1984)-like -- to win the war in the past before the humans have even developed warp drive. Picard and crew are in hot pursuit, but it isn't going to be easy.

It's not without its flaws but I think this is a pretty great entry in the series, one of the best films. We have a nice balance of action/adventure, horror and comedy. Several parallel story-lines are skillfully managed.

Made when the various Trek TV series were still current, it combines the television origins with the expanded scale of a feature film. A bit more violence and emotion, but still PG-13. Kudos to Jonathan Frakes directing his first film.

When the series was running I remember we were laughing at the Next Generation characters, but we were also very fond of them, and it is great to revisit them and see them in a big adventure. Picard once again does his morally sensitive starship captain, actually changing his stance on something vital, which is rare in life. Once again we are afraid Data has gone wacky ("for 0.68 seconds" he says). Frakes is very relaxed at directing himself. Marina Sirtis: pretty!

I won't quibble over the many plot holes, but other things that bother me:

My favorite bit is actually at the end, Picard's goodbye to Lilly: "I envy you, taking these first steps into a new frontier." What I think of as "real Star Trek" exists only in my mind, those moments in the original series when they are way out there in the black, where no man has gone before, no one to call for help, encountering the alien with a slight horror tinge. I always wanted a series set before Captain Kirk when everything was rough and improvised, during the first explorations. Enterprise was not that show; too smooth, too crowded and cosmopolitan, more like Next Generation than the original series.


Finally, the music. Jerry Goldsmith, as always, provides essential support throughout the film (assisted here by his son, Joel). His soaring main title anthem is surprisingly poignant and uplifting for an action film, those horns perhaps suggesting the optimistic hopes of First Contact.

This is one of those films where I cannot stop during the closing credits. Goldsmith conducts the orchestra and I'm there until the final note. He reprises Alexander Courage's theme for the original series and then gives a lovely, stirring suite combining the main theme and his majestic seafaring score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), also used for the Next Generation TV series.

Available on Blu-ray with three commentary tracks: