Under The Radar-Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
First Contact was the eighth film in the Star Trek franchise and the second film to feature The Next Generation cast racking in over 145 million dollars worldwide. Even today, twenty one years later, First Contact is still considered one of the strongest entries in the Trek cannon and by far the best TNG film.
For those few who haven’t seen the film, the story follows the TNG crew back in time as they try and stop one of their most merciless enemies, The Borg, from changing earth’s history. I remember being extremely excited for the release of First Contact because it seemed that Paramount Pictures was finally “putting out”, money wise and giving Trekkers the film they deserved. I mean, The Borg in a feature film! And a week before my birthday? The planets must have been in alignment because it seemed like TNG was getting their equivalent to the Wrath of Khan. Set phasors to fun !!!
My whole family was into Star Trek then (still in fact) and the anticipation of this film brought out our inner Trekker and we would discuss different scenarios and hypothesise on whether the film would touch upon or be linked to the TNG TV series and so on. Needless to say, I set the bar so high for First Contact, that I was disappointed as I walked out of the theatre. Although it’s still the best TNG film and one of the best Trek movies in the franchise, I always felt that the film was too light and should have been darker in tone. I also remember thinking that it also should have had a lot more action.
After re- watching Star Trek Beyond, I decided to go through my Trek collection and take a ride on the U.S.S. Nostalgia and put on First Contact. I couldn’t believe how entertaining this film was. I was totally immersed in the movie that when it ended, I checked to see if I put on a director’s cut because it was not the release I remembered. How did I not see it then? Was I trapped in the Neutral Zone?
I really missed the mark on this film all those years ago. Star Trek was never about action, it was about mankind’s voyage of self-discovery and improvement. I thought that First Contact should have just been one epic battle between the Federation and the Borg, and that the basic premise of Cochrane’s first warp flight leading to Earth salvation and the ongoing tensions on and off board the Enterprise took away from the action or tension of the Borg. I realize now that the contrast between the Cochrane storyline, the tension aboard the Enterprise and The Borg was really what made First Contact a great Star Trek film.
The film was broken into two separate story lines and settings, but each part relying on one another for the mission to succeed. One part of the film dealt with Picard and Data’s personal struggle with facing the Borg abroad the Enterprise. Could Pickard truly find peace with himself when remembering his own capture and assimilation by the Borg? Would Data be seduced by the Borg Queen and betray his friends for the promise of becoming human?
Then we had Humanity’s fate in the hands of Riker, Troy and Geordie. Their race against time with helping to fix the spacecraft that would propel mankind’s first contact and making them set aside their petty differences in order to work together for a better future. Thus becoming the founding principles of the Federation and Star Trek itself. First Contact deserves its rightful place as one of the best films in the Trek franchise.
You can purchase Star Trek: First Contact here at the Aroundtable store.