_**Solid Next Generation Trek film with The Borg**_ Released in 1996 and directed by Jonathan Frakes, "Star Trek: First Contact" features The Next Generation characters taking on the Borg, a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive-mind called the Collective. In order to escape imminent destruction by the Federation, a Borg mini-ship flees back in time to 2063 to prevent the renowned Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) from accomplishing the initial warp drive and the subsequent first contact with an alien race, which later paved the way for the Federation of Planets. Alfre Woodard has a key role as a colleague of Cochrane. The Borg are an excellent villain and one of the greatest contributions of The Next Generation TV series, along with all its elaboration on Klingon culture. Here the Borg are augmented by the introduction of a Queen (Alice Krige), which some feel detracted from the impersonal and eerie race while others think enhanced them. It makes no difference to me personally, but it fits the parallel of a queen bee in a honey bee colony. Besides, why wouldn’t there be a central intelligence? There are some gems to mine from the proceedings, like Cochrane's revelation of his carnal motivations for developing warp drive and Picard's hell-bent desire to annihilate the Borg. Speaking of Picard, Patrick Stewart carries the film with his unique star power, which is very different from Shatner, but just as effective. Interestingly, The Next Generation TV series never developed a prominent triumvirate like Kirk/Spock/McCoy, but rather a dyad, Picard and Data. Whereas this duo was core to the previous TNG film, "Generations" (1994) and the last one, "Nemesis" (2002), it's not as evident here until the last act when Picard attempts to rescue the charismatic android, but that's only because they get separated early on and Data ends up hanging out with the Borg Queen. By the way, Picard's self-sacrificial desire to save Data reveals a weakness in the script: After the Enterprise is set to self-destruct, Picard only has 15 MINUTES to rescue Data and escape the ship, but Picard is shown having a meaningful discussion with Lily (Woodard). Why sure! Another gem of the film is the revelation of the alien race at the end, which prompts a "Wow" reaction to fans of Star Trek (although erudite Trekkers undoubtedly knew what was coming). There are other flaws, like the jarring, contrived excuse for going back in time and the questionable fiery confrontation between Picard and Lily. I say "questionable" because something about the sequence renders it somewhat shaky; it may be the acting, the writing or some combination, but they needed to work out the kinks. Still, that scene has some good aspects, like Picard's line: "The line must be drawn HERE!" and the build-up to it. While I favor 1994's "Generations" to "First Contact" because of the fascinating story elements, e.g. the Nexus, and the potent subtext (see my review), and even marginally prefer the underrated "Nemesis" (2002), this doesn't take away from the fact that "First Contact" is a quality installment in the series, which gets better with repeat viewings despite its weaknesses. The movie runs almost 111 minutes and was shot in the studio with location shooting at Angeles National Forest and Green Valley, Arizona (substituting for Montana). GRADE: B
Good watch, could watch again, and can recommend (at least for dedicated "Star Trek" fans). My favorites aspects of all of "Star Trek" are The Borg, and the artificial entities like Data. This movie potentially ruins both of them, depending on who you ask. Also, time travel is the worst. I would have been much happier if we hadn't bothered with time travel as that creates a lot of other questions about why The Borg haven't utilized it before if they had such technology. The investigation of humanity in The Borg and Data are pretty interesting though, seeing Data find what it is to FEEL is a great, but seeing The Borg personified into a single entity to which one can converse is odd, at best. Seeing the Enterprise defend against Borg assault was fun, but none of the "First Contact" stuff was compelling at all.
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