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Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

From the DVD Shelf: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

After enjoying the newly-released complete soundtrack to Star Trek: First Contact, I decided to re-watch the film itself.  Star Trek: First Contact terribly disappointed me when it was first released (I can’t believe that was over fifteen ago!!).  It’s grown on me in the years since, and I think it’s probably the strongest of the Next Gen films.  (Which indicates the low quality, over-all, of the four Next Gen films.  What a tragic failure of a film franchise.  But I digress.)

When First Contact was originally announced, I was overjoyed.  A big-screen feature film focusing on the Borg seemed to promise the type of epic confrontation with that great group of villains that we’d never gotten to see on the small screen.  (After the amazing two-parter, “The Best of Both Worlds,” we only got a few more glimpses of the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and they always seemed disappointingly small-scale.)  But now, at last, we’d be getting a great Federation-versus-the-Borg story that I’d always wanted to see.  (Something on-screen to match the amazing Federation-versus-the-Borg story I’d already read, in Peter David’s magnificent Star Trek novel Vendetta.)

But that’s not at all what we got with First Contact. Yes, there’s a big battle with the Borg, but it’s just two-minutes long and is quickly dispensed with at the very start of the film.  Instead, the film turns into a time travel story, in which the defeated Borg try to destroy humanity by traveling back in time and disrupting the beginning of humanity’s journey to the stars and the eventual founding of the Federation: Zephram Cochrane’s first warp-flight.

Not only is that a pretty naked attempt on the part of the producers to smush together two previously-popular Star Trek story-devices, the Borg and time-travel, but it is totally contrary to the whole idea of the Borg.  The Borg are great villains because they are merciless and unstoppable.  They don’t strategize, they don’t scheme, they just roll over you like a bulldozer.  If one Borg cube is destroyed, they wouldn’t then use a time-travel plot to destroy humans.  They’d just come back with another cube, and another, and another, until the humans are defeated.

So the whole story of First Contact never made any sense to me, and always seemed like a big-cop out to the fact that, as created, the Borg really were pretty unstoppable bad-guys.

If I can put that aside, which is hard to do, there’s a lot to enjoy about First Contact. There are some great sequences of mounting terror as the Borg gradually assimilate the Enterprise, and I love the idea of the familiar Enterprise turning into a dangerous house of horrors.  (Those … [continued]