According to Star Trek future history, today is First Contact Day. As established in the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact, humans will be visited by a team of Vulcans on April 5th, 2063. This first contact with aliens ushers in a new era leading eventually to the formation of the United Federation of Planets and the rest of Star Trek history. So, today at TrekMovie we thought we would take a closer look at what most think of as the best of the TNG era films with some personal reflections from members of the crew of TrekMovie.com .
Hooked from the opening scene
Laurie Ulster, Writer/Editor
A lot was riding on this one, for me as a fan. It was the first REAL Next Generation movie, since Generations had relied so heavily on the Kirk mythology to give impact to its story. We sat in the theater with that same sense of anticipation that comes before any Star Trek movie, and the important names hit: Screenplay by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. Director: Jonathan Frakes. We were in good hands, at least. Intake of breath. What comes next?
What came next was a revelation. The movie wasted not a second before plunging us in deep. Picard is still struggling with his Locutus demons, and the Borg are on their way back. Here we are. It was dramatic, it was visually striking, it was personal, emotional, and gripping. Then: a step back! We’re patrolling the neutral zone? Counting dust particles? I stopped worrying whether the movie would be good, and slipped right into the story, the dust particle calm before the Borg storm. I was in.
First Contact just works
Brian Drew, Senior Editor
Next Generation grows up
Matt Wright, Senior Editor / Home-Video Reviewer
As a teenager when First Contact hit theaters, I had basically grown up with TNG, Generations was fun and all, but now it was time for the TNG crew to have a proper standalone story. The opening with Picard’s flashback to his assimilation was perfect. The movie level money let the production team establish a much larger, more detailed, much scarier Borg. The Borg Queen was an intriguing concept/character with a bizarre and sensual “body horror” kind of design. Alfre Woodard was a perfect actress to go toe-to-toe with the Shakespearean excellence of Sir Patrick Stewart. James Cromwell portrays Zephram Cochrane as a likable reluctant hero type, Cromwell even delivers the rather cheesy: “And you people, you’re all astronauts on . . . some kind of star trek?” convincingly, I remember eating it all up in the theater.
The much lighter storyline on Earth is counterbalanced by the zombie movie-inspired seriousness going on up in orbit on the new Enterprise-E. The stunning walk along the hull and the subsequent fight on the deflector dish is a visual standout in the Enterprise storyline. On Earth, the early scene with Picard and Data discussing why Picard feels compelled to touch the beat up metal of the Phoenix, and how tactile feeling brings a new level of realness for humans, is a quintessential Data/Picard moment, and of course one that gets echoed later with Data and the Borg Queen.
Goldsmith’s score was perfect and easily his best after TMP. At the end when the Vulcan shakes hands with Cochrane and Goldsmith’s appropriately titled “First Contact” music track swells, it’s hard not to get a little emotional. “The money is on the screen” as they say, I like the Enteprise-E design, the new somewhat more militaristic uniforms were perfect for the current climate in the Trek universe at the time (the Dominion War was ramping up over on DS9, the Borg are attacking, etc.), the extra detailed Borg cube and new sphere designs, and of course the much more detailed and varied Borg drone costumes/makeup all show what TNG could do with a bigger budget. Tying it all together, is director Jonathan Frakes, who clearly knows his co-stars and the TNG world well, his directing chops are top notch here.
Inspired a yearly ritual
Christine Rideout (aka Starfleetmom), Social Media Manager
I watched Star Trek: First Contact this week, as I usually do every April 5th. It still entertains me. The Borg are still scary as heck at this point, having not been humanized in Voyager yet. The darkness of the Borg Queen seducing Data and her drones assimilating sections of the Enterprise-E and her crew is balanced well with the humor of the scenes on Earth.
My favorite character is still Zefram Cochrane himself. He is thrust into history kicking and screaming, but eventually steps up in the final scene to greet the alien visitors. There are several small comedic lines that always bring a smile: The EMH saying “I’m a doctor, not a doorstop,” Geordi and Riker chuckle when Cochrane says “Engage,” and of course Zefram saying, “And you people, you’re all.. astronauts on some kind of Star Trek.”
Some random thoughts i had while viewing: The Holodeck scene always feels out of place and a little silly. WTH is Geordi wearing? This is the best version of Worf. That Vulcan ship looks so dinky!
The only reason I have Roy Orbison on any road trip playlist
Kayla Iacovino, Editor-in-Chief
Star Trek: First Contact is, to me, Star Trek at its finest. This is a major sticking point for some – what is the best Star Trek movie of them all? But, for me, First Contact wins hands down. This movie gets the opportunity to show off the Next Generation crew at the peak of their popularity. It was the end of the seven-year run of the most successful incarnation of Trek to ever grace a television set. We all knew the characters as well as we ever would, and their secondary, perhaps more vivacious, movie personas had been fleshed out a bit in Generations.
While First Contact isn’t immune to silly plot points – or outright plot holes – they are easily forgiven set amongst a competent script that is exciting, playful, funny, and insightful. After Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, First Contact comes in for me as the most quotable of the film franchise. With one liners about the Borg’s potentially Swedish origins to drunk Troi listening to Roy Orbison to poor old redshirt Lt. Hawk (a random new, and yet for some reason, named redshirt on the bridge at the beginning of the film definitely doesn’t have a long life to look forward to), it’s easy to overlook things like how easy it is to time travel back and forth with no consequences. So, don’t go criticizing my film critiquing techniques. Timeline?! This is no time to argue about time! We don’t… have… the time.
First Contact Re-engaged
Anthony Pascale, Founder
For me personally, Star Trek: First Contact was a bit of a turning point, or perhaps a re-turning point. In the ’80s the release of any new Star Trek film created anticipation akin to Christmas and a birthday rolled into one. The launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation created a must-see TV ritual. Along with books, comics, games and more, I simply could not get enough Star Trek into my life. But after the show ended and with Generations being a bit of a let down, I thought that maybe it was over for Trek on the big screen, and maybe it was over for Trek for me too.
I think like a lot of fans, by the mid 90s I had sort of moved on from Star Trek. I wasn’t really into Voyager and in the pre-DVR era found it hard to follow Deep Space Nine (a show I later obsessed over through DVD binging). During this period I looked forward to the X-Files more than either of the Star Trek shows on the air. Leading up to the premiere of First Contact I didn’t have high hopes, thinking it couldn’t compete with the sci-fi action of films like Independence Day or the cerebral sci-fi of films like 12 Monkeys.
Yet, I remember watching for the first time when Adam Scott turns to Worf and exclaims “It’s the Enterprise!,” it changed the course of the battle with the Borg and re-engaged me with a franchise that was a key part of my formative years. The film provided a near perfect balance. There was fan service, like the call back to Picard’s penchant for pulp detective stories. But the film also challenged fans, like not being afraid to show conflict between Worf and Picard or dousing the sometimes naive views of these 24th century characters with some hard 21st century realities. I laughed, I cried, and I remembered “Goddammit I love Star Trek!” A decade later, I founded this site.
What about you?
What are some of your personal reflections on Star Trek: First Contact? Share them in the comments section below.