Monday, October 15, 2007

First Contact

Spoiler Alert for Star Trek First Contact (1996)

I was watching Star Trek: First Contact last night, in which the Enterprise follows a time-traveling Borg ship into the past. Despite the fact that time travel gives me a headache, just like it did Captain Janeway of Voyager, I really liked this movie.

The basic plot of this movie is that the Borg launches a one-ship invasion of Earth's sector 001, and after the cube-shaped ship faces resistance by the Federation without the services of its most experienced officer and the most technologically-advanced ship in the fleet because an admiral feels that he can't trust Picard in this situation. Finally drawn into the battle by desperation, Picard senses the voices of the collective and focuses the fleet's attack on a vulnerable point on the Borg cube. Just as it is destroyed a Borg sphere escapes and starts traveling back through time. The Enterprise-E is trapped in the "temporal wake" of the sphere and the crew notes that sensors show that Earth has been assimilated. They follow the Borg sphere back to find out what has been changed. They find that the first warp ship, the Phoenix, has been damaged and that without it, Earth will not make first contact with the Vulcans, and the Federation will not be forged.

After the Borg fire on and do damage to the missile silo that houses the Phoenix, killing many of the engineering team, the Enterprise quickly destroys the sphere, but not before Borg survivors transport themselves undetected to the Enterprise-E. They quickly begin to assimilate the crew and take over under the directions of the Borg Queen.

In order to try to restore history, the crew of the Enterprise make contact with Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive. Well, he was the first human to build one, anyway. I guess it's like Columbus "discovering" America, when there were already natives living there. Anyway, the crew find out for themselves that Cochrane is not the philosopher they thought he was. I love the parts where Cochrane reacts to the crew's hero worship. James Cromwell did an outstanding job of making a Star Trek character human. The contrast between 24th century humans and 21st century people is a recurring theme throughout the movie. Picard's fixation on defeating the Borg is compared by Cochrane's assistant, Lily, to the revenge-seeking Captain Ahab of Melville's Moby Dick. It's only when Picard destroys a model of the Enterprise-D in his rage that he sees that she is right.

The part of the plot I could have done without is the Borg Queen's seduction of Data. By giving him a little skin of his own, she tempts him to join her as her equal. Bah. Data is a toaster compared to the Borg. I don't buy that one.

I thought the humor in this movie was well-placed, with a drunk Deanna Troi denying her inebriation while trying to get information from Zefram Cochrane, and Cochrane himself cranking Steppenwolf as his ship launches. Great moments to lighten up the drama of Picard mowing down his own assimilated crew member with a machine gun on the holodeck.

Worf finally gets to be bad to the bone (literally) when he ties off his damaged space suit with parts of a severed Borg arm. Now that's a Klingon!

I thought this movie really was a good start following Star Trek: Generations' passing of the baton. They really hit the ground rolling. Insurrection kept it going, but wow, they hit the wall with Nemesis. It's too bad. They had more in them, and we could really use a new, good Trek like this one.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Jim, I enjoyed this film as well. It was probably the last Trek film I saw in theatres. I love of Zephram had "Magic Carpet Ride" playing when he launched his first ship. It was so fitting.