Production: Paramount, 1996
Running Time: 1 hour 51 minutes
When the Borg fail in their attempt to assimilate humanity in the 23rd century, the vicious aliens travel though time to prevent the first human-built spaceship from traveling faster than the speed of light - an event which brought Earth to the attention of spacefaring neighbor species. While Riker, Troi, and LaForge attempt to ensure that ancient astronomer Cochrane will make that first flight, Picard and Data are trapped on an Enterprise controlled by the Borg.
Hard-drinking adventurer Cochrane gets cold feet when he learns he will be revered as a savior. Riker manages to persuade him to take his historic flight. But the Borg Queen appeals to Data by offering him what he has always wanted - human feelings in an android body. Picard, still reeling from his previous assimilation, must save his ship and his crewmember before the aliens win once again.
Best For Ages:
8-12 - The most mature of the Trek films, FIRST CONTACT contains explicit sexual innuendo and violence that may scare younger viewers.
12 & up - For older viewers who like some bite in their science fiction, this dark tale will be enthralling.
Educational Value: The mechanics of the Borg bodies and Data's android technology will fascinate kids. Pseudo-history of spaceflight unfolds as an unwilling hero takes his place as a role model.
Entertainment Value: Spectacular visuals enliven both the space scenes and the appearance of mechanical Borg characters. The events set on Earth allow a break from the dark shipboard sequences.
Sex: The Borg Queen tries to seduce Data in a scene that includes a visual joke about oral sex.
Profanity: The non-Starfleet characters use mild curses.
Violence: Considerable, for a Star Trek movie. The Borg storm the Enterprise and assimilate humans by injecting them with nanoprobes, then removing body parts to add advanced prosthetics. Data and Picard both fight the Borg Queen, who is dismembered in a graphically vivid sequence.
Frightening Situations: The Borg travel through time to take over Earth by assimilating humans into their collective. Picard has terrifying memories of having been assimilated before. Crewmembers are trapped on a ship full of hostile aliens.
Questionable Behavior: Troi gets drunk. Though Cochrane can hold his liquor, he flees from the responsibility of being a hero.
Emotional Intensity: Picard kills a crewmember to prevent his assimilation.
Gender Insensitivity: Despite her alien origins, the Borg Queen is portrayed as a stereotypical sexpot who uses feminine wiles to get her way.
FIRST CONTACT is undeniably exciting, with two nail-biting climaxes - the first being the warp flight that leads the Vulcans to Earth, the second being Picard and Data's defeat of the Borg Queen. Yet the film seems relentlessly dark and extremely violent. It's good science fiction, but fans of Star Trek who seek a hopeful vision of the future may find it very unappealing.
As in previous film GENERATIONS, Data and Picard receive the bulk of the character development; most of the rest of the cast are used as props. Troi has an amusing turn drinking real alcohol when she's used to synthehol, though parents may not appreciate the lack of responsibility. Still, she's a better role model than the Borg queen, a completely amoral character who uses sex and violence almost interchangeably to get Data to do her bidding.
Picard's first solo adventure is one of the better STAR TREK films. But without Kirk, the heroics just aren't as much fun to watch. Kids exposed to Shatner's recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution in the episode THE OMEGA GLORY may laugh at the blustering performance, but the words will stick. And anyone who ever watched the sacrifices Kirk was willing to make for his friends and Federation can't help but admire him.
Viewers will want to see the excellent television episode THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION Episode 74) as backstory to FIRST CONTACT. The original series episode TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY (STAR TREK Episode 21) offers a more upbeat take on time travel as the original Enterprise crew visits old Earth.
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