Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Star Trek: First Contact

Film #308

THE PLOT

Captain Picard and his crew pursue the Borg back in time to stop them from preventing Earth from initiating first contact with alien life.

Year 1, Day 317

BEFORE: Star Trek: First Contact continues my quest to complete all Trek films before I see the newest on Wednesday. The second of a double-feature today, First Contact is the first with solely The Next Generation cast and is also the first to carry a PG-13 rating. I have previously seen this film and if I recall correctly, found it to be quite entertaining. Let’s see how it has held up.

AFTER: “Resistance is futile” as the Borg say and likewise it is futile to try and not like this film. Throughout the past three days as I’ve been watching these films, I’ve been noting problems, some major and some minor, all along the way, almost like a checklist of what needed to be fixed in order for the film to have no barriers to the entertainment.

So lets try to go through this checklist and see how First Contact meets all of the criteria that I’ve been lying out. First there’s this “energy level” I’ve been describing about the films: does it have the “oomph” to keep me invested in the film? The answer is yes. Energy is not a problem with plenty of action including a great space battle between the Federation and the Borg collective, the extremely tense disabling of the deflector dish, and my personal favorite, reconstruction of Zefram Cochrane’s (James Cromwell) warp drive. However, a good film is not just whether or not it’s action-packed (although Michael Bay tries his best) but whether or not it’s compelling. First Contact is an origin story of sorts detailing first contact between Earth and the Vulcan species in addition to the present-day (24th century) element of Borg invasion as well. In no way is it boring or drawn-out (The Motion Picture), lost its focus (The Search for Spock), strayed from its roots (The Voyage Home), or tried to be something it isn’t (Generations). Instead, First Contact skillfully navigates multiple stories in a well-constructed and paced manner, having those recurring elements that come back at the end (Moby Dick), and expands upon that true Star Trek quality: curiosity. Now we can see where it all began, how we arrived where we are today and the affect space travel has had on us. Cochrane is the reason and we see how his intentions didn’t necessarily match the consequences. (Side note: when I refer to “we” and “today”, I of course mean in the Trek universe. Sadly, we’ve stopped dreaming).

While Star Trek: First Contact still wouldn’t quite reach what I’d normally award five stars for, unlike the past four-star Trek films I can’t find a singular tangible negative. Therefore, First Contact receives the honors of being not only the first five-star Trek film, but also my new favorite Trek film. And this is not just because of numbers. I may not think First Contact is fully deserving of the five stars, I do think it far surpasses past favorites The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country.

RATING: 5 out of 5