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Star Trek VIII: First Contact

Originally Aired: 1996-11-22

Synopsis:
Picard orders the Enterprise to follow the Borg back in time to stop them from destroying the Phoenix, Earth's first warp-speed vessel. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 10

Fan Rating Average - 8.23

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Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Numerous major long term plot threads are serviced here.

Problems
- In TOS: Metamorphosis, we meet a much older Zefram Cochrane played by a much younger actor. Maybe the alien in that episode rejuvenated him?
- Daniels says there are 26 decks on the Enterprise E. But later PIcard says to Lily that there are 24.

Factoids
- This film is the winner of my "Best Star Trek Film Award" and is therefore a candidate for my "Best Episode Ever Award."
- This film introduces a new style of uniforms which will be adopted by DS9, but not by Voyager.
- This film further establishes that the Eugenics war and WWIII were separate events.
- The Enterprise arrived ten years after the third world war, on April 4th, 2063. This puts the third world war circa 2053. Most of the major cities have been destroyed and there are very few governments left. 600,000,000 dead.
- First Contact occurred on April 5th, 2063.
- This film features a new transporter effect.
- According to Picard, there are over 150 planets in the Federation spread across 8000 light years.
- The Enterprise-E has 24 decks and it's almost 700 meters long.
- It took Lily 4 months to scrounge up enough titanium just to build a four meter cockpit for the Phoenix.
- Ethan Phillips, otherwise known on Voyager as Neelix, plays the holographic maitre d' who greets the Borg when Picard takes Lily to the holodeck.
- Data's a faithful companion! When the Borg Queen asks Data when the last time he used his sexual programming was, Data's response was: "Eight years, seven months, sixteen days, four minutes, and 22 seconds." That date puts it right about during the events of TNG: The Naked Now when Data had sex with Yar.
- There are 50 million people living on the moon in the 24th century.
- This film was nominated for the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
- This film was nominated for an Oscar in Makeup.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise-E. Gorgeous.
- Geordi without a visor!
- Listening to the battle as it starts.
- Data: "I believe I speak for everyone here, sir, when I say to hell with our orders."
- The battle with the Borg cube.
- Worf: "Perhaps today is a good day to die!"
- Riker regarding the Defiant: "Tough little ship." Worf: "Little?"
- Data diving down several meters of the silo to talk to Lily.
- Data, after being shot repeatedly by Lily's machine gun: "Greetings!"
- Beverly regarding the EMH: "I swore I'd never use one of these."
- EMH: "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop." Count 20 for "I'm a doctor, not a (blah)" style lines, which McCoy was famous for.
- Drunk Troi: "Timeline? This is no time to argue about time. We don't have the time."
- Data: "Captain, I believe I am feeling anxiety. It is an intriguing sensation. A most distracting--" Picard: "Data, I'm sure it is a fascinating experience, but perhaps you should deactivate your emotion chip for now." Data: "Good idea, sir." Data twitches his head. Data: "Done." Picard: "Data, there are times I envy you."
- Picard regarding the Borg: "Don't let them touch you!"
- Data's conversation with the Borg queen.
- Cochrane: "And you people... you're all astronauts on some kind of star trek?"
- Picard: "Maximum setting. If you had fired this, you would have vaporized me." Lily: "It's my first ray gun."
- Data questioning who and what the Borg queen is and her subsequent assemblage.
- Borg Queen: "I am the beginning. The end. The one who is many. I am the Borg." Data: "Greetings. I am curious. Do you control the Borg Collective?" Borg Queen: "You imply a disparity where none exists. I am the Collective." Data: "Perhaps I should rephrase the question. I wish to understand the organizational relationships. Are you their leader?" Borg Queen: "I bring order to chaos." Data: "An interesting if cryptic response."
- Borg Queen: "We too are on a quest to better ourselves. Evolving toward a state of perfection." Data: "Forgive me, but the Borg do not evolve. They conquer." Borg Queen: "By assimilating other beings into our Collective, we are bringing them closer to perfection." Data: "Somehow I question your motives."
- Lily: "Borg... sounds Swedish." Upon seeing a Borg, after screaming a few times, Lily says: "Definitely not Swedish."
- The whole Dixon Hill holodeck scene.
- Barclay's appearance.
- Geordi to Cochrane: "You're standing almost on the exact spot where your statue's gonna be!"
- The zero gravity space suit scene, walking upside down on the Enterprise traveling to the deflector.
- Worf's hand to hand combat with the Borg in space.
- Picard releasing the deflector emitter.
- Worf saving Picard, having tied the leak in his suit with components from dead Borg. :)
- Worf: "Assimilate this!"
- Cochrane: "You think I want to go to the stars? I don't even like to fly! I take trains!"
- Riker: "Someone once said don't try to be a great man, just be a man and let history make its own judgments." Cochrane: "That's rhetorical nonsense. Who said that?" Riker: "You did. Ten years from now."
- Worf's response to being called a coward by Picard: "If you were any other man, I would kill you where you stand!"
- Lily accusing Picard of being another Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. Picard smashes the glass container holding the model ships and the Enterprise-D falls...
- Picard: "I will not sacrifice the Enterprise. I've made too many compromises already. Too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no farther! I will make them pay for what they've done!"
- Beverly: "So much for the Enterprise-E." Picard: "We barely knew her." Beverly: "Think they'll build another one?" Picard: "Plenty of letters left in the alphabet."
- The Phoenix lift off, to Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride.
- Cochrane: "Engage!"
- Data to the Borg Queen: "Resistance is futile!"
- The First Contact scene.

My Review
My only real complaint about the film is the beginning, believe it or not. Yes, the Borg battle was spectacular. So what was wrong with it? It was too bloody short! They should have scrapped the entire tidbit about Starfleet not trusting Picard to fight the Borg and given all that extra time to the battle itself. Would have been perhaps less dramatic, but a showdown between the Borg and the Federation fleet certainly deserved more of a fight than that. Why, we didn't even get to see Wolf 359 until DS9's pilot, and we didn't get to see much of the battle even with that. Aside from that, the Enterprise-E was, as I've said above, gorgeous. She is everything a next-next generation Enterprise should be. Sleeker, more elegant, more powerful, etc. One interestingly funny in-joke regarding this movie is the method by which Worf was introduced as a crew member aboard the Enterprise. Obviously he was stationed aboard DS9, so he must have been given command of the Defiant to fight the Borg. When his ship was crippled, Picard beamed his crew to the Enterprise. Very convenient and very effective. The only annoying quality surrounding this is the fact that the only DS9 crew member aboard the Defiant was Worf. Everyone else was a redshirt. Personally, I wouldn't have minded seeing a few more DS9 guests in this film. But alas, like the episode TNG: Birthright, the film screams "I'm a TNG film, not a DS9 film!" Also remarkable is the music of Jerry and Joel Goldsmith in this film. Fantastic throughout, but my favorite scene (both musically and otherwise) is toward the beginning of the film when the Borg cube first pans over the camera. In the end, all things considered, this is easily the best Star Trek film ever done; many people would say the best Star Trek production period.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Neil on 2006-05-23 at 3:42pm:
    Hi, great site. I am loving the reviews and may submit some when time allows.

    I would like to make one point though, you say that Lt Hawk dies in First Contact but appears in future films. This is not true, Neil McDonough's character does not reappear after his death, in any of the remaining 2 star trek films.

    Thanks
  • From EKH on 2007-05-14 at 3:32pm:
    If this movie was a place, its name would be "Perfection, Arizona". "Perfection", because IMHO this is the best SF movie ever - though it ties with Aliens for that position - and "Arizona" because it is out-of-the-way, and far too frequently overlooked as a great film in its own right. It has got all the elements: The humour, the wonder, the plot, the atmosphere, the scares, the darkness and lightness, and all those wonderful little character moments. And the Defiant!
    And then it weaves everything together in just the right manner. While I agree the space battle might have been longer, I'm afraid that might break up the pace.
  • From JTL on 2008-01-19 at 11:26pm:
    This is truly the greatest movie that the Star Trek franchise has put out - but I have one problem with it, and indeed all incidents with the Borg. If the Borg adept so readily to energy weapons, then why not get the computer to replicate machine-guns to mow them down? It seems simple and it obviously works, looking at the Dixon Hill holodeck scene.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-11-17 at 3:30pm:
    I just watched this again recently, as I'm hitting all the films during my slow march through the franchises. I agree that it's easily the best film of the bunch (with the possible exception of Star Trek II, just because it's so iconic) but there are some trouble spots that keep it from being a 10 in my book.

    Cochrane's character is a little too broadly-drawn for my tastes, and his generic rock n roll jukebox is a little embarrassing. That said, I think it's cool that they revisited first contact with the Vulcans in a way that makes the Vulcans in Enterprise more believable. One huge problem for me is the way that Hawk is assimilated while still inside his suit. This makes the Borg out to be zombies, and doesn't seem to fit with their character.

    That said, I love the scene in which Picard and Worf let loose the deflector dish. It's cool to see the ship close up from outside. Lilly is also a great character, and Patrick Stewart has good chemistry with Alfre Woodard.
  • From Jonathon on 2009-12-09 at 12:41am:
    I loved this film when it first came out and for a long time it was my favorite trek movie. However for me it does not stand the test of time that well. It lacks the personal emotions of TWOK, the political relevance of TUC, and the humor (I feel) is only really funny to star trek fans. Yes the battle is great, but again it lacks weight and is really just a bunch of ships shooting at one big ship. Cool for me as a star trek fan (I wanted to see a big Borg battle since BOBW as much as anyone else) but now it just feels like eye candy. Compared it to the battles on TWOK and TUC, while they may not look as nice (due to when they were made), I still feel a real sense of danger with each shot fired.

    Not to say I dislike FC now, I like the interactions between the Queen and Data (lots of people don’t), I like the grief and personal turmoil of Picard (Whether this is true to his character can be debated), I like that Cochrane was an anti-hero.

    There is more good and bad to say but I will leave with this, more than 10 years after 1998 this movie means much less to me than when it came out. It can not be great sci-fi in my books because it fails that crucial test of time.
  • From Jason on 2009-12-22 at 7:03am:
    I'd like to echo Jonathon's thinking on this movie. When I saw it on opening night, I was ecstatic with it. But over time, this movie has lost its luster.

    In particular, the idea of a "Queen", a central point that you can disable and knock out the whole hive, entirely defeats the whole concept of the Borg. The whole reason that the Borg were scary was that (1) they were so adaptable, and (2) they are perfectly decentralized, precisely so that this kind of single-shot-killing-the-death-star kind of foolishness could never occur. This movie takes one of Star Trek's most innovative, truly frightening enemies and turns them into generic stupid centralized bad guys.

    In short, the movie is a fun romp, but doesn't have any bigger purpose, and takes the Star Trek universe a step backward on the whole.
  • From MJ on 2011-02-26 at 8:35am:
    The Borg were one of the most brilliant aliens ever created in science-fiction, and they worked out great for a couple episodes of TNG, specifically "Q Who?" and "Best of Both Worlds". After that, they weren't the same.

    For me, this movie was the last straw. A queen? Come on! The Borg’s decentralized structure and hive mind are exactly what make them so interesting. Also, you do not negotiate with the Borg, as they are amoral and only interested in assimilating life forms and their technologies. This completely upset that concept. As for the premise of the movie, it’s riddled with timeline disruptions and contradictions that I won’t get too much into here…suffice to say that the Enterprise crew’s spelling out of the entire future to Cochrane and Lilly makes it very hard for me to believe the timeline still unfolded exactly as it would have if the crew never visited Earth.

    Anyway, as with the other TNG films, there is enough here to somewhat redeem the movie despite its glaring failures. The Borg now look scarier and more sophisticated than ever…imagine what a budget like this would’ve enabled the TV show to do with Borg costumes and makeup! We can now see close-up shots of gadgets being installed into body parts, skin being graphed, eyes being drilled into, and all kinds of other frighteningly realistic operations to turn humanoids into cybernetic beings. This added a lot to the film, as it made the Borg seem more real!

    The opening battle scene is incredible. Once again, Trek’s efforts to incorporate humor so as to appeal to a wider audience are largely successful here. And I loved the “Big Goodbye” scene, which offered some nice continuity. This movie is worth watching twice (unlike Nemesis and Insurrection) because it has several exciting twists and turns, and three parallel plots that keep your attention.
  • From Johnnyribcage on 2012-05-15 at 3:01am:
    Hi all, this is my first comment on this site. I've been a Trekker since I can remember (I'm 31). Grew up on the Kirk Treks, and TNG to a lesser extent. I've never been a big fan of anything other than TOS, the original cast movies, and a couple of the TNG movies including this one. Had some time on my hands recently and I tracked down this site, which led to a little Trek revival in my life (looking back on episodes I've loved, misjudged, and/or missed) I've always enjoyed this movie in particular. I just wanted to say that I agree with the host that this one is really up there with the best of Trek. Also, I noticed that someone earlier posted a gripe about Cochran's generic jukebox. I wanted to set the record straight that there's nothing generic about Roy Orbison OR Ooby Dooby - it's a classic (albeit one of my all time least favorite classic rock songs).
  • From TLAS on 2013-01-03 at 3:37am:
    Great movie... But I just have to ask...
    Anyone find it funny how the enterprise is magically able to reverse-engineer time travel from the Borg at the end of the film? If so, shouldn't that mean the federation has the ability to (at least) jump 300 years into the past and future at will now? Kind of seems like something that would have changed everything in the future movies and was just a side wrap-up rather than a coherent concept.
    Oh we'll - still a good movie.
  • From Selador on 2013-06-24 at 9:17pm:
    This film is riddled with flaws which makes it completely incoherent. It frustrates me how the writers of the 'the best Star Trek film ever done' couldn't even be bothered to think things through properly. Here are some of the most obvious problems in ascending order.

    1. How many decks are there on the Enterprise-E? 26 according to Worf, 24 according to Picard.

    2. Weapons - when the Borg adapt to the phase-modulation, Picard says they'll need to find a way around it. So the Federation of the 24th century either haven't done that already or Picard reckons his crew can come up with something new during an extremely chaotic situation. Also Picard kills a few Borg in the holosuite using projectile weapons - so why not just use them? If the Borg are capable of 'adapting' to this then they would have done so already - matter is matter, you can't re-modulate that.

    3. Even though the Borg have assimilated "thousands of worlds" they all look human. Didn't they ever assimilate shorter/taller/bigger/smaller species?

    4. Picard says the Borg won't attack them until they consider them a threat - so they don't consider a big, armed crew of hostiles a threat?

    5. The Vulcans are aware of humanity but have decided not to make contact with them because they're "too primitive". Does one man inventing warp drive change this? How?

    6. In the end, before Data intentionally misses Zefram's ship with the missiles, he over-rides the computer decryption. Why? Doing so gives him no tactical advantage and only adds a huge unnecessary risk, since if he fails to incapacitate the Borg, they then have control of the ship.

    7. Apparently the Vulcans didn't detect the presence of the Enterprise. How could this be? Countless times we've seen Federation captains scanning for other ships in the sector - are we supposed to believe that Vulcans can't do this?

    8. Can Vulcans speak English? Surely not... But when they land on earth they can converse with humans. Via the Universal Translator? No, because as we've seen in DS9 it has to be implanted in the brains of those that have it for it to work. There is also an episode of DS9 where the crew comes across a new species - the Universal Translator can't translate their language because it's "not in the database". So what's going on here?

    9. Time. This is by far the biggest flaw in the film and completely undermines its whole premise. So the Borg can travel to the past in order to assimilate earth before it has made first contact. Why haven't they already done this? I mean, what's the point of launching an attack with one Cube (one!!! They have a massive empire!) when they could have simply traveled to the past in Borg space THEN traveled to earth? If they're willing to do that at all why not just do it?

    I don't understand how these problems weren't flagged up during production, and why Trek fans are willing to put up with such lazy writing. Are we really that easy to please?
  • From Kethinov on 2013-06-25 at 12:12pm:
    Selador, some of your critiques are valid, but most are easily rationalized.

    #1: Valid. I just checked. Though it was Daniels, not Worf who contradicted Picard.

    #2: Not valid. It's well established throughout Star Trek that projectile weapons are considered primitive and passé. For example, in DS9: Field of Fire, the plot goes out of its way to make a point of that. So it seems reasonable that the Federation would not have come up with Picard's idea on its own.

    #3: Not valid. It's well established throughout Star Trek that nearly all aliens are humanoid to some degree. Besides, if you look closely at their faces you can see alien detail. I'm pretty sure one of the Borg that fights them on the deflector disk used to be Klingon!

    #4: Not valid. Maybe it's bad tactics for the Borg to ignore an armed boarding party walking around near them, but that's how they are, and it's how they were depicted since day one. It's a character flaw, not a plot hole. They're supposed to be an insect colony metaphor, remember?

    #5: Not valid. It's well established throughout Star Trek that any species without warp drive is to be left alone to develop on its own. That's what that whole Prime Directive thing is about.

    #6: Not valid. Data did that to gain and then abuse the Borg queen's trust. Once the encryption was defeated, she thought she had Data in her pocket and then trusted him too much.

    #7: Not valid. The Vulcans were stated to be just passing through the system at the exact time Cochrane made his famous warp flight. The Enterprise arrived a considerable time before that. Once they discovered what historical event was about to happen, the Enterprise took measures to conceal themselves from the Vulcans.

    #8: Not valid. The Vulcans had plenty of time to learn English while studying humans from afar. This is confirmed in In Star Trek Enterprise, where it is well established that T'Pol and her Vulcan comrades learned English to work with humans, and T'Pol's ancestors learned English while studying Earth in secret.

    #9: Not valid. The Borg are overconfident. That's why they sent only a single cube both times they attacked Earth. As for the time travel, the movie doesn't make it clear why the Borg can't just try again. However, it seems obvious that if they could, they would. It stands to reason that whatever device the Borg used to travel back in time must require a scarce resource or something.

  • From Bernard on 2013-06-25 at 2:10pm:
    This movie polarises my own opinion so goodness knows it must with the Star Trek fanbase as a whole.

    On the one hand, you have one of the best sci-fi (dumb) action movies ever made (in my opinion).

    On the other hand, you have a plot that is very silly and characters doing silly things in order to make that plot work.

    I have to agree with one poster that said this movie does not stand the test of time in terms of my maturity. When I saw this film at the cinema I was 13 and it was one of the best films I'd ever seen, period!

    Looking back on it now, as I said above it is a great action movie that ticks a hell of a lot more boxes than most current action movies do, but it lacks common sense and that is a fatal flaw when I watch it as an adult.

    I don't actually agree with most of selador's gripes, there are more! It's the way the individuals act. Specifically, Picard, Data and the Queen (who should not have been in this movie or invented at all - she was the beginning of the Borg becoming a joke). The three of them act so stupidly, especially towards the end of the movie, that understanding they're goals and motives is nigh on impossible, thus you lose your grip on the audience.

    Why can Picard hear the Borg? Beverly is incompetant after Best of Both Worlds? (I know you'll come up with some explanation for this webmaster - but essentially it's a plot device). Why does Picard go to Engineering at the end, what is his plan? No plan? What is the Queen's goal with Data? Why is she thinking like an individual? What is Data doing? He has a chance to break the plasma tanks midway through the film and doesn't, he says at the end he only considered the Queen's offer for a fraction of a second. The fact that these three characters are acting like they have no clue what they are trying to achieve is simply a plot device to allow the events of the film to play out. How the hell does Picard manage to survive the plasma being blown at the end of the film, supposedly everyone in Engineering was going to be killed by that? Why is Picard suddenly so affected by his Best of Both Worlds experience again? In I, Borg he lets Hugh go instead of getting his revenge and that was only a year or so after, this is years later! Why do the Borg stop on deck 16? Why not continue assimilating the ship whilst building the emmitter? Oh hang on, I know why, to give the good guys chance to come up with a plan and execute it!

    Now, despite all this I still love this film. I accept the silliness for what it is. You cannot do time travel without some fudging around the edges. You cannot defeat the Borg without either dumbing them down and powering them down a bit or creating some kind of get out of jail free card.

    This is a fantastic action movie, the shots of the big battle at the start still look at good as anything J.J. put in his films and this is nearly 20 years old. The production value used to sex up the Borg was excellent, this was the Borg we always wanted to see on TNG appearance-wise. The back story of Cochrane and the Phoenix was well realised along with First Contact and it all ties in nicely and works well with the action on board the ship. The magnetic boot scene is the absolute highlight in terms of using a different envronment to create a tense action scene. The interaction between Picard and Lily and Picard and Worf is excellent creating great tension between the good guys. Worf's 'if you were any other man' dialogue still makes my neck hairs stand on end.

    So these days I think I have to rate this film a 8 or 9. When I first saw it I thought it was an outstanding 10...
  • From Kevin on 2013-12-18 at 2:13pm:
    Wow, I hate to be in the minority, but this is by far my least favorite Next Gen movie. It has action, it has a lot of action...and it has action. Beyond that it is a plot with many holes, and is FAR too simple. There is no grand message, no epic story, but merely fighting the borg, that have gone back in time.
    YAWN. Star trek does so much better at stories that aspire to more. Exploration, a statement. It is entertaining somewhat, but also has some boring parts. It feels mostly like an excuse to fight the borg. Is that all it takes to excite star trek fans?
  • From Edward on 2014-12-16 at 7:44am:
    Loved this movie so much I didn't notice this until recently:
    How come none of those highly educated Starfleet officers recognized Lily? She was supposed to fly in the Phoenix with Cochrane. She was Buzz Aldrin, for crying out loud!
  • From Armsauce on 2017-06-02 at 5:59pm:
    I'll never understand the praise for the TNG movies. Picard is completely out of character in all of them, First Contact included. Not to mention completely trivializing the borg.

    It's another movie filled with too many coincidences and lazy explanations.

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