Review: Star Trek VIII: First Contact [1996]; Someone Get These Damn Time Travelling Zombie Cyborgs Off My Planet!

Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ Iɴᴅᴇx —

a (kinda long and ranty) review by the Azure-Winged Magpie.
(ft. the Crow)!

Click here to skip to the review!

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First Officer‘s log, Stardate 96759.1: Hello hello and chatter chatter!
(We’ve been waiting a while to get around to this one…)

🖖 ( ) !

No! Oh no no NO! Alright you lot! Load up those phaser rifles and get those frequencies dancing. There’s no time for our Tiny Team Update today! And do you know why?! It’s because… it’s because… it’s because ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ are here!

Aaaa

But before I get round to that… let me set up ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ for ya. See back when I was a little magpie and the crow was a baby crow we used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was a little older than the crow when I got around to the show but let me tell you one thing… ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ scared the little toes off me (and I’m telling you now that the Cap’n lies when he says they didn’t scare his little feeties off too!).

TNG had all sorts of creepy things going on (and a… sexy… lamp?!) but ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ were the scariest thing. And they were AWESOME too! I mean… they’re ALIEN.ZOMBIE.CYBORGS. That’s like… thrice more awesome than regular aliens or zombies or cyborgs. But they kinda just up and left after their only real appearance in TNG and that was pretty much it. There was a big fight with the whole Federation chucking everyone (and their wives)! at one (ONE!) ʙᴏʀɢ ship and that was pretty much it… ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ weren’t even that interested in the UFP or Starfleet. They just sent one (ONE) average little ship scooting over to take a look and damn near wiped out everything we know. That’s scary… like real scary. But that was it! Whew! We got past that!

Good job folks! Prouda ya! Real sweet!
Like… LOL. As if. 

I’m going to tell you right now that what we think about this film is different from what everyone else seems to think. And we’ve got in fights over this film between ourselves too. But I ain’t got no time to waste! ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ are a coming! Set course for Review 152! We’re warping straight in and dealing with… 

Well… hello Enterprise E

Star Trek VIII:
Those Damn Time-Travelling Zombie Cyborgs!

SPOILER LEVELS at MODERATE

🖖 (◔ _ ◔) I don’t really feel all that safe RN

SO! This one’s directed by Cdr. Riker himself (Jonathan “Two Takes” Frakes) and that’s a real good thing. Remember how I said Nick Meyer was a good thing for Star Trek? Jonny Frakes is even BETTER news. This dude’s been all over Star Trek since TNG and I don’t think there’s a Star Trek fan alive who doesn’t like the dude. And sure… this is his first film, but there’s a reason they call him “Two Takes”. The guy’s got a reputation for being efficient as.

And it starts with a retcon. Or… is it a retcon? I mean… it’s a dream and all so maybe it’s not true…? Maybe that’s just too many Earl Greys and sleepless nights and all that leftover ʙᴏʀɢ tech in his brainbox?
(You know what’s coming right? If you don’t… here we go!)

LOL!
As if!

So what’s going on is that Picard (Sir PatStew) is hearing all this ʙᴏʀɢ chatter in his head cause ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ are headed straight to Earth for some reason. Okay so maybe they didn’t like that one ship’s butt getting kicked after destroying like 99.99% of the Federation fleet but they didn’t really seem to think the Federation was really in their plans that much since that was that. They’re so far away see? By the time they can bring their fleet around to do too much damage, we’re looking at a good few decades.

But HERE THEY ARE!

And ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ ᴄᴜʙᴇ goes around beating the faces off the Federation again but this time Starfleet’s putting up a much better fight. But wait…! I haven’t gotten around to something important yet! See… the Enterprise isn’t here. Again. But you know why she isn’t here this time?!

See the Enterprise E is the biggest baddest ship Starfleet has. She’s a Sovereign class starship and comes with all these fancy new bells and whistles (with tech like “quantum” torpedos)! and everything. The last time there was a fight with ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ, the Enterprise D was taken out a long long long time before the fight and took her sweet time getting around to Wolf 359. But this time…?!

Oh right.
Starfleet doesn’t want to use its biggest baddest weapon because…

ADMIRAL MUPPET “REDSHIRT” McGEE

Oh hey Picard me geezer! You got turned into a ʙᴏʀɢ that one time didn’t you? Yeah sit this one out with that stupid powerful starship you got old chap!
No worries! We’ll just die over here kay?

*DIES*

(> っ <)IDIOTS!

Okay. So if this was real life… you stick Picard in a shuttle and send him off to somewhere far away and get Riker to turn that starship around and come down to kick some serious zombie [BLEEP].
I mean… just look at this sexy thing… 

I see a lotta dead alien cyborg zombies… a hell of a lotta them!

But no! Starfleet decides to send the ENTERPRISE E to patrol the… Neutral… Zone… and that’s about it. The rest of the film’s about lots of talking to Romulan diplomats and kicking back on Risa with Transporter Chief O’Brien (Colm Meany) and yeah it’s pretty fun I… Okayokay. I’ll stop.

So after a few minutes of everyone standing around all sadface Picard decides to violate a direct order from Starfleet and ride in all guns blazing like the big damn hero he is!

(◔ ◡ ) …yay!

And yep! The Enterprise sure puts some holes in that lazy ʙᴏʀɢ design and everything’s going real well all of a sudden (cause… like… Picard just knows how to hurt ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ and… the Enterprise E, admiral Muppet) but just before the ᴄᴜʙᴇ gets blowed up… it launches a ʙᴏʀɢ sᴘʜᴇʀᴇ towards the Earth!

(ʘ っ ʘ) oh no!

So the Enterprise goes in right after them to finish the job! But wait! Something’s wrong! There’s a time something vortex wormhole tunnel quantum something. Whatever the sᴘʜᴇʀᴇ did just turned the Earth full ʙᴏʀɢ! So of course the Enterprise is going to go back and fix the past! YAY!

Oh no wait… this is too good to be a Star Trek film. This is wayyy too good. Something’s not right here. If this keeps up it’s gonna make The Wrath of Khan look like a normal film. So… where’s this one going to let me down? Let’s get some help in! Comms! Open a channel!

[CHANNEL OPEN]:
Cap’n…? Cap’n…?!

CAP’N!

The Crow: The first third of Star Trek: First Contact outweighs the rest of the movie by a far margin. The premise of the movie — while solid — is ultimately let down by the very nature of the enemy itself. Barring the Borg’s keen interest in humanity in specific (which raises a host of questions), there’s the factor that the Borg are very nearly unstoppable. In The Best of Both Worlds Part 2, I found the “solution” to the problem of the Borg quite a lacklustre one — but a necessary one to fit within the constraints of the medium at the time. And ever since then, I’d wanted to watch the Borg “unleashed” at their full potential at some future date.

That very same unstoppable nature of the Borg, however, is what makes their inclusion in stories troublesome unless they are limited in their ability to carry out their nature. It’s much the same problem with Superman. What do you really do with these all-powerful characters?

The solution — of course — is to “ner-

[CHANNEL CLOSED]!

The Azure-Winged Magpie: Right… So! Here’s where I’m going to start talking about what I thought about the film instead of telling you about what happens in the film.

So the film did let me down. Don’t get me wrong… this is one of the best Star Trek films and might just be my own favourite one, but there’s a lot of things going on in here that I just don’t like. The two biggest problems I had were the way the film dealt with ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ and then there’s Lily (Alfre Woodard) but I’ll get to them in a mo. First let me talk about some of the other tiny bits I didn’t like.

So Picard’s not really acting like Picard ever since they get to the past. He goes from being the guy sitting in the chair calling out orders to full-on nutcase. And I get it. He’s got some issues with ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ okay? But he kinda seems to forget that he can TALK even when they’re not around even when he starts calming down. I’m not making this a really huge issue since yeah. Okay. He’s got ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ in his head and everything. I can ignore it and it makes Admiral Muppet McGee not as much of an idiot as I made him out to be.

Okay. Right. The more I think about it the less of a problem I have with it. The whole thing actually makes a lot of sense. This is kinda good and I’m wondering why I had a problem with it all those years ago. I know the Crow’s also changed his mind on the whole Picard thing and I guess this is why. But hangonamo… why not just shuttlecraft him and send Riker in? Sure. You lose Picard’s just knowing things about ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ, but it was Riker who was in command in the last real fight they had.

Next!

There’s this scene where they tell us that all of the Enterprise E‘s “windows” are holograms and… nope. Nope nope nope. Okay so look. Any ship that shape and size just can’t be made and sent off into the sky. It’s gotta have some pretty STRONG materials and forcefields all around it just to make sure I don’t break it by whacking it with my wing right? But… why would you REMOVE sections of the hull as a DESIGN CHOICE?! I mean… this is just not good thinking. There’s a scene near the beginning where the bridge viewscreen (remember that the bridge sits on TOP of the ship facing FORWARD… which is like the WORST place to put it) is a hologram and it shows that the bridge isn’t just stupidly glassed off like it always is. And if that’s what’s going on up there… WHY ARE THERE HOLES IN THIS FRAGILE SHIP?! It’s like they’re trying to show off and ended up just making themselves look like idiots.

Okay so that first one wasn’t really a problem and the second one is just [BLEEP]ing dumb but they aren’t really problems I’m going to kettle over. Here’s where we get to the fun bits! 

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Super-Magpie engaged!

PROBLEM #1! LILY

Okay so I got no issue with the actress or the character of Lily. But I do have a question… WHO IS THIS RANDOM PERSON WHO’S GIVING PICARD ADVICE AND IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN GET HIM TO CHANGE HIS MIND WHEN HE’S GOT LIKE 40% OF HIS BRIDGE CREW AROUND HIM?! I mean… Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden)’s there. Worf (Michael Dorn)’s there and gets insulted pretty bad to his face but gets a great line in at the end of it. And THIS PERSON IS THE ONE who gets Picard to change his mind?! WHY ISN’T GUINAN (Whoopi Goldberg) HERE?! She’d be PERFECT for this role!

And here’s the thing… Whoopi wasn’t even called for the film and only found it was happening in the papers. Did NO ONE think that Guinan would be a better fit for the role?! I get that Jonathan Frakes was friends with Alfre Woodard and she’s a great actress and all but the role just sticks out like a bad sore.

I mean… sure. Keep her there, but don’t promote her over the veterans who’re already THERE (the two I just named barely get to do jack-[BLEEP] in the film anyway). It just makes them look bad. I mean… CRUSHER’S there. She coulda done the job and she just sits and goes: “Oh yeah you can change his mind! Go for it! I’ll just sit here and do nothing like I haven’t done that a gazillion times before!”

PROBLEM #2! THE BORG

Hoo boy! here we go!
And where the [BLEEP] do I go with this one?!

I’ll keep things short. I don’t like ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ ǫᴜᴇᴇɴ (Alice Krige). She’s cool. She’s sexy. She’s pretty [BLEEP]-ing scary. She’s got a lot of good things going for her but… they just went and nerfed ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ like the Crow was about to complain about before I cut him off. All of a sudden we got a face to ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ and an actual voice. That whole choir-like “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE” thing’s gone broken. ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ are like 50% scary now. Not 100% like before. And wait… what’s this?! She’s acting like a jealous ex…?! Whaaa…?! 

Okay so I can come up with a few better ways to do ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ ǫᴜᴇᴇɴ than what the film gave us. Instead of the whole “aLpHA AnD OMeGa” speech… they could just make her like Locutus (rubber-on-face PatStew) 2.0. Don’t make her the “NEXUS” (would that word just stay out of Star Trek)?! See… Locutus made sense. ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ ǫᴜᴇᴇɴ really doesn’t in the way the film set her up to be. But there’s your fix right there. KEEP THE BORG THE WAY THEY ARE. You got nothing to lose. I mean… you already “isolated” the Borg in the past so why does the aLpHA AnD OMeGa have to be there?! Can’t ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ already talk to ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ in that timeline?! I’m pretty sure ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ have that tech, even in 1996.

Oh and drop the jealous ex bits. That was just weird. 

And here’s another thing that really grinds the Crow’s gears, but I love it! Yup! That’s Darth Vader breathing whenever ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ ᴅʀᴏɴᴇs show up. 

PROBLEMS SOLVED! I JUST FIXED FIRST CONTACT!

And there we go. First Contact is a film that could’ve been fixed straight from the get-go but ended up doing dumb things for no reason. I got no problems with them trying new things but they ended up breaking ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏʀɢ and I didn’t like that. And Lily going over Crusher and Worf made the Enterprise E feel less “lived in” than The Next Generation‘s ever been. But now! On to… 

FIRST CONTACT GOOD

Even though it’s a bit weird… I really like the Cochrane (James Cromwell) story. Drunk Troi (Marina Sirtis) had me rolling around and Riker‘s really grown into total captain material now. Whatever problems he had before are gone. This dude’s in charge. I also really liked La Forge (LeVar Burton)’s scenes and I really like his new eyes. Looks like he listened to Soran after all. But I’m not going to stick on this point too long. I’m just going to say that I liked the design of the Phoenix and that nacelles were part of the design right from the beginning. The “send off” scene was [BLEEP]-ing perfect cause NO ONE had ANY idea of what it really was. That was actually kinda tense. And I liked Hawk (Neal McDonough)! Shame. 

But here’s where we get to the BEST part about the film! DATA (Brent Spiner)! Data’s pretty much the comain character of The Next Generation and this film is where he gets his last good storyline. I’ve spoiled enough of the film already but here’s the thing: it might seem a bit dumb but when you figure out what’s really going on everything goes from like a 20 to a 100. (I just kinda wish they redesigned his positronic bits cause they still look a bit stupid to me). And all I’m going to give away is that this film has the BEST “ʀᴇsɪsᴛᴀɴᴄᴇ ɪs ꜰᴜᴛɪʟᴇ!” line drop EVER. It’s never been this good since it first came over the comms.

Look I know I complained a LOT but here’s the thing. I’m complaining because I actually loved First Contact but wanted it to be as good as it could be. The folks who wrote this one (not naming them right now cause that’s a whole other thing I’ll end up ranting about) kinda messed that up. Everything was there. Everything fit. And they ended up dropping it all over the floor and stepping on bits. 

Okay that’s a bit harsh since there are only really two big problems I have with the film, and a bit of slowdown in the middle part, this is the best Star Trek‘s been in a while with me. And hey…! could First Contact become my favourite Star Trek film?! Y’know what? Now that I’ve been thinking about it… well… I’ll just let my rating do the talking.

I’m gonna go ahead and recommend Star Trek: First Contact. It’s great but has problems. It’s a real good ride though and the new starship is just… hnng! But I’ll just leave things there and let you lot stew over all of what I just said. See you next time! I’ll have more to complain about, but this time… it’ll be deserved

Azure-Winged Magpie up! Up! And Awayyy! *BONK!* 


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Final Ratings

It did it!

THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 8.5/10
THE CROW: 6/10


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I’m getting to it! I’m getting to it! 

Pɪɴᴛᴇʀᴇsᴛ / Tᴡɪᴛᴛᴇʀ / Fʟɪᴘʙᴏᴀʀᴅ


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See Also


Here’s the official poster:


30 thoughts on “Review: Star Trek VIII: First Contact [1996]; Someone Get These Damn Time Travelling Zombie Cyborgs Off My Planet!”

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