Two-Bit Reviews: Star Trek First Contact: A Movie Review
A lot was riding on this one, for me as a fan. We sat in the theater with that same sense of anticipation that comes before any Star Trek movie, and the important names hit: Screenplay by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. Director: Jonathan Frakes. We were in good hands, at least. Intake of breath. What comes next? What came next was a revelation. The movie wasted not a second before plunging us in deep. Picard is still struggling with his Locutus demons, and the Borg are on their way back.
Here we are. It was dramatic, it was visually striking, it was personal, emotional, and gripping. Then: a step back! Counting dust particles? I was in. I had so much fun I actually saw it in the theater twice a rarity for me during the TNG movie era. The stars aligned perfectly for this project. Jonathan Frakes directs the picture with the ease and confidence of a skilled veteran, and the cast was riding a good script that brought out the best in all of them. You can often tell when a group of actors is having a good time making a movie, and First Contact was one of those projects that was apparently a great experience for all.
So — please raise a glass with the beverage of your choice maybe even something called Tequila and give a toast to First Contact Day. Have some of the good stuff to celebrate First Contact Day. The movie level money let the production team establish a much larger, more detailed, much scarier Borg. Alfre Woodard was a perfect actress to go toe-to-toe with the Shakespearean excellence of Sir Patrick Stewart.
The much lighter storyline on Earth is counterbalanced by the zombie movie-inspired seriousness going on up in orbit on the new Enterprise-E. The stunning walk along the hull and the subsequent fight on the deflector dish is a visual standout in the Enterprise storyline. Tying it all together, is director Jonathan Frakes, who clearly knows his co-stars and the TNG world well, his directing chops are top notch here.
It still entertains me. The Borg are still scary as heck at this point, having not been humanized in Voyager yet. The darkness of the Borg Queen seducing Data and her drones assimilating sections of the Enterprise-E and her crew is balanced well with the humor of the scenes on Earth. My favorite character is still Zefram Cochrane himself. He is thrust into history kicking and screaming, but eventually steps up in the final scene to greet the alien visitors. Some random thoughts i had while viewing: The Holodeck scene always feels out of place and a little silly.
WTH is Geordi wearing? This is the best version of Worf. That Vulcan ship looks so dinky! This is a major sticking point for some — what is the best Star Trek movie of them all? But, for me, First Contact wins hands down. This movie gets the opportunity to show off the Next Generation crew at the peak of their popularity. It was the end of the seven-year run of the most successful incarnation of Trek to ever grace a television set. We all knew the characters as well as we ever would, and their secondary, perhaps more vivacious, movie personas had been fleshed out a bit in Generations.
This is no time to argue about time! For me personally, Star Trek: First Contact was a bit of a turning point, or perhaps a re-turning point. Along with books, comics, games and more, I simply could not get enough Star Trek into my life. But after the show ended and with Generations being a bit of a let down, I thought that maybe it was over for Trek on the big screen, and maybe it was over for Trek for me too.
I think like a lot of fans, by the mid 90s I had sort of moved on from Star Trek.
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During this period I looked forward to the X-Files more than either of the Star Trek shows on the air. The film provided a near perfect balance. But the film also challenged fans, like not being afraid to show conflict between Worf and Picard or dousing the sometimes naive views of these 24th century characters with some hard 21st century realities. What are some of your personal reflections on Star Trek: First Contact? Share them in the comments section below. Star Trek Beyond.
First contact was the turning point in the Star Trek franchise which lead to its collapse. This is film was where the Star Trek franchise went off the rails.
It was a great film but it mucked up Star Trek in the sense of following this film no one seems to have remembered how time travelled worked in Star Trek. Also without this film we probably never would have enterprise and its take on Star Trek either. And without enterprise we might have gotten a show that even if it was only as okay as voyager it probably would not have killed the franchise for a decade.
That has always bothered me somewhat- but not enough for me to label it as a terrible Star Trek picture. The whole idea of Picards breakdown in this movie was that he was facing his true enemy, an enemy who violated him. This was a personal revenge mission for Picard, a very human story actually. People often say that, but it is the thoughtful Picard that wins the day over action Picard with the character ultimately turning his back on his obsessive quest for revenge. This is a great Star Trek film.
It has heart. It has character. It has scares. It has a terrific score. The story of a man fighting his past demons, another man overcoming his cynicism to be a future hero, and an android tempted to be fully human by a cybernetic she-devil…. First Contact turned our ship of peaceful scientists and diplomats into just another space warship.
This is where Star Trek died. But fans, being fans, still loved it because there was lots of shooting and stuff. You understand that the Borg never responded well to diplomacy, right? Plus, the Enterprise has always been heavily armed since TOS. Yes, there have always been scientists and diplomats on Star Trek, but the military component has always been there, too.
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I love First Contact because it is uplifting, has heart and soul and, as someone else said, has probably THE most Star Trek like positive message at its end of any Trek movie made since the classic cast films stopped. Why is it considered a masterpiece? Because it has a human story underpinning the action.
FC is the same. I know what you mean. This is when the quest to satiate the insatiable with endless thrills, explosions and violence got into full gear. A foolish path that in the end gutted Star Trek of its core qualities and USP as the only popular sci-fi that was deep, thoughtful and heartfelt. Quick profits were made, but in the end the brand was cheapened and destroyed. Despite the Borg theme the movie us ultimately uplifting. For me it was the last truly good Star Trek film. To pin the entire direction of the franchise on it over the past 22 years is a little unfair.
I remember sitting in the theatre in Bozeman, MT watching this as a teenager. When Riker mentioned that the complex was in central Montana, the theatre erupted in cheers. I live in southern Idaho. They were both blown away by the film. First Contact was a helluva rebound film, a good story and the TNG characters felt in their own element. They all had potential but turned out to be full of missed opportunities. The Defiant from DS9. A holographic Doctor cameo. An origin tale with Cochrane breaking the warp barrier and introducing the Vulcans.
Sitting in the theater I was pretty disappointed when Kirk had a lame fight with Soren and fell to his death by being crushed under a bridge. It was quite apparent at the time. The movie in general was OK, certainly the Enterprise D crash-landing was a highlight. But whatever decent goodwill the movie had garnered by that point was ruined with that ending. Exactly, First Contact actually in a way made the whole Star Trek world larger by involving many different elements and characters from different parts of the universe. Review by Scott Collura. Video Review.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Photos. Artboard 3 Copy. Artboard 3. Everton and makeup designers Michael Westmore , Scott Wheeler , and Jake Garber wanted to upgrade the pasty white look the Borg had retained since The Next Generation ' s second season, born out of a need for budget-conscious television design. In the television series, much of the Borg's faces had been covered by helmets, but for First Contact the makeup artist removed the head coverings and designed assimilated versions of familiar Star Trek aliens such as Klingons , Bolians , Romulans , Bajorans , and Cardassians.
Each drone received an electronic eyepiece. The blinking lights in each eye were programmed by Westmore's son to repeat a production member's name in Morse code. So, at the very end [of the film], they're more ferocious. The Borg Queen was a challenge because she had to be unique among Borg but still retain human qualities; Westmore was conscious of avoiding comparisons to films like Alien. I thought, great; they made this, and they've scared themselves! Principal photography took a more leisurely pace than on The Next Generation because of a less hectic schedule; only four pages of script had to be filmed each day, as opposed to eight on the television series.
Leonetti to the Star Trek franchise; Frakes hired him out of admiration for some of his previous work on films such as Poltergeist and Strange Days. The cameraman also spent several days at the sets of Voyager and Deep Space Nine to observe filming. Leonetti devised multiple lighting methods for the Enterprise interiors for ship standard operations, "Red alert" status, and emergency power.
He reasoned that since the ship was being taken over by a foreign entity, it required more dramatic lighting and framing. Leonetti preferred shooting with long lenses to provide a more claustrophobic feel, but made sure the length did not flatten the image. Handheld cameras were used for battle sequences so that viewers were brought into the action and the camera could follow the movements of the actors.
Since so many new sets had to be created, the production commenced filming with location photography. Four days were spent in the Titan Missile Museum , south of Tucson, Arizona —the disarmed nuclear missile was fitted with a fiberglass capsule shell to stand in for the Phoenix ' s booster and command module.
To give greater dimension to the rocket and lend the missile a futuristic appearance, Leonetti chose to offset the missile's metallic surface with complementary colors. After the completion of the Phoenix shots, the crew moved to two weeks of nighttime shooting in the Angeles National Forest. Zimmerman created a village of fourteen huts to stand in for Montana; the cast enjoyed the scenes as a chance to escape their uniforms and wear "normal" clothes. To give the scene a black-and-white feel, Leonetti made sure to use light without any coloration. After location shooting was completed, shooting on the new Engineering set began May 3.
The set lasted less than a day in its pristine condition before it was "Borgified". Filming then proceeded to the bridge. These lights were then directed towards the actors' faces at degree angles. The set was lined with window paneling backed by red lights, which would blink intermittently during red-alert status.
These lights were supplemented by what Leonetti called "interactive light"; these were off-stage, red-gelled lights that cast flashing rims on the bridge set and heads of the crew. For the Borg intrusion, the lighting originated solely from instrument panels and red-alert displays. The fill light on these scenes was reduced so that the cast would pass through dark spots on the bridge and interiors out of the limited range of these sources.
Small and watt lights were used to throw localized shafts of light onto the sets. Next came the action sequences and the battle for the Enterprise , a phase the filmmakers dubbed "Borg Hell". To balance these elements he added more comedic elements to the Earth scenes, intended to momentarily relieve the audience of tension before building it up again.
To give the corridor walls more shape, Leonetti lit them from underneath. Since the halls were so small and the ceilings would be visible in many of the shots, special attention was paid to hiding the light fixtures. For the live-action spacewalk scenes, visual-effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore spent two weeks of bluescreen photography at the deflector set. Moore used a laptop with digital reproductions of the set to orient the crew and help Frakes understand what the finished shot would look like.
McDonough recalled that he joined Stewart and Dorn in asking whether they could do the shots without the topound 4. The last scene filmed was the film's first, Picard's Borg nightmare. The shot continues to pull back and reveal the exterior of a Borg ship. The scene was inspired by a New York City production of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street in which the stage surrounded the audience, giving a sense of realism. The crew used a mm lens to make it easier for the effects team to dissolve the closeup shots with the other elements.
Starting from Stewart's eye, the camera pulled back 25 feet 7. The surface of the stage proved too uneven to accomplish the smooth dolly pullback required by the effects team, who needed a steady shot to blend a computer-generated version of Picard's eye with the pullback. Smaller effects sequences, such as phaser fire, computer graphics, and transporter effects, were delegated to a team led by visual-effects supervisor David Takemura.
Star Trek: First Contact Review | Movie - Empire
These rough animated storyboards established length, action and composition, allowing the producers and director to ascertain how the sequences would play out before they were shot. First Contact was the last film to feature a physical model of the Enterprise. For the ship's dramatic introduction, the effects team combined motion control shots of the Enterprise model with a computer-generated background. Sequence supervisor Dennis Turner, who had created Generations ' energy ribbon and specialized in creating natural phenomena, was charged with creating the star cluster, modeled after the Eagle Nebula.
The nebular columns and solid areas were modeled with basic wireframe geometry, with surface shaders applied to make the edges of the nebula glow. A particle render that ILM had devised for the earlier tornado film Twister was used to create a turbulent look within the nebula. Once the shots of the Enterprise had been captured, Turner inserted the ship into the computer-generated background and altered its position until the images matched up.
The opening beauty pass of the new Enterprise was the responsibility of visual-effects cinematographer Marty Rosenberg, who handled all the other miniatures, explosions, and some live-action bluescreen elements. Knoll decided to shoot the model from above and below as much as possible; side views made the ship appear too flat and elongated. For the Borg battle, Knoll insisted on closeup shots that were near the alien vessel, necessitating a physical model. To make the Borg vessel appear even larger than it was, Knoll made sure that an edge of it was facing the camera like the prow of a ship and that the Cube broke the edges of the frame.
To give the Cube greater depth and texture, Rosenberg shot the vessel with harsher light. I wanted it to look scary and mysterious, so it was lit like a point, and we always had the camera dutched to it; we never just had it coming straight at us," he said. The model had specific areas which could be blown up multiple times without damaging the miniature. Safety glass was placed over the lens to prevent damage, while the camera was covered with plywood to protect it from bits of plastic that rained down after each explosion. The time-travel vortex the Sphere creates was simulated with a rocket re-entry effect; bowshock forms in front of the ship, then streams backwards at high speed.
Interactive lighting was played across the computer-generated Enterprise model for when the ship is caught in the time vortex. The miniature Enterprise was again used for the spacewalk sequence. Even on the large model, it was hard to make the miniature appear realistic in extreme close-up shots. Painter Kim Smith spent several days on a tiny area of the model to add enough surface detail for the close-up, but even then the focus was barely adequate.
To compensate, the crew used a wider-angle lens and shot at the highest f-stop they could.
Star Trek: First Contact
The live-action scenes of the spacewalking crew were then digitally added. Wide shots used footage of photo doubles walking across a large bluescreen draped across ILM's parking lot at night. ILM was tasked with imagining what the immediate assimilation of an Enterprise crewmember would look like. Jaeger came up with a set of cables that sprang from the Borg's knuckles and buried themselves in the crewmember's neck.
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Wormlike tubes would course through the victim's body and mechanical devices break the skin. The entire transformation was created using computer-generated imagery. The wormlike geometry was animated over the actor's face, then blended in with the addition of a skin texture over the animation. The gradual change in skin tone was simulated with shaders. Frakes considered the entrance of the Borg Queen—when her head, shoulders, and steel spine are lowered by cables and attached to her body—as the "signature visual effect in the film". The scene was difficult to execute, taking ILM five months to finish.
This strategy enabled the filmmakers to incorporate as many live-action elements as possible without resorting to further digital effects. To make the prosthetics appear at the proper angle when her lower body was removed, Krige extended her neck forward so it appeared in line with the spine. Knoll did not want it to seem that the Queen was on a hard, mechanical rig; "we wanted her to have the appropriate 'float'," he explained. Using separate motion control passes on the set, Knoll shot the lower of the upper torso and the secondary sequence with Krige's entire body.
A digital version of the Borg body suit was used for the lowering sequence, at which point the image was morphed back to the real shot of Krige's body. The animated claws of the suit were created digitally as well using a detailed model. Goldsmith wrote a sweeping main title which begins with Alexander Courage 's Star Trek fanfare. The theme uses a four-note motif used in Goldsmith's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier score, which is used in First Contact as a friendship theme and general thematic link. In addition to composing new music, Goldsmith used music from his previous Star Trek scores, including his theme from The Motion Picture.
Because of delays with Paramount's The Ghost and the Darkness , the already-short four-week production schedule was cut to just three weeks. While Berman was concerned about the move,  Goldsmith hired his son, Joel , to assist. While Joel composed many of the film's action cues, his father contributed to the spacewalk and Phoenix flight sequences. During the fight on the deflector dish, Goldsmith used low-register electronics punctuated by stabs of violent, dissonant strings.
GNP Crescendo president Neil Norman explained that the decision to include the tracks was controversial, but said that "Frakes did the most amazing job of integrating those songs into the story that we had to use them". The compact disc shipped with CD-ROM features only accessible if played on a personal computer,  including interviews with Berman, Frakes, and Goldsmith. The expanded album [GNPD ] runs 79 minutes and includes three tracks of alternates. Frakes believes that the main themes of First Contact —and Star Trek as a whole—are loyalty, friendship, honesty and mutual respect.
This is evident in the film when Picard chooses to rescue Data rather than evacuate the ship with the rest of the crew. The moment marks a turning point in the film as Picard changes his mind, symbolized by his putting down his phaser. In First Contact , the individually inscrutable and faceless Borg fulfill the role of the similarly unreadable whale in Melville's work. Picard, like Ahab, has been hurt by his nemesis, and author Elizabeth Hinds said it makes sense that Picard should "opt for the perverse alternative of remaining on board ship to fight" the Borg rather than take the only sensible option left, to destroy the ship.
In the end it is Lily the 21st-century woman who shows Picard the 24th-century man that his quest for revenge is the primitive behavior that humans had evolved to not use. The nature of the Borg, specifically as seen in First Contact , has been the subject of critical discussion. Author Joanna Zylinska notes that while other alien species are tolerated by humanity in Star Trek , the Borg are viewed differently because of their cybernetic alterations and the loss of personal freedom and autonomy.
Members of the crew who are assimilated into the Collective are subsequently viewed as "polluted by technology" and less than human. Zylinska draws comparisons between the technological distinction of humanity and machine in Star Trek and the work of artists such as Stelarc. Several novelizations of the film were written for different age groups. Playmates Toys produced six- and nine-inch action figures in addition to ship models and a phaser. The game, Star Trek: Borg , functioned as an interactive movie with scenes filmed at the same time as First Contact 's production.
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Paramount heavily marketed the film on the internet via a First Contact web site, which averaged 4. After the screening, 1, guests crossed the street to the Hollywood Colonnade, where the interiors had been dressed to match settings from the film: the holodeck nightclub, part of the bridge, a "star room", the Borg hive and the "crash 'n' burn lounge". First Contact garnered positive reviews on release. It has morphed into something less innocent and more derivative than it used to be, something the noncultist is ever less likely to enjoy.
The film's acting met with mixed reception. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly appreciated that guest stars Woodard and Cromwell were used in "inventive contrast" to their better-known images, as a "serious dramatic actress" and "dancing farmer in Babe ", respectively. Petersburg Times opined that only Cromwell received a choice role in the film, "so he steals the show by default". Here is real acting! In a Star Trek film! The special effects were generally praised. Ebert wrote that while previous films had often looked "clunky" in the effects department, First Contact benefited from the latest in effects technology.
Critics reacted favorably to the Borg, describing them as akin to creatures from Hellraiser. First Contact was released on VHS in late as one of several titles expected to boost sluggish sales at video retailers. When Paramount announced its first slate of DVD releases in August , First Contact was one of the first ten titles released in October,  announced in a conscious effort to showcase effects-driven films. The film was presented in its original 2.
A First Contact "Special Collector's Edition" two-disc set was released in at the same time as three other Next Generation films and Star Trek: Enterprise ' s fourth season, marking the first time that every film and episode of the franchise was available on home video. Paramount announced that all four Next Generation films would be released on high-definition Blu-ray on September 22, First Contact special features for the Blu-ray version contain "Scene Deconstruction" featurettes and new commentary by writers Damon Lindelof and Anthony Pascale.
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