Everyone knows I'm a Star Wars fan and that common wisdom dictates that Star Wars fans do not like Star Trek (work with me here Swambo and Cait, there are always exceptions), but I do actually enjoy Trek from time to time, particularily DS9 and TNG. But I don't know if I'd go so far as to call myself a fan (ok, I will call myself a fan of DS9, I've seen every episode and own the first season DVD).
But I more than like the film Star Trek: First Contact. I love it. First Contact is one of those films that I've probably seen dozens of times throughout high school. When I first got it on video I watched it over and over. Then when I got hooked on DVD I didn't watch it for a while, because I just find it painful to watch VHS sometimes especially in pan & scan.
Finally, yesterday, Paramount released the Special Edition DVD of the film. I hadn't watched in a couple of years, so sitting down last night was like finding an old friend. There are many elements that I think help to make this the best Trek film of them all.
Firstly, Jean-Luc Picard is the best. Patrick Stewart gives perhaps his best Trek performance and lends weight and legitimacy to every scene he's in. His speech to Lily about the Borg - "The line must be drawn HERE...This far! No further!" - is Shakespearean in it's grandness. I cannot stress how great Patrick Stewart is in this role (and not just because he looks like my uncle). Stewart is one of the greatest actors of our present age.
Jean-Luc Picard is a badass! Don't mess with him.
The storyline makes plenty of references to the television show, without being inaccessable to new fans. It takes a great piece of Trek mythology (The Borg) and expands and makes them more intense. I know a lot of people criticize the film for marking the beginning of the end for the Borg as an interesting enemy (and the downward spiral into Voyager silliness), but I still think that the Borg as portrayed in this film are scarier than in any other instance ("Best of Both Worlds" included).
Zefram Cochrane is so good in this film. James Cromwell is good in any movie, but his gruff, alcoholic, rock and roll loving Cochrane is one of my favs. He gives the film a nice balance against the "too good to be true" Federation heroes of the future. The scene where he gets Deanna Troi drunk is classic ("I was trying to blend in." "You're blended alright"). I should also mention Alfre Woodard as Lily, does a fantastic job at being a good actor in a Trek film. This movie has a top notch cast of supporting actors (I should also mention Alice Kriege as the Borg Queen, because she is so creepy-seductive all at once, you don't know if you should join her or scream and run in terror).
Ain't she a beauty?
The special effects are as good as in any film. The very first shot of the Enterprise-E in that nebula is beautiful. The battle against the Borg Cube is awesome, and the make-up is top notch. The scene where we are introduced to the Borg Queen and her upper torso is lowered into the rest of the body. Amazing FX work!
All in all, I had forgotten how solidly the film is put together, from the first notes of the late-Jerry Goldsmith's score over the credits to the ending with "first contact." In the end it combines action, adventure, humour, as well as the sort of optimistic, humanist heart that we expect from good Trek. Who doesn't wish that somehow there was a young Zefram Cochrane being born right now and that humanities future is bright? I think that is part of the allure. First Contact is a top notch film, not just a top notch Trek film.
After watching First Contact I decided to throw in The Incredibles DVD to check out some of the special features, including the short film Jack-Jack Attack, which tells what happens with Kari the Babysitter when the family is gone. Pretty funny stuff (baby on fire!). But then I broke down and decided I had to watch the rest of the film. It's a two-hour film, but I love it. It's another film that will become a comfort movie for me. And the more I watch it, I think it just may be Pixar's best film.