Star Trek: First Contact - * * *

Once again the Star Trek series goes back in time, a theme used a bit too often, but used to good effect in this action packed entry. The film opens with the cybernetic Borg making an all-out attack on the Federation (Earth in particular). Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), who was captured and assimilated by the Borg several years before, breaks orders and brings the Enterprise in to join the defense of Earth. After the Enterprise critically wounds the Borg ship, the Borg launch their second, more successful, plan of attack. They send a contingent through time to prevent Zephram Cochrane’s discovery of the Warp drive, and thereby preventing humankind’s first contact with the Vulcans, and by extension, the Federation’s existence. Of course, the Enterprise can’t allow this to happen, and follows the Borg back in time. Then, the film splits along two storylines: in one, Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Geordi (LeVar Burton) must find Zephram Cochrane (James Cromwell) and make sure he proceeds with his historic flight. Cromwell does a good job as the reluctant hero, and the film struggles to make a point about the difference between history and reality, but overall, this portion of the story lacks real drive (particularly when compared to the more action-oriented storyline). Even though this is supposed to be set in the mid-21st century, there is little to suggest it. Instead, the characters use mid-20th century slang, listen to mid-20th century music, and seem completely out of place in time. In the other, more compelling, storyline, Picard, Worf (Michael Dorn) and Data (Brent Spiner) battle to prevent a boarding party of Borg from assimilating the Enterprise. In a change in tone from previous Trek films, this action storyline borrows heavily from the atmosphere of Aliens. It’s biggest fault is that it doesn’t go far enough…there are lulls between action pieces that cry out for more activity. But, for the most part, the Borg prove to be a formitable enemy. This is the eighth Star Trek film, but the first featuring only the Next Generation crew, and First Contact manages to rev some additional life into the series.

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