Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
October 6, 2021 6:30 AM - Subscribe

Montana, Thursday, April 5, 2063. A crass inventor's hedonistic life goals are threatened by his own battle with alcohol…and his new friends' battle with cyborgs from the future.

The following background information comes from the Memory Alpha page for the film, where there's much more. I've indicated previous FanFare threads about the episodes referenced below with a [FF] link. Spoilers below.

• Co-writer Ronald D. Moore recalled the first meeting: "We were standing outside on the Hart Building steps. Rick [Berman, producer] had just come back from that studio meeting, and stopped us and he said, 'I really want you guys to think about it... I want to do a time travel piece.' Brannon and I added, 'We want to do something with the Borg.' And right on the spot, we said maybe we can do both, the Borg and time travel."

• An early story draft entitled Star Trek Renaissance expanded upon this idea. According to Moore, the story would have found Picard and company searching history for a group of time-traveling Borg. Happening upon a Renaissance village, the crew would hear stories about strange creatures taking over neighboring villages.

• Ultimately, a time period after modern history was selected: The birth of the Federation. According to cowriter Brannon Braga: "The one image that I brought to the table is the image of the Vulcans coming out of the ship. I wanted to see the birth of Star Trek. We ended up coming back to that moment. That, to me, is what made the time travel story fresh. We get to see what happened when Humans shook hands with their first aliens." A revised storyline was constructed, this time called Star Trek Resurrection.

• With a draft of Resurrection sent to studio executives, generally positive notes were returned. However, one Paramount executive pointed out the weakness of the Borg as being that they were "basically zombies." Despite the Borg's inception as a faceless swarm, the writers chose to incorporate a figurehead into the Collective. The Borg Queen was created, a logical extension of the insect-like qualities incorporated into the Borg's characterization.

• According to director and Riker actor Jonathan Frakes, the film was offered to A-list directors who had little interest in the franchise; as a result he was offered the job "a month later than would have been ideal." Robert Blackman returned to once again redesign the Starfleet uniforms, this time to complement Frakes' darker color palette and stand up better to big screen scrutiny. The new Starfleet uniforms would later be adopted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from the episode "Rapture" [FF] onward.

• According to Ronald D. Moore, "We described the new Enterprise in some detail. We said we want a sleeker look, with more of a muscular, almost warship kind of a look to it." According to illustrator John Eaves, the process began by reviewing what came before, specifically Bill George's Excelsior from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Voyager's sickbay was repainted and redressed for use as Doctor Crusher's sickbay, and the Voyager cargo bay set became the Enterprise weapons locker with relatively little modification. Having been saved from the wrecking crews following the completion of Generations, the Enterprise-D observation lounge, first built in 1987 for TNG, was put into service, overhauled and expanded, then connected to the bridge set. For the first time in the Star Trek film series, the transporter room did not appear.

• Electronics built into the Borg suits often included blinking lights that spelled out production members' names in Morse code. A wide variety of humanoid and alien drones were created, including Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans, though the latter two never appeared in the theatrical cut.

• After the first of Alice Krige's ten-day shoot, the actress suffered from blisters raised by the tight rubber of the costume. A second, soft foam suit was fabricated overnight. Despite the relative comfort of the new suit, Krige was still required to wear painful silver contact lenses that could be worn for only four minutes at a time. According to first assistant director Jerry Fleck, the actress never complained.

• With the cooperation of the United States military, the production gained permission to shoot within a real missile silo in Green Valley, Arizona, near Tucson. Utilizing the real, though hollowed out Titan II missile still in its silo, the team resolved to construct a new nose to sit atop the missile, acting as the cockpit of the Phoenix.

• Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, an admitted Trekker, was slated to play Zefram Cochrane but he was busy with his directorial debut. The role went to James Cromwell, a veteran of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Oscar nominee for his role in the 1995 movie Babe. According to Jonathan Frakes: "In spite of having been nominated for an Academy Award, he actually came in and read for the part... He nailed it. He left Berman and me with our jaws in our laps." Cromwell later reprised his role as Cochrane in 2001's Enterprise pilot, "Broken Bow" [FF].

• For the role of Lily, Frakes' immediate inclination after reading the script was to cast actress Alfre Woodard. Woodard, an Oscar nominee herself and multiple Emmy Award winner, was Frakes' self-proclaimed "godmother": "The first time we got through the script, I think everyone's first words were 'Alfre Woodard'." A challenge for Frakes and Berman, though, was ultimately solved in the casting of South African-born actress Alice Krige as the Borg Queen. Both Frakes and the Moore/Braga writing duo would later recall a sense of uneasy sexiness in Krige's portrayal of the Queen, aided by the application of a wet sheen to her skin by the make up department.

• Admiral Hayes apparently escaped the destruction of his ship; Jack Shearer later reprises the role in Voyager episodes "Hope and Fear" [FF] and "Life Line" [FF].

• Comedy actor Adam Scott, who plays the Defiant's helmsman, had previously auditioned for the role of Lieutenant Hawk in the same film.

• Brannon Braga is clearly visible as an extra in the holodeck nightclub as the Borg enter the scene, though writing partner Moore's appearance was never shot – despite sixteen hours of waiting with his then wife Ruby, an anniversary present. Rumors persist that both Nichelle Nichols and Kelsey Grammer (captain of the USS Bozeman from "Cause and Effect" [FF]) have uncredited "voice cameos", though these claims are unsubstantiated.

• Gravett Island was not a real Earth location, but a fictional one named after Jacques Gravett, Ronald D. Moore's then assistant.

• Minor details in the Tucson sets included the 52-star American flag referencing an early TNG episode, "The Royale" [FF].

• Production on Star Trek Resurrection began on 8 April 1996, but within a month, a new title had been chosen. Mere weeks prior, 20th Century Fox had announced the title of the fourth installment in their Alien film franchise: Alien Resurrection. A number of new titles were proposed for the film including Star Trek Destinies, Star Trek: Future Generations, and Star Trek Regenerations. The titles Star Trek: Borg and Star Trek Generations II were even chosen as working titles for the film until Star Trek: First Contact was finally selected, made official in a 3 May 1996 fourth draft script.

• Regarding scenes were shot on the bridge, observation lounge and ready room sets, Jonathan Frakes recalled: "It was as if we had gone back in time. It was the same sort of fantastic, cynical, fearless, take-no-prisoners abuse of your fellow cast member that has kept us together all these long years."

• Patrick Stewart's suffered breathing problems in his spacesuit, halting production for an entire day.

• Despite the complications, First Contact wrapped production on 2 July 1996 (two days over schedule), with the flashback that opened the film. Fittingly, the sequence required Patrick Stewart to don the Starfleet uniform he had worn for at least five of the seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation. According to Ronald D. Moore, everyone involved with the film knew it was going to be a hit.

• To stand up to the Borg cube alongside the new Enterprise and the old Defiant, ILM art director Alex Jaeger designed sixteen new Starfleet vessels, four of them rendered digitally and appearing in the massive opening battle sequence. The new starships included Akira-class, Saber-class, Steamrunner-class, and Norway-class vessels; the latter starship was lost after production due to a computer glitch, never to appear in Star Trek again. Also included in the melee were a Nebula-class starship, a Miranda-class vessel, and an Oberth-class science ship in its final use. As a joke, the Millennium Falcon CG model (created for the Star Wars Special Editions) was inserted into the Borg attack, though generally indistinguishable.

• In their joint audio commentary on the Special Edition DVD, Ron Moore and Brannon Braga credited Peter Lauritson with the selection of Steppenwolf's original recording of "Magic Carpet Ride" (and not "some cheap cover"). They criticized, however, the choice of Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby" as being "too goofy".

• The reference that Data makes about using his "fully functional" sexual organs seemingly references the time he used them with Tasha in TNG: "The Naked Now" [FF], eight years before the Borg invasion (though that would place that episode in 2365). This would seem to indicate Data and his fourth-season "girlfriend" Jenna D'Sora [from "In Theory"; FF] were never sexually intimate during the course of their relationship.

• Early in the movie, Zefram Cochrane points out the constellation Leo, the constellation in which Wolf 359 is located.

• According to the (apocryphal) Customizable Card Game by Decipher, the Vulcan who greeted Zefram Cochrane was named Solkar, the grandfather of Sarek and the great-grandfather of Spock. This was later supported by dialogue in ENT: "The Catwalk" [FF].

• In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "In the Cards" [FF], Jake Sisko repeats Picard's line "we work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity," only to be challenged by Nog saying, "What does that mean, exactly?" Similarly, in DS9: "The Dogs of War" [FF], Quark speaks almost the same words ("The line has to be drawn here! This far and no further!") as Picard does during Star Trek: First Contact. The two episodes were, respectively, written and co-written by Ronald D. Moore, who also co-wrote First Contact. Said Moore, "I take great glee at mocking my own work."

First Contact was the highest grossing Star Trek film ever, surpassing the hitherto highest grossing film, 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – though it remained the second-most profitable one after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – until the release of 2009's Star Trek and its two sequels.

• This film opened on the same day that Mark Lenard, the actor best known for portraying the character of Sarek, died at the age of 72.

• Regarding the film's emotional battle played out between Picard and Lily, Brannon Braga recalled: "I'd have to say that scene was nailed and perfect only about a week before it was filmed."

"Who is this jerk? ...And who told him he could turn off my music?"
- Zefram Cochrane, about Riker

"I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am the Borg."
- Borg Queen

"Do you always talk this much?"
"Not always … but often."
- Borg Queen and Data

"He will make an excellent drone."
- Data to the Borg Queen, about Picard

Poster's Log:
Compared with all other Trek films so far, First Contact has got to be the most exciting in the sense that the excitement is both unrelenting and (anti-JJ-Trek shade incoming) is earned by the story, rather than merely simulated with loud noises and shiny things. I actually expected to be mildly bored on this rewatch, only because I've seen FC fairly often, but I wasn't at all.

My other worry was that, because I'm more into Trek now than I was the last time I saw this, I might sneer in a Trek-hipster-ish fashion at the film's clearly deliberate effort to appeal to non-Trek-fans. But the craft here is such that FC manages to walk that difficult line: it's crowd-pleasing and accessible without being especially Trekker-hostile. You have to get fairly hardcore, I think, to find continuity or Roddenberrian objections here (e.g. "So Troi has no reaction to seeing Worf again after his transfer?" or "Nobody had the idea to use non-energy weapons against Borg drones before now?" or "No Starfleet officer's heart should have room for revenge, even if it IS artificial…and still scarred, literally, by nanoprobes…"). As big hit Trek movies go, this one still fits into the rest of the franchise, arguably more comfortably than The Voyage Home.

The bold opening sequence sets the urgent, scary tone so well: we get a fun horror-movie double-fakeout, plus what has to be the hugest Borg thing we ever see? in the opening zoom out. (It's possible we're not seeing a literal Borg installation there, but rather a metaphorical representation in Picard's imagination. Like in dreams: "I was in my Borg alcove, but like, it wasn't my alcove?")

IIRC, the Next Gen films' music was never as obtrusive as that of I-VI, which might be for the best—especially in this case: as much as the opening minutes set the tone, I feel the score over the opening credits does NOT fit what this movie actually ends up being. This film's score should be urgent, tense, and with a hint of pioneer spirit; this more languid, yearning score would have fit better on, say, the Enterprise series. (But of course, just about ANYthing would've fit better on ENT than what they went with.) What I liked a lot, and noticed for maybe the first time on this rewatch, was the electric guitar's prominence during the spacewalk, which has got to be a reference to V'Ger/The Motion Picture.

The Borg Queen as a concept makes cinematic story sense here, but arguably had the effect of hastening the "Villain Decay" of the Borg. This topic has come up a lot in the FanFare threads for Voyager and Next Gen.

Is this Sir Pat's darkest performance as Picard? Because he's almost Sejanus-like at times, at least before he smashes the models.

The "Acknowledged" from the Bozeman rrrrreally does sound like Kelsey Grammer; I choose to believe it's him. Is it so implausible to just call an actor on the phone and have him say one word?

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Another detail I noticed for the first time was the aforementioned presence of Klingon drones on the -E, presumably among those who beamed off the sphere. That suggests some missing franchise history w/r/t Borg expansion—as does Picard's speech to Lily: he says "they assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back." Maybe some of those worlds had populations of Klingon colonists. They'd likely be on the far side of Romulan space from the Klingon empire, but I doubt that would stop Klingon colonists.

The subtitles (on Paramount+, anyway) indicate that Lily's line after the bombardment of their compound is "It's an ECON!" which fits with how her line read sounds to my ears. But the script (according to, anyway) says the line was written as "It's the ECON!", which makes more sense given Picard's reference to the "Eastern Coalition." I always hated ECON too when I was in college, especially Micro.

The TNG FF rewatch is winding down, so I thought it was a good time to take a look into Picard's post-"All Good Things" future—and, apart from JJ Trek, I think this was the only Trek film that didn't have an FF thread.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (26 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't rewatched this since it came out (although I would like to), but I just needed to comment that this is now only 42 years in the future, although it seemed so far away at the time. Having passed the futuristic signposts in 2001 (and 2010), Blade Runner, Billy Joel's post-apocalyptic song "Miami 2017," and others, suddenly 2063 doesn't sound so far away.

If I live that long, I'll be 88, and my kids will be 60 and 55.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:25 AM on October 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Despite being a lifelong Star Trek fan and seeing this one on opening day, etc., I had never heard that the first contact was with Spock's ancestor. Instant goose bumps. Oh man.

Total unabashed love for this movie over here. I don't have kids, but I share a surname with one of the minor one-off characters in this one, perhaps a first for me and Star Trek, and although he was assimilated and then killed, I'm still glad my family could play a role in the future's past. :-)
posted by Occula at 8:30 AM on October 6, 2021

Nice, informative post. This and 'Breaking the Waves' opened in Toronto on the same day. I watched them back-to-back. Certainly a lesson in contrasts.

I enjoyed ST:FC - it was a vast improvement over Generations and not instantly forgettable like the later sequels.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 9:07 AM on October 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm quite fond of the tumblr headcanon for Solkar tentatively accepting a handshake with Zefram Cochrane.
posted by figurant at 10:03 AM on October 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

I haven't seen First Contact all the through since the theater (I'm pretty sure I saw it in the theater). And even then, when I wasn't so serious about Star Trek, I didn't think much of the movie. Looking back at it now, First Contact, and Generations too, are when Star Trek started to decline. They are good examples of bigger not being neccesarily better.

The Motion Picture's treatment of the Klingons is a good contrast to First Contact's treatment of the Borg. Where TMP revamped the Klingons with some make-up and a bit of characterization beyond being the token bad guys, FC pretty much reimagined the Borg with a horror vibe and a queen to boot.
posted by Stuka at 11:41 AM on October 6, 2021

• According to the (apocryphal) Customizable Card Game by Decipher, the Vulcan who greeted Zefram Cochrane was named Solkar, the grandfather of Sarek and the great-grandfather of Spock. This was later supported by dialogue in ENT: "The Catwalk" [FF].

It's pretty impossible to understate the significance of the film in the Star Trek CCG:
Decipher got an updated contract under which they could release cards for properties beyond the TNG show briefly before the film's release, vastly extending the game beyond the initially planned sets: Premiere,Alternate Universe, Q-Continuum, Holodeck Adventures, and All Good Things. First Contact got a set all of its own featuring 130 cards from the film. Condensing the changes this introduced to the game in a paragraph is difficult, but it included introducing the Borg affiliation, which would complete various Objectives in order to win(a new card type!), the pinnacle of which was Stop First Contact, which when completed would remove from play, including decks and discard piles, all Federation cards. Fun!

New personnel combat rules were drafted in the style of War, comparing the strength scores of opposing personnel, facilitated by cards like Tommygun and Android Headlock. We got a full Bridge Crew Time with more of our regular characters than any other set since Premiere, including Picard, Data, Worf, Riker, pretty much the best version of Beverly, the best Deanna, and of course a new Ship to zoom around in. Oh yeah, you get a pretty nice Ogawa, a Barclay you could practically build a deck around, Hawk, and an EMH. It was always fun to open a pack of First Contact.

So many key cards were in the set. Balancing Act, Blended, Ooby Dooby, Ready Room Door...Intermix Ratio brought to a final end the era of all-planet and all-space decks. Mirror Image nerfed a lot of the power cards from the first set and is also printed backwards on purpose. Visit Cochrane Memorial and Earth herself make a useful pair.

Non-Fed players got some decent new options in the form of the Vulcans mentioned above: Solkar, Sevek, and T'Shonra. Romulan players got a Neutral Zone to Patrol. So, yeah. as far as the CCG goes, First Contact is kinda The Big One.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:45 AM on October 6, 2021 [5 favorites]

My complaint about the previous movie was that it was oddly lightweight for something that had a lot of big-deal things going on: the launch of the Enterprise-B, the destruction of the E-D, you-know-who dying, etc. This one doesn't feel that way, and it has more heft than its successors, Insurrection (jumped-up TNG episode) and Nemesis (STII reskinned for Picard's crew). One thing to pick out is what Worf gets to do, that makes it worth taking leave from his day job on DS9: in Generations (actually before he went to the station), he gets dunked as part of his promotion; in Insurrection, he gets a zit; in Nemesis, I don't remember what he does (a line at the wedding, maybe?). Here, he gets to line up the Defiant to ram a Borg cube, which is one of the most Worfian things imaginable, and also gets to go on the space walk (and gets the awesome action tagline), and gets to get up in Picard's grill. Not everybody gets used as well--Crusher basically turns on their copy of the EMH, so Robert Picardo gets the best part of that bit--but it's pretty well shared around. La Forge gets eyes! Barclay gets to fanboy! Troi gets drunk! Data gets a lot of things!

The two things that people seem to complain the most about don't seem like much of a much to me. I thought that the revision of Zefram Cochrane was worth it; that revelation about one of the Federation's idols, that he doesn't just have feet of clay but is mostly clay and that they have to find the errant vein of true steel in him, is a good one to add to what would otherwise be pretty straight-up Borg fight. And I figured that the Borg Queen was just another new tactic that the Borg were using against the Federation; yes, Picard seems to remember the Queen being there when he was Locutusized, but if they can psychically contact him across light years, they might be able to do a little light editing of his Borg memories. And the imagery, especially her descending to her body with her spinal column slowly waving back and forth like a cat's tail, help make the concept worth it. James Cromwell is good as Cochrane (although the thought of Tom Hanks doing the part is just, jeepers, can you imagine? Coincidentally, there's a thread about That Thing You Do! on the blue right now); ditto Alfre Woodard as Lily; but Alice Krige was exquisite.

Nothing much worth quibbling about here. I used to wonder how the Phoenix landed when it returned, except that they've got a working structural integrity field, maybe they figured out something for the landing. Hawk was assimilated pretty fast out there on the hull, but maybe he got shot with the special quick-acting Borg nanite juice. (Speaking of which, I think that this was the first time that we saw the assimilation process up close, and boy was that gruesome.) The sort of "flesh assimilation" thing that Data was undergoing seemed kind of random, but then again, so does regular Borg assimilation? Eh, whatever.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:51 AM on October 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm quite fond of the tumblr headcanon for Solkar tentatively accepting a handshake with Zefram Cochrane.

This is the kind of shit that Lower Decks needs to make emphatically canon.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:52 AM on October 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

And I figured that the Borg Queen was just another new tactic that the Borg were using against the Federation; yes, Picard seems to remember the Queen being there when he was Locutusized, but if they can psychically contact him across light years, they might be able to do a little light editing of his Borg memories.

This is my headcanon as well. There was no such thing as a "Borg Queen" before Locutus. They just realized having a single mouthpiece is useful when dealing with individuals, so they trot out a queen whenever it's handy. And Queens are nothing special, any drone can become a queen if necessary, and killing a queen doesn't have an impact on the collective any more than killing any other drone (Or, in the case of this movie, killing a vast majority of the drones by venting warp plasma throughout the engineering spaces). It's handy to make opponents believe killing a queen is significant, though, so the Borg play along.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:04 PM on October 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

And yeah, this is honestly the only TNG movie that really stuck with me - Insurrection felt like a feature length episode with a better budget, and the less said about Nemesis the better. But First Contact just has so many bits of quotable TNG canon that you don't remember aren't actually from the series as a whole.

Hrm, maybe it's time for a rewatch.
posted by Kyol at 12:29 PM on October 6, 2021

(and I honestly don't think of Generations as a TNG movie at all, like the only TNG bit I could tell you was in it is Guinan? Otherwise it's all Kirk. I mean yes yes I know, it was like 2/3rds TOS and 1/3rd TNG, but you can tell who it's a sendoff for, and who's just making space.)
posted by Kyol at 12:36 PM on October 6, 2021

Generations would have been a much better movie if it had had actually been 2/3rds TOS and 1/3 TNG.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:14 PM on October 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I remember the Original Timeline. Cochrane was from Alpha Centauri, not Dirt. Earth.
posted by mikelieman at 3:23 PM on October 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

By far the best of the TNG movies, but I do think that's a pretty low bar. I'd probably put it in the top 3 of all Trek movies.

I've never been a big fan of the explicit "let's reference a great work" bits and the Moby Dick scene is no exception. It was supposed to be a dramatic anchor and made me cringe. And the Borg Queen thing was basically abandoning the Borg concept as far as I'm concerned--the very fact that they are announcing one for season 2 of PIcard dampens my enthusiasm.

But despite that there's a lot of good stuff and it's exciting and appropriately cinematic. It feels like more than just a longer episode of TNG while managing not to lose the feel of the series.
posted by mark k at 11:48 PM on October 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

After having seen Generations in the theater, I thought First Contact was just so. much. better. But I'm weird, I thought Insurrection was good, so maybe don't listen to me.
posted by wierdo at 12:33 AM on October 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

When this hit theaters I went to see it opening night with my social circle of low twentysomething aged nerds. However I had accidentally given myself a few spoilers from the merch, as earlier that day I had bought a few packs of the Skybox trading cards for the movie. One of them let me know in advance how Picard's climactic confrontation with the Borg Queen was going to end.

Armed with that foreknowledge, I took advantage of the fact that our group was a few rows away from anyone else in the theater. When the movie got to the key moment, I put on my best Mortal Kombat Announcer Voice and quipped, "PICARD WINS! FATALITY! FLAWLESS VICTORY!" It was a bit tricky to get the proper deep bass boom of it while still keeping it movie theater quiet, but it didn't go beyond our row. I can't say the same for my friend's reactions; the rest of the theater must have thought they had something wrong with them with how hard they were laughing at Picard's beating the Queen.


During the deflector dish scene, there's a nice little homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The screens that they have to access to unlock the dish list "SUBSYS ID = MAGLOCK AE35" — because if you're going to go do a space walk to do something with your spaceship's large dish, of course an AE-35 Unit needed, especially if someone's suit integrity also gets compromised in the process.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:53 AM on October 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Star Trek as a concept is so suited to a weekly show that it makes it extra hard to craft a working movie. Too many cast members to service and you have to make a plot that feels like there's more at stake than just an extended episode but also leaves open the possibility for another mission. The II-III-IV trilogy being one extended story allowed that whole sequence room to breathe and try a bunch of different things, but TNG never got a chance to nail it in the same way. It's a good thing they gave up, because how could you possibly make a movie out of DISCO? It's already so action-oriented there's no further place to take it to.
posted by rikschell at 5:50 AM on October 7, 2021

This is the last point at which Data's character development seems to have a meaningful arc, it's all regression after this. RIP.

Playmates Toys released a series based on the film, gambling on a 6 inch scale as opposed to the 4.5 inch scale they had used up to that point. It was kind of a flop, they're quite cheap to this day.
posted by StarkRoads at 7:57 AM on October 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

A while ago, I rewatched this because I was trying to recall some plot points, and I noticed there wasn't an entry for it on Fanfare--the only Trek movie without one. I thought about doing it but wasn't sure I could do these Trek entries justice, so I'm really glad that you've added such a detailed post, Cheeses.

I love half of this movie so much. Specifically, the half with Alfre Woodard and JL running around trying to save humanity's fate, and the time-travel shenanigans. The half with the Borg queen is the kind of retconning I hate hate hate, so I am way less interested in sexy Borg queen whisper-threatening and moistly villain-monologuing all the way through. (I have been introducing a friend to my old ur-fandom show, a British series that ran from end of the '70s to early '80s, and Alice Krige has a significant role in one episode, one of her earliest. My friend couldn't figure out why she seemed familiar and I said "she was the Borg queen" and my friend actively recoiled.)

I never totally figured out the revision of Zephram Cochrane, but I like Cromwell, so I put up with it. They were right that "Oobie Doobie" was an awful, cringey choice, if anything it's that that makes me less interested in this version of Cochrane. And I still believe that "I like my 'species' the way it is!" is a better line than that cheesy Schwarzenegger style "Assimilate this!" It made me cringe in the theatre and it still makes me cringe.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:24 AM on October 7, 2021

This is it! This is the movie that wrote my beloved hometown into Star Trek canon as being the site of humanity's first (official) encounter with aliens, the place Cochrane invented his warp drive, and the first seeds of what would become the Federation. I've always been tickled by that connection.

I have to confess from time to time I wonder about how future-trekky-Bozeman might correlate with the town I know... where the hidden Titan silo might be, what parts of the city may or may not have survived from the global nuclear war that they have to keep adjusting the timeline to fit, where the eventual Warp 5 Complex might be located and what relationship it has with our university, etc etc.

I bet there's a zillion promotional photos taken from the one perfect vantage point where Cochrane's giant statue with the outreaching arm lines up just so with the Bridger mountain range in the background.
posted by traveler_ at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

I definitely saw this in the theater, at the ripe old age of 11, and I'm not sure I've watched it all the way through again since. Like if it was on TV I'd dip in and out but I don't think I've sat down and watched it from beginning to end. But I have really vivid and fond memories of lots of it; I was raised a Trekker since before I even remember, but nobody I know really watched Star Trek in elementary school. At 11, for the first time I went to school with other works-class nerds and it was exciting and weird to be able to talk about this stuff with classmates.

I can't stop thinking about Tom Hanks as Zephram Cochrane! I don't think he would have been as good but it would have just been a very different movie. I loved the edge Cromwell brought to the role - just perfect.
posted by potrzebie at 10:31 PM on October 7, 2021

Cromwell was pretty much perfect here, an excellent counterpoint to PicardTrek's (TNG's) higher ideals, sobriety, and dignity.

If Hanks was cast, we'd get matureHanks and not bigHanks and it'd have been boring.

Plus Stewart got to show Picard at his worst, convincingly, and it's still better than most.

Casting Krige was a coup, and I love the armoured spine -> bodysuit scene and idea. It makes absolutely no sense, but that's kind of how biological evolution happens. If it works, it isn't crazy. If it doesn't, yeah, crazy and discarded (not given the opportunity for the idea/ meme/ DNA to persist).

The concept of a 'Queen' is delicious as a superficial interface with dangerous un-assimilated. That it was intended to be a dog&pony show makes a lot of sense. One doesn't expend resources on the trivial. The Borg were definitely wary of the Federation, and this Borg bud is wary and respectful (of the capabilities) of Picard's collective.

'ST: Picard' ... actually explores this concept with some sophistication re: queen as UI (anyone can slot in as queen) vs queen as a surrogate/ alternative* of "collective consensus." Either are broadly plausible evolutionary answers, which one persists relies on the devils in the details and, really, happenstance.

Yeah, Data's "skin replacement/ assimilation" physical effects looked terrible. The terrible hair kind of makes sense, but I would have represented it much differently. The realskin looked more fake than Data's Soong-chosen polymer.

In my lists, easily the best of the post TOS movies by a far margin despite misgivings, independent of my strong distaste for the JJTrek Movies.

*qv Sol Earth hive insects qv genetic heredity/ drones
posted by porpoise at 11:55 PM on October 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Has a great actor ever given a more wooden reading than Stewart's "That's what they came here ta do - stop first contact?"
posted by StarkRoads at 12:52 PM on October 8, 2021

James Cromwell is good as Cochrane (although the thought of Tom Hanks doing the part is just, jeepers, can you imagine?

If nothing else, Hanks looks a bit like O.G. Cochrane (Glenn Corbett, was it?) so fanboys would have less of an issue with how Cochrane lost ten inches or so of height in the ensuing 150 years.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2021

The new Bond film totally pinches the red lasers through the smoke shot from this.
posted by biffa at 12:48 AM on October 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

How fast is ramming speed?

And since the basic nature of the order implies that they have trained for setting ramming speed, what is the psychological impact of being on Worf's crew and regularly training to do yourself in?

Adam Scott (for it is he): I've had thoughts about suicide.
Counsellor: Have you considered a change of location? I hear the Defiant is looking for crew...
posted by biffa at 8:32 AM on February 2

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