Mark Watches ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

In the film Star Trek: First Contact, I have been given everything I could have ever wanted. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent and specifically for non consensual medical procedures.

I am so in love with this film, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.

  • I’m doing a list review because I have lots of scattered thoughts and I want you to have them all.
  • Where to start with this achievement??? Oh god, it’s so pretty. The costumes, the digital remaster, the new Enterprise E, the spectacular special effects, the way this film jumps between disparate sets without ever losing sense of its style and look for the movie. That’s not easy to do when one set is in a forest while another is in a very clinical, futuristic ship.
  • It is always a strange thing when a television show gets a film. Just by nature of the changed medium, there’s gonna be huge differences in the experience. Yet I’m gonna argue that First Contact straddles the line between a feature-length film and the kind of storytelling that The Next Generation was known for. I imagine having so many Star Trek vets on the writing and production staff was a huge part of this. This film knows it exists in the Star Trek universe, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
  • IT IS SO HEAVILY BASED ON THE SHOW AND I LOVE THAT THE MOVIE RESPECTS THE AUDIENCE SO MUCH. Like, I imagine huge swaths of it were a bit confusing to people who had never seen The Next Generation, but guess who doesn’t care. ME. I AM A SELFISH FAN, I WANT ALL THINGS TO CATER TO ME.
  • I don’t, I swear. But I was pleasantly surprised how much this picks up from the last film AND the series. The movie wastes almost no time getting to the action, which means there isn’t much of an introduction of the cast.
  • Which is mostly great for us, but there’s a flaw in that, especially when it comes to Deanna and Dr. Crusher.
  • More on that in a bit. THE BORG. YES. AWESOME. We haven’t seen them in a while! I forgot they were in the Delta Quadrant, too. Voyager crossover, maybe?
  • There was a giant hole in terms of cameos, though: Guinan. Like… It seems incredibly silly that she was not included in this. WHO ASIDE FROM PICARD HAS SUCH A UNIQUE HISTORY IN RELATION TO THE BORG. She does. Booooooooooo.
  • Alice Krige is so goddamn fun here, and I wish that the Borg Queen did not die solely because that would have been a fun character to explore on one of the TV shows.
  • Basically, this whole cast is utterly perfect. I would not have changed any of the non-regular actors, though I wonder what happened to Adam Scott’s character. Did he go on to be a mayor of a small town? Probably.
  • So, I’m a bit worn out when it comes to time travel because I’ve read/watched so many time travel stories for Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Harry Potter. Yet the beauty of First Contact is that after the initial bit of temporal chaos, I wouldn’t say this movie is ABOUT time travel itself. Sure, the logistics are addressed a few times, and there’s some fun had trying to hide the travel from characters like Zefram Cochrane and Lily, but the film quickly abandons that kind of story.
  • Instead, this turns into a multi-part tale. We get the story of the horrors of the Borg; we get the beauty of the first contact narrative and its importance to Starfleet history; we get Zefram’s growth from cynical, selfish drunkard to explorers; we get Lily’s struggle with the future; we get Data’s brush with true humanity; WE GET PICARD’S INCREDIBLE STORY OF OBSESSIVE REVENGE.
  • All of this happens in the same film, and all of it feels well thought out and developed and honest.
  • Which is why it was so glaring that Deanna and Beverly Crusher didn’t get much story here. Can the writers not figure out what to do with them? If Deanna had not had that one line (in her drunk scene) about being a counselor, a casual viewer would not even have known that was her job. From context clues, you could guess that Beverly was a doctor, and she was part of the self-destruct sequence. But if you remove them from this movie, it’s still largely the same, and I don’t think that’s fair for their characters.
  • And then there’s Lily. This might be the first and only example I can think of where the white women are given a backseat to a black woman. Lily is beautifully developed; she is allowed a full range of emotions; she provides comic relief just as much as she pushes forward the emotional plot; she matters all by herself, too, since she must cope with the shock of dealing with time traveling people from outer space. Unlike Deanna and Beverly, you can’t take Lily out of this script; the finale absolutely relies on her existence and her characterization.
  • I was satisfied with the way she affected the plot, too. She challenges Picard constantly. From the first moment she meets him, she refuses to take his shit, and that’s her attitude here. She finds it disrespectful to be lied to; she demands protection from Picard; she rejects his bullshit once she comes to understand his relationship to the Borg. IT IS SO REFRESHING, AND THIS MOVIE VALIDATES A BLACK WOMAN’S ANGER AND MAKES PICARD ADMIT HE WAS WRONG TO BOTH HER AND WORF.
  • Oh my god, I love Cochrane’s characterization, too, Here’s a man who learns that his future is full of success, prestige, and honor, AND HE REJECTS IT. He refuses to be a part of it! In him, we get a rather brutal story about self-confidence; Cochrane cannot believe that anyone can respect him at any point in time, so why try?
  • I got emotional, y’all. For a moment, I was so immersed in this film that I believed Cochrane was real. But the truth is that I’ve spent so much time in the Star Trek universe that I know what this first contact moment means. Everything I’ve seen up to this point relies on Cochrane’s success. SO YEAH, I GOT VERY EMOTIONAL.
  • Data! DATA!!! God, how is this movie so dense with meaning? After such a long and challenging journey over seven seasons, this movie gives Data something he’s wanted for a long. Of course, it’s mired in tragedy, and Data is tempted by the Borg queen to betray his friends and the Federation. (Well, tempted for 0.68 seconds.) How? She grafts human skin onto his body so that he can experience the sensations associated with touch. (I really hope there weren’t Borg Queen/Data sexy times. I don’t like this thought.) I just… Data, you are too much. I was shocked in the moment by his double cross, but I wasn’t surprised by his characterization. Data has always been a beautifully loyal character, and he sacrificed his skin grafts to save Picard and Earth.
  • The action scenes are so goddamn good, too. The Borg invasion was exceedingly creepy, and it was frightening to see assimilation happen in real time. IN that sense, there’s a bit of the slasher genre in this movie, since characters are picked off one-by-one. But my favorite Borg scene was easily the one on the hull of the ship. You know, there have been virtually no space walking scenes in the entirety of Star Trek, and I hadn’t really thought of that until this movie. Thus, this scene felt incredibly special. The pacing is electrifying, and I loved how the writers used the terror of plain sight to scare us. I had forgotten that individual Borg members don’t attack anything they don’t view as a threat. IT WAS SO SCARY WHENEVER THEY SUDDENLY PAID ATTENTION.
  • Did anyone else find all the escape pods leaving to be beautiful? That was a great scene.
  • All the best Star Trek episodes have been deeply personal as much as they’ve been something else. Getting to see the Moby Dick treatment for Picard was one of the best qualities of this film. By openly acknowledging his experience with the Borg, First Contact can take us to an emotionally frightening place. Does Picard feel any affinity towards the Borg? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, is his hatred so all-consuming that he can’t make good judgments?
  • Picard remaining behind to save Data because the Enterprise crew refused to leave him behind when the Borg assimilated him = TOO MANY EMOTIONS.
  • I don’t even care that this is wrapped up so neatly. I got to watch the first contact between humans and another alien species. I got to watch Cochrane’s muted reaction, I got to see him offer them alcohol, I got to see him introduce them to human music, I GOT TO BE UTTERLY OVERWHELMED BY THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS SCENE.
  • I love this movie. I love it so very much, y’all.

The video for Star Trek: First Contact can be downloaded here for $2.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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