I reviewed Star Trek: Insurrection here a couple of months ago, and was surprised that I hadn't seen it before. Well, on watching Star Trek: First Contact I thought that the same thing had happened again, since I remembered almost nothing about it.
First Contact has two key plot elements: time travel and the Borg. In the New Generation TV series, the Borg were the greatest threat, not just an implacable foe but one which put Captain Picard through the most stressful experience of his life. There is a peculiar horror about their ability to assimilate rather than kill their victims, turning the most loyal comrades into robotic enemies.
This time, the Borg use time travel to return to the Earth just before that critical first contact with the Vulcans which led to the opening up to humanity of the galactic civilisation. Their aim: to prevent that contact and reserve the whole planet for assimilation. However, the Enterprise, in hot pursuit, is dragged into the past as well, triggering a 21st Century battle for the future of humanity.
The story alternates between scenes on Earth, where first officer Riker is leading a team to try to ensure the success of the historic first warp flight which catches the Vulcans' attention, and the Enterprise, which the Borg are trying to take over. The contrast in setting and mood between the two scenarios adds enjoyment to the film; particularly the humour provided by the character of Zephram Cochrane (James Cromwell), the inventor and pilot of that first warp-capable craft. He is a decidedly reluctant hero and is horrified to learn that he is due to become one of the most famous people in history. Meanwhile, Picard and Data come face to face with the leader of the Borg, played by Alice Krige, who delivers a bizarrely seductive performance despite her repulsive make-up. It was, in fact, Krige's performance which was the only element of this film that I recalled.
All of the usual suspects appear in the cast but most of the Star Trek regulars have relatively little to do: Picard very much takes centre stage in one of Patrick Stewart's strongest appearances in the role, aided by Data who is tempted by the Borg leader.
The mixture of darkness and humour makes this one of the best films of the franchise, in my view, and in a different league from the weak Insurrection that followed it. I have yet to see Nemesis, the last of the NG films (at least, I think so!) and, though the comments I've read are not encouraging, I might as well complete the set.
Just in case you hadn't noticed, I have made some minor changes to this blog. I have added a section in the column on the left with links to longer SFF articles, mostly derived from earlier blog posts. The photos of my book covers are now live links to web pages about the books, including reviews plus (in the case of The Foresight War) the first couple of chapters, and (in the case of Scales) the ability to download the entire book. I am working on revised versions of both novels, but don't hold your breath… Finally, thanks to Hermione on the Blogger Help Forum I've at last managed to correct the glitch that was messing up the alphabetical ordering of the links to my book and TV/film reviews - keep scrolling down the column on the left to find them.