I woke up this morning feeling less than eager to catch up on my writing, and the dishes, and the cleaning my apartment desperately needs. Naturally I turned to Netflix for guidance and discovered that my favorite Star Trek: the Next Generation movie was available. I couldn’t help but notice that it was originally released in 1996 as I selected play. For a time I felt old, realizing that I had been 16 when I first saw Jean-Luc Picard fight his greatest foe, the Borg, on the big screen. How long a time?
One of the great things about the older Star Trek movies, both original cast and next generation, is that we already know the characters so well that no time is taken introducing them or explaining who they are. It jumps right into the story, after you sit through the long pre-credit sequence. I’m not sure when in cinematic history it was decided to stick all the credits at the end, but I often consider that the difference between modern movies and classics. By that definition, that makes First Contact a classic, but I suppose I can live with that.
They set up the idea that Picard is still somehow connected to the Borg with the first scene. This made perfect sense to me on previous viewings, but this time I found it jarring when Picard interrupts his Admiral. Perhaps it’s just because I haven’t been immersed in the Star Trek TNG universe like I was back then. I was also disappointed that I didn’t get to see Lieutenant Commander Data do a ‘Superhero landing‘ when he drops down the missile silo to stop Lilly from shooting at he and Captain Picard.
There are several unexpected familiar faces in First Contact. The first of which is a young Neil McDonough. When I saw this the first time around I didn’t know this actor, but this time I recognised him immediately because of his more recent roles as Damien Darhk in the TV show Arrow, and as the Howling Commando called Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger.
The other familiar faces would have been recognisable even to 16-year old me. The Defiant from Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Captained by Worf, assaults the Borg cube threatening earth, allowing Captain Picard best tactical officer to rejoin the crew of the Enterprise when they beam him off the stricken ship. This is followed not long after by a cameo from Star Trek Voyager’s EMH. We only see The Doctor in one scene, but his appearance helps establish the timeline and pull me back into the story. My favorite cameo in the movie is easy to miss, and is barely a cameo at all. Ethan Phillips, the man who plays Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager, makes as an appearance as a Maitre d’ on the holodeck. Without his make-up of course.
Needless to say the movie is still awesome. Though it may seem dated, and possibly confusing to those who have never watched it, or the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show, it’s like the movie equivalent of a warm comfy blanket for those of who remember First Contact fondly. Go watch it on Netflix right now, and then tell me your favorite part.