Should I Watch..? 'Star Trek: First Contact'

Updated on March 16, 2020
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online for over fifteen years.

Promotional artwork for the film
Promotional artwork for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

Star Trek: First Contact is an action sci-fi film released in 1996 and is the eighth film in the Star Trek film series. The first film to not feature any cast members of the original TV show, the film follows the Next Generation crew as they attempt to prevent the Borg from wiping humanity off the face of the Earth via the nefarious method of time travel. Directed by cast member Jonathan Frakes in his big-screen directorial debut, the film also stars Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell and Alice Krige. The film was hailed by critics as a return to form for the franchise, being both an exciting action adventure while still examining themes such as obsession, revenge, loyalty and friendship. Audiences agreed and the film went on to earn in excess of $146 million worldwide, the most of any Star Trek film until 2009's reboot Star Trek. Today, it is regarded as the best film featuring the Next Generation cast and one of the best of the film series.


3 stars for Star Trek: First Contact

What's it about?

Six years after being assimilated by the Borg, USS Enterprise captain Jean-Luc Picard still suffers from nightmares about the experience as well as hearing the collective in his mind. Contacted by Admiral Hayes, Picard's worst fears have been realised - the Borg have sent one of their massive cubic spaceships to Earth and the Federation are ill-equipped to defend themselves. However, due to Picard's past involvement with the Borg, Starfleet order the Enterprise to patrol the Neutral Zone instead of engaging directly with the enemy. After hearing the near total destruction of the Federation fleet engaging with the Borg, Picard disobeys his orders and proceeds to Earth at maximum warp.

Rescuing former colleague Worf from the Defiant and organising a successful assault on the Borg cube, they witness a single Borg sphere launch into Earth's atmosphere and initiate a time-travel manoeuvre in an attempt to prevent humanity from making 'first contact' with alien life and easily taking over the world. On instinct, Picard and the Enterprise follow the sphere back in time to try to repair the damage the Borg have caused to the space-time continuum. But it may appear as though the Borg have more than enough tricks of their own to stay one step ahead...


Main Cast

Patrick Stewart
Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes
First Officer William Riker
Brent Spiner
Lt. Comm. Data
Michael Dorn
Comm. Worf
LeVar Burton
Lt. Comm. Geordi La Forge
Gates McFadden
Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis
Counsellor Deanna Troi
James Cromwell
Zefram Cochrane
Alfre Woodard
Lily Sloane
Alice Krige
The Borg Queen

Technical Info

Jonathan Frakes
Brannon Brega & Ronald D. Moore*
Running Time
111 minutes
Release Date (UK)
13th December, 1996
Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Academy Award Nominations
Best Makeup
* story by Rick Berman, Brannon Brega & Ronald D. Moore, based on the TV series 'Star Trek' created by Gene Roddenberry
Stewart, free from playing second fiddle to William Shatner, delivers a performance worthy of leading the films away from its storied heritage.
Stewart, free from playing second fiddle to William Shatner, delivers a performance worthy of leading the films away from its storied heritage. | Source

What's to like?

It can't have been easy following on from the eternally popular films featuring the original crew of the Enterprise but Frakes have delivered a film that pleases not just hardcore fans of the show but also newcomers attracted by a fresher-faced cast. The film stays true to the character of the show by including some thought-provoking dialogue such as Cochrane's response to being told his legacy to the almost sexual interplay between Data and the Borg Queen. In between these moments, the film engages in several action scenes between the beleaguered crew and the Borg who look much nastier and deadlier than they ever did in the show. They really belong in a movie, their vast ships filling the screen and their cavernous interiors stretching beyond limit.

Stewart, freed from the shackles of playing second fiddle to former captain William Shatner in previous movie Star Trek Generations, uses all of his Shakespearean gravitas to deliver a performance we've rarely seen in the TV show. Picard has gone from being a diplomatic captain to a genuine man of action and still has time to show off those impressive acting muscles, especially alongside Woodard who makes an impression as "guest star". Cromwell's alcoholic rogue is also a welcome change of character from the buttoned-up norm we get from this lot and has most of the film's humour. The story doesn't confuse newcomers too much by requiring in-depth knowledge of the show but it does contain plenty of references and in-jokes for fans to enjoy such as the unexpected and welcome appearance of Robert Picardo as the holographic doctor seen in Star Trek: Voyager. The humour might not be as funny as you may hope but given the inherent darkness of the Borg and the horror etched onto the faces of those assimilated, it is a welcome distraction.

Fun Facts

  • The USS Defiant, the ship Worf battles the Borg cube in at the start of the film, was introduced in the series Star Trek: Deep Space 9 specifically for the purpose of fighting the Borg. However, its fleeting appearance here was the only time the ship was ever shown for its intended purpose.
  • Dorn, Spiner, McFadden and Frakes have all cited this film as the best one featuring the Next Gen cast. Sirtis, who was barely used in First Contact, claimed to have enjoyed filming the previous film more but conceded that this was the better film.
  • The character of Zefram Cochrane first appeared in the original Star Trek TV show played by Glenn Corbett in the 1967 episode 'Metamorphosis'. Cromwell's character, however, is much older than Corbett was when he was on the show and is clearly from Earth and not Alpha Centauri, as stated in that episode. It is unclear whether they are the same character or not.
  • When Lily points out to the Borg Sphere, Cochrane believes she is pointing to the constellation Leo. One of the stars in the Leo constellation is Wolf 359, the site of a cataclysmic battle between the Federation and the Borg in the Next Generation series. It occurred in the same two-parter episode that saw Picard assimilated and turned into Locutus Of Borg as briefly shown in this film.

What's not to like?

As much as I enjoyed the film, there were several things that were nagging away at my attention throughout and after the film had finished - somewhat abruptly, I felt. While certain characters get their moments to shine in the film, the likes of Troi and Dr Crusher are largely forgotten about while Picard, Data and Cochrane get much more screen time and narrative dedicated to them. What's worse is that Data also had a significant subplot in the previous film - couldn't one of the female cast members have a juicy story-line to sink their teeth into for once? The time-travel plot-device also felt like reheated leftover - both Generations and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home uses the same device and to be honest, it didn't feel as wondrous and miraculous as it might have once upon a time.

Another issue is familiarity with the cast - because most of the film's audience will have watched at least some of the TV show, it's inevitable that some of them will consider the film to be a big budget extended episode and it's hard to argue otherwise. Yes, the Borg have had a makeover and the effects are smooth and polished compared to the model work seen in the show but the new ship doesn't inspire you the way the old one did. Even the talk about initiating the ship's self-destruct sequence had a stench of deja-vu about it, stripping away the dramatic implications of such an act. It feels harsh to point these faults out because, at the end of the day, First Contact is a great film that manages to balance action, horror, sci-fi and comedy in a way that the very best Trek movies always do. But it just lacks a spark of genius to set it apart from its stablemates and that's a real shame.

While some characters are given time to shine on the big screen, others like Troi are sidelined almost entirely.
While some characters are given time to shine on the big screen, others like Troi are sidelined almost entirely. | Source

Should I watch it?

It is the best film featuring the Next Generation crew but First Contact feels a long way from the highlights of the film series like The Wrath Of Khan and The Undiscovered Country. The film is a deft blend of sci-fi action, philosophy, horror and humour that deserves to be recognised and makes this as enjoyable a film as the series has produced. But it's poor treatment of some cast members and repetitive plot fail to disguise the fact that the film feels like a special episode of the show, despite the new effects.

Great For: anyone who thinks Trek films can't do action well, Stewart reminding us of his background with the RSC, Borg fans (the baddies, not the tennis player)

Not So Great For: Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden, anyone sick of Spiner stealing the spotlight, theoretical physicists

What else should I watch?

The reason I refer to this as the first 'proper' Next Gen film is because despite taking over the reins of the franchise midway through Star Trek Generations, they still had to deal with the black-hole-like ego that is the ham William Shatner, still clinging on to Kirk with white knuckles and gritted teeth. The film benefits from improved effects over the TV show and veteran baddie actor Malcolm McDowell (not to mention Whoopi Goldberg who is noticeably absent from this film) but alas, the following films couldn't quite maintain the series' standards. Star Trek: Insurrection was a terminally dull exercise that failed to excite and by the time Star Trek: Nemesis arrived, the series was financially in free-fall.

Following the cancellation of TV show Enterprise, the franchise meant into an imposed hiatus until reboot specialist J.J. Abrams delivered a... umm, reboot called Star Trek, cleverly serving as both a prequel and introduction of a completely new timeline. Chris Pine took over as Kirk, Zachary Quinto popped up as Spock and self-proclaimed King Of The Nerds Simon Pegg supported as Scotty. Critics loved it but I felt that the film concentrated too much effects and action instead of story-telling - I couldn't tell you what exactly it's about and it's been followed up by two sequels - Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. The future, however, remains uncertain. Rumours persist of a forthcoming film possibly directed by Quentin Tarantino but frankly, this seems about as likely as me getting a food replicator installed in my kitchen.

© 2019 Benjamin Cox

Soap Box

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 

      13 months ago from Illinois

      I really enjoyed this movie. I like things with a strong psychological aspect.

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      13 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I've actually never watched this one.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)