Film (1996). Paramount. Produced by Rick Berman. Directed by Jonathan Frakes. Written by Brannon Braga and Ronald D Moore, based on a story by Berman, Braga, and Moore. Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alice Krige, James Cromwell and Alfre Woodard. 111 minutes. Colour.
For this eighth film in the Star Trek Cinema sequence – and the first in which the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) led the franchise alone – the producers brought back the Borg, the popular Cyborg adversaries from the Television version of Next Generation. In addition, there is a Time Travel plot which sees the Enterprise crew travel back to the mid-twenty-first century, where the Borg are attempting to stop Earth's invention of the Faster Than Light warp drive. By doing so, they would alter history (see Changewar) and so enable a Borg hegemony over the planet. Efficiently directed by Jonathan Frakes – who, as well as playing Commander Riker, had also directed episodes of the television series – the film is never less than entertaining. It is at its strongest when dealing with Zefram Cochrane, the warp drive's inventor, entertainingly played by James Cromwell. Cochrane's disbelief that he is a world historical figure, plus his down-to-earth gruffness, provides some nice moments of tension with the squeaky-clean Enterprise crew. There are some less successful moments of personal drama for other members of the crew, including Spiner as the Android Data. However, the film is undoubtedly more substantial and more visually spectacular than the television incarnation could ever aspire to be. It was one of the more critically and commercially successful of the series. The novelization is First Contact (1996) by John Vornholt. [GS]
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