The Trouble with Borgs

Picard’s self-reflection in Star Trek: First Contact drives the final act’s successful drama – if not the action. Faced with the assimilating Borg infesting his ship, he’s torn between a Captain’s duty to fight for the Enterprise or evacuate and destruct, a challenge for a man with Borg parts in his body.

While Data (Brent Spiner) confronts his possible humanity, Picard, for the first time in this movie series (say nothing of the connecting TV show), faces a damnable position. To be human is to fight, to flee is potentially cowardice; the latter makes strategic sense, if defying a human nature for revenge. That’s Star Trek: First Contact’s engaging plot device, using the subtle script to debate a philosophical conundrum.

Star Trek: First Contact forces less interesting confrontations

Star Trek: First Contact splits the crew into two distinct storylines though, cutting away often to focus on the ground, where Riker (Johnathan Frakes) tussles with an alcoholic scientist post-World War III. That scientist (James Cromwell) faces his future, and it’s unique in time travel storytelling to see someone defiant of their long-term greatness. Learning his work becomes common ground for schools in later history, he flees, another humanistic element in a movie crowded with them.

Each is a narrative foundation worth telling, but separating key characters diminishes the camaraderie in space, and Star Trek: First Contact forces less interesting confrontations. Worf (Michael Dorn) stands first against Picard, less engaging an idea than Riker doing the same given that relationship and chain of command. Instead, Riker and Geordi (LeVar Burton) work to restore an addict’s confidence, far less thematic than long-term payoffs in Picard’s story.

It’s also a duller film, awkwardly paced so the action opens Star Trek: First Contact, leaving the finale to an implausible close contact scuffle lacking gravitas. Picard, hanging over Borg-melting gas, forces Patrick Stewart to play John McClane (in space!), clinging to a duct hose desperately and defying his 55+ year old real world status. Starfleet Command clearly demanded Picard work on his arm days, but it’s still small scale and unconvincing. A galactic war trapped to a single room, even with the emotional build-up, can’t compete with the visual luster shown previously.

Video

Cinematography isn’t afraid of going dark, as in “black crush” dark. It’s common, but part of the original imagery as shot, and the Dolby Vision pass does what it can to keep this to a minimum. Star Trek: First Contact loses little more than a smidgen of depth. Dimensionality remains strong, and highlights (especially the Enterprise’s glowing thrusters against black space) stand out gorgeously.

There is a suggestion of Paramount’s usual filtering via the grain structure. On occasion, grain can stick and move with the actors unnaturally, but the detail is lush, full, and sharp. Definition in close gives First Contact renewed life when debuting on UHD. Texture thrives in these conditions.

Equally stellar color gives space incredible auras, brilliant in their saturation. Primaries glow, whether Starfleet uniforms or the rich flesh tones. Lasers and torpedoes bring spectacular density.

Audio

While not the greatest in range or dynamics, Star Trek: First Contact does fine work in using the width afforded to it by TrueHD 7.1. Positional design and tracking does everything right, whether it’s sparks flaring inside a damaged ship or lasers slinging by the screen. Precision earns a reference grade.

The only thing robbing First Contact of reaching the best tiers is bass, or the limited use of. Explosions need a greater, bolder rumble, something to truly shake the room. That’s lacking, if still producing a juicy jolt at its peak.

Extras

Co-star/director Johnathan Frakes provides commentary one. The second pairs writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore. The third? That’s with Damon Lindelof and Anthony Pascal. Oh, and a fourth? That’s text only from Michael and Denise Okuda.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Star Trek: First Contact
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The Borg makes a great threat to Picard in Star Trek: First Contact, but a split storyline interrupts the dramatic peaks too often.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 50 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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