Making the Grades
Like many Treks before, First Contact combines the popular appeal of sci-fi with the endearing personalities we have watched over TV dinners for more than two decades. This familiarity allows writers of the Trek movies to head straight into the action, without having to spend time with character development. First Contact follows this formula with a complex plot that comes to an amazingly clear conclusion, and never leaves the audience lost in space.
In this eighth Trek theatrical movie, the Enterprise's crew--with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) at the helm--are battling the evil Borg empire. The Borg are looking to expand into a new neighborhood, and the idea of having the Earth renovated to fit their breathing habits leaves Picard with no choice but to do what Kirk has done so many times before -- break the rules and go save the day.
One of the most suspenseful Trek movies I have seen, First Contact often feels more like a thriller than an adventure. The half-human half-machine Borg are ruthless, and it's always easier to justify violence if: A) Your opponent is unwilling to negotiate, and B) Is uglier than you are. Thus many scenes have Borg body parts flying through space.
Another scene has verbal sexual innuendo at levels higher than the radiation coming from a busted warp drive as the robotic Data (Brent Spiner) is at the mercy of the seductive Borg Queen (Alice Krige). Similar to the barely clad women Kirk battled in the sixties, this scene is more window dressing than plot development.
I enjoy Star Trek movies, and First Contact has the usual positive overlying message of mankind trying to better itself, but content is more adult and intense than previous adventures. Even with the peace Picard claims mankind enjoys amongst themselves, the humans still spend a lot of time fighting with others, and feel they control their own and the universe's destiny. For family viewing, I'd suggest setting the remote control on stun and proceed with caution. Otherwise, set a course for the old Trek reruns.