STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT
Resistance is futile!
STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT ($20) is undoubtedly the most popular and the most accessible film to feature The Next Generation cast. With The Borg as the film’s primary villains and the introduction of the character of The Borg Queen (beautifully played by Alice Krige) STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT played out a much darker and more interesting story than The Next Generation’s first cinematic foray. Considering their darkly purposed hive mind and near incivility, The Borg were the most dangerous alien species ever devised in the entire Trek universe, so having them featured STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT made the film something of a fan’s dream. Personally, I really like STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT and think it is certainly offers the most overall entertainment value of any of the latter films; however, the mixture of the film’s "A" and "B" storylines don’t always jell cohesively and sometime the lighter "B" storyline almost seems out of place against the darker Borg driven plotline.
With that said, STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT opens with a terrific flashback/nightmare sequence that introduces The Borg collective and its special connection to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Shortly thereafter, we learn of a newly launched Borg assault to assimilate Earth. Engaging the Borg in the very heart of the Federation, the Enterprise "E" manages to stave off the full-fledged assault, but not before a small contingent of The Borg travel into the past and attempt to assimilate humanity during a less technologically advanced era. In the past, the crew of Enterprise discover The Borg are attempting to prevent the first warp flight of Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) and humanity’s "first contact" with the Vulcans, which inevetibly leads to the creation of the Federation. Trying to repair the damage to the timeline results in the Enterprise and its crew slowly being assimilated by The Borg, while the Borg Queen attempts to seduce Data (Brent Spiner) over to her side with the temptations of the flesh. The cast of STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT also features Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alfre Woodard and Neal McDonough.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. I have to say the image quality on this second issue of STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT is nothing short of superb. Sharpness and detail are truly excellent, with the picture nearly popping off this reviewer’s big screen display. Colors are strongly saturated, with even the most vibrant hue appearing rock solid. Additionally flesh tones are wholly appealing- that is, on all the non-assimilated characters. Blacks are dead on, whites are crisp and the picture boasts terrific contrast and shadow detail. The film elements from which the movie has been transferred appear virtually flawless and there is little appreciable grain during the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT features 5.1 channel soundtracks that come in both the Dolby Digital and DTS formats. Both tracks are highly aggressive and make full used of all the allotted discrete channels for the epic space battles, combat sequences, as well as the more intimate moments. The sound design is one of the best for a Trek movie, as one gets all the expected starship sounds, plus a whole lot more. Fidelity is top notch, with every sound effect coming across in a completely convincing fashion, while the music has a full-bodied presence. As for the dialogue, voices are cleanly reproduced and everything maintains complete intelligibility. The bass channel packs a wallop and is certain to convince one that the deck plating is rumbling under their feet. The DTS track provides a warmer, richer and more enjoyable listening experience that the standard bearer, although the Dolby Digital track is no slouch in the sonic boom department. English and French 2.0 surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.
Computer animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's very nicely designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the fine array of supplements, which have been spread across both discs of the set. Disc one featured two running audio commentary tracks; the first features director Jonathan Frakes, while the second includes screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore. Disc one also features a text commentary on a subtitle channel by Michael and Denise Okuda, authors of The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Presented pop-up style, the text stream provides plenty of Trek trivia and other interesting bits on the making of the movie.
Moving on to disc two, we find the remainder of the supplemental programming, which has been broken up into various sections. The Production section offers Making First Contact, which provides some interviews and a glimpse behind the scenes (twenty minutes); The Art Of First Contact looks at the film’s designs (sixteen minutes); The Story finds the writers discussing the evolution of the plot (fifteen minutes); The Missile Silo looks at one of the film’s most intriguing locations (fourteen minutes); The Deflector Dish details the setting of one of the film’s most memorable sequences (ten minutes); From "A" To "E" looks at set design and construction (six minutes). The Scene Deconstruction section provides details of three memorable effects sequences Borg Queen Assembly (eleven minutes), Escape Pod Launch (five minutes) and Borg Queen’s Demise (three minutes).
The Star Trek Universe section offers Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute, which looks at one of the cinema’s greatest composers and his contributions to Star Trek (nineteen minutes); The Legacy Of Zefram Cochrane features actor James Cromwell talking about his role and as well as the evolution of the character from The Original Series (twelve minutes); First Contact: The Possibilities examines the potentiality of making contact with an alien species (nineteen minutes). The Borg Collective section offers Unimatrix One looks at evolution of The Borg in Trek through The Next Generation, continuing into feature films and finally in Voyager; The Queen features actress Alice Krige discussing her character (eight minutes); Design Matrix focuses the look of The Borg (eighteen minutes). The Archives section offers storyboards for various sequences in the film, as well a Photo Gallery. The Trailers section offers a theatrical teaser, theatrical trailer and a trailer for the Borg Invasion attraction in Las Vegas.
As I stated above, STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT is the most popular and the most accessible film to feature The Next Generation cast. The special edition DVD really does justice to the film by offering a superb visual presentation, as well as outstanding sound, in addition to some terrific supplemental materials that Star Trek fans will love. Should you be a Trekkie, Trekker of someone who just loves this movie, then STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT is a must own DVD. Absolutely recommended.
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