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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Adventure > Space > Star Trek - First Contact: Special Collector's Edition

Star Trek Ė First Contact: Special Collectorís Edition


Picture: B†††† Sound: B+†††† Extras: B†††† Film: B



Paramount continues to release its series of upgraded double DVD sets of the Star Trek feature films with their new set of the 1996 film First Contact.This was the first full-length feature film totally devoted to only the cast of The Next Generation series.That was a show that had more dud episodes than gems, but the cast was not bad, though a spin-off live-action show twenty years late always seemed lame.Paramount went all out for this film to relaunch the feature film segment of the franchise and turned out a good film.


It is more remarkable since series co-star Jonathan Frakes, who directed episodes of the series, made his feature film debut here and it worked.Since then, it can be said that this film has actually appreciated nine years later because it was built to last.There are the visual effects that are seamless with little digital used.There is the big screen use of the Panavision scope frame.There is the well thought out story.There is a studio that was still in great form with people who knew how to get good movies made, backing the project ambitiously the way studios used to all the time.There is the upgrade of The Borg, a villain the series needed, yet the film is not simply reactionary and formulaic.


Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is still shaken by his capture by The Borg in earlier encounters.He managed to escape, but has not been able to get the experience out of his mind and system totally.However, his very real dream turns into a reality when the real Borg are approaching earth.Due to his past experience, Starfleet Command orders Picard to a mission that will keep him away from the situation.It looks like his superiors think heíll turn Borg himself.Though this is never explored enough, he decides to do the one thing that makes him at his most interesting: go crazy, ignore orders, and break the rules, something he is known for hardly ever doing.Those tend to be the only stories worth watching him in.


They join the attack against a Borg Cube (think a Star Warsí Death Star crossed with Bizarro Earth from Superman).As a Borg Globe (looking like one of the toxic death globes from the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker) heads towards earth and a time gap breaks open, Picardís Enterprise is going after it and the battle begins.


This was enough of a thriller with some comedy, that it did not become a simple Space Opera or live action cartoon.Frakes had a promising feature film career ahead of him, especially when this film did some business, though it was not the huge hit the biggest earlier films of the original series.This is the eighth film the series produced; though an associate of mine tried to say naÔvely that this was the second film of a new franchise.No one, especially this writer, believed that and it would all be over in two more films.Consider that the equivalent to Pierce Brosnanís run as James Bond, not a big disaster, but a disappointment artistically no matter what money did come in.


Alice Krige is memorable as the Queen Borg who tries to take down Picard and semi-human robot Data (Brent Spiner, when he could still wear the face make-up without looking like he was playing in a recent KISS tour).Well, they got it right and in line with one of Roger Ebertís rare on-the-money ideas, the even-numbered films were once again the best, no matter how you cut it.Alfre Woodard as a interesting adversary of Picard for different reasons and James Cromwell as the landmark inventor Zefram Cochran, this cast had more weight than most films in its genre and proof this era of Trek had something to offer.Too bad it would not be fully realized in the long run.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot by cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti, A.S.C., and it looks so good, especially since this is one of the best Paramount DVD transfers we have seen to date.The film was never blown-up for 70mm presentation, but would have been amazing if it had been.Along with Paul W.S. Andersonís Event Horizon from 1997, also released by Paramount, First Contact is one of the last pre-digital Science Fiction/Outer Space films that looked like and felt like it was in outer space.Since then, everything has been usually very badly done digital work, bad Super 35mm shooting (plus even lesser digital HD shooting) and a draining of color that is just tired and lame.


Even more impressive than the DVD image is the debut of the amazing DTS 5.1 sound mix that holds up extraordinarily well.Paramount is offering DTS as a new addition to all the Next Generation films in these new double sets.We are now in an era where films from 8 to 10 years ago can display exceptional sound design because they are from the DTS/SDDS era.Add the impressive music score by the late, great Jerry Goldsmith, and you have a film with great home theater performance that also happens to be a really good film.Even if you despise Star Trek and especially this era of it, you will still be amazed by the performance and fidelity.


The extras are many as is the case with these sets, including another text/subtitles fact display through the film by Michael Okuda & Denise Okuda, plus two audio commentaries (one by Frakes, the other by writers Brannon Braga & Ronald D. Moore) on DVD 1.DVD 2 has The Star Trek Universe and its subsection: the terrific Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute, The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane, and First Contact: The Possibilities.The Borg Collective offers Unimatrix One, The Queen and Design Matrix.Scene Deconstruction offers Borg Queen Assembly, Escape Pad Launch and Borg Queen's Demise.First Contact Production offers The Story, The Missile Silo, The Deflector Dish, From "A" to "E", Making First Contact and The Art of First Contact.The Archives section has Storyboards and a photo gallery.We also have a teaser and theatrical trailer.As is the case with previous double sets, the materials are plentiful and overlap, but here, they overlap more than usual and do not (like the film to some extent) dig deeply enough into the themes, concepts, characters and science of the film and franchise.This caught up with them, but that still cannot stop Star Trek - First Contact: Special Collectorís Edition one of the best DEVD sets we will see all year long.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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