Star Trek finally gets imaginative, exciting and – dare I say it? – kinky.
Star Trek: First Contact is ambitious and provocative right from its opening shot, a close-up of the eye of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) that pulls back to reveal a vast spacecraft. As you hurtle through the ship, you catch glimpses of pasty cyborgs with glowing red eyes – they’re like Terminator robots that have been bitten by zombies.
This would be the Borg, a relative newcomer to the Gene Roddenberry franchise (they first appeared in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and one of its few arresting villains. A seemingly mindless “collective,” the Borg traverse the galaxy with the simple, ruthless goal of assimilating all other life forms by turning them into similar, cybernetic beings.
In First Contact, a Borg Queen (Alice Krige) and her minions travel back to 21st-century Earth to sabotage mankind’s initial extraterrestrial encounter (Krige’s icky wooing of Brent Spiner as Data, the Enterprise’s android, is where the sex comes in). Picard and crew follow them and fight a two-front battle: one on Earth and one on the Enterprise, which eventually begins to resemble the besieged farm house in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.
First Contact is heavy on action, including a decent space battle between the Enterprise and the Borg’s giant floating cube, one of the few Star Trek vessels to exhibit any sort of visual invention.
The emphasis on action allows the thematic elements – normally so heavily handled in Star Trek movies – to float along on a nice, subtle undercurrent. When Picard recalls his previous assimilation at one point and says, in horror, “I was linked to the hive mind!” it makes you wonder: Nearly 15 years after this movie, with the arrival of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have we become the Borg?