16th Aug2009

anchoo heart FIRST CONTACT!?

by jerad.formby

yeah i am after your favorite movie now

Before I make enemies of so many readers, I would like to thank all of you for supporting the convention post I wrote over at Subspace Communique. Chris Wood is a rocking nerd and his website requires love to flourish. The post I created about the convention proved to be a very significant day for him and I know I have all of you to thank for that.

Keep the love strong.

Hey Star Trek! has got to get out of the wings and throw down the gauntlet on one of our own. This post has been in the making for awhile and honestly the fervor just comes from that place that loves this new Star Trek movie. Typically, critics herald it as the best entry since First Contact.

hey star trek can't get into first contact sorry yall

Many critics say that Wrath of Khan and First Contact are the best entries in the Star Trek saga. We here at Hey Star Trek! have got to disagree. The two are not comparable. In fact First Contact is one of the worst in the series and if you’re not ready to let go of your “we fall back speech,” perhaps you should not click the ‘read more’ button.

yes star trek fans it was like that once upon a time

First Contact opened in theaters on or around 1996 and me and my nerd friends couldn’t have been more excited. We were coming off of Next Generation worship and an unhealthy love for Deep Space Nine. At the time we lived 100 miles from Denver, Colorado and we decided Denver was the place to see the movie.

So we went.

Denver presented us with a real exposure to Star Trek fandom and just how deep it could go. The love was omnipresent and untouchable. This was the first time (and possibly the last time) that I had witnessed applause at the opening credits of a flick. As soon as the picture began, applause happened with the title. Mad clapping occurred when Patrick Stewert’s name appeared. Johnathan Frakes saw similar treatment.

The crowd continued to go crazy for each name, but if memory serves, they were getting worn out by the time Levar Burton’s name appeared. All of this is neither here nor there, it was just fascinating to be surrounded by so many who were ready to love the new movie.

hey star trek spreads the love on ms mcfadden

Me and my nerds weren’t all that different. We left the theater believing we had seen a truly great film –one that was on or about the level of Wrath of Khan for sure. All of us rocked that initial reaction for weeks, if not months, after we drove home from Denver Colorado.

A funny thing happened while we talked and discussed and generally dissected the movie Star Trek: First Contact. Before I go any further, keep in mind that we here at Hey Star Trek! never believe that a movie is just a movie (especially a Star Trek movie). Star Trek must rock at all times or it will be called to task.

Thus is our creed. Thus is our mission.

star trek first contact upon further analysis is

The initial reaction was ‘wow! How kick ass are we!?’ We is defined as us Trekkies who were genuinely impressed with our favorite characters mounting phaser rifles and getting business done. ‘We’ refers to the intensity of Picard’s reaction to the Borg coming back to earth. We were impressed with Picard’s decision to blow up the Enterprise E (even though we had just met that ship).

In the weeks afterward, however, the awkward understanding that we had been duped set in. If you’ve read previous posts, you already know that we have a problem with the Borg. Well, gentle readers, it all begins with First Contact.

Let us begin with the initial, very scary premise of the Borg as presented by Q. “It isn’t interested in you, only in your technology,” that was a fascinating, scary, and unanticipated description for a new foe. Every single thing that had ever involved any Starfleet Captain had involved an antagonistic face that could talk and/or be reasoned with and/or be blown out of the stars.

The Borg was a monster unlike any previous Star Trek villain. Wanna talk? Oh crap, we don’t care. Gonna lock phasers? Oh crap, been there done that, we just need your weapon frequency. Shields? Oh crap, didn’t you know we got that stuff figured all day long!?

borg used to be so cool

Scary. Scary. And with a little scary sprinkled ontop, the Borg was the unequivocal greatest villain in Star Trek.

First Contact was the end of that nonsense. The Borg were suddenly obsessed with one species. The humans. In fact they hated us so much that they decided to assimilate us in the past to insure we might not ever be powerful enough to make them mad.

Make them mad? Is that what we did? Really? One cube was destroyed and suddenly the Borg pull out all the stops and decide to forgo our tech advances in favor of world assimilation when we’re at our weakest? Difficult for us at Hey Star Trek! to realize. Really difficult.

The only thing that could support such a ridiculous notion was the introduction of something called the Borg Queen. This was a creature that maybe ran the hive mind, or was the hive mind, or could have done both or been both. No idea what’s correct. Data even asked about that relationship and she said something that would make Bilbo Baggins scratch his head. No answers are within the film. That’s all left up for speculation –because the film is so brilliant?

the most terrible idea in the world outside of making a borg queen in the first place

And did I mention she’s obsessed with sex? Uh-huh.

Outside of these initial problems with the film’s antagonist, there is the protagonist angle to consider.

Jean-Luc Picard is a fantastic character. He is layered, detailed, and amazing to watch. Picard is a perfect invention of actor and teleplay writer choices. He is absolutely brilliant. And, sadly, if you watched the series, he’s actually in a peaceful place when it comes to The Borg.

Yes, he was assimilated in one of Trek’s finest hours. Yes it obviously was a terrible experience for him. Yes he cried in the mud with his brother over the ordeal. He encountered the Borg on a few occasions afterward and he always played it as the quiet professional, ready to deal if it felt right. Ready to make a choice after he’d weighed it carefully.

That was the beauty of the series and Picard’s Borg experiences. He was capable of evolution, of proper thought process and decision making. What a stand up guy!

The movie unties all of that. We meet up with a Picard who is obsessed and border-line crazy. We see a Captain who never met Hugh and never weighed mass genocide over the Star Trek ideal of hope. Picard was suddenly a loose canon, a wild card capable of murdering his own crew members –“trust me, it’s a favor” he might say.

Of course, nobody did that to him.

this is no exageration captains are often forced out of their molds when producers have no idea what to do

Fans of the film overlook this bizarre new Picard because he’s acting so “hardcore” I guess. He’s lost all sense of professionalism and self in favor of getting the Borg back for something that happened years ago. Of course it’s mildly possible that he’s rocking emotions he could never express before, but that just screams ‘it’s a movie and this behavior leads to box office” –and it did, by the way.

Apart from the problems with the hero and the villain, First Contact also rocks the worst joke in Star Trek history. Okay, Data’s flotation device is worse.

But have you really weighed just how screwed up Worf has to be in order to say this crowd pleaser???

did this idea belong anywhere near Star Trek where comedy is usually earned

So Data is a character that has always quested for emotions. We were exposed to seven seasons of his trials and were genuinely touched by his hits and his misses. “Generations” brought us the idea that it just might be time to explore Data with emotions. Perhaps the Next Gen Movies would be that point where we might see him cope with his dream and see the curses as well as the benefits.

Wrong.

tng has always rocked canon pride but this was a ridiculous thing to get lazy about

A chip that cannot be de-activated nor removed is switched off because it’s a good comedic beat. I laughed when it happened the first time and now I cringe when I see the movie. I just see a scenario presented (by the same writers from First Contact, by the way) that everyone lost the guts to follow through with.

How much more interesting would it have been for Data to have to work through his fear? Hey Star Trek! bets you tons –even though there’s not much in the apartment to bet. Tons! Tons of Ramen Noodles if need be.

On the topic of dropped story potential, it is no secret that a lot of the structure for First Contact popped out of producer Rick Berman’s head. He’s bragged often about how he came up with a winning formula by marrying Wrath of Khan (successful Trek film) with Voyage Home (most successful Trek film). I don’t know which Voyage Home he was watching, because the one they tried to make didn’t hold a candle to it.

Hey Star Trek! knows why!

did the first contact producers really think they had stumbled upon some new formula for comedy antics

janeway in the time of super human overlords who terrorize us and make good cinema

So my problems amount to time travel to the wrong time, a newly humanized Borg, a dropped emotion chip, and a Starfleet Captain who plays more like Leatherface than the man I admire. There it is in a nutshell.

hey star trek rewrite first contact well lets see

First off, it’s not called First Contact. In fact, the first warp flight has nothing to do with this time travel plot. The Borg attack Earth and for reasons beyond control of the Enterprise and it’s enemy (okay shaped like a sphere), both are tossed back in time.

The final battle ensues for a good chunk of the movie with the Earth below. The Enterprise wins and, just as in First Contact, the Borg are planning to assimilate the ship. No weird Queen, just scary Borg time. Data is useless for some of the story, but finally rocks out some bravery later –maybe saving Geordi’s life.

All is lost and Picard realizes he has to destroy his ship to defeat the Borg once and for all. Escape pods are launched. The Enterprise is destroyed, defeating the Borg for all intents and purposes.

That’s the whole movie.

star trek cannot end a movie like that

That also means that we don’t get Insurrection. Instead, we get what Patrick Stewert wanted after “such an intense actioner” –we get a romp of a movie. All our guys are now stuck back in time with no ship and no way home. We see a movie that involves all of our favorite characters in a “fish out of water” sort of deal.

The plot could rock out so many angles. Picard and Company have to ensure all evidence of their Enterprise is destroyed and never found. Picard and Company have to gather all their people back. They might have to enlist some local help to tackle the time travel. They might need money and have to get jobs.

All of this could be set against the backdrop of the Eugenics Wars just getting started.

This is Data rides a bike, this is Riker in a gay bar, this is Picard maybe getting romance that has comedic roots. Geordi in sunglasses. It’s the fun of the Voyage home with the Next Gen crew –which is all any of us really wanted from a Time Travel story in the first place.

times arrow blew blew blew blew blew blew blew blew

My movie pitch ends with them getting home, obviously, through some fantastic circumstances –maybe a modified sleeper ship?

When the Insurrection installment ends as a totally different (and very successful movie), we might not even have all the desperation that was thrown into Nemesis. Heck, there might not have even been a need for Abrams to come and tow the line!

But all of this is theory. It’s just always rubbed me the wrong way that TNG worked so hard to not tread the ground of TOS and so they seriously locked themselves out of some of their greatest adventures.

sorry all of you felt like doing it right would feel too much like a retread


the new end credits twitter button

youre-almost-finished-with-my-self-promotion1

What the heck was Star Trek: The Experience!?
Chris Pine’s Kirk and a New Five Year Mission (fiction)
Stardates and quadrants.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the best one.
Star Trek just might be too futuristic to have an army.
Syfy is a cool idea. Warehouse 13 isn’t.
A whole website devoted to hating Abrams trek!? Surely you jest!
Don’t like a nuked fridge? You call him, Dr. Jones, DOLL!
Let’s go to the holodeck!
FOX network, I feel the good in you, the conflict!
Seeking out strange new potential in Abrams’ universe. (fiction)
A little more information about your Hey Star Trek! blogger
Baby steps with Star Trek: Voyager
Hell you say? Film language of Gran Torino!?
A Brief History of Fan Work and Tim Russ’ Of Gods and Men
What the hell do you mean Episode III’s the best one!?
Baby Steps With Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Baby Steps With Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation
Hey Star Trek! Saw Terminator: Salvation
Meditating on J.J. Abrams’ Lens Flares
Can you tell me more about Trekcast?
Hey! You hated Abrams Trek? Color me unsurprised.
What you show somebody who doesn’t know Star Trek at all
Nerd-Nut-Nods in New Star Trek Movie
Why you don’t need IMAX Star Trek
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The real reason New Star Wars movies suck
Star Trek continuity whores need to give it a rest
The new Doctor Who . . . or lack thereof!
Why the new Star Trek movie is gonna be cool
Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse
How the Borg went from badass to blowing chunks
Some Star Trek characters get no love
Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica
Why Watchmen’s So Bad
Star Trek Optimism
Ugly Romulans and Vulcans

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  • VegasAndorian

    Well, J-rad Fix-A-Script strikes again. That would’ve been a cool movie and sequel. Except for the part of not needing Abrams, that’s awful. Don’t do that. Abrams needed.

    I still love First Contact, but I’ve also had gripes about that damn Queen business. When first introduced, Borg were truly science fictional, something we were unfamiliar with, a true collective consciousness. I remember the writer for FC saying he added a Queen because you need a person for the villain. It was sad. Mind you, I like what’s been done with the Borg (the only Voyager episodes I like) but what a loss for science-fiction.

    Maybe Bad Robot will pick up the Really Cool Borg and use them? (In the 3rd movie.)

    The whole Please Blow Up The Ship! bugged me too. Being stranded in time is a big deal, even for Starfleeters, it should’ve been the other way around, with blowing up the ship a very painful last decision – leading into your awesome re-write.

    Finally, what does a guy have to do to get Tagged around here? Every character in your photos in the Experience post is tagged but me. 🙁

  • http://twitter.com/super_spock jerad.formby

    Psst. Vegas Andorian . . . how often do you look at your own crotch in pics posted of Kstran? 🙂

  • http://dkleparek.blogspot.com David Kleparek

    I agree. VegasAndorian thinks that we did need Abrams. We wouldn’t have needed him if the TNG movies were done a little better.

    Ooo. TNG in the Eugenics war. You just gave me a geekspasm. Mmmm Doughnuts!

  • VegasAndorian

    Psst, J-rad, I don’t have to, because every guy out there is looking and telling me about it. Creepy.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Smittmaestro Smitty™

    In the words of Dave Mason, “There ain’t no good guy there ain’t no bad guy there’s only you and me and we just disagree.”

    That is all…

    -cs™

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  • Ryan

    Another great blog Jerad. As usual can’t argue with you to much. First Contact is one of my favorite Trek films but I always felt the films were not as good as the Series. For one they are trying to cater to non fans which is okay but I like character developement which a movie does not provide enough time for. Also it seems like in the movies there is some kind of mandate that they have to destroy the Enterprise and or come up with new uniforms and they seem to prefer both. Keep up the good work.
    Your friend,
    Ryan

  • http://www.benfraley.com Ben

    I never had a problem w/ the Borg Queen, and here’s why: After “I, Borg” and “Descent”, it seems like the Borg were in disarray. Is it totally out of the question that the Borg created the Queen in an effort to restore order to chaos? I know that the Borg were designed to be an entity without leadership, after Hugh’s reintegration I think there could be a need for something. Lore certainly thought so 🙂

  • Ozone

    Great analysis of First Contact, however despite what it could (should) have been it’s still the best of the NG movies. Picard had to be crazy because he was Ahab following in the tradition of Kahn. It would have been really hard for a borg queen to pull off that role. Also they have got to stop blowing up the enterprise and saving earth. I liked Nemisis but realize that it only appealed (or was understood) by die hard fans.

    Trek seemed to be at its peak when it resonated with current events as well as what most people felt at the time. However most issues today are too polarized to get a trek consensus that will be accepted.