Picks and Pans Review: Star Trek: First Contact

updated 12/02/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/02/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

Patrick Stewart, James Cromwell, LeVar Burton, Alfre Woodard

With all the obsessive fan behavior and the self-important attitudinizing of the Trek producers, it's easy to forget how much fun Star Trek can be. This large-scale adventure—full of warmth and wit as well as lots of gadgetry and pyrotechnics—is nothing if not lots of fun.

The Stewart-led actors from the Next Generation TV series are clearly superior to the old William Shatner-led starship Enterprise crew, whose hair-pieces certainly will not be missed.

First Contact (see story, page 146), the eighth Trek movie, also has a relatively coherent plot, one that relates to a two-part episode of the TV series in which Stewart is captured by the Borg, the communal cyberborgs who are the creepiest and scariest of Trek villains.

Going back in time to attack Earth, the Borg aim to prevent the first friendly contact between humans and aliens, a meeting that would lead to formation of the intergalactic Federation for whom the Enterprise flies. As the relentless, almost invulnerable Borg advance, Stewart begins to flash back to the time when he was captured and "assimilated" by the Borg.

Writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore keep the time-travel paradoxes sorted out; actor and director Jonathan Frakes, who plays Cmdr. William Riker on Next Generation, uses his effects nicely and executes a neat twist at the end. There hasn't been a space opera this enjoyable since Star Wars. (PG-13)

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