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 Star Trek: First Contact
(1996) on IMDb

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Star Trek: First Contact is a 1996 American science fiction film directed by Jonathan Frakes (in his directorial debut) and based on the franchise Star Trek. It is the eighth film in the Star Trek film series, as well as the second to star the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the film, the crew of the USS Enterprise-E travel back in time from the 24th century to the mid 21st-century in order to stop the cybernetic Borg from conquering Earth by changing their past.

After the release of Star Trek Generations in 1994, Paramount Pictures tasked writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore with developing the next film in the series. Braga and Moore wanted to feature the Borg in the plot, while producer Rick Berman wanted a story involving time travel. The writers combined the two ideas; they initially set the film during the European Renaissance, but changed the time period that the Borg corrupted to the mid-21st century, after fearing the Renaissance idea would be “too kitsch“. After two better-known directors turned down the job, cast member Jonathan Frakes was chosen to direct to make sure the task fell to someone who understood Star Trek.

The film’s script required the creation of new starship designs, including a new USS¬†Enterprise. Production designer¬†Herman Zimmerman¬†and illustrator¬†John Eaves¬†collaborated to make a sleeker ship than¬†its predecessor. Principal photography began with weeks of location shooting in Arizona and California, before production moved to new sets for the ship-based scenes.

The Borg were redesigned to appear as though they were converted into machine beings from the inside-out; the new makeup sessions took four times as long as their appearances on the television series. Effects company¬†Industrial Light & Magic¬†rushed to complete the film’s special effects in less than five months. Traditional optical effects techniques were supplemented with¬†computer-generated imagery.¬†Jerry Goldsmith¬†and his son¬†Joel Goldsmith¬†collaborated to produce the film’s score.

The film was released on November 22, 1996, and was the highest-grossing film on its opening weekend. It eventually made $92 million in the United States and Canada with an additional $54 million in other territories, combining a worldwide total of $146 million.

Critical reception was mostly positive; critics including¬†Roger Ebert¬†considered it to be one of the best¬†Star Trek¬†films, and it was the most positively reviewed film in the¬†franchise¬†(93% of reviews were positive) until being marginally surpassed (94%) by the 2009¬†reboot film. The Borg and the special effects were lauded, while characterization was less evenly received. Scholarly analysis of the film has focused on Captain¬†Jean-Luc Picard‘s parallels to¬†Herman Melville‘s¬†Ahab¬†and the nature of the Borg.¬†First Contact¬†was nominated for the¬†Academy Award for Best Makeup¬†and won three¬†Saturn Awards.

Movie poster for Star Trek: First Contact, showing head shots of Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard, Brent Spiner as Data, and Alice Krige as the Borg Queen, from bottom to top; the bottom shows an image of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701-E speeding to the background over an army of Borg drones.
Theatrical release poster
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