Star Trek: Generations - We begin with a really long shot of a CGI bottle flying through space. It eventually hits the hull of the Enterprise-B (and makes a smashing sound? IN SPACE?) Where did they ever launch that thing from? Anyway, the classic, iconic trio of Kirk and, err, Scotty and Chekov are attending the launch of the new Enterprise. They meet Captain Harriman and Demora Sulu. Kirk wonders when Sulu found time to have a daughter (AND A HUSBAND.) The Enterprise-B picks up a distress call from El-Aurian refugees (hey how come none of these refugess warned Starfleet about the Borg?) and they're the only ship in the system for some reason and have to go and help them even the ship isn't finished yet. They left spacedock without a tractor beam! Harriman buckles under the pressure of all the space reporters shining lights on him and stuff and one of the ships is destroyed by the strange energy thing it's trapped in. He asks Kirk for help (Kirk says "risk is part of the game" but not "risk is our business" which is mildly annoying?) and they try to beam the survivors of the other ship over but it's phasing in and out of reality. Guinan and Malcolm McDowell are among those saved. The Enterprise-B is in trouble but Scotty comes up with a technobabble way to save them which involves Kirk climbing down ladders and avoiding steam. Kirk saves the ship but is blown out into space. There's a nice shot of Scotty, Chekov and Harriman looking out the hole in the hull and then "78 years later..."
On the Holodeck, Worf is being promoted to Lt. Commander on a sailboat named Enterprise. He's made to walk the plank and grab a hat and this is a thing that's done for every promotion but we've just never seen before now. Because it's kind of lame. Worf is dropped in the water and everyone laughs, Data shoves Crusher in and everyone is horrified. Geordi tells him it wasn't funny. It was at least as funny as what happened to Worf! Possibly funnier! Picard gets a message and looks sad but won't say what's wrong. An observatory is attacked and the Enterprise goes to investigate. Picard puts Riker in command and still won't say why. The Breen get mentioned so at least someone who only watches the movies now knows the Breen exist. They find Malcolm McDowell (Soran) on the observatory and some dead Romulans. Spot makes her big screen debut as Data is contemplating inserting his emotion chip for the first time (a chip that looks totally different from the last time we saw it, but we've got a movie budget now!) Picard is still grumpy but Data has a stupid smile on his face and goes into Ten Forward. A drink gives him an emotional response (he hates it.) Ten Forward is a lot busier than it usually was in the series. Soran wants to go back to the observatory for an experiment but Picard won't let him. Soran tells him "time is the fire in which we burn." He's really intense about this experiment! Data suddenly turns SUPER OBNOXIOUS, laughing like an idiot at a joke Geordi told seven years ago. HE WON'T FUCKING SHUT UP. He also talks through "Mister Tricorder" which is also bad. Even Geordi gets annoyed at him before the emotion chip overloads his brain (which was the thing he feared and the reason why he didn't insert it before now...so that was a pretty huge cock-up installing it, wasn't it.) Soran arrives and knocks out Geordi
Picard is looking at photos of his brother's family. They use a better looking actor for Robert in the photos than they did in his TNG appearance which is really weird. He's finally ready to talk to Troi: they all burned to death in a fire. Picard cries and this is a RARE occasion where Patrick Stewart's acting seems a bit off. Just the crying part, the rest is good as usual. Picard is sad that there will be no more Picards after him. Soran shoots something into the star the observatory is orbitting. They have four minutes before the shockwave from the dying star hits. Soran shoots at Riker and Worf when they come for Data and Geordi and then a Klingon Bird of Prey shows up (Picard: "What?") Soran beams over to it with Geordi. It's the Duras Sisters! They're still campy. Picard asks Guinan about Soran (but doesn't ask her why she didn't warn anyone about the Borg 78 years ago.) She gives exposition about "the nexus" the place Soran desperately wants to return to. It's like being inside joy! Guinan warns Picard not to go inside it because he won't want to leave. Soran tells Geordi that "normal is what everyone else is and you are not." It's a good line but I'm not sure why Soran would say it. Is hating cripples part of his character? Picard and Data (who is feeling better) go to Stellar Cartography to discuss the Nexus and figure out why Soran is blowing up stars. Data feels bad about Geordi. Data watns to be deactivated because he can't handle his emotions but Picard tells him part of being human is learning how to deal with emotions. They figure out that Soran is destroying stars to steer the Nexus to a planet so he can re-enter the Nexus (it destroys spaceships but not people, I guess.) He's going to destroy another star that will kill millions of people. This is a good scene! The new Stellar Cartography set looks good. There's lot of exposition about Soran's plan but it's nicely paced with the Picard/Data emotions discussion. Stewart and Spiner do good acting as Data gets emotional and Picard tells him to pull it together. I liked this scene.
Back with the Klingons, Soran says that Geordi's "heart wasn't in it" after torturing him. This is because they cut a scene from the film where he tortured Geordi with a nanobot in his heart. Picard offers himself up in exhcange for Geordi, but only if he's beamed down to the planet where Soran is first. Geordi tells Data he's been behaving like a human and Data smiles. Oh yeah, at some point Picard randomly changed to a DS9 style uniform.. Everyone else has been randomly changing too I just forgot to mention it. Picard tries to reason with Soran, saying if he kills all these people he'll be no different than the Borg. Soran says the Borg taught him that death is the only constant in the universe. Data singins the "scanning for lifeforms" song which, of all the bad Data comedy in the movie, is probably the funniest. The Duras Sisters are watching the inside of the Enterprise through a hidden camera they implanted in Geordi's VISOR (seriously, they're not even watching in the usual VISOR vision, it's literally just normal video) which you'd think would be the kind of thing the Enterprise's transporters would have scanned for. They get the "shield frequencies" (which are being displayed in Engineering for some reason) and fire through the Enterprise's shields. The helm officer is killed and Troi takes over. Riker, Wof and Data come up with a way to trigger the Bird of Prey's cloaking device which brings its shields down. They destroy it with one torpedo (the explosion is re-used from TUC because movie studios are really cheap) and Data does an obnoxious fist pump. The Enetprise is badly damaged anyway and the warp core is ready to breach. Geordi gets to do a dramatic slide under the doors and Riker begins to seperate the saucer. Geordi and his engineer friend help some kids be evacuated, but you'd think all the kids would already be in the saucer section anyone (and one of the kids drops a teddy bear in a really lame and cliched moment.) ((Actually to be fair I think they're just moving the kids into a special crash landing area.)) The stardrive explodes and the Enterprise is thrown towards the planet (helm is offline so there's no way for Troi to avoid this, despite twenty four years of "Hahaha, Troi crashed the Enterprise, WOMAN DRIVERS, EH" jokes.) Data says "oh shit" because it's a movie. The saucer crashes into loads of tress. Nobody important dies.
Picard and Soran have a fight on a bridge but Soran beats him up because we need a reason why Picard will neeed help later. He launches his rocket and the star goes out seconds later. That is not scientifically possible! The Nexus hits and Picard and Soran disappear (I guess the Enterprise is out of range of it.) The shockwave then blows up the planet and the Enterprise. Picard wakes up in some horrible Victorian Christmas nightmare with some creepy as fuck children and a subservient wife who looks like a less hot Beverly. THIS is what being "inside joy" is like? Picard sees the planet exploding in a Christmas bauble. So basically he knows right away that this isn't real and he must leave. So much for conflict! Guinan then appears to him. She's an "echo" of Guinan from the time she was in the Nexus (but she seems to have present day Guinan's knowledge?) Picard says goodbye to his weird family and tells Guinan he wants to leave. She tells him he can leave the Nexus and return TO ANY TIME. He right away says he wants to return to right before the planet was destroyed. Not just go back to when he had Soran on the Enterprise and arrest him or anything easier, he choose to fight Soran again instead. I know it's a bit nitpicky but they didn't HAVE to put that "you can return to any time!" line in there. They could have said that the Nexus only lets you leave to a time just before you entered it. Anyway, Kirk's in the Nexus too so Picard goes to see him. Kirk's Nexus has a clock he gave to Bones, a dead dog and a woman who isn't Edith Keeler or Carol Marcus or anyone we've seen before and might have an emotional reaction to seeing again (okay it would have been difficult to do Carol since the actress died but imagine if they got Joan Collins?) It's a woman Kirk walked out on to return to Starfleet, something he obviously regretted. Picard wants Kirk's help to defeat Soran but Kirk only cares about eggs and wants to stay. Kirk goes out on a horse to meet his lady friend and Picard follows. This is because Shatner wanted to ride a horse in the movie. He makes a jump on the horse that used to scare him back in the real world but doesn't here. Kirk realises now that none of this is real and none of it matters. I like that the lack of risk is what snaps Kirk out of the fantasy. It's almost as if risk is his business! Kirk and Picard finally have a good talk with Kirk telling Picard to not let Starfleet promote him or do anything that would take him off the Enterprise, because while he's there he can make a difference. He agress to go back with Picard. It's a nice moment between them. There should have been more like this.
They come out of the Nexus the moment after the Enterprise crashes. Soran is surprised to see Kirk on the bridge (doesn't he read history?) Hey is there still another Soran happily living in the Nexus? Or is he pulled out too by Kirk and Picard leaving? Even together Kirk and Picard have a hard time dealing with Soran. I guess he was in El-Aurian special forces or something. Soran shoots the bridge with Kirk on it and Kirk nearly falls but Picard saves him. Kirk jumps over the gap in the bridge to get Soran's control pad and decloak the missile launcher. But then the Bridge falls apart and Kirk plumets. Picard prevents the launch and the missile explodes, killing Soran. Picard finds a dying Kirk under the bridge. Kirk says "It was fun. Oh my." and DIES. Picard just decides to bury him there on that planet instead of taking his body back to any living relatives or having a proper funeral or anything (I guess since everyone already thinks he's dead.) The Enteprise survivors are being picked up as Data talks to Troi about his emotions. He feels he has them under control now. He finds Spot alive and starts crying. This is one part of the Data's emotions story that works for me. Picard and Riker look at the destroyed ship. Picard makes a nice, if kind of unprompted, speech to Riker about how "what we leave behind" (hmm) isn't as important as how we live. After all. we're only mortal. Riker says he plans to live forever. That last bit is a nice natural exchange between them that feels like something they'd say in TNG. It's a shame there weren't more moments like that in the movie.
We get the end credits and Dennis McCarthy's theme for the movie. It's okay? But it sounds like it's goign to turn into his DS9's opening theme at times. Whoopi Goldberg's name isn't in the credits for some reason.
I can see why it would be tempting to have the TOS crew appear in TNG's first feature film. I don't think it's actually NEEDED at all, TNG was highly popular at the time and its cast could have easily carried a movie by themselves, but I can imagine someone at Paramount saying "Let's have Picard meet Kirk! IN A MOVIE!" Leonoard Nimoy and the others were supposed to appear in the opening segment too, but most of them didn't want to because they'd already had a perfect send-off in TUC and there was little point in return for what amounted to a cameo. They did get Doohan and Koening but it's rather awkward because you can tell lines meant for the other characters went to them (Chekov recruiting a medical staff.) Kirk himself gets a decent amount of time in the movie because of couree Shatner wouldn't have come back otherwise. The problem is, again, we don't need Kirk in this movie! Yes he and Picard have one nice bit together, the "don't let them promote you" scene, but was it really worth having Kirk die in a kind of lame way just for that scene? Was it really worth giving most of the other TNG characters (except Data) take a backseat so we can get a Picard/Kirk team-up? I don't think so! And yes his death is kind of lame. We have Picard and Kirk teaming up for the first time ever for...a two on one fist fight? That was the best they could do? I know Kirk had many first fights in the original series but that was thirty years before this movie and watching Picard and Kirk beating a guy up isn't what most people would have imagined for a team-up between those two. Kirk commanding a starship one last time, exchanging banter with Picard over the viewscreen, feels like it would have been better. But again, I really don't see much reason for Kirk to be in this movie. TUC was great. It passed the torch to TNG in a nice, unforced way. We don't need Kirk endorsing Picard at this point. Many of us already like Picard more.
Quick, without looking it up, name the director of this movie. I BET YOU CAN'T (unless you're a nerd.) It was David Carson. He directed some TNG episodes (including 'Yesterday's Enterprise') and does a decent enough job here, but I think it shows the cheapness of Paramount that they just said "oh let's get a tv guy to do it, it's only a Star Trek movie. And re-use that Bird of Prey exploding, Trekkies never notice stuff like that!" I don't think the movie's a disaster or anything, he seems to do an adequate job, but there's nothing terribly impressive from a visual standpoint. I do like how the sets (the same sets from the tv show!) are lit in some scenes, like in the Ten Forward scene. And the saucer crash still looks pretty good event after twenty four years.
Braga and Moore wrote this around the same time as 'All Good Things...' and one of those scripts is clearly better than the other (it's the 'All Good things...' script.) Of course writing a feature film is a lot different than writing even a 90 minutes finale and Moore and Braga have always been honest about the shortcomings of this movie (I'm about to look up loads of interviews with them!) And it's not like they do a completely horrible job. They had to get Kirk in there and probably in a way that met Shatner's demands. They do it with the Nexus story which could have been interesting but isn't executed all that well. We hear from Guinan that it's virtually impossible to leave the Nexus but Picard and Kirk manage to do it relatively easily. And that weird Victorian Nexus family for Picard was a low point of the movie.
There's good stuff though! I think I noted most of the good stuff above: the stellar cartography scene, some good lines, the nice Picard/Kirk horse scene, the lifeforms song I guess. It has some good writing about facing mortality. Malcolm McDowell is quite good as the bitter and twisted Soran. I like how he doesn't really care about anything. I remember an interview with Alexander Siddig (McDowell's nephew) where he said McDowell told him "the script is shit but I get to kill Kirk!" So at least he enjoyed himself.
So there it is. Not the best start for the TNG movies. It's not really bad, I found it pretty watchable on this viewing, and I didn't feel angry or anything at what they did to Kirk (even though it could have been so much better.) But it's down there with the weakest original series movies so far, better than TFF but not much else.
Problem: You are John A. Alonzo and you've been asked to light a whole bunch of sets that were only ever designed to be shown on blurry-ass SDTV so they can be used in a motion picture that will be shown on the big screen.
Solution: Make sure you light everything as dark as possible and then just whack a big ol' light outside (they're next to a sun! it works!) so everything looks cool and dramatic.
I hated that "sun thru the window" lighting. If they had done it and merely reduced the room lighting it might have been less weird, but they cut any room light sources completely, making it look as if the scenes were taking place during a power outage at the crack of dawn.
I HATE HATE HATE the Picard crying scene. It's really bad and completely flat and undramatic. I FF past it anytime I watch the movie now.
And I agree with you about the scenes that they got right -- I just never realized it before, because as time went on I liked this film less and less than the first time I saw it. And even back then, my friend and I left the theater saying the TNG finale was better.
I like the lighting as it’s stylish and dramatic, but aside from the bridge which got a makeover and was lit realistically, it is a bit silly.
I’m glad you said you thought the acting in the crying scene was bad. I’ve always thought that but wondered if I was being harsh. It doesn’t help that we barely know the characters he’s talking about and they look completely different in the photo, so it’s difficult to relate.
Well the man directed The Sound of Music, West Side Story and The Day The Earth Stood Still as well, so I know he could do "epic" on a grand scale. I just didn't remember the lights being so sharp and bright.
Star Trek: First Contact - The movie starts with a really cool zoom-out from Picard's eye inside a Borg cube back in 'Best of Both Worlds.' A mysterious female voice is heard. He wakes up and Borg thingy comes out of his cheek. It's like a horror movie! But Star Trek! He's still dreaming but he wakes when Admiral Hayes contacts him to let him know that the Borg are attacking Earth (but Picard already knows...it's as if he's got some kind of connection to the Borg!) We see the Enterprise-E for the first time in a nice shot flying through some nebula-type thing. Geordi has bionic eyes now. And everyone has new unfiroms now but I guess if you watched DS9 that woudn't be a surprise. The Enterprise is sent to the Neutral Zone, rather than to Earth. Picard tells Riker that Starfleet Command believes he can't be trusted to face the Borg again after what happened to him years ago. But after listening to a few seconds of Starfleet ships being destoyed on subspace radio Picard sets a course for Earth anyway. He lets the crew know that it's a direct violation of orders but Data speaks for everyone by saying "to Hell with our orders!" That movie Data and his mild swearing! Speaking of movie versions of things, the movie version of the Borg Cube looks pretty cool as it gets closer to Earth. Worf is commanding the Defiant (again see DS9!) and decides today is a good day to die and prepares for ramming speed...when the Enterprise arrives. There's a really cool shot of the massive Enterprise flying in front of the little Defiant. The Admiral's ship is destroyed (spoiler: he'll be in Voyager so I guess he didn't die!) so Picard takes command of the fleet. He orders all ships to fire on a specific area of the Cube and it blows up real good...but not before a sphere emerges from it. Crusher brings Worf to the Bridge (the Defiant is salvagable and a tough little ship.) The sphere flies through a time votex and suddenly Earth has a population of nine billion...all Borg. The Enterprise was conveniently caught in the temporal wake so Picard orders them to fly through the vortex and repair the past. This movie really doesn't waste any time, it's only been about ten minutes since the opening credits ended.
In the past, a man and woman in the woods spot something in the sky. The woman runs for "The Phoenix" as loads of stuff blows up. The Enterprise easily destroys the sphere with quantum torpedos. The date is April 4th 2063 and the Borg have come to stop Zephran Cochrane making first contact. Picard, Data, and Crusher beam down to help. Picard and Data find the warp ship (the Phoenix) but the woman from before shoots at them. Data drops down a long distance and says "greetings!" It's funny. The woman is ill so Crusher beams her up to Sickbay (sedated.) In Engineering, Geordi has noticed it's gettng a little warm. Picard and Data talk about how the Phoenix used to be a nuclear missile but now it will bring in an era of peace. Picard gets Data to touch his huge missile and Troi makes fun of them. An engineer sees something moving in a Jefferies tube. Another goes to investigate and gets attacked by something (it's the Borg, obviously!) Picard can still hear Borg voices in his head and is worried. He and Data go back to the ship, leaving Riker and Troi to find Cochrane. Picard recognises that the Borg have changed the temperature to that of a Borg ship. The Borg are very fussy. The Borg try to reroute control through Engineering but Picard has Data lock out the main computer. Crusher has to wake up the 21st century woman as the Borg are trying to get into Sickbay. Crusher activates the Emergency Medical Hologram(!) to create a diversion in a funny bit. Picard comes up with a plan to rupture a plasma containment tank in Engineering to liquidate the Borg and tells his crew that if they see other crewmembers who are assimilated they shoudln't hesitate to fire.
Riker finds Troi with Zephran Cochrane in a bar, drunk, listening to Roy Orbison. Marina Sirtis does some unconvincing but amusing ("It's a primitive culture!") drunk acting. On the Enterprise, Picard recommends to Data that he turn his emotion chip off as they go Borg hunting. It's been two years so I guess it's fine that Data's developed a way to turn his chip off and on by now. Picard envies him. Picard, Worf and Data walk through a Borgified part of the ship (the Borg won't fire because they're not a threat.) They try to get into Engineering so the Borg attack. Data snaps a Borg neck to save Picard, but is grabbed by the Borg and dragged into Engineering. Picardk kills a crewman who is in the middle of being assimilated. He's then attacked by the 21st century woman, who's been crawling about the tubes for a while! She gets his phaser and demands answers. In Engineering, a woman speaks to Data as the Borg drill into his head. Riker's told Zephran Cochrane everything that's going on and he thinks it's all a joke until Geordi shows him the Enterprise in orbit. He has to carry out his warp flight tomorrow morning because an alien ship will notice him. Humanity will be united and poverty, disease and war will be gone. Cochrane says "you're all astronauts on some kind of star trek" and it's really not as cool as Q saying "it's time to put an end to your trek through the stars." The Borg assimilate more crewmembers in some sci-fi horror type scenes you don't normally see in Star Trek. Picard tells Lily (Zephran said her name so I can use it now) the truth but she doesn't believe him. He shows her the Earth from space but New Zealand isn't there (I guess it's just off camera!) She finally trusts him and gives him the phaser, which was set on maximum and would have vapourised him. It's her first raygun! The Borg Queen gets a really cool introduction as she puts her bod on. She doesn't control the Borg, she is the Borg. She brings order to chaos. It's vague but that's better than giving a detailed explantion of the organisational relationship of the Borg. She wants to make Data understand the benefits of the joining the collective and reactivates his emotion chip. She's grafted skin onto Data and blows on it, giving him goosebumps. This is really fucking sexy.
Picard explains more stuff about the future to Lily. I guess this is exposition for people who have never seen Star Trek before but it works as character work between the two characters. They take a trip through Borg country to the Holodeck. Picard lures some Borg in. Ethan Philips makes a cameo. Picard and Lily either get changed into Dixon Hill outfits or (and I think this is more likely) the Holodeck can now automatically make clothes appear on you. Picard's plan is to meet a guy named Nicky the Nose (he has a metal nose!) and get his tommy gun from him. So we get Patrick Stewart wearing a suit gunning down Borg and if you don't think that's cool there's something wrong with you. He takes the Borg's neuroprocessor as Lily notices the Borg was one of Picard's officers. On Earth, everyone is looking at Cochrane because they all think he's great. He's annoyed. Reg Barclay makes a perfect cameo asking to shake Cochrane's hand. Geordi doesn't help by telling Cochrane that he went to Zephran Cochrane highschool and that Cochrane is standing on the spot of his future statue. Cochrane goes off for a pee. Picard and Lily go back to the Bridge where Worf and Crusher are. Picard reports that the Borg are trying to use the deflector dish to contact the 21st century Borg for reinforcements. Riker and Geordi chase Cochrane, who's run away. Picard, Worf and Hawk (future comic book tv star Neal McDonough) put on EVA suits for a magnetic boots walk on the hull. Lily tells Picard to watch his caboose. It's cute. The shots of them walking on the hull (at first upuside down) would have been pretty mind-blowing in 1996 and are still cool today! The Queen tells Data that the Borg have achieved perfection and his goal should be the same. Data breaks out and beats up some Borg but stops when his new flesh is slashed. Data can't bring himself to tear the flesh off. She asks him if he's familiar with physical pleasure. They kiss and Data's into it. Cochrane says he doesn't want to be a statue and Riker stuns him. He admonishes Geordi for telling him about the statue.
Picard, Worf and Hawk watch the Borg on the deflector dish and put their plan into action to stop them. It involves released maglocks. I guess Borg have magnetic feet which stop being magnetic when they're shot, because they float off into space after our heroes kill them. Worf uses his Klingon knife after the Borg adapt to the phasers but his suit is punctured. Picard flies. Hawk is assimilated and nearly kills Picard but Worf (with a severed Borg arms tied around his suit to keep it closed) saves him then blows up the deflector dish as it flots through space. "Assimilate this." This whole scene is cool in a Star Trek way! I like how slowly it moves (Borg are slow!), it feels appropriate for TNG. The pay off of Worf with the Borg hand hanging from his suit is well worth it. I know it'll make me sound like an old man but I prefer this scene to many of the fast cut, camera shaking action scenes in the JJ movies. I think it's much more memorable than, say, the scene on the giant space drill in the first JJ movie (where Sulu whips out his sword...which I'm sure was inspired by Worf using his Klingon knife here.) Of course it could be that I first saw this when I was fifteen so it's more stuck in my head. Maybe a young person watching it would find this scene lame, but I think it holds up well. Anyway!
Riker and Cochrane get ready for the warp flight. Cochrane's sick of hearing about what a great guy he's supposed to be. He tells Riker that he built the Phoenix to make money and retire to a tropical isalnd full of naked women. That's his vision. Riker says "don't try to be a great man, just be a man and let history make its own judgement" something Cochrane himself will say in the future! Picard tells tactical officer Daniels (playing by Michael Horton who plays Jessica Fletcher's nephew Grady on Murder She Wrote so I must note that!) to tell his men to stand their ground and keep fighting the Borg even though more and more of them are being lost. Worf and Crusher tell Picard he must set the Enterprise to self destruct as the Borg can't be defeated. Worf says Picard's personal experience is clouding his judgement but Picard calls him a coward. Worf doesn't take it well. Lily's goes to tell Picard off for not listening to his crew. Picard tells her what the Borg did to him. She says Picard enjoys killing Borg, including Ensign Lynch. Captain Ahab must have his whale! Picards hates having Moby Dick used against him and smashes the display cabinet showing previous Enterprises. He tells here where the line must be drawn. But when he says he will make them pay for what they've done he realises she was right. And she hasn't even read Moby Dick! He gives the order to evacuate the Enterprise. I've seen people complain about this scene by saying that Crusher should have been in it instead of Lily. And I can kind of see where they're coming from, but I must disagree. The reason it's Lily is simply because Alfre Woodard is a better actor than Gates McFadden. I'm not slighting McFadden, I'm sure she could have been good here too, and I do agree in general that Crusher should have gottne more to do in the movies. But come on, this works better with Woodward than it would have with her. That's why she's in the movie!
The auto destruct sequence is started as the Phoenix begins its launch, with Riker and Geordi as Cochranes co-pilots (I wonder who his co-pilots were in the original timeline? Lily and somoee? Did they still get credit in the history books?) Picard aplogises to Worf. Everyone's about to leave when Picard hears Data's voice in his head. Cochrane thinks he's forgotten something...it's his FUTURE CD of 'Magic Carpet Ride.' Warp nacelles come out of the side of the Phoenix as it goes into space and that's pretty great! Picard tells Lily that he's going to save Data as everyone else leaves in escape pods. He goes to Engineering and the Borg Queen confronts them. She was there all the time! Even though her ship was destroyed! It makes no sense but again it works because the Borg Queen looks so cool and mysterious that you believe the cool and mysterious stuff she says. He remembers that the Queen wanted him to give himself freely to the Borg but he never would. He offers to give himself up for Data but Data (who now has a half flesh face) doesn't want to go. He deactivates the self destruct sequence and gives the Queen comuter control. The Phoenix is about to go to warp but Cochrane is alarmed to see the Enterprise approach them. Data fires quantum torpedos at the Phoenix...but they miss! He's not evil at all! He says "resistance is futile" for some reason (is he just being sarcastic) and smashes the plasma container open, which was the plan all along! Buff Picard climbs up some tubes and Data pulls the Queen back down into the plasma. She's melting! Luckily this also deactivates all the drones. The Phoenix completes its first warp flight. Picard snaps the Queen's robot spine. Data admits he was tempted by the Queen's offer for a time.
An alien ship lands on Earth. An alien steps out and Cochrane goes to meet him as Jerry Goldsmith's theme plays. The alien removes his hood to reveal he's a Vulcan. Cochrane can't imitate his salute so offers a handshake instead. THIS IS A PERFECT STAR TREK MOMENT. Picard says goodbye to Lily. Picard says "make it so" and the Enterprise goes home. Cochrane tries to teach the Vulcans to dance.
Generations wasn't exactly a disaster, but it wasn't great either. It didn't have the feel of the TNG crew starring in their very own movie, since they had to share it with Shatner's Kirk. First Contact is all TNG, but a TNG we haven't seen before. This is big budget, movie TNG. It's more action orientated than the tv series, but it's not some brainless action movie. It's not like TNG hasn't attempted to do action before, it just has never been as successful as this. And it makes sense that the action is larger in scale given that movies are larger in scale than tv shows! I've seen people complain that it's too dark, but really watching it back it's not like it's some dark and gritty nu BSG style take on TNG. Yes it's more violent than they would do on tv. We get to see the true horror of the Borg in graphic scenes of assimilation and bodies being taken apart. There's quite a bit of shooting (though not really as much as later movies.) But ultimately it's still Star Trek. It's still Picard going back to help Data, and act of friendship, that beats the Borg. And I really do think the actual scene of first contact shown at the end is one of the best moments in all of Star Trek. The movie perfectly balances the sci-fi action/horror of the Borg with the typical Star Trek hopeful vision of the future stuff around the Phoenix.
The guest cast is one of the stongest yet for a Trek movie. James Cromwell makes Cochrane into a lovable drunk who's never annoying, and I like how you can see him begin to become the "great man" of history in the end (though obviously a lot of it's is people idealising the past.) Alfre Woodard shares most of her screentime with Patrcik Stewart and is a more than worthy screen parter for him and gets many of the most memorable lines from the movie. The Borg Queen was one of the most controversial parts of the movie and, if I was just reading about it and hasn't actually seen the movie, I'd probably think the idea was really stupid. The Borg having some kind of leader (even though she woudln't call herself that)? The Borg rationally explaining themselves? She was "there all along" in 'Best of Both Worlds' even though that ship blew up? That all sounds dumb! But actually watching Alice Krige play the character quickly makes me not care about those things because she's great as the character. Her seduction of Data is really as "sexy" as Star Trek gets by this point and her scenes with Patrick Stewart might be contradicting stuff we've seen before but damn it they're compelling. And she looks really cool and that matters too! So yeah you do have to ignore a lot of stuff (the movie even acknowledges through Data how vague her answers to reasonable questions are) for her to work but I think she's great in this movie (I won't comment on her Voyager appearances yet.)
And as a TNG fan, it's just great seeing actual big budget Borg. They were always cool in the tv series but this version feels like how they were meant to look all along, much in the same way the Klingons did in TMP. You even get to see Klingon and Cardassian Borg drones as well as the normal hunan looking ones. And yeah seeing a fleet of Starfleet ships all firing into a Borg cube is very satisfying too and the kind of thing you'd never have seen on tv at this point (you'd probably see it an any episode of Discovery now.) The effects work holds up well nearly 22 years later as I really didn't notice anything that looks bad. That shot of the Phoenix extending its nacelles? That's lovely.
So what about Picard's character? Does the movie just ignore how he was in 'I, Borg'? Yeah, it kind of does, but remember that he failed with Hugh. He thought maybe Hugh would bring individuality to the Borg but 'Descent' had the Borg still as evil as ever and here they're back to their old Borgy self. So even though the events of 'I, Borg' aren't mentioned here you could say they're a contributing factor to how Picard feels about the Borg now. He's failed to change them so now he wants to make them pay for what they've done. What about Picard being an action star though? Yeah there was 'Starship, Mine' but here he's fucking gunning droes down with a tommy gun. I think it works because it's actually supposed to show Picard being out of character. They're not just having Picard running around killing Borg because it looks cool, we're supposed to be concerned because this isn't the kind of thing Picard would normally do. And yeah it does look cool too.
The other characters are all served well, with Data getting a good subplot, Riker, Geordi and Troi getting fun stuff with Cochrane, Worf getting one of the most memorable moments with his argument with Picard...and Crusher's there too!
Jerry Goldsmith does the music for the first time since Star Trek V so it has the best music since then.
It's a departure from Generations but a necessary one. What I noticed when I was watching it just there was just how fast paced and confident the movie is. We get no reintrdouction to the character, we don't really get an explanation for the new Enterprise (if any is needed) and what expositon there is goes by pretty fast and feels natural (see any scene with Picard and Lily.) It's proof that the TNG crew can pull off a movie that isn't just good for Star Trek but stands on its own as an actual good movie. I compalined about a TV DIRECTOR doing Generations but it happens again here with Jonathan Frakes and it totally works this time. He gets great performances out of everyone and it's one of the best looking Trek movies yet. Yeah you could nitpick some plot points: why do the Borg only send one cube? Why didn't they just travel back in time back in their own space then travel to Earth instead of flying all the way to Earth first? But the anwer would be: because there would be no movie otherwise. I will acknowledge that nostalgia is certainly at play here, TNG was my favourite tv show ever for a while and this was the only great movie it produced so part of me is always going to be biased towards it. But really I'm also very crtical at times and I just watched the whole movie back and didn't really notice much at all that I didn't like. I even teared up at Cochrane offering the Vulcan a handshakes even though I've seen it a million times before and that should tell you that this movie is FOR REAL, okay.