Star Trek: First Contact (4K UHD)

Director: Jonathan Fraker
Screenplay: Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga (story by Rick Berman & Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga; based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry)
Stars: Patrick Stewart (Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Brent Spiner (Data), LeVar Burton (Geordi), Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Beverly), Marina Sirtis (Troi), Alfre Woodard (Lily), James Cromwell (Zefram Cochrane), Alice Krige (Borg Queen), Michael Horton (Security Officer), Neal McDonough (Lt. Hawk)
MPAA Rating: PG
Year of Release: 1996
Country: U.S.
Star Trek: First Contact 4K UHD
Star Trek: First Contact

Taking a page from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)—which remains the best film in the Star Trek franchise—Star Trek: First Contact is essentially a feature-length sequel to a television episode, in this case the two-part 1990 episode “The Best of Both Worlds,” the first part of which ended the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the second part of which opened the fourth season (the two parts, which constituted the first cliffhanger ending in Star Trek history, were later edited together into a single film). The episode featured the Borg, a fan-favorite villainous race of aliens who operate via a hive mind and assimilate others by turning them into drone-slaves. While there have always been elements of horror threading throughout the Star Trek universe, the Borg are perhaps the most overtly horrific.

As if it to punch home the horror connection, Star Trek: First Contact begins in a nightmare, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) relives the dehumanizing terror of his having been assimilated by the Borg. Therefore, it makes sense that his desire to defeat them has a more personal edge than a lot of his previous conflicts with alien races, as he knows firsthand what it is like to be one of their victims. Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise find themselves face to face with the Borg again, but now time-travel is involved, which sends everyone back to the distant past (for them), in this case the year 2063, which is when a bohemian scientist named Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) first tested the warp drive that would become so fundamental to Star Trek technology and also led to the first encounter between humans and aliens (hence the title). Thus, screenwriters Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, both veterans of scripting episodes for The Next Generation, essentially give us two intersecting plots and also a healthy dose of Star Trek backstory lore.

The real star of the film, though, are the Borg, who are realized on the big screen via extensive make-up effects that far surpass anything done on the small screen and turn them into a truly memorable cybernetic horrorshow of merged flesh and machinery—perhaps the closest the Star Trek universe has ever come to the Cronenbergian. Alice Krige’s Borg Queen is uniquely villainous in her relentlessness, with the ultimate goal being to take over all of humanity not out of some greedy plot, but simply because that is what the Borg do. The idea that they operate as a hive mind makes them that much more sinister, with the drones acting like zombies and the constant threat of viral contagion choking the atmosphere. Picard’s obsession gives his character an added, more dangerous dimension, which fits the film’s tone.

First Contact was directed by actor Jonathan Frakes, who also plays Will Riker, Picard’s second in command. And, while it was hardly his first rodeo behind the camera (he had already helmed multiple episodes of The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine), it was Frakes’s first time directing a feature film. He acquits himself well, giving First Contact a grim style and a better balance of action and humor than Star Trek: Generations (1994), the first film in the The Next Generation series. He would go on to direct the next film, Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), which was closer in tone and spirit to Gene Roddenberry’s original series. First Contact, however, remains one of the high points in the overall Trek film franchise, an engaging and suspenseful melding of science fiction, horror, and the kind of high drama that comes close to earning all the Moby Dick references.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Four-Movie 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Copy Box Set
Star Trek: The Next Generation Four-Film 4K Box SetStar Trek: First Contact is available both individually and as part of the eight-disc “Star Trek: The Next Generation” box set, which includes both 4K UHD discs and Blu-rays, as well as Digital Copies.
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 (all four films)
  • English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround (all four films)
  • SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish (all four films)
    SupplementsStar Trek: Generations

  • Audio commentary by director David Carson and Manny Coto
  • Audio commentary by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  • Library Computer
  • “Uniting Two Legends”
  • “Stellar Cartography: Creating the Illusion”
  • “Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire”
  • “Scoring Trek”
  • “Inside ILM: Models & Miniatures”
  • “Crashing the Enterprise”
  • Scene Deconstruction: Main Title Sequence
  • Scene Deconstruction: The Nexus Ribbon
  • Scene Deconstruction: Saucer Crash Sequence
  • “A Tribute to Matt Jeffries”
  • “The Enterprise Lineage”
  • “Captain Picard’s Family Album”
  • “Creating 24th Century Weapons”
  • “Next Generation Designer Flashback Andrew Probert”
  • “Stellar Cartography on Earth”
  • “Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 1”
  • “Trek Roundtable: Generations”
  • “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 007: Trilithium”
  • Deleted scenes
  • Archives
  • Trailers
  • Star Trek: First Contact

  • Audio commentary by director and actor Jonathan Frakes
  • Audio commentary by screenplay writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore
  • Audio commentary by Damon Lindelof and Anthony Pascale
  • Text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  • Library Computer
  • “Making First Contact”
  • “The Art of First Contact”
  • “The Story”
  • “The Missile Silo”
  • “The Deflector Dish”
  • “From ‘A’ to ‘E’”
  • Scene Deconstruction: Borg Queen Assembly
  • Scene Deconstruction: Escape Pod Launch
  • Scene Deconstruction: Borg Queen’s Demise
  • “Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute”
  • “The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane”
  • “First Contact: The Possibilities”
  • “Industrial Light & Magic: The Next Generation”
  • “Greetings from the International Space Station”
  • “SpaceShipOne’s Historic Flight”
  • “Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 2”
  • “Trek Roundtable: First Contact”
  • “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 008: Temporal Vortex”
  • “Unimatrix One”
  • “The Queen”
  • “Design Matrix”
  • Archives
  • Trailers
  • Star Trek: Insurrection

  • Audio commentary by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  • Library Computer
  • “It Takes a Village”
  • “Location, Location, Location”
  • “The Art of Insurrection”
  • “Anatomy of a Stunt”
  • “Making Star Trek: Insurrection”
  • “Director’s Notebook”
  • “The Star Trek Universe”
  • “Westmore’s Aliens”
  • “Westmore’s Legacy”
  • “Star Trek’s Beautiful Alien Women”
  • “Marina Sirtis - The Counselor Is In”
  • “Brent Spiner - Data and Beyond Part 3”
  • “Trek Roundtable: Insurrection”
  • “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 009: The Origins of the Ba’ku and Son’a Conflict”
  • “Shuttle Chase”
  • “Drones”
  • “Duck Blind”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Archives
  • Advertising
  • Star Trek: Nemesis

  • Audio commentary by director Stuart Baird
  • Audio commentary by producer Rick Berman
  • Audio commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  • Library Computer
  • “Nemesis Revisited”
  • “New Frontiers – Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis”
  • “Storyboarding the Action”
  • “Red Alert! Shotting the Action of Nemesis”
  • “Build and Rebuild”
  • “Four-Wheeling in the Final Frontier”
  • “Screen Test: Shinzon”
  • “A Star Trek Family’s Final Journey”
  • “A Bold Vision of The Final Frontier”
  • “The Enterprise E”
  • “Reunion with The Rikers”
  • “Today’s Tech Tomorrow’s Data”
  • “Robot Hall of Fame”
  • “Brent Spiner - Data and Beyond Part 4”
  • “Trek Roundtable: Nemesis”
  • “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 010: Thalaron Radiation”
  • “Romulan Lore”
  • “Shinzon & the Viceroy”
  • “The Romulan Senate”
  • “The Scimitar”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Archives
  • Trailers
  • DistributorParamount Home Entertainment
    Release DateApril 4, 2023

    All four films in Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation 4-Movie Collection have been given new 4K scans from the 35mm camera negatives and look demonstrably better than the 2009 Blu-rays they are replacing. Obviously, the 2160p Dolby Vision/HDR10 transfers offer substantially enhanced visual information and better detail. Colors are also greatly improved, with a wider color range and much better saturation. What I noticed, however, was that the films look much more cinematic. The 2009 Blu-rays had quite a bit of digital noise reduction and artificial sharpening that took away from their celluloid origins. These new 4K UHD discs display a much more natural looking image that features fine grain and a more filmlike appearance that is much more in keeping with their original theatrical presentations. Each film features a remastered Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack, which again improves on the 5.1-channel mixes on the earlier Blu-rays. There isn’t a ton of difference, although astute ears will certainly detect more dynamic directionality, improved sonic detail, and an all-around more immersive aural experience.

    As for the supplements, there is nothing new here. Everything that appeared on the earlier Blu-rays is accounted for here, as the set includes a Blu-ray disc for each film that includes both the remastered film and all the supplements (aside from the commentaries, which are also included on the 4K discs). I won’t go through it all here, as the range of supplements is both deep and wide, encompassing multiple audio commentaries, text commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, screen tests, special effects reels, and more.

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    Overall Rating: (3)

    James Kendrick

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