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PHOTOGRAPHY

STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (Special Collector's Edition)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 111 minutes, audio commentaries, text commentary, various featurettes on the movie, Storyboards, Scene Deconstructions, Photo Gallery, and trailers

STUDIO: PARAMOUNT

RELEASE DATE: 3-15-2005

ANALYSIS- STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT is my favorite Star Trek movie. I have learned to love the Next Generation cast more than the Original Series cast (who were at their best in Star Trek The Motion Picture to Star Trek VI). FIRST CONTACT had everything from a missile silo in Central Montana to Patrick Stewart's best performance of his career to the Borg. Yes, those nasty Borg have brought along that creepy and yet sexy Borg Queen (Alice Krige) back to the 21st Century (2063 to be exact) to prevent our first contact with a certain alien race. Then you have James Cromwell as the not-so-perfect (drunk) Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the Warp Drive. Picard has to face his demons as he fights the Borg with Cochrane's assistant, Lily (Alfre Woodard), as someone who is seeing the Star Trek universe for the first time.

STAR TREK: FIST CONTACT is the eight Star Trek movie and the second entry for the Next Generation cast which means it had a pretty good chance of being a good movie (based on the rule that even number Trek movies are better than the odd number ones). FIRST CONTACT has plenty of action, humor, and drama. This movie shares some parallels with Moby Dick which is even touched on. The moment where Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes who also directs this movie) finds Troi (Marina Sirtis) drunk is a priceless. Other moments hit a high moment including the moment where Cochrane makes history (which is switched back and forth with another climatic moment in the movie). I have seen this movie several times over the years and it shines as one of the best stories of STAR TREK.

VIDEO/AUDIO: FIRST CONTACT is presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Colors and blacks are well represented, but the transfer seems a little soft at times. Image detail is fine. Not a bad transfer at all.

FIRST CONACT has never sounded better. The English 5.1 Dolby Digital puts my Widescreen VHS to shame. The music is powerful while the launching of the Phoenix is aggressive sounding. Other audio options for the movie include English DTS, English 2.0 Dolby Surround, and French 5.1 DD with the option of English or Spanish subtitles. The featurettes on disc are in English 2.0 Dolby Surround with the option of English, French, or Spanish subtitles.

COMMENTARIES: Two audio commentaries were done for the movie. The first commentary is with director Jonathan Frakes. I didn't enjoy this track. Frakes provided some details about the production, but he mostly talked about the actors and reacted to the moments in the movie. The better commentary track is with writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore. They provide insight in the movie, cringe at some moments they have reservations about, and wonder if Trek should do away with continuity to refresh itself. The text commentary by Michael Okadu and Denise Okadu is very interesting. You find out how various props and sets were made, a little Star Trek trivia, and some info on the Missile Silo that was used to film part of FIRST CONTACT in.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc two has the lion's share of extras from various featurettes on the movie, a photo gallery of behind-the-scenes photos of the production (including some snapshots of the crew posing with the Borg), two trailers (teaser and full, but I wished they would have included the TV spots), Storyboards of two scenes (three different takes on one sequence in the movie), and Scene Deconstructions of three scenes in the movie.

MAKING FIRST CONTACT focuses on Jonathan Frakes directing FIRST CONACT while THE STORY is about the script of FIRST CONACT (where it is revealed how different the first draft was from the finished movie and Patrick Stewart being instrumental in making the script better). THE ART OF FIRST CONACT shows the various art for the ships in FIRST CONACT and how the various ships were designed/made (ILM had problems building the Enterprise-E model). From A to E is about the design and construction of the Enterprise-E sets. The Missile Silo featurette looks at the Titan Missile Museum (in Arizona) that was used (and dressed up) as a set for FIRST CONTACT. Brent Spiner mentions how he hates heights even though he did that falling Data stunt. The Deflector Dish shows the set being built (through photos) and how they shot the Deflector Dish scene (with some behind-the-scenes video).

Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute is about people remembering Jerry and talking about his music for the Star Trek movies. Interview footage with Jerry Goldsmith is featured along with video of him conducting a Star Trek score. The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane focuses on the character created for FIRST CONTACT (and how they decided to make him different the original series episode of STAR TREK) and actor James Cromwell talking about the character. First Contact: The Possibilities focuses on the possibility of first contact with aliens, The Planetary Society, various SETI programs and the new technologies being used, and the various Trek actors (and famous people) involved with SETI and the Planetary Society.

Unimatrix One is all about the Borg and how they have evolved from The Next generation to First Contact to their appearances on Voyager with the introduction of Borg Babe, Seven of Nine. The Queen features an interview with actress Alice Krige as she talks about playing the Borg Queen. Design Matrix focuses on how the Borg costumes were redesigned for FIRST CONTACT with concept art done for the movie and the Next Generation series.

Scene Deconstruction of three scenes is on the second disc. My favorite has to the deconstruction of the Borg Queen Assembly scene from concept art to In Progress SFX to the finished scene.

Too bad they didn't include any of the ship battle animatic on this disc.

MENUS: The battle against the Borg Cube with music is an interesting menu. Both main menus on both discs feature music and move to reveal the next menu when you make your choice.

PACKAGING DESIGN: Package design is OK, but I like the photos and artwork on the VHS release (from years ago) better.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Paramount has delivered with a great package with plenty of interesting extras for one of the best STAR TREK movies in the series.  STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT Special Collector's Edition is a must-own for STAR TREK fans.

this DVD Review is (c)3-7-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to Lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia