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'Star Trek': On Track

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 22, 1996

Trekkers should beam up in droves to the next available screening of "Star Trek: First Contact." The latest "Star Trek" movie is a thoroughly enjoyable visit with the crew of TVís "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

In this particular adventure, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew of the newly commissioned Enterprise E (including Jonathan Frakes, who plays Commander William Riker and also directed the movie) face an alien force called the Borg. For the uninitiated, these cybernetically enhanced extraterrestrials, led by the Borg Queen (Alice Krige -- looking like Annie Lennox on a weird-hair day), are the scum of the galaxy, assimilating every life form until they are superior to everyone.

Well known to Picard (and followers of "The Next Generation" TV show), they once captured the captain and forcibly placed Borg implants in his body and brain. Thanks to medical technology, Picard was resuscitated, but he has retained memories of his Borgification. Clearly, the captain is itching for payback.

In a scenario clearly influenced by "The Terminator," the Borg attempt to infiltrate Earth in the 21st century so they can reverse a significant historical event.

On April 4, 2063, an earthling called Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) took a precedent-setting warp-speed flight in his Phoenix missile, attracting the interest of passing, friendly aliens. This encounter led to a new understanding with other life forms, the birth of the United Federation of Planets and all those good things in 24th-century life. Picard, Riker, Data (Brent Spiner), Worf (Michael Dorn) and the rest of the gang have their time-traveling work cut out for them.

You donít have to be insanely devoted to "Star Trek" arcana to appreciate the seriesí consistent quality over the years. "First Contact," written by Ric Berman, Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, pulsates with great imagination, amusing characters and the fundamental optimism handed down by "Star Trek" founder Gene Roddenberry.

At one point, Picard and a 21st-century ally called Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard) retreat from the Borg by entering a hologram version of a Raymond Chandler novel. In a climactic battle scene, our favorite crew -- wearing magnetic shoes -- takes on the Borg outside the Enterprise.

The great scene stealers are Spiner as the android who undergoes an excruciating test when the Borg Queen forces him to acquire human flesh and emotions; and Cromwell (the wonderful Farmer Hoggett in "Babe") as a boozing, rock íní roll-loving pilot who canít believe these strange looking people from the 24th century proclaiming him a future hero.

STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (PG-13) ó Contains nothing particularly objectionable.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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