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Old August 29 2013, 09:39 PM   #1
Lieutenant Junior Grade
First Contact vs. Into Darkness

This really falls under both categories, but I just watched First Contact again and realized that the the movie does compare very well to Into Darkness, both being "action adventure" Star Trek to the extreme. The easy comparison is to Wrath of Khan, since the plot points of Into Darkness were so similar. I don't think it's an apt comparison all the same, since Wrath of Khan just from literary value of the writing is one of the better films ever made, and Into Darkness is much more of a "less thought out" action movie, similar to First Contact.

I started discussing this on facebook earlier, and realized that the discussion here would make a lot more sense, and probably get more interesting responses. Forgive me if this particular topic has been covered.

I'll start with my facebook posts (and actual good responses from a fellow trek fan) and go from there. Would love to see other thoughts of similarities/differences between the movies for good or ill.

The posts:

In a lot of ways, FC paved the way for what Star Trek became, being so successful in action with a property that was very much not action based. The difference is, First Contact maintains the feel of Star Trek. The characters still make intellectual decisions, there are still references to major works of art and literature. The writing was tight, symmetrical, layered with foreshadowing and beautiful metaphors. And they did that all WHILE giving us action. That's why First Contact is far superior in every way. It is possible to have a best of both worlds, proverbially speaking.

Friend's response: Contact while the superior of the two films still sucked. Picard is totally out of character the entire film. He is reacting emotionally and dredging up feelings of hatred and pain. The series already covered this material in the episode "Family." Which by the way, had a better climax with Picard getting in a fist fight with his brother not smashing some starship models.

My response: While I agree that "Family" is one of the better episodes, and does cover that emotional ground much better, I disagree on the point that First Contact sucked. I can only imagine that being faced with such a combat situation, hearing the sounds of ships getting blown up, seeing the borg assimilate others after one had been through that sort of capture and assimilation is absolutely credible traumatic stress for Picard to react in an overly emotional manner to being confronted with it again. In fact, the fleet in the movie even is very concerned about that to the point where they tell the Enterprise to stay away, so is Lily later on. Both situations point out those faults in him in the movie, so it was a well-written and well conceived departure from the "normal" Picard. It makes sense, and the writing justifies it. That's all I ask for in a script. He reacts pretty emotionally in Generations as well, so it is a logical progression of the character from that standpoint too.

I can actually contrast that character departure to the ones in the new films as well. Kirk and Spock fly off the handle all the time for no reason, make choices that are contrary to a military structure without justification, and let's not even talk about the sexual harassment lawsuits that would occur. It's only justified by an unsaid "Oh, well they're young now. Young people act like this," not by well written plot points or dialogue like in First Contact. While I could except that generally, I can't accept that in conjunction with "they're young people who are military geniuses who rise through the ranks quickly because of their amazingness." The two conflict.

Friends rebuttal: Picard deals with the borg on several occasions after his assimilation. Starfleet also appoints him to lead a task force to stop the borg from preying on federation colonies. What suddenly changed where he was fit to engage the borg before but not anymore? I know it is clearly just a movie device to set up the Picard character arc but it seems lazy and disregards the series itself. (He also posted this link to the FC review on Red Letter Media: )

My response:I do like the red letter media, and opening up the can of worms where I'm analyzing the movies I have to grant a lot of his premises as correct, but I still don't think it was poorly written as far as action movies go. His main qualm with the plot is "why do the enemies act so dumb", which can apply to almost any movie, and any star trek episode. The best star trek episodes are really where they don't have a real "enemy" and they're dealing with "what does it mean to be a good human" type of issues, consequently. First Contact didn't address any broader points like that, though the hero worship subplot of Zephram Cochrane came close, and is the best part of the movie in my opinion.

As far as continuity of the admiralty and their orders, that doesn't even hold up episode to episode, depending on who the writer is, and who the actor is. The only point in star trek at all where that holds is through Deep Space 9, incidentally the best Star Trek. I'm more prone to allow small plot devices in the interest of pacing a movie go. Borg Time Travel, Red Matter, Transporting across the galaxy, those things don't offend me so much.

So what are your thoughts in comparing the way characters were treated, plot treated, continuity, world building, etc. between the two films? Hopefully this provides an interesting starting point for a discussion
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