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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old May 31 2014, 09:27 PM   #1
The Colonel
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First Contact Time Travel Plot

First Contact was for a long time my favorite Star Trek movie, mostly because I have a blind affection for the Borg. I was a little kid when I saw it for the first time in theaters back in 1996 but I've re-watched it a few times as an adult, while I still like the film, my opinion has begun to change.

My main problem with the movie is its wierd bifurcated plot. One half is a very dark story about Picard facing his inner demons and fighting to defend the Enterprise from the Borg in a close quarters life and death struggle. The other half is a lighthearted time travel story played up for its humor a la ST:IV. We have half the main cast clowning around on Earth with a lecherous drunk while the other half fights for their lives. This leads to some very jarring changes in tone as the movie switches between the two story lines.

I can forgive the obvious plot holes revolving around the time travel (those have been beaten to death by other fans). I just think there was a missed opportunity to do an entire movie about the Borg where they could have been explored much further before Voyager sunk its claws into them. Also the dramatic tension would have been higher if the main cast all stayed on the Enterprise. Picard's Ahab rant to Lilly would have payed off emotionally to a greater extent if he had been speaking to Riker. Maybe they could have even shown the crew divided and at each others throats a bit before coming together again in the final act.

First Contact is well enough written and directed that it somehow still works. I just think that the time travel story belonged in another movie or an episode of another series and its inclusion led to some missed opportunities.

I'm interested to hear what you all think about this.
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Old May 31 2014, 10:42 PM   #2
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

TrekCore shows us where the story came from: the earlier version of the script available there shows the writers' desire to distribute the heroes evenly through the various locations, of which the Montana missile silo farm and village is very important to setting the mood of the story.

As can be expected, the writers would initially fumble such a three-ring circus, having characters inexplicably appear in the wrong location or fail to contribute when supposedly available (Crusher is all over the scenery, say). That would be sorted out in the final version. But drama-wise and story-wise, it would be extremely important to get Riker and Troi away from Picard, so that Sloane would have the chance to act as the skipper's conscience. And stranding both of them on the planet without them even realizing they have been stranded was a pretty smooth way of doing that.

I think it just adds to the darkness of the Borg half of the story that half the heroes are ignorant of the grim struggle taking place above their heads... It's also fun to see how Picard is ultimately surrounded by spineless yeasayers: Crusher and Worf both meet the bill perfectly, despite superficially being the characters the most likely to talk back.

It's just too bad that we never learn what happened to Guinan, as again some superficial factors like skin color and gender conspire to remind us that her character is being replaced by a "cheap copy" here - another character who serves in the role of listener and arguer, but without further fleshing-out or padding elements to her (vs. Guinan's previous history with our heroes, her admittedly somewhat silly mysteriousness, her considerable age, yadda yadda).

But no, I don't see the time travel plot working without the major contribution from the Zephram Cochrane half of it. Without the Cochrane story, and the splitting of our heroes between that one and the Borg fight, the time travel would make even less sense and would feel completely tacked on. Yet a generic fight with the Borg would be too simple a story to entertain us.

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Old June 3 2014, 02:44 PM   #3
Makarov
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Well I would have liked to have seen Riker dealing with the borg on the enterprise, considering his history with them in BOBW. I agree Picard's flipping out scene would have been better if he was screaming at Riker.
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Old June 3 2014, 04:10 PM   #4
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Makarov wrote: View Post
Well I would have liked to have seen Riker dealing with the borg on the enterprise, considering his history with them in BOBW. I agree Picard's flipping out scene would have been better if he was screaming at Riker.
If I remember correctly, the initial plan was for Riker to be aboard the Enterprise battling the Borg while Picard would have been on the surface interacting with Cochrane. Then someone among Berman, Braga, and Moore realized that, given Picard's personal history with the Borg, he needed to be aboard the ship, so the Riker and Picard roles were essentially reversed.

Frankly, I have a hard time imagining that Patrick Stewart would have been happy with the script had Picard been part of the fish-out-of-water comedy storyline.
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Old June 3 2014, 08:45 PM   #5
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
If I remember correctly, the initial plan was for Riker to be aboard the Enterprise battling the Borg while Picard would have been on the surface interacting with Cochrane. Then someone among Berman, Braga, and Moore realized that, given Picard's personal history with the Borg, he needed to be aboard the ship, so the Riker and Picard roles were essentially reversed.

Frankly, I have a hard time imagining that Patrick Stewart would have been happy with the script had Picard been part of the fish-out-of-water comedy storyline.
I heard somewhere (I think it it was the Moore/Braga commentary on the DVD) that Stewart had read an early script and told them "Why the hell aren't I on my ship?" which may or may not have to do with the Action Picard that Stewart had become fond of.
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Old June 5 2014, 07:58 AM   #6
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
Frankly, I have a hard time imagining that Patrick Stewart would have been happy with the script had Picard been part of the fish-out-of-water comedy storyline.
Or even better, they could have changed it so that Cochrane wasn't the drunk womanizing idiot that he was portrayed as.
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Old June 5 2014, 08:57 AM   #7
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

^ Yeah, I had a big problem with how they painted Cochrane. He was no longer a contemplative engineer/test pilot with some parochial attitudes as in "Metamorphosis", but presented as an alcoholic loon who didn't seem capable of adding up numbers on paper, and much less being able to design a warp ship. It's not James Cromwell's fault though, he did what the script asked for.
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Old June 5 2014, 10:56 AM   #8
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

I'm sort of happy that the guy we see 200 years later isn't a carbon copy of the original. Surely that much experience should have some sort of an effect on a man?

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Old June 5 2014, 01:43 PM   #9
Robert Comsol
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

^^ Should the rejuvenating effect of the companion not have made Cochrance not only younger but hornier as well?

Dukhat wrote: View Post
Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
Frankly, I have a hard time imagining that Patrick Stewart would have been happy with the script had Picard been part of the fish-out-of-water comedy storyline.
Or even better, they could have changed it so that Cochrane wasn't the drunk womanizing idiot that he was portrayed as.
THIS!

I really can't bring myself, no matter how hard I try, to believe that after WW III some hillbillies grabbed a missile silo and invented warp drive. There is still a world of a difference between "highly improbable" and "mildly impossible".

The only good thing about these scenes is how these served as a basis to create the amazing "negative" for the opening sequence in "In a Mirror, Darkly".

Bob
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Old June 5 2014, 02:39 PM   #10
Dr. Sevrin
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
^^ Should the rejuvenating effect of the companion not have made Cochrance not only younger but hornier as well?
Well, Glenn Corbett's Cochrane did seem to be sprouting horns when he finally noticed Commissioner Hedford. "A woman! And a beautiful one at that! Food to a starving man! Wanna take a bath?"

He probably would have torn her clothes off if the other guys hadn't been there.
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Old June 5 2014, 05:35 PM   #11
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Timo wrote: View Post
I'm sort of happy that the guy we see 200 years later isn't a carbon copy of the original. Surely that much experience should have some sort of an effect on a man?
I'm not saying they had to be carbon-copies, just that Cromwell's portrayal of the character seemed quite unbelievable to me. Plus, they never even bothered to explain why he looked so much older than he was supposed to be in that time.
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Old June 5 2014, 06:15 PM   #12
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

I can see Cromwell's Cochrane behaving differently seeing as he somehow survived WW III and his team continued to work on the warp drive program. Maybe he is suffering from deprivation and radiation . poisoning?
You expect the rejuvenated Cochrane to look much younger but how much mental changes came from his long period of time interfacing with the Companion?
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Old June 6 2014, 05:24 AM   #13
Leto_II
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

Ronald Held wrote: View Post
I can see Cromwell's Cochrane behaving differently seeing as he somehow survived WW III and his team continued to work on the warp drive program. Maybe he is suffering from deprivation and radiation . poisoning?
You expect the rejuvenated Cochrane to look much younger but how much mental changes came from his long period of time interfacing with the Companion?
The movie's novelization by J.M. Dillard postulated something to that effect (that Cochrane in 2063 was suffering from radiation poisoning to a certain extent), and that it was the Companion who later rejuvenated him, at least physically.

Although, yeah...can't really account for the mental differences beyond a similar sort of intervention. The novelization does make mention that Zefram had been subject to psychological issues prior to WWIII, and had received an subdermal "upper" drug-implant (the late-21st century equivalent of Prozac, essentially), but that it had long ago depleted its dosage after the nuclear war took place and destroyed all the pharmaceutical companies.
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Old June 6 2014, 12:13 PM   #14
Peach Wookiee
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

^Yeah, everything was gone. Lily's mom died from treatable breast cancer.
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Old June 6 2014, 01:44 PM   #15
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Re: First Contact Time Travel Plot

I remember reading somewhere that Tom Hanks was originally sought for the role of Cochrane. Personality aside, that would have been a much closer physical match to Glenn Corbett. And following on the heals of Apollo 13, it would have added a bit of the right stuff to the role.

But I'm with Bob ... I just don't buy the setting we saw in First Contact as the birth place of warp drive. Even if Cochrane had almost been there before the war and he was just putting finishing touches on the whole thing, it felt wrong.

I much preferred the bigger, sprawling setting used in the novel Federation.
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