First Contact vs. Into Darkness

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by otomo, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. otomo

    otomo Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jun 27, 2013
    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 :)
  2. austen_pierce

    austen_pierce Captain Captain

    Aug 15, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I sort of agree, but if you look hard enough, you can find parallels in most of the movies. A star or planet explodes or is crucial to the plot in TSFS, VOY, TUC, GEN, and ST09.

    Picard is arguably out of TNG series character in ALL the TNG movies.
    GEN-lost family
    FC-channeling Locutus
    INS-influenced by fountain of youth
    NEM-compromised by twin (despite statements to contrary)
  3. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001
    Into Darkness is the better film. First Contact felt like two separate stories stitched together. Picard was completely out of character and they destroyed the Borg.
  4. otomo

    otomo Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jun 27, 2013
    Interesting thought on Picard there. His darker "movie personality" is interesting. As you said, they do go to the trouble to explain it in each of those movies, so it was on their minds when making the film.

    I watched the FC extras yesterday on the blu ray, and the piece on "The story" really showed to me that they did put a lot of work and thought into their choices, foreshadowing, integration of the plots.

    Into Darkness feels a lot more like each scene is trying to reference something classic, but not bring anything to the table for the plot on its own, and then it's loosely strung together. While the pacing of the movie might be faster, when you actually get into it FC had a lot more to offer on the writing end.

    On the pacing note, I think the pacing in general in action movies these days is getting to be a bit much, it has to be so epic and explodey that there's no time to breathe and actually feel something for the characters. There's not much to feel for any of the characters outside of Kirk/Spock at all in the new movies. The back up crew are mostly caricatures of the prior versions. That said, I didn't hate Into Darkness, don't want it to be about that. It was fun for the most part. Don't know that I'd really re-watch it, not a lot of depth.

    FC allowed that pacing for action and feeling. We felt that Picard was over the edge, even though he was mostly right. We felt the fear of Lily. Zephram Cochrane was probably the best part of the movie, feeling his discomfort from the hero worship. It gave us time in between the action to reflect, which I think is important. Troi and Riker offered comic relief in a lot of instances. And I think if all we had of TNG was this movie, there's enough there to care about the characters.

    Into Darkness, by contrast, if that was all you'd ever seen or heard of Kirk, Spock and company, can you say you'd truly care about them? And why if that's the case?
  5. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001
    I don't think I could answer that question one way or the other, honestly. I've been watching the characters for my entire life.
  6. MrJ

    MrJ Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 5, 2011
    I agree with your points about First Contact, but even with it's many flaws I still like it more than Into Darkness.

    Not these characters you haven't, we've only seen them in two, extremely fast paced, movies. Two movies full of action, but light on character development.
  7. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001
    But if I had seen TOS for the first time at the age of forty, there's no guarantee that I would be as attached to those characters. If I had watched these movies at the age of five? Who knows how I would have reacted to them?

    Kind of like time-travel: if you change something, the things you know and love may be entirely different.
  8. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 22, 2009
    Great Britain
    Both are messy but First Contact is the superior film, and one of the better Star Trek movies. I really like the interactions between Picard and Lily, and how the movie didn't just try to ape the previous Borg stories. Star Trek Into Darkness was just a copy-and-paste job of the previous movie and Wrath of Khan.
  9. otomo

    otomo Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jun 27, 2013
    This is about how I feel, which is also how I feel about Nemesis. Even though they're two "different series", giving a copy paste movie of WoK in 2 out of the last 3 trek movies...and in a lot of ways Star Trek 2009 was the same plot in essence (superior being trying to get revenge), it'd be nice if they took some other base plot.

    Back to the special features, they talked a lot about the Picard/Lily relationship and how she presented such a foil for his Ahab-style hunt. First draft apparently have her as a love interest, which I'm glad they took out. That would have been too much. The character of Lily both from a writing and acting perspective was pretty great.
  10. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Well, I've been a Trek fan since watching TOS reruns in the 80s... but I still didn't care about the characters in ID.

    I'm not really a big fan of either films. FC is clearly TNG's best film, but that isn't really saying much. The Borg were interesting when they were a collective, not a "hive" with a "queen," which is B-movie crap that's been done to death.
  11. Peach Wookiee

    Peach Wookiee Cuddly Mod of Doom Moderator

    May 12, 2001
    Peach Wookiee
    Honestly, I still love both of them. The hive mind was established with Locutus, but what was later established is that he was a puppet and... :barf: ... toy for Her Creepiness.
  12. starburst

    starburst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Mar 8, 2007
    I really enjoy watching both movies despite the change of character in Picard and the icky scenes involving Data and the Queen.

    Both First Contact and Into Darkness are two of the strongest movies of them all (the others in my top 5 being ST09, WOK and TUC - order changing depending on my own mood and taste at the time), but thats just me everyone elses mileage will undoubtedly vary, there isnt one of the films I dont really enjoy to watch every now and then.
  13. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 13, 2007
    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination
    yes, both of these are pretty much "action Star Trek" at its best. But they accomplish it without it being dumb action. To be sure, there are plot holes in both, but they're the same kind of plot holes in any Trek movie, not plot holes specifically as a result of trtying to be an action blockbuster movie.

    Both of these movies are great, but STID get the slight nod.
  14. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

    Apr 19, 2013
    Last place in Australia to get the NBN
    Nope FC didn't make me suddenly care about Riker and Troi just from seeing them here. In fact none of the Trek movies made me 'care' about any of the secondary characters excepting maybe nuScott in STID.
    The only people I cared about in the Trek movies are Kirk, Spock, Picard and Data (when he wasn't being crazy). And I didn't really 'like' Picard in FC. I 'cared' more about his character in GEN and NEM.
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 17, 2005
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    I'll take Into Darkness over ANY of the Next Gen films any day, as they're all mediocre to bad.
  16. anh165

    anh165 Commander Red Shirt

    Apr 4, 2012
    I get the impression that this is yet another thread that concludes: "I prefer TNG over TOS/Nu-trek becuz I am more familiar with it" rather than the actual merits of the movies themselves.

    Visual effects, special effects, the production values and acting performances in Into Darkness IMO pisses all over First contact in the silver screen context.

    Twok, TMP, TUC also pisses all over First Contact in that regard.

    For me, FC as a movie lacked the pace, drama and panache to convince it is something worth spending 1-2 hours watching, story wise it fell well short of a good TNG episode, and acting, scripting and direction was very bland, episodic and uninspiring compared to other movies in the mid 90s.
  17. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Feb 19, 2009
    Asheville, NC
    No contest. First Contact.

    When it comes to a story about our main character seeking revenge against the bad guy, Picard's is the way better story. We see a Captain who once gloated, bragged and preached about how awesome and godlike humanity has become over the years be reduced to an irresponsible leader in a crises with the whole galaxy at stake. He uses his rank and authority to force his crew into a suicidal struggle against an enemy that steals your very soul. And the one person who talks him out of it? A woman from the 21st century who lives in a rusted, torn up Montana town. You remember how the crew used to say about humanity from the 21st century? Like how there was little to nothing that redeems them and that it was a wonder how humanity survived at all? Yep. One just helped save the day.

    What do we get with Kirk? Revenge is bad, but trying to beat the living snot out of a person who had already surrendered out of revenge is good!

    At least First Contact didn't have magic blood.
  18. Noname Given

    Noname Given Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 22, 2001
    None Given
    The problem I had with Picard's actions in FC:

    If they hadn't already essentially covered that aspect of Picard's reaction to encountering the Borg again in the TNG episode "I Borg" (where he breaks down and instead of destroying the enemy that violated him - he treated it medically and fed it, then gave it a name, and sent it 'home'); and the follow up story about that same Borg in "Descent".)

    While FC is indeed the best (and IMO the only marginally watchable) TNG feature film (to this day I still find any scene with Data and the Borg Queen cringeworthy as even two good actors couldn't do much with that mess); in comparison with STiD, FC comes across as a big budget TNG 2 part TV episode (even down to the ridiculous A/B storylines in one episode aspect, which I hated in TNG.)

    STiD blows away FC in every aspect. It really does recapture the essence of the Kirk and Spock characters, shows their friendship progressing, and you get the sense they both grew as characters.

    Contrast that with FC where Picard basically turns into a raving action figure; and when Worf shows up on the Bridge after effectively loosing the Defiant (and probably a fair number of crewmen were killed) - the first thing said by Riker to Worf (after the offhand "tough little ship")is: "You do remember how to fire phasers?"
    yep, stellar character interaction there. :rofl:
  19. Khan444

    Khan444 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 16, 2013
    Into Darkness is easily the better movie, and I say that as a FC fan. People say that Picard's quest for revenge is better, I disagree. Picard acts WAY out of character in FC, so his revenge is NOT better. He's never been this pathologically obsessed with the Borg before. It was yet another example of them trying to turn Picard into an action hero, which misses the point of the character entirely. The Borg Queen was a mistake (though I really liked Alice Krige's performance). The Borg were much more intimidating when they were a collective with not set leader. Riker, Geordi, Crusher, and Troi were all underused, etc. STID had ONE scene that I thought was too much like WOK, but it was a very different movie. It was closer to Space Seed than WOK. The acting was better, the story was better, the action/effects were better, the villain was better, etc.
  20. starburst

    starburst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Mar 8, 2007
    But when Kirk beat his prisoner it was when he was still out for revenge, by the time he made his speech at the end of the film he had learnt a valuable lesson for command and life in general.

    That is one big point there...

    I really dont get the 'copy and paste job' statements by some viewers, unless they watched a completely different movie to me there were odd lines and one scene which were a riff on WOK.

    I too am a huge FC fan and think that STITD is a better movie for the most part.