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As positive reviews flood in for Star Trek Beyond, the franchise itself celebrates its fiftieth anniversary as a famous and crucially influential piece of pop culture. However, there is another part of this phenomenon which is hitting an important milestone.
Star Trek: First Contact was released to coincide with Trek's thirtieth anniversary, which as of November this year, means that it's twenty years old! Featuring Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the rest of the Next Generation crew without any of the original series' cast, this famous film had its fair share of problems on its' way to arrive on our screens. However, it still features various Easter eggs and clever references to the show's many great stories...so how many do you know?
Had you ever noticed that it was Adam Scott from Parks and Recreation who starred alongside Worf (Michael Dorn) on the Defiant's bridge?
You do now! He's in the above GIF! So, are you keen to check some more facts out? Grab your hot Earl Grey, scroll on down and, in the words of Picard...
1. “Number One!”
The director of the movie was a certain Jonathan Frakes...does that name ring a bell? It should, because he plays Picard’s Commander William Riker! Such was his success that he directed Star Trek: Insurrection as well.
2. Star Trek...Renaissance??!
Like with many famous movies, the original concept can differ a great deal from the finished product. Star Trek: First Contact is no exception, however it's safe to say that its' initial story would have made a very different film. The writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga considered taking the Next Generation crew back in time to the Roman Empire, before formulating another idea: travelling to Renaissance Italy instead. Indeed, Moore discusses their original idea below:
“We track them down to a castle near the village where a nobleman runs a feudal society. We suspect the Borg are working in there, but no one can get in. So Data becomes our spy, impersonating an artist's apprentice... Data became friends with Leonardo da Vinci, who at the time, was working for the nobleman as a military engineer... you would have sword fights and phaser fights mixed together, in fifteenth-century Europe...”
Fans of Star Trek are always open to new frontiers and explorations, but I think we can happily say that in First Contact, which explored the very beginnings of the Federation, we got something which was far better. After all, Moore himself said it best...
“...[this idea] risked becoming really campy and over-the-top."
3. “The potential? Unbelievable...”
First Contact was originally entitled Star Trek: Resurrection, but it was forced to change its name after 20th Century Fox beat them to it and publicly announced that the fourth Alien movie was also called Resurrection merely a few weeks before production began...awkward eh? Among the other names that they considered were Star Trek Destinies, Star Trek Regenerations and Star Trek: Borg.
4. Slay, queen!
The inclusion of the Borg Queen was a controversial move on the writers’ behalf. The Borg had been displayed as having no central figure in all of their previous episodes, and as we truly know, many fans are highly resistant to change. Yet the producers noted that the movie needed a focal point, or a menacing face for the zombie horde, thus Alice Krige’s Borg Queen was conceived.
With her memorable entrance and, ahem, antics with Data (Brent Spiner) she’s certainly left an impression ever since. She remains the franchises only female villain (in the movies), had a massive part to play in Star Trek: Voyager, and the renowned critic Roger Ebert even noted in his review that:
5. “Oh myyyyy!”
We’ve recently heard the news about John Cho’s Sulu being gay in the new timeline. However, as we all know, Star Trek has attempted to include different sexualities in the past, and depending on whom you believe, First Contact is one of those instances. Neal McDonough’s red-shirt, Lt. Hawk was reportedly written as a gay man, although there is neither any mention of this in the finished product or confirmation from the writers.
Regardless of whether McDonough or the writers confirm or deny this was the case, it’d be hard to change how fans perceive him now; after all, in the novel Star Trek Section 31: Rogue, he is depicted as being in a relationship with a Trill male. It’s therefore reassuring that Trek has always attempted to be at the forefront of inclusion, and not just adopted it in recent times.
6. “It’s the Enterprise!”
First Contact is also notable for introducing us to the infrequently seen (relatively speaking) star ship Enterprise E.
Sleek, fast and formidable in battle, its design has become a firm favorite among fans, even though it is the seventh craft within the franchise to bear the revered name of “Enterprise." First Contact is also the third Star Trek movie to introduce a new iteration of the famed star ship - making 2009’s Star Trek the fourth!
7. “What a piece of junk!”
Star Wars or Star Trek? Chances are that if you ask that question on a forum, you’ll be met with volumes of lengthy and ardent responses. There’s always been that rivalry between the two series, but it’s undeniable that both fan groups like to see their favourite ships pitted against their respective villains. To that end, Paramount hired Industrial Light and Magic to render First Contact’s impressive space-set scenes, but even though this was Star Trek, special effects supervisor John Knoll couldn’t help but cheekily insert the Millennium Falcon into the action.
Indeed, if you’re quick enough you can spot it in the distance, around the Borg Cube in the opening battle. Clearly, no one told Han Solo that Star Trek and Wars couldn’t crossover.
8. Take that, Marvel!
Think that Marvel was the first company to partake in TV/movie connected universes? Think again!
Paramount had been doing it between their Star Trek shows and movies in the 90s, albeit less consistently. Don’t believe me? Well cast your minds back to where Worf is in the movie’s Battle of Sector 001. He’s aboard the USS Defiant, a spacecraft which heavily featured on the long-running show Deep Space Nine.
Indeed, the show’s producer Ira Steven Behr approved of its inclusion in the massive battle, yet he wasn’t too keen when the fate of the ship was left ambiguous. As such, he petitioned for the writers to spare it...so in First Contact, the characters acknowledge that the Defiant is still “salvageable.”
9. "Don't forget me!"
Similarly, the titular ship of Star Trek: Voyager appeared in promotional material for the movie, but it ultimately didn’t feature in the final film.
10. Matching Insignias
It's rarely seen in the movie, but a logo was designed for Zefram Cochrane's Phoenix warp-drive project...and it's overall shape looks very similar to another insignia from the franchise, wouldn't you say? Good old foreshadowing at its finest.
11. "Houston, we have a problem."
Tom Hanks, a massive Trekkie, was in-line to play Zefram Cochrane, but he was forced to leave the project after it clashed with his work schedule. We got the brilliant James Cromwell instead, and he gave us a very eccentric, yet relatable performance. However, I'm still kinda intrigued to see what Hanks would have done with the role if time had flowed a little differently.
12. “Trivia alert!”
Moments before the Borg attack Zefram Cochrane’s commune, Lily Sloane notices the enemy sphere moving across the sky and wonders what it is. Drunkenly mistaking it as an astronomy query, Cochrane answers that it is the constellation Leo.
This particular constellation contains the star Wolf 359, which, funnily enough, features in The Next Generation story arc entitled 'The Best of Both Worlds.' It is here, following Picard's assimilation into the Borg, where the Federation suffered a major defeat at their hands. It also was a major event in Commander Sisko's past in Deep Space Nine...continuity eh?
13. “Dammit Jim!”
When they were watching First Contact back in 1996, fans must have laughed and "squeed" aloud when a version of Robert Picardo’s holographic Doctor appeared. Not only does his appearance link in with his recurring role in Voyager, his protestations that he’s “a doctor, not a doorstop” is a nice reference to Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy of the original crew, who made similar exclamations.
14. “Don’t I know you?”
There’s that brilliantly off-kilter section in the movie where Picard and Lily evade Borg drones by immersing themselves in a 1920’s cocktail party on the Holodeck. But wait, doesn’t that snooty maître-d look and sound familiar? He should!
That’s Ethan Phillips, who plays Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager...another Trek reference among many!
15. “You broke your little ships...”
An impressively scripted and acted argument between Lily and Picard rages on the Enterprise, after Picard refuses to forsake his ship so that they can eliminate the Borg. It’s one of the most pivotal moments in the movie, as well as Trek’s most popular scenes, however it was reportedly very hard to write - the filmmakers stated that they only finalized it a week before it was due to film!
Not bad, at least for a fan favorite section that is endlessly quoted and has since gone on to be used in online inspirational videos. Plus, there's always that legendary Picard meme...
16. “Hey, that’s my line!”
There’s no doubting that this speech is epic, and it's elevated by Patrick Stewart’s fiery delivery. In fact, it's so good that Star Trek pilfered its own words! As another in-joke, the Ferengi Quark paraphrases it in a 1999 episode of Deep Space Nine called 'The Dogs of War', when he declares:
17. “To tell the truth, I never actually read it.”
Like The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home, First Contact uses and quotes Helman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, especially its themes exploring the dangers of revenge. Picard comes to realise this when Lily quotes it to him. Oddly enough, Patrick Stewart starred as Captain Ahab in a miniseries adaptation of Moby Dick in 1998.
18. “Live long, and prosper...”
The film concludes with the Enterprise crew watching Cochrane meet and greet a Vulcan emissary...but that’s not just any Vulcan! It is in fact Sarek's grandfather, and therefore Spock’s great grandfather!
19. A Family Affair
In another related, yet sadder coincide, the movie opened on the same day that Mark Lenard died. The Star Trek veteran famously played Sarek, Spock’s father.
20. "To boldly go..."
First Contact still remains as one of the highest rated Star Trek movies. It’s always near the top of ranking articles, and with its score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is only beaten by the 2009 reboot. IMDB tells a similar story, although it is in third place here, behind JJ Abrams’s outing, as well as The Wrath of Khan.
So there you have it! Some lesser known-nuggets about one of the best Star Trek movies ever made!