Star Trek: First Contact ★★★½

They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here!
-Picard

This is much more like it. After directing several episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, Jonathan Frakes makes his feature film directing debut for a franchise that he'd been working on for almost a decade. He knew the characters, he knew how to work with a budget constraint and hopefully he knew what made Star Trek work.

The script was written by long time Next Generation writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore. Moore of course would go on to re-image Battlestar Galactica with great success. Having written some of the series best episodes, the duo knew how to write great stories while working with Paramount Pictures stingy budgets. While the budget was bigger then the last film, it would still just fall short of the first Star Trek film 17 years earlier.

The story incorporates time travel, something the franchise has been using since the original 1966 television series and almost all incarnations since. That element alone however would have simply been playing on past successes, so the inclusion of Next Generation's most popular villains, the Borg, makes the film stand out as a real TNG story and not just a rehash that could have been done with the old cast. Their inclusion also benefits from a feature film budget as a television series budget limited what you could do with them.

The most important part of the script however is how it manages to play off the history of not only the series, but the franchise while still keeping the film accessible to a wider audience. It brings in Picard's (Patrick Stewart) past with the Borg and gives the story a bigger emotional impact that was missing from the previous film. Having a story with characters struggling with something within are much more interesting then a simple external threat.

This is the film The Next Generation should have launched with. You have a new Enterprise, the characters have gone threw some changes since the last time we've seen them, the planet Earth is in peril and most importantly the threat in question has an actual link to the characters struggling against them with Alice Krige possibly pulling off the franchise's creepiest villain in 30 years.

Star Trek: To Boldly Rank Where Many Have Ranked Before