You and I and all those
people out there with a vocal love of film have ruined it for everyone,
pimping movies up, falling in love with mediocre films and championing
them to near-legendary status. We’ve embraced turkeys, legitimized
borderline movies, and elevated modest films in our favorite franchises
above and beyond realistic standards. We’ve even embraced the films
everyone likes, somehow adding a credibility to them that transcends
the mainstream. Sacred cows, little flicks, and everything in between.
It’s time we took a look inward and came clean with 25 movies we think
need to be taken down a peg or two.
These are our four categories for this list:
These guys have had it too easy. Far too easy. Don’t believe the insane hype.
Good flicks that have gotten too damn big for their britches.
Asshole, you love this film for all the wrong reasons.
WHAT THE FUCK
Something went horribly wrong here, and it’s carried over to the fans, who are blinded by shizer.
Its Legacy: This film’s box office take allowed Paramount to make Star Trek: Insurrection, a movie so bad it killed DeForrest Kelly. It set the standard for Neal McDonough getting no respect. It inspired a couple of episodes of Enterprise, which surely is punishable by death.
Why It’s Here: First Contact is the second highest grossing Star Trek movie, coming in
behind The Voyage Home. It keeps popping up on fan’s lists of best Trek
films, and its spot as the eighth movie is used to further the theory
that the even numbered Trek films are the best ones. All of this
despite it being a big honking piece of ass.
It’s worth noting, as a disclaimer, that I never liked The Next
Generation all that much. Where the original series had a flawed and
motley crew of characters brawling and occasionally boning their way
through unknown parts of the galaxy, The Next Generation had a squeaky
clean batch of bores involved in snooze-worthy diplomacy and endless
touchy feely crap. James Kirk certainly had no room on his bridge for a
fucking counselor. Now, Janice Rand in a miniskirt, sure…
The only saving grace of The Next Generation was The Borg. The beauty
of this cybernatic race was that they couldn’t be reasoned with, they
couldn’t be bought off. The only answer was to defeat them through
force or guile. When the second Next Generation movie promised to focus
on a massive Borg incursion into Federation space – an assault on Earth
itself! – and a desperate time travel mission to stop the assimilation
of all we know, it seemed like First Contact could be a good entry in
the series. Instead it helped ensure that The Next Generation crew
would go zero for four in their cinematic outings.
The movie begins well enough, diving into the action, with a battle
where a huge amount of Starfleet is decimated. But in a scene that
should have warned us all what would follow, the whole damn things
happens on the radio. I remember sitting stunned in the movie theater
as a goddamned radio play was used to depict the most massive battle in
Things go downhill; the plot makes no sense – the Borg’s back up plan
is to go back in time and take over Earth before we have warp drives?
If jumping back in time is so easy that the Borg escape ship can do it,
why not just go into the past and assimilate the shit out of the galaxy
hundreds or thousands of years ago? Why even fight anybody? When the
Borg get on the Enterprise and begin assimilating the ship, we expect
an exciting series of battles. Instead we learn that the Enterprise is
manned by buffoons who can’t even be bothered to shoot at the Borg as
As the very boring Borg invasion of the Enterprise happens (complete
with a pointless visit to the Holodeck and the murder of Neal
McDonough), Riker and a bunch of dipshits are on Earth, helping Babe‘s
father invent the warp drive after a Borg attack screws things up. On
the original Star Trek Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock could travel all
through history and blend in; Riker opens his fat mouth and tells
Captain Stacey everything. To quote Futurama: ‘Take that, causality!’ I
mean, Riker and friends don’t just tell him that his warp drive is
historic – Georgi fucking points out where the guy’s statue will stand
in two hundred years. And just in case they didn’t muck with history
too much, Riker and Geordi actually go along with Captain Dudley Smith
on his warp journey, which attracts the attention of Vulcans and brings
Earth into the galactic fold. This is like me going back in time and
signing the Declaration of Independence, or taking the controls of the
The film’s sloppy time travel wouldn’t be so bad if there was an
interesting moment in it. Data has a long discussion with the Borg Queen that feels like it’s straight out of the freshman dorms. Earth pre-warp drive is a nuclear wasteland
after World War III, but of course The Next Generation can’t dwell on
anything that isn’t shiny and happy, so that’s ignored. The shipboard
fighting is dull, and feels like it spans a week. And it features Picard as an action hero – seeing this old bald fucker swinging around and kicking ass is silly in the extreme. The stakes are raised
by offing the new guy on the bridge; First Contact apes Wrath of Khan’s
Moby Dick themes, couldn’t it have taken a page from that script and
killed off a character? Why did anybody need Beverly Crusher around in
future films? Instead the redshirts take their biggest hit in this
film, and nobody gives a shit.
First Contact isn’t the worst Trek film by far, but it’s also nowhere
near as good as the first six. Well, maybe it’s a little better than
The Final Frontier, as there’s nothing in First Contact quite as
horrifying as Uhura’s fan dance. Still, this is a movie that gets
elevated beyond its station by Trekkies desperate to make the insane
argument that Picard is anywhere near the captain that Kirk was.
A Moment of Piss: ‘Assimilate this!’ Assimilate my cock in your mouth, Worf.
These Ain’t Chopped Liver Alternatives: Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: The Search For Spock, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country
Andre Dellamorte Agrees: Before The Phantom Menace, it was Star Trek: The Next Generation that promised gold to the genre fan and delivered a golden spray. Seriously, TNG and every Star Trek spin-off after is flawed at best (and I know someone will counter with Ron Moore’s proto-BSG run of Deep Sapce 9, but I don’t care), and even Enterprise was a long road (getting from there to here) away from what it should have been. The biggest problem is that the original series was randy, and it seems the makers of new Star Trek treated sex as an alien concept. Perhaps this was seen as a way to relate to the fanbase, but what I love about the Original Series is that Kirk is DTF. He’s Down To Fuck – though the whole show is horny (even Scotty has a love interest episode, though it’s made tragic by her noticably having herpes). Then again, the chemistry and organization of that bridge was a singular thing, as each successive show has proven. And that may be the biggest problem with First Contact (though, actually, I’d say the flat direction and low-rentness of it all is most damning): contractual obligation gives the overloaded cast all little arcs that leaves the bifurcated narrative stop-starting with non-events. Seriously, cutting away to Earth where characters make repairs, you can’t wait to get to the non-action back on the bridge, and then once you’re back on the ship, you wonder why you don’t care. Did I also mention that the film start with a “It’s just a dream… or is it?” sequence? Alas, the moment they announced that the Borg were the baddies in this film and that it’s a death match, you knew that the film would have to kill them off (in what alternate universe would the Borg win?) and TNG would lose the sole interesting concept that the reinventors ever came up with. Everyone in the cast wants to keep getting paid, so you have a no-stakes film where boring characters seemingly do stuff, but really just create the illusion of action, while the characters never evolve and the spectacle (such as it is) does little to make up for the complete lack of involving characterization. In that, First Contact really is a perfect blueprint for The Phantom Menace.
Nick Nunziata Disagrees: The only comparison to a Star Wars film First Contact deserves is one that says it’s bigger and more cinematic than the typical Star Trek films and more in tune with the once great Lucas saga in terms of entertainment value. Under the guidance of Jonathan Frakes’ neatly trimmed boringbeard this film is incredibly robust in how big it feels. It still feels like Star Trek but it also as cinematic and engaging in a way the series hadn’t attained to date. Yes, it’s messy. Yes, it doesn’t fully establish the Next Generation crew as nearly as fun, sexy, or interesting as their predecessors [Patrick Stewart excepted, who is possibly the greatest man to ever don a Starfleet Unitard this side of Christian Slater] but as a group of characters and actors to continue the brand, they do admirable work. The film made a ton of money and paved the way for a couple more terrible films in the series, but First Contact isn’t the problem. It’s nothing more than a muscular action/sci-fi flick with an eye towards making the series explode on the big screen. It’s guilty of flash and overreaching, but it’s not overrated. Aside from some of the terrestrial stuff, it’s a blast of a film and firmly in the top three or four in the series and not burdened with the built-in acceptance granted to all of the Shatner/Nimoy entries. Any franchise with a The Final Frontier and an Insurrection in it is beyond being anything that nears such a classification. First Contact is a mainstream, polished Star Trek film. Sorry, that’s not enough reason to vilify it.