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‘Star Trek’ Probably Fun For Insiders

Fri., Nov. 22, 1996

You’ll probably love “Star Trek: First Contact” if you’re already a fan of the series, but if you aren’t, you’ll feel like you’re at a reunion of somebody else’s family.

If so, you can join me in the corner, near somebody else’s Aunt Gladys’ potato salad.

Together, we can ponder such questions as “What’s with the Borg?” “Who is Zefram Cochrane?” and “In the year 2063, will we all have to wear brown Ban-Lon slacks?”

This much I know: The Borg are a cyberpeople who share a collective conscious and who are ruled by the charismatic Borg Queen (Alice Krige).

Simultaneously sexy and repulsive, she has a glistening, egg-shaped head with wires protruding from the rear and she wears a bondage get-up that clamps onto her skin. In “First Contact,” she sexes up both Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the robot Data (Brent Spiner) as the Borgs travel back in time to forestall the scientific experiment that began the whole Star Trek story.

There are some unanswered questions (like, “Why can’t the Borg see?”), but Alfre Woodard is terrific as a tough, funny woman who helps the Enterprise crew. And, although “First Contact” is talky, it’s beautifully made, with a lovely, hopeful ending.

The only problem is that it’s so insider-y. Trekkers will love the knowing looks the characters exchange and the surprise appearances by folks from other “Star Trek” shows (incidentally, a hearty thank-you is due whoever eradicated the blight that is William Shatner, who is nowhere to be seen).

But, two movies into the “Star Trek: Generations” cycle, they still haven’t bothered to introduce us to some characters (I can’t tell Crusher and Commander Troi, two women with drawn cheeks and anxious eyes, apart), nor have they invented a new menace that all of us - veterans and newcomers alike - could discover together.

If I had one wish for this series, it would be to make it so.

xxxx “Star Trek: First Contact” Locations: East Sprague, Lyons, Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Jonathan Frakes; starring Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Alfre Woodard Running time: 1:47 Rating: PG-13

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