Star Trek: First Contact

This review is sponsored by


Details At A Glance

Category Science Fiction Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Year Released 1996
Running Time 106:08 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (55:54)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Programme
Region 4 Director Jonathan Frakes

Starring Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner
Levar Burton
Michael Dorn
Gates McFadden
Marina Sirtis
Alfre Woodard
James Cromwell
Alice Krige
RPI $39.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Let's get one thing out of the way before we begin. I like Star Trek. Not to the extent of obsessiveness, but I do own all of the Star Trek movies on laserdisc, and enjoy them immensely. Now that they are coming to DVD in Region 4, I look forward to gradually updating my laserdisc collection over the course of time.

    Star Trek: First Contact is my second favourite Star Trek movie, with my favourite being the generally well-regarded Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.

    Star Trek: First Contact deals with a number of intertwining subplots which keep the interest level high. The Borg have finally invaded human space, and are heading directly for Earth. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise have been ordered well out of the way as it is felt that Picard's previous assimilation into the Borg Collective would adversely affect his combat ability in this encounter.

    Nonetheless, Picard monitors the battle from afar. When all begins to look desperate, Picard chooses to ignore his orders and leap into the middle of the desperate combat. His special knowledge of The Borg serves him well, and he is able to destroy the Borg mothership, but not before The Borg are able to launch a probe back in time.

    The Enterprise follows the probe in order to thwart its mission. The probe's aim is to stop First Contact - the first warp drive test on Earth and humankind's subsequent first encounter with an alien species.

    I'm going to leave the plot synopsis there, for those of you who haven't seen First Contact. Whilst the basic premise is simple and almost clichéd, the execution here is terrific, with some great direction, great special effects and great acting turning what could have been quite a banal story into a rather good one. One thing I really must say, though - Jonathan Frakes does seem to get more than his fair share of 'moments' during this movie - I guess it's good to be the director...

Transfer Quality


    I went into this review with very high expectations of this DVD. I was not disappointed. Whilst not reference quality, it only just misses out on that accolade by a very small margin.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness and clarity is superb throughout this transfer. Each and every scene is highly detailed and a pleasure to watch from this point of view. Two specific things that really stuck in my mind about this transfer were the fine detail resolvable in the Borg cube structure, and the fine detail resolvable on Data's face. Shadow detail is also superb, other than in a very small number of shots such as the zoom in on Cochrane's settlement which were deliberately shot to have limited detail. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are beautifully rendered by this transfer, although interesting choices were made in regards to the colour balance of the movie. Scenes involving the Enterprise were all beautifully saturated, vibrant and colourful, but scenes on Earth tended to be muted in their colourscape by comparison. This is particularly noticeable whenever greenery is shown on Earth, which tended to look a lot less green than it usually does in contemporary DVD transfers.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen at all, not even during the difficult to encode opening sequence nor the grainy opening Paramount logo. The only area where this transfer faltered slightly was in the area of aliasing. Some minor aliasing affected pan shots on occasion, such as pans across greenery, or pans across finely detailed interior shots of the Enterprise. All-in-all, there was far less aliasing than I feared I would see given the razor sharpness of the transfer and the linear nature of much of the sets, so even though it was noticeable, it was not bothersome at all. Scattered film artefacts were only rarely noticeable.

    This DVD is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 55:54, between Chapters 19 and 20. It is reasonably placed and only mildly disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are four audio tracks on this DVD; English, Spanish, French and Italian, all in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s. You cannot change audio tracks on-the-fly, but must go via the audio menu, a minor authoring annoyance with this DVD.

    Dialogue is perfectly clear and perfectly in sync at all times. Every word, even during high-action moments, is easily understood. Audio sync is perfect.

    The music is by Jerry Goldsmith, and is one of the best Star Trek scores I have had the pleasure of listening to, from the glorious opening sequence to the final bars. It truly adds an additional layer of emotion to this movie without ever intruding upon the consciousness of the viewer, a feat only rarely achieved in movie scoredom. Very occasionally, there was a trivial dropout or pop noticed in the musical score, such as at 0:20 or 1:28, as if some minor flaw was introduced during the Dolby Digital encoding process.

     The surround channels were almost continually used by this extremely immersive soundtrack. Unlike many action-oriented soundtracks, this soundtrack did not collapse into mono after each action sequence, but rather remained subtly immersive at all times. Action sequences were highly immersive without ever being over-the-top. Probably the nicest thing I can say about this soundtrack is that it sounded extremely well-balanced at all times. Nothing was overly loud and nothing was overly soft. The aural cues concorded perfectly with the visual ones.

    The same can be said about the subwoofer. It was superbly integrated into the overall sound mix, frequently contributing the crucial bottom end to many scenes but never becoming noticeable at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are only a few extras on this disc.


    Basic. 16x9 enhanced. Nothing special.

Teaser Trailer

    Of much poorer quality than the movie visually and aurally.

Theatrical Trailer

    Better-looking than the Teaser Trailer but still nowhere near the quality of the movie itself.

R4 vs R1

    Other than a slightly different mix of languages and subtitles, the R4 and R1 versions of this DVD are identically-featured. Direct comparison of the image quality of the two DVDs shows that the R4's image is slightly brighter and very slightly more detailed, but both are superb transfers, and you would be hard-pressed to pick any differences between them. Call it even.


    Star Trek: First Contact is one of my favourite Trek movies, and it is presented beautifully here on DVD - an excellent debut release from Paramount. Let's have more of the same!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
20th April 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Denon DVD-3300, using RGB output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the RGB input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Denon AVD-1000 DTS AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials and the NTSC DVD version of The Ultimate DVD Demo Disc.
Amplification EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifier for Left & Right Front; Marantz MA6100 125W per channel monoblock amplifiers for Left & Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO Subwoofer