8. Star Trek: First Contact (1996) I like Kirk. Hell, I love Kirk. But man, what a relief to finally reach a Kirk-free movie. The Next Generation cast really hits their groove with this movie. Perhaps because they borrowed a page from Wrath of Khan and revisited their most awesome villains: THE BORG. Specifically, the Borg Queen. Best villain since Khan, no question. It's good to have an enemy you can respect.
Overall: A- Excellent villain AND time travel? Yes, please!
Plot: A- Like I said, excellent villain and time travel. Generally, elements that make for a good Star Trek story. And the time travel was fun while avoiding most of the cheesiness that detracted from Voyage Home. I said most -- the bar scene where Troi gets drunk with Zefram Cochran kind of felt like a TV show more than a movie. And I must make this one point: The Next Generation is overly in love with the holodeck. You're already playing dress-up! Give it a rest.
Costumes: A They improved the Starfleet jumpsuits. But most of this grade is due to the Borg. Perhaps I'm overly influenced by the current zombie craze, but the Borg seem to me to have assimilated the best of the zombie look. Goth zombies. Goth steampunk zombies. They're just great.
New cast members: A James Cromwell makes such a good villain -- he's so great in L.A. Confidential and I've enjoyed him as Andrew Mellon in season 3 of Boardwalk Empire. So it's extra-fun to see him play goofy, as he does here, and he does it well. He's not really a mad scientist, he's a hard-drinking, smart guy who just wants to retire to a tropical island and doesn't want to be known as some kind of hero to humanity. Though I do wonder why he's so fond of mid-20th century music, in the year 2063. Alfre Woodard is also good though I'm starting to wonder why Picard always has to have a Wise Black Woman to keep him on track (Whoopi Goldberg last movie, Woodard in this one).
F/X: B+ I don't think they should get huge points for mid-21st century spacecraft. And I thought they were going to destroy the Enterprise again, but not this time. At least the time travel didn't involve any weird heads in weird substances.
Series Ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. First Contact 3. The Voyage Home 4. Generations 5. The Undiscovered Country 6. The Search for Spock 7. The Motion Picture 8. The Final Frontier