The movie picks up as Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is having nightmares about being assimilated by the Borg--an robotic alien race who conquers entire races and brings them in to their own kind. As it turns out, the Borg have finally reached Earth, and the Enterprise decides to fight back. But when they get there, they notice the Earth has long since been assimilated and realize the Borg must have traveled back in time to do so in the past. The Enterprise then follows the Borg into the past to stop them and realize they've followed the Borg to the day before Earth receives First Contact... the term associated with the moment a planet gains the ability to perform faster-than-light travel and an alien race introduces themselves to the planet to let them know they aren't alone in the universe. So now it's up to Picard and Riker (Jonathan Frakes), and the rest of the crew, to stop the Borg and help Zefram Cochran (James Cromwell) finish his space mission so that First Contact can still happen and the future can happen as planned.
The first thing I noticed about the film is that it throws you into everything without so much as an introduction. It expects you to already know the characters (who they are and what they do and their relationships with each other) and a lot of the backstory, particularly with Picard and the Borg. Fortunately, the two episodes this movie heavily references are at the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4 (the season finale and premiere, respectively), so I was at least familiar with the situation. But the first 30 minutes or so was still incredibly jarring. There's no easing in to the movie. It just throws you in media res. And even having the character and background knowledge that I did, I still felt off balance for quite some time.
It eventually does slow down and allow you to catch your breath, however, once they get to Earth and the initial Borg raid on the Enterprise has finished. And it's at this point that the film splits into two primary stories. On Earth you have Riker, Geordi, and Troi trying to help Cochran. On the Enterprise, you have Picard, Data, Worf, and Beverly trying to stop the Borg from assimilating the entire ship. Also on the Enterprise is Lily, played by Alfre Woodard. She was easily my favorite part of the film. The way she is able to give Picard some attitude without the repercussions of insubordination was fun. The sequence where she accuses him of wanting revenge and he snaps is brilliant. In fact, most of the good stuff came from on the ship. The stuff on Earth with Cochran was OK, but nothing special. And it was basically the same joke over and over--Cochran is a drunk who likes to play rock music really loud. I just often found myself really enjoying the ship story and wanting to go back to it when it was focusing on Earth.
The film isn't bad once you can get into it. The time travel aspect is full of plot holes, but that's time travel for you. As a fan of Next Generation, I already had a connection with a lot of these characters and was able to have a feel for them already. However, I do think the film was made for fans of the show only. I can't see an outsider (or someone who just watches the films) being able to watch this film and comfortably be able to follow or understand it perfectly. Every major plot point or character development is something that's built on from the show. I otherwise don't have much to say about it. I was entertained by it once the chaos of it balanced out, but it still wasn't perfect. Still, I liked it well enough.
I Am McLovin!
(P.S. Apparently I'm in the minority despite the positive rating, as from what I've read, this is a lot of people's second favorite after Wrath of Khan.)