It’d been closing on 10 years since I’d last seen Star Trek: Insurrection. My recollection was vague, although I was pretty certain I’d not really enjoyed the film. I’m really more an original cast devotee, never really connecting with the ST:TNG cast or series. Of all the incarnations, only the middle and latter years of Deep Space Nine did anything to really interest me. So, in an effort to put the new Verizon FIOS 80 gb DVR through its paces, I set the TiVo to record the film.
Insurrection was the ninth film in the series, directed by Jonathan Frakes with story by regular ST contributors Rick Berman and Michael Piller. Insurrection is a simple, straight-forward story: “When the crew of the
It is this simplicity which diminishes the film. Right from the first credit the production seemed less than Big Budget Film, and scene after scene reinforced that the film was not an Event. The Star Trek characters are icons. Stories of icons demand conflict and scope far larger than routine or simple.
Insurrection worked best when it is challenging the fundamental ideals of the characters rather than the humanistic aspects, but there were far too few of these scenes. As examples, Picard debating Admiral Dougherty about forced relocation and importance of the Prime Directive is captivating; Picard, Data and Worf singing from HMS Pinafore ridiculous. Equally as ridiculous is the inclusion of Klingon acne, Crusher and Troi commenting about their boobs firming, Picard’s dalliance with a Ba’ku woman, Riker and Troi’s playful antics and Riker’s smirkish glances, these and several other snippets reduce the film from what it should be.
(As something of an aside, during two of the extended
Star Trek as a genre is at its best when it takes the icons and spins their sensibility on its head. Khan’s seeking revenge on Kirk in the midst of Kirk’s despair on aging; Deep Space Nine’s isolation and guerilla warfare in the midst of the Federation ideals; Cochrane’s true character in contradiction to his canonization by the 23rd Century’s Federation – these represent true characterization conflicts far better than Data’s tin-man journey or the Riker-Troi love affair.
Insurrection embraces the human-aspect of the icons at the detriment of the fantastic. Picard has a line early in the film “Remember when we were explorers?” Had Insurrection embraced this question, to challenge the definition of explorer or push the characters outside their comfort zone, Insurrection might have been a remarkable film. Unfortunately, at nearly ever opportunity to explore something more, the film lurched back to the familiar and the routine.
Insurrection does offer a few interesting and entertaining moments, but the setup for these scenes is nonexistent. Had more care and feeding of these scenes been attempted and less attention on the simple moments, Insurrection might have succeeded as Event. It’s not a disaster, at 103 minutes not disrespectful of the viewer’s time, but it never embraces the Event of Star Trek or what the characters represent.
Rating: C (commonplace)