Star Trek: Insurrection

by Bill

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 Enterprise learns of the Federation plot against inhabitants of a unique planet, Capt. Picard begins an open rebellion in an effort to defend the Ba’ku’s people and the principles in which the Federation was founded.” (from Amazon)

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 Enterprise bridge scenes, Frakes seemed to give attention to Stephanie Niznik’s character (including a few near-flirtish glances between Riker and Perim). That I’d notice this in the midst of the film more than suggests the story is not fully engaging me. Nevertheless, I wonder if there was anything more to the story. The intrigue...)

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)


Patrick Gaffney said...

I can remember going to see this in the theater and feeling so ripped off. We felt so ripped off, that we walked across the hall and saw A Bug's Life. At least there we got our money's worth.

Chris Ware said...

It just felt like a longer than usual TV episode.

Bill Ritter said...

I edited out a comparison to TV episode because I did not want to seem to disparage tv. There are plenty of programs that exceed what might have been considered film quality (Battlestar Galactica, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dark Angel, among others).

Notwithstanding, it really didn't even exceed event television standards. It stumbled on its own flaws and under-achievement.

The General said...

I think I saw this... but can't remember for sure, which shows how good it must have been.

The Next Generation was actually the only cast that clicked for me after the original series. My college roommate and I was't many and evening drinking cheap beers and watching The Next Generation.

This may have been one of the reasons that my college dating life was less than prestigous.

Dan said...

I'm in the same boat as Tyler that TNG was the only non-Original Series that I got into. Also, like Tyler, I barely remember this movie. Is this the one where the crew gets a little younger while on the planet? Cause that one creeped me out due to Troi and Crusher talking about things "firming up."

Dan said...

Maybe if I hadn't skipped the paragraph noting the firming of the boobs, I wouldn't have sounded so silly in my last comment. Dummy.

Bill Ritter said...

Yes, this is the film in which boob firming properties in paradise was pontificated upon.

Dan said...

Yeah. Well watching that with my mom in the theater was very uncomfortable. Very.

lalalala said...

My friend Travis came up with perverted names for all the trek movies. This one was honored with "Ihaveanerection." That, unfortunately, is more memorable than this movie!