Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Donna Murphy, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, F. Murray Abraham, Anthony Zerbe.
1998 103 minutes
Rated: (for mild violence).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 13, 1998.
I have never been a "Star Trek" fan, and, to tell the truth, out of the five films in the series that I have seen (1,2,3,8,9), I have disliked all of them. I do, however, always go into one of these with an open mind, and the ninth film in the series, "Star Trek: Insurrection," is no exception.
Dropping almost completely the hard-core sci-fi element of the previous one in the series, "First Contact," "Insurrection," tells the story of a planet that holds only 600 people, known as the Ba'ku, as well as the Fountain of Youth. At the start of the picture, the villagers go under attack by a second alien species, known as the Son'a, who want to push all of the Ba'ku out so that their own race will not die out. Also attacking the Ba'ku is Data (Brent Spiner), a robot from the Star Trek Enterprise. After returning to Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the gang on their space ship, no one can understand why Data was somehow taken over by another force. So several of the Star Trek members travel down to the planet of the Ba'ku, where Picard meets up and starts to fall in love with one of the inhabitants, a sultry, kind alien woman (Donna Murphy), who is over six-hundred-years-old, but looks to only be in her thirties.
"Star Trek: Insurrection," is a completely unoriginal and cheap-looking installment in the series, and is a big step down from, 1996's "First Contact," which at least appeared to try to make something a bit different. In, "Insurrection," however, it plays like a low-rent episode of the television show, due to the small-scale, generic storyline, and an emphasis on one-liners rather than excitement. The film was filled with nearly non-stop comedy, and worse yet, most of it fell flatter than a cartoon character that drops off a cliff. Meanwhile, when there were action sequences, they were not at all interesting or inventive, relying on that old reliable ticking timer that counts down very, very slowly. This plot device, which is seen in just about every action film made nowadays, is getting old fast. Are filmmakers so bankrupt of ingenuity and ideas that they must always have a timer ticking away during the climax?
Another element of, "Star Trek," films in general is that Picard seems to always have to have a love interest, but then she always miraculously disappears when the next film is made two or three years later. Although Donna Murphy, who falls victim to this thankless love interest role here, is actually one of the few characters that we get to know in the 103-minute running time, Alfre Woodard was far superior in, "First Contact." She should have returned for this one, but I don't blame her for not wanting to waste her time with this movie's disappointing and often lifeless screenplay, by Michael Piller.
"Star Trek: Insurrection," is perhaps the weakest film in the "Star Trek," series, although I have not seen what is widely considered the worst, "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier." "Insurrection," is the type of "safe" sequel that will bewilder non-fans, since it is so low-tech compared to most of today's blockbuster action films (although most of these are honestly not very good, either), and should disappoint the loyal Trekkies, since it could have easily been better if the makers had realized that the screenplay needed to go through a few more drafts. On second thought, they probably should have completely thrown the script out. That way, they could have come up with a story that at least had a sign of intelligence and freshness.
©1998 by Dustin Putman