Star Trek: Insurrection (Collector’s Edition) (1998)

Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Even though I know this is not the greatest Star Trek movie of all time, I had to pick up the DVD of Star Trek: Insurrection – for two reasons.

One, it helps to complete my collection of Star Trek movies. Two, it was just $13.99 (Canadian) and at that price, how could I say no to a two disc set? I mean, really.

Okay, so Insurrection isn’t the best Star Trek film but it’s not the worst either. For someone who likes Star Trek, it’s pretty good.

I’d rate it a B- or a C+, depending on my mood.

So what’s wrong about it? And what’s right about it?

Let’s begin with the negative (which isn’t really so bad). Of the various problems with the film the biggest, I think, is that it’s not a movie. It’s a middling level episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Not the best episode, not the worst episode, but an episode of a TV series nonetheless. And this is supposed to be a movie. So my expectations for the story were a little higher and they weren’t gratified. That’s my first complaint.

Second (though these aren’t really coming in any order), what’s with the title? Insurrection? What has that to do with anything that happens in the story? More importantly, what has that to do with anything in the story that is interesting?

It’s a lame duck title tacked on to the phrase Star Trek because it sounds like something explosive and adolescently fascinating, but it really has nothing to do with anything in the story that is compelling. It’s just a title that sounds good when you’re promoting it.

My last complaint is the skin stretching business. What was that about? Why do people feel it’s necessary in this kind of film to come up with some ghastly bit of business about aliens or whatever? Has anyone ever considered just making the bad guy bad? They don’t need to look bad. They have to be bad. We’re not dumb. When this happens, when bad guys are actually nasty, we get it. You don’t need to beat it into the ground.

So what’s good in the film? That’s hard to say if you’re not a Star Trek fan. Because what is good is that it is Star Trek. The characters are all there, they all behave and interact they way we want them to, and Captain Picard and Data are Captain Picard and Data. And Crusher and Troi still look hot. What more could you ask for?

Well, a better story, I suppose. But despite it’s flaws, this movie does move. It does have its moments and it does satisfy the Star Trek fan in me.

It’s also a comparatively lighter film which means they have a bit of fun with the characters and that, for a Star Trek fan (especially a fan of The Next Generation) is also good because it allows us to see what we really enjoy – the characters being who they are (or who we imagine them to be). This is really why many people who like Star Trek (from the TV series) watch it – we love the characters.

Let’s be honest: none of The Next Generation movies are anything to write home about as films. They’ve all been too focused on the marketing requirements and satisfying the Star Trek demographics.

Okay. As part of the Star Trek crowd, I’m satisfied. The movies certainly accomplish that. Well, in a way.

One nice thing about Insurrection is that there are no Borg (though they are certainly referred to several times). As the DVD Town review of the movie says, in some ways this movie is a return to the Gene Roddenberry style of Star Trek.

Somewhere in the middle of The Next Generation series, probably the end of Season Three, beginning of Season Four with the two part The Best of Both Worlds, the Star Trek creators (and their newly acquired demographic – i.e., the new generation of Trek fans) went war crazy.

As much as I liked episodes of this kind (I still think Best of Both Worlds is among the finest work Star Trek has produced), while I found the Borg always interesting and the cranky Klingons with their internecine politics compelling, I began to miss the old style Star Trek of discovering new worlds and meeting new species. I missed the exploration aspects of Star Trek. (Even Picard makes a joking reference to this in Insurrection.)

But the updated Star Trek fan base liked the explosions and video game battles and post-Roddenberry Star Trek was about nothing if not marketing and demographics.

The point here is that Insurrection is a kind of half-hearted attempt at the previous Star Trek style of shows, about discovery and so on. But they seemed to have lost their sea legs with these so it stumbles a bit. Still, it was nice to see a greater element of fun in the movie than normally appears. And it was nice that the Borg decided to stay home for this one.

They’ve yet to make a really good Star Trek: The Next Generation movie. But damn, they’re good at making TV episodes!

(By the way … Disc Two of the two disc set is filled with features. I’ve only viewed a few of them but, given the disc’s price and given the amount of additional material, this is a relatively worthwhile purchase for a Star Trek fan.)

Other Star Trek movies

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