Directed by Jonathan Frakes
On a far-off planet, Data (Brent Spiner) malfunctions and reveals to the inhabitants the existence of an observation mission to the native Ba’ku. In doing so he begins unraveling a conspiracy between the Federation and the Son’a to transplant the population to another planet and steal the regenerative radiation native to their world.
This is the third TNG movie. It is an okay film that plays more like a well-produced episode of the series than a theatrical release. The story takes place in the midst of the Federation’s war with the Dominion and the dialogue even makes reference to it but plays it safe by not actually engaging in any event that touches directly upon the war. While the Federation does make an alliance with the Son’a to get weapons (or something-what is exchanged fluctuates) that is really as far as the connection goes.
The story of Insurrection comes off as if the Dominion War really is not happening in this movie or is not that big of a deal to ANYBODY! At this point on DS9 the Dominion was presenting as a serious threat and here the Federation has just sent their flagship to engage in negotiations with a species that has only just discovered warp drive. The flagship of the Federation fleet should probably be on the frontlines of this war and not playing ambassador. If anything, they are putting this species in danger from the Dominion by making an alliance with them. At one point during the Dominion War, Bajor declined getting closer to the Federation because it would have made them a target. Here it is okay to make a significantly less advanced species a target?
It just felt as if the writers were completely ignoring significant events in the Star Trek Universe that were going on when this movie was set. They did not necessarily need to be deep in the war during the film but a conflict with a major power in your fictional universe cannot be lightly like it was here.
The worst thing about the movie is that it relies so much on what can be best described as space magic. “Look! Aliens with trite bits of wisdom and semi-magical powers!” The Ba’ku can slow down time yet do nothing with it when attacked by the Son’a. Star Trek is better than that. Star Trek is about exploring the human condition but when they use magic aliens to do that it just falls flat and becomes quite superficial. And ignoring a power that could help you at least flee to safety is idiotic. It helps the Anij (Donna Murphy) hold on just long enough when she is hurt but that is it.
And do not get me started on the cute kid. Previously unseen cute kids bring action driven films to a crawl. They are just a big and cloying break on the action in the story. I understand the relationship with Artim (Michael Welch) was meant to give Data some growth but everything about it made me cringe.
Anthony Zerbe is a favorite character actor of mine. He has been in a lot of things in his career and he is always quite good. I was glad to see him join the Star Trek universe here. He is in his element as Admiral Dougherty trying to build an alliance with the Son’a at the expense of Federation ideals. This might have had more impact if the aforementioned Dominion War had been played up a bit more.
F. Murray Abraham as Ru’afo chews up every scene. He really hams it up here and presents one of the better villains in a TNG movie that is unfortunately hampered by a weakened script. He let himself go and had fun.
I disliked the romantic subplot between the Ba’ku woman Anij and Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). Not because it was not well done but through much of TNG they made it clear Picard had an attraction to Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) that he felt guilty over because he had been friends with her now deceased husband. This did not have to be an excuse for Beverly or Picard to end up in each other’s arms at the end of the movie but things that were laid down in the television series were not even referenced here. A few lines of something.
Full disclosure: I did want Picard and Crusher to get together at some point. We kind of got it in the series finale “All Good Things…” but that was a future that never actually happened. Maybe part of my opposition to this romantic subplot in the movie is my desire for those two characters to get together. In fact, I am 90% sure it is.
Every effect is very crisp here. Computer effects had evolved to a point where you could safely use them predominately on the screen. They are not too bad here and hold up well enough to this day, but they were lacking a bit even then. CGI is good but there is something lost in texture and so forth when effects are completely computer driven.
This is an action-oriented movie. Not a bad thing. The scenes where the Enterprise battles the Son’a ships are pretty cool. The tear scene (created by a type of weapon the Son’a are using that is banned in the Federation) is just all-around great. I wish it had been a bit padded out though. One of the ships survived and it would have been cool to see the Enterprise take it on.
The plan is to steal the magic space radiation-I mean metaphasic particles-and use it for helping people live longer or something like that. What exactly the plan is seems a little vague. On one hand Adm. Dougherty sounds like he is turning it all over to the Son’a in exchange for weapons to fight the Dominion but on the other it sounds like they are going to share it. I am not sure how that works. And I have seen the movie many times. I get the feeling that the script was written before the Dominion War became a thing on DS9 and references were forced in when the film was being made.
Insurrection is not too bad of a Star Trek movie, but it does not feel as if they tried too hard with the story. I really think the whole story should have been scrapped and it should have been something that tied into the storyline that was going on and DS9 at the time. I have had that opinion since this movie first came out. It just felt apart from the Star Trek Universe then and still does now. It is not a bad Star Trek movie but one of the weaker ones.