Year Released: 1998
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 103 minutes
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Well, I can see why all the geeks on the Internet didn’t like it. This is the first “Star Trek” date film and they may have some trouble coming up with their end of that deal. Paramount’s misguided marketing campaign is trying to sell it as an action movie, but the action scenes are totally superfluous and the same geniuses didn’t make their big push until after everyone had seen the superior “Star Wars:Episode I” trailer.
The movie opens with what appears to be some hippie renaissance fair in Marin County, California, where the completely human looking settlers are harvesting, preparing food, making arts and crafts, yadda, yadda, yadda, when a cloaked individual, Data (Brent Spiner) goes postal, firing on several other cloacked individuals that are part of a Federation survey team in cahoots with some decaying, dying race. Cap’n Picard (Patrick Stewart) comes to stop him, then join him on the side of the locals. A little “Heart of Darkness”, a little “Dances With Wolves”, a little hilarity ensues.
Is it any good? Surprisingly, yes. I haven’t been a big fan of the films. “The Wrath of Kahn” is the only great one, and while “The Voyage Home” was popular, it’s aged badly and the cast looks ridiculous (I live in San Francisco, and the city is full of men in their sixties wearing wigs and too much make-up). As for the Next Gen cast, “Generations” was a mess and while “First Contact” was entertaining, the writer seemed to blow off established continuity and common sense whenever it got in his way (If the Borg were so friggin’ advanced, how come the drones didn’t have any range weapons like phasers, but did apparently have laser sights?)
“Insurrection” does display some of the worst habits of the show. It spouts new-age platitudes like “Seize the moment” and “Technology BAD”, and the cast lapses into a bunch of musical theatre queens again when Picard, Data, and Worf (Michæl Dorn) sing along to Gilbert and Sullivan, complete with lyrics and a bouncing ball on a monitor.
This movie best exploits the strengths of the show as well, such as the chemistry among the cast. Director Jonathan Frakes and writer Michæl Piller, who have performed the same duties on the original show, give each actor, except for, strangely, the doctor (Gates McFadden), a chance to shine.
Thankfully, the story does not revolve around a transporter error, the solution is not a bunch of technobabble, and the holodeck is used correctly as a piece of technology at their disposal, not as a story crutch. Picard is able to talk his way to a solution and actually outthink his opponents. Actually, this is really just a pretty good episode of the series, which is not really a bad thing. It’s better than being yet another crappy Star Trek movie.
Posted on December 14, 1999 in Reviews by Ron Wells
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