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Mildly going
where the TV show
has gone before

Donna Murphy, Patrick Stewart

Officer Riker, take it back to TV;
this film hasn't the majesty for the big screen

"Star Trek: Insurrection"

(To see who's in the pix, hold your mouse cursor over the image, but don't click.)

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

I sometimes like to characterize myself as a Trekkie with both eyes wide open. In other words, I love the world that Gene Roddenberry created, but I don't love it blindly.

"Insurrection," the ninth movie in Paramount's cash-cow franchise, posits a race (the Baku) who are being studied in secret by the Federation and their new allies, the Son'a. When Data (Brent Spiner), a member of the study team (and as all good Trekkies know, an integral part of the crew of the Enterprise-D) goes berserk. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) abruptly leaves a diplomatic mission to go and see what's goin' on, to quote Marvin Gaye.

F. Murray AbrahamWhat's going on is that a smarmy Starfleet admiral (capably played by perennial bad guy Anthony Zerbe) has put the Federation in bed with the nasty Son'a (you know they're nasty cuz they use subspace weapons and even the Borg don't stoop to that), with the intention of forcing the peaceful Baku to another world. It seems that particles in the rings of the Baku planet give off an energy that, properly processed, can reverse the aging process ... indefinitely. In short, a kind of stellar Fountain of Youth.

Picard objects strenuously, but because of the planet's location in a remote corner of the quadrant, communication with the Powers That Be in the Federation is impossible. Picard must rely on his own code of ethics to guide him. The title should tell you which direction he leans toward.

DVD notes

A pretty ho-hum affair, with two separate theatrical trailers and the usual audio and language tracks. A fair-to-middlin' interactive menu, and a behind-the-scenes feature that has some interesting moments. One gets the impression that they are waiting to do a whole scad of Collectors Editions, perhaps for Star Trek's upcoming 40th Anniversary, or perhaps the release of the tenth feature film. In any case, keep the video and wait for a better edition to roll along.

Producer Rick Berman may have been too overloaded when making this movie, with two television series and the feature film to contend with, along with the opening of a new attraction in Las Vegas. "Insurrection" is unable to break the curse of the odd-numbered Trek movies - the ones that do suck are all odd numbered. "Insurrection" isn't as bad as "The FInal Frontier," but it doesn't really distinguish itself, either.

The trouble with the Trek movies is that too many of them have a perspective too influenced by the television screen. They don't really fill up the big screen all that well, unless Nicholas Meyer is directing them. But then, unlike many of the Trek directors, Meyer already had a couple of feature films under his belt before tackling "Star Trek." Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that Paramount has often had to offer the directing reins to actors in order to get them to play ball. This leads to the odd situation of having some of the studio's most valuable properties in the hands of inexperienced directors.

It's not that director Jonathan Frakes (who also plays First Officer Riker) is incompetent, it's just that I'd like to see more sweep to a "Star Trek" movie than heretofore has been shown. For example, "Insurrection" alludes to a Federation that is desperate for allies after being decimated by the Borg and is involved with a life-or-death struggle with the Dominion. Against that background, you'd think you could get a better plot than one that basically says that forced relocation is a bad thing. To quote a teenage neighbor, like, no duh.

In a situation like the one described above, you'd also think that the Federation's premier starship would be on the front lines instead of making diplomatic contact with second-rate species, but that's just a minor point. The problem here is that once again it seems to be the Picard-Data-Worf show, as LaForge, Crusher and Troi are given almost nothing to do. Riker is kind of involved but for the most part, it's all platitudes and posturing and not enough gee whiz.

What I'd like to see is the "Star Trek" movies become more like Major Events with storylines that directly influence the television shows without forcing the audience to be immersed in the show (as the "X-Files" movie did). Can you imagine a "Star Trek" movie with the sweep and epic grandeur of a "Star Wars" movie? I can. I just wish Rick Berman could.

Theater or Video?
Too episodic for the big screen. Looks nice on the ol' 24-inch screen.

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VHS at

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