Star Trek: Insurrection Movie Review

By 1998, the Star Trek legacy was looking thin. The series had run through all of its big villains, Trek's cast was happily dabbling in other projects, and the memory of Kirk and co. had long since faded happily into the land of reruns.

But you can't keep Trek down, and the crew saddled up for this lackluster experience, the likes of which would typically comprise an hour-long episode of The Next Generation, and not even a season finale.

This mission takes our heroes to a tiny society on a planet inhabited by settlers from another world who, of course, harbor a secret: They're hundreds of years old, and they don't age. The magical powers of the planet eventually even give Geordi has sight back and the female crewmembers a little extra cleavage (not kidding). Of course, this fountain of youth is desired by all manner of factions -- but it's Starfleet itself (along with an odd hanger-on played by F. Murray Abraham) that threatens to relocate the 600 residents of the planet in order to harvest its medicinal powers. (With just 600 people on it, it's a miracle they can't find some more room for inhabitants, but that's another story.)

Ultimately, Picard refuses to obey orders to relocate the settlers -- shades of Auschwitz, native America, and other well-known incursions are rather blatant -- and the titular "insurrection" occurs. Alas, there's not much of an ethical problem here, really. A little healthy debate probably could have found some breathing room for everyone, without resorting to Picard and his commando crew loading up a transporter with guns and explosives. And gosh, ya think they're going to let Picard back into command once they find out what he's done?

With a $58 million budget (lots of cash was saved by setting the film on a peaceful, green planet (read: a farm in California) and eschewing the alien planets and space battles which would have ratcheted up the budget), Insurrection was a mild success: The film eventually earned about $70 million domestically and probably broke about even. (The next Trek film, 2002's Nemesis, would have no such luck.)

It's hardly the best or worst of the Trek movies: Shatner's God-hunt in Star Trek V and the god-awful Nemesis earn that title. But it is a classic example of what Star Trek has become: Out of stories, and full of actors just phoning it in. This is probably the last Star Trek film, ever, that will be able to coast on its title and the goodwill of its fan base. And that's both a good thing and a sad passing for a once-pioneering series.

Now available on a now-expected Special Edition DVD, Insurrection adds the usual text commentary, plus a smattering of behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews. It's a smaller package than most Trek movies have received, but then again, there just doesn't seem to be much left to say.


Star Trek: Insurrection Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG, 1998


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