Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Release Date: December 11th, 1998 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Jonathan Frakes Actors: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy, Anthony Zerbe, Gregg Henry, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Michael Welch, Stephanie Niznik
nstantly notable is the music by Jerry Goldsmith, which takes on a very different tone from the pervious theatrical outings. It’s peaceful, romantic, and impressively orchestral, as if composed for a cross between “The English Patient” and “Willow.” Also of interest are the character designs for several of the alien species, which, although not as intricate as the Borg, are certainly amusing and more involving in terms of prosthetics and makeup. The production values and special effects have improved significantly, giving the proceedings a shine and polish very suiting to these sci-fi adventures.
Interrupting the standard ambassadorial routines of the Enterprise is a request for information on Data’s (Brent Spiner) schematics from the stern Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe). Allegedly, during an observation mission on a pre-warp planet, the usually upstanding android suddenly attacked team members and colonists. But before the governing species of the Son’a attempt to destroy the rogue Starfleet commander, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) requests an opportunity to safely disable Data instead.
The Prime Directive, which dictates noninterference with other cultures, is embarrassingly broken by Data and his squadron of scientists. But the damage appears minimal when Ba’ku village leader Sojef (Daniel Hugh Kelly) informs Picard that their people used to travel the galaxy in starships as well, but have chosen to stay grounded and reject the use of advanced technologies. As an investigation into Data’s malfunction unfolds, it becomes evident that the Son’a, led by Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham), are concerned only with removing all inhabitants from the planet’s surface, in order to exploit the regenerative qualities of the particles in the revolving concentric rings.
If the previous Jonathan Frakes-directed project mimicked the thrills of “Aliens,” this one seems to emulate a few elements from “Predator,” particularly with the invisibility visuals and the environments. This third feature film for the “Next Generation” cast again conforms authentically to the personas from the television series, while also injecting a humorous romantic subplot for Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes), as well as a touch of singing and dancing for several of the crew. In a marginally wise move, one of the storylines from a Season 7 episode is reused and redesigned on a grander scale. Though it might take flak for stealing from itself, as a standalone production “Star Trek: Insurrection” grasps a stronger sci-fi/fantasy plot and theme thanks to this scheme. It allows time for the characters to explore their signature foibles and conversations (though the one-liners are on overdrive) – something the previous picture couldn’t accommodate, what with all the assimilating going on.
“Don’t ask me to explain it,” insists Dougherty, when the Fountain-of-Youth properties of metaphasic radiation provide the crux for a corrupt partnership to taint the Federation and its core principles – and inspire defiance from Picard. A few of the notions at work are steeped in technobabble, but “Star Trek: Insurrection” has the sense to include understandable political maneuvering, alien blood feuds, explosive warfare, moral complications, betrayal, deception, ambushes, and last-minute rescues. It’s more action-packed, carefully paced, and faithful to the concepts used in the series, marking this as the most well-rounded of the feature films to date.
– Mike Massie