Star Trek fans were decidedly mixed in their reactions to this, the ninth big-screen feature in Paramount's lucrative Trek franchise, but die-hard loyalists will appreciate the way this Next Generation adventure rekindles... more » the spirit of the original Trek TV series while combining a tolerable dose of New-Agey philosophy with a lighthearted plot for the TNG cast. This time out, Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his executive crew must transport to a Shangri-la-like planet to see why their android crewmate Data (Brent Spiner) has run amuck in a village full of peaceful Ba'ku artisans who--thanks to their planet's "metaphasic radiation"--haven't aged in 309 years. It turns out there's a conspiracy afoot, masterminded by the devious, gruesomely aged Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham, hamming it up under makeup resembling a cosmetic surgeon's worst nightmare), who's in cahoots with a renegade Starfleet admiral (Anthony Zerbe, in one of his final screen roles). They covet the fountain-of-youth power of the Ba'ku planet, but because their takeover plan violates Starfleet's Prime Directive of noninterference, it's up to Picard and crew to stop the scheme. Along the way, they all benefit from the metaphasic effect, which manifests itself as Worf's puberty (visible as a conspicuous case of Klingon acne), Picard's youthful romance with a Ba'ku woman (the lovely Donna Murphy), the touching though temporary return of Geordi's natural eyesight, and a moment when Troi asks Dr. Crusher if she's noticed that her "boobs are firming up." Some fans scoffed at these humorous asides, but they're what make this Trek film as entertaining as it is slightly disappointing. Without the laughs (including Data's rousing excerpt from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore), this is a pretty routine entry in the franchise, with no real surprises, a number of plot holes, and the overall appearance of a big-budget TV episode. As costar and director, Jonathan Frakes proves a capable carrier of the Star Trek flame--and it's nice to see women in their 40s portrayed as smart and sexy--but while this is surely an adequate Trek adventure, it doesn't quite rank with the best in the series. --Jeff Shannon« less
I really enjoyed this film. Insurrection is about a planet where technology is shunned and aging is reversed.
Updated to reflect new 6/7/05 Special Edition
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/16/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Please note: This review is for the Special Edition of "Star Trek: Insurrection" released 6/7/05 and was updated.
Most of these reviews of Insurrection damn the film with faint praise. It wasn't this, it wasn't that. The Federation wouldn't do this. There's petty squabbles about legal points, etc. Writer Michael Piller clearly uses Star Trek Insurrection, much as Roddenberry did, as a soapbox to decry the injustices visited upon others. Usually he'd use Star Trek as a analogy of what had occurred in the past or present.
The next to last installment in the "Trek" film franchise, "Star Trek: Insurrection" received a bad rap from the very beginning. Despite the fact that it was scripted by one of the series best writers (Michael Piller a producer and writer on "The Dead Zone") and directed by series vet/actor Jonathan Frakes the film was seen as disappointing as a follow up to the action driven "Star Trek: First Contact". While the film certainly lacks the intensity of "First Contact", the humor and thoughtfulness that drove some of the best episodes of the TV series remain remarkably intact. "Insurrection" certainly is much, much closer to an expanded bigger budget TV episode but it is by no means a bad "Trek" film.
Data (Brent Spiner) while on a covert mission to gather information on an alien race called the Ba'ku malfunctions and exposes the mission to the natives. It seems that the radiation belt that surrounds the planet is a fountain of youth reversing aging for those that live there. The Federation in collaboration with a race called the Son'a plan on relocating the Ba'ku so that the Federation can "harvest" the radiation belt and use it to cure people of illnesses. The leader of the Son'a Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham) demands that Vice-Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) contact the Enterprise and find out how to deactivate or destroy the android. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) elects to take the Enterprise there to the Ba'ku's planet and try deactivating Data while keeping him intact. He discovers a conspiracy among the Federation and the Son'a that he would never suspect.
While it appears this is the same digital transfer as the first DVD issue, there's considerably better detail and crisper images as the result of improvements made since that first disc appeared. The deep, rich blacks and bright vivid colors of the planet come to life on this DVD. The wonderfully rich 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and DTS mixes both sound terrific using the surrounding speakers exceedingly well. The DTS mix has the edge here with a deeper, richer bass and better overall presence but the two are exceptionally close in quality otherwise.
Disc one is devoted to the film and text commentary. Disc two has all the extras on it. There's a number of deleted scenes including, most importantly, an alternate ending not previous seen. The alternate ending is actually fascinating although it might have been a bit confusing for some folks. Evidently Ru'afo's exposure to the metaphasic radiation turns him younger and younger. Sadly, the optical effects aren't in the alternate ending beyond some simple computer graphics. We also have Peter Lauritson introducing the deleted scenes and giving us background on why they didn't make it into the movie including an extended version of Ru'afo's facelift. Image quality for the deleted scenes aren't quite as good as the movie because they weren't color corrected and/or completed. We get more scenes of Riker and Troi flirting which are quite funny and actually would have worked within the film quite well as part of a "director's edition". There's also a scene where Picard kisses Anij that was cut.
"The Star Trek Universe" focuses on the aliens created by make up artist Michael Westmore and the beautiful alien women throughout the run of the entire series and films. Jonathan Frakes comments on his favorite alien women that Riker has seduced.
"Production" looks at everything from the creation of the Ba'ku village in Thousand Oaks, California to the creation of one of the most elaborate stunts that wasn't SEEN in the movie. We get to see Data save some of the Ba'ku fighting three aliens who are armed taking all three out with one punch. "Creating the Illusion" shows us how the visual effects were created for three sequences; the shuttle chase involving Data, Picard and Worf; when the drones attack trying to transport the Ba'ku and the sequence involving the Duck Blind at the beginning when Data reveals there are Federation personnel invisible among the Ba'ku in their village. Each one is introduced by co-producer/ 2nd unit director Peter Lauritson. We also see the storyboards for the sequence and what the visuals look like at various stages of production.
"The Story" features Michael Piller discussing their take on the screenplay. Piller relates the story to the obsessive culture of youth we live in and relates a personal experience that inspired the story. He discusses the metaphorical nature of the story but also the real world issues that underlie the story and that could be applied to the 21st century. We also get footage from the original featurette and interviews from around the same time incorporated into a new featurettte on the making of the movie. There's also a section on the advertising featuring the teaser trailer, theatrical trailer, the original promotional featurette that appeared on the previous DVD and the Borg Invasion Trailer for the Las Vegas attraction. There's an archieve section with Storyboards and a photo gallery.
"Director's Notebook" consists of video footage shot behind the scenes of Frakes shooting the film. Featuring a new interview with Frakes discussing the approach to the story which he felt wasn't quite as strong as "First Contact". He felt that the look of the movie was a highlight of the film. He also discusses the difficulty in balancing the story so that both old Trek fans can enjoy it but also so that new Trek fans won't feel excluded. It's tremendously difficult with a franchise with so much backstory as the franchise has. He also discusses the challenges of acting in a film he's directing. Oh, and keep your eye out for Easter eggs on the second disc. There's one that shows the craft services food and Marina Sirtis discussing how difficult it is for the actors to remain so slim. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek but also interesting. Look for some of the little logos to the left and right of the area where the menu is and click on them to access the Easter eggs.
Surprisingly Jonathan Frakes either wasn't asked or elected not to do a commentary track for this film. It's a pity because Frakes' entertaining commentary track for "First Contact" was a highlight of that disc. He knows when to say something informative and when to stay quiet letting the film do the talking. Many directors could take lessons from Frakes in terms of doing a commentary track.
There is an extensive text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda that's both informative with trivia about everything from Gilbert and Sullivan, to set redresses from the "Voyager" TV show and "First Contact" movie. There's also humor which has been a hallmark of all the text commentary tracks that the Okudas have done. There's also plenty of trivia about various episodes and how they relate to the film. Of course, there's also some useless information that is there just to be there but, on the whole, the Okudas continue to be a fount of useful "Trek" information.
"Insurrection" certainly deserved the deluxe treatment that "First Contact", "Generations" and "Nemesis" received in their DVD incarnations. Hopefully "Nemesis" (one of the most polarizing of "Trek" releases) will also be expanded to a two disc edition but incorporate the best features of the previous version. While not the best of the "Trek" films, "Insurrection" is a good, solid adventure that has lots of humor and fun throughout the film. The visual effects are, as usual, spectacular and this is our first glimpse of a completely computer generated Enterprise in a film. A top notch release from Paramount, I'd be curious to see how Paramount could possibly improve this edition when they release the High Definition version of this film on disc. "
Sound over Substance.
Jack McPherson | Bend | 01/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"OK, lets face it. We want to love Star Trek movies because we feel so apart of the series. And for the most part, the movies just don't hit their mark. As a movie, this one probably ranks fourth in the series behind, Kahn, IV, and First Contact. But it's certainly not a bad film, which can't be said for about half of the Star Trek movies. However, if you have a sub woofer, surround sound speakers and are buying this for your 5.1 DVD... Pull out your wallet and get it. Star Trek is perfect for DVD. The Laser Fights, the Space Battles, the hiding in caves during an alien bombing give ample opportunity to be pounded into your chairs. In DVD no one can hear you scream, simply because the movie is so darn loud. I LOVE IT. So if you're a Star Trek fan or just someone who enjoys your home theater. Pull out your wallet and have a great time. However, if you don't have 5.1 DVD with all the trimmings, buy the wrath of Kahn, or simply go buy a better movie."
Perhaps not a great film...but it is true trek
Paul MacKinnon | Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | 10/19/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Whereas, Wrath of Khan and First Contact stand on their own as terrific films, whether you're a ST fan or not, Insurrection, has to rank up there with Final Frontier and Generations: films that despite their plot holes and somewhat disappointing special effects, succeed because we Trekkers love the characters, and they stay true to the original Trek concepts. However, I must say that Paramount has really missed the boat on these DVDs. Insurrection comes with a lame 10 minute making-of featurette, but that's it. Let's face it, we Trekkers are the ones who WOULD sit through a two hour director's commentary, or 5 theatrical trailers, or real behind-the-scenes documentaries, etc. If you liked the film, then by all means buy the DVD, but I suspect that down the road, Paramount will release a Special Edition box set with all of the extra crap. Until then, my widescreen video editions of Star Treks 1-8 will have to do."
Star Trek Meets Walt Disney
Stephen Kaczmarek | Columbus, Ohio United States | 08/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you like the one about the whales, you'll probably enjoy "Star Trek: Insurrection," too. Unlike its successor, the bloated and ill-conceived "Star Trek: Nemesis," this third foray into theaters for the "TNG" crew is a competent, if not particularly riveting, adventure that often feels more like an old-fashioned Disney film than anything else. That's actually the best thing going for it, as Captain Picard and crew discover an intergalactic Shangri-La that is the focal point for a generational civil war. Comfortable as director, co-star Jonathan Frakes does what he can with a script that is frequently sweet (and sometimes needlessly violent) but like many of the modern Trek episodes, short on plot and long on technobabble. He had more success with the last film, which managed to evoke the spirit of Captain Kirk's era, but Frakes here still finds new ways to show us things we've seen a million times before, no mean feat. He's aided by the late, great Jerry Goldsmith's evocative score, which is present almost as much as the film's key players, some beautiful special effects, and good turns by guest stars Anthony Zerbe and F. Murray Abraham. Over the years, I suspect, this one will become more endearing to fans, who may better appreciate the film's gentler themes and personality with age, even if moments of pure corn--like breast jokes and Data's singing--still elicit well-deserved groans."
Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying Simple Pleasures
earthhugger | Aurora, NY United States | 10/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, from what I have heard, the main gripe about this film, is that it could have been a TV episode. But when it comes to being a film, I think that this movie hits it right on the mark.The humor in it adds some bubbly fun to a film that could have been all syrup and saddness. And unlike some sci-fi films, the humor isn't contrived and it actually makes sense. Who doesn't get a kick out of Worf's wart or Data's ability to be a flotation device?Another thing that made this Star Trek film great, was that it didn't center on Captain Picard, like many of the other films (and TV episodes) have a tendency to do. You get to hear about how other people are reacting to and experiencing this latest adventure. Yes, this film does give Patrick Stewart an ample amount of screen time, but it also allows the viewers to enjoy little quirks about the rest of the characters we have grown to love over the years.Complaints about plot holes and such I think are reading too much into the film. This is sci-fi, ok? Give the writers, directors, and producers a little leg room!Overall, I believe this to be an excellent addition to the Star Trek family of movies. A little bit of fun, adventure, intensity, and the well placed moral at the end. So grab some popcorn, a pillow, and your phaser shaped remote control, as Insurrection takes you boldly into a different style for this crew, and has a bunch of fun doing it."