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Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

From the DVD Shelf: Star Trek: Insurrection

September 27th, 2013
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I recently picked up Crescendo Record’s release of Jerry Goldsmith’s complete score for Star Trek: Insurrection.  I’ll have thoughts to share on that soundtrack soon, but after listening to the CD several times I decided it was high time to re-watch Insurrection, a film I hadn’t seen for several years.

Star Trek: Insurrection is the third of the four movies made with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Enterprise is drawn into a region of space nicknamed the Briar Patch (due to the stellar phenomena that makes travel in the region treacherous), because Data — on assignment on a planet within the Briar Patch — has apparently gone rogue and attacked a Starfleet research team.  It it turns out that Data has uncovered an ugly truth about the Starfleet mission in the Briar Patch.  Although officially sanctioned by the Federation Council and supervised by an admiral on-sight, the Starfleet team — working with some local thugs called the Son’a — plans to forcibly remove a peaceful people called the Ba’ku from their planet, so that they can harvest the incredible rejuvenating power of the metaphasic radiation found within the planet’s rings.  Picard and his crew take up arms to stop them.

Insurrection is generally considered one of the worst of the Star Trek films (and it definitely was near the bottom of my list when I recently ranked all the Star Trek films from worst to best), but there really isn’t anything all that awful about Insurrection.  The film’s biggest crime is that it is a trifle, a fairly light, low-key adventure.  Had Insurrection been a two-part episode of the Next Generation TV show, I think we would consider it very solid.  But this trite little adventure is not at all what Trek fans like me were looking for in a big-screen movie.  When we were only getting a new adventure every few years — and considering that, although the studio seemed supportive of the Trek franchise, there was no guarantee that they’d get to produce movies indefinitely (indeed, the lukewarm business that Insurrection did nearly derailed the Next Gen movie franshcise completely) — fans wanted their Trek movie installments to be BIG, IMPORTANT stories that felt worthy of the big-screen canvass.  These adventures needed to depict critical moments in the lives of our characters, and also hopefully be a story with an epic scale and, you know, the fate of the galaxy at issue.

Insurrection is none of those things.  It’s a very small scale, low-significance adventure.  The whole thing is a big mis-step, seemingly right from its initial conception.

It’s a shame, because coming off of the success of Star Trek: First Contact, the Next [continued]