Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Star Trek: Insurrection

Film #309

THE PLOT

When the crew of the Enterprise learn of a Federation plot against the inhabitants of a unique planet, Captain Picard begins an open rebellion.

Year 1, Day 318

BEFORE: Day four, film nine. Star Trek: Insurrection is the next on the list and continues Picard’s command of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Of course, stayed tuned for the second of a double-feature today as after Insurrection I complete the original run of Trek films before moving on to the Abrams-era.

AFTER: Two aspects seem to stand out about these Trek films: (1) a great story, exploring new worlds, people, and ideas all connected through great characters; and (2) varying degrees of action or eye candy. Star Trek: Insurrection is sorely lacking in the story department but makes up for it, somewhat, in the visual department.

Story-wise, Insurrection felt very similar to Generations. It doesn’t feel like a film but rather and extended television episode. As I mentioned when I talked about it last, the big difference is in how the subplots are incorporated to the primary story. For Insurrection, the answer is not well which is why it feels disjointed and TV-like – meant to be a shorter runtime but stretched out and padded with lots of filler. Examples include the whole Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes - also director) and Councillor Troi (Marina Sirtis) relationship, Data’s (Brent Spiner) interaction with the young child (eerily similar to the emotion chip problem presented in Generations), and involvement of the Federation Council in the relocation. There is little to no connection between all of these storylines and the main story the film is trying to tell. While they might be ever so slightly related (the Riker/Troi relationship being due to the planet’s environment) it is completely unnecessary as it’s explained in many other ways, much more effectively (Geordi’s improved eyesight, Worf’s pubescent state, the Ba’ku people in general).

To say it’s disappointing would be an understatement. The premise is highly intriguing and opens up many possibilities with where they could have gone with it. Immortal life while not aging is a very controversial topic (my ethics class discussed it at length) but Insurrection seems to take a superficial look at it and instead focuses on action and pretty visuals. In terms of action, Insurrection is probably the best of the franchise so far. Lots of guns, explosions, hand combat, and other suspenseful moments litter the film and the visual effects are approaching what we are used to today (compared with the “groundbreaking” effects from The Motion Picture that we now look at as primitive).

The only question that remains is how do each of these balance out. My answer is that Star Trek: Insurrection is still an entertaining film. For me, the action and general interest in the story were enough to keep me excited throughout the film. At the same time, there was a lot of room for improvement, especially in terms of structure, and therefore wouldn’t recommend it among the highest of Trek canon. I think fans would find it less appealing due to botched characterization and adherence to a “normal” Trek film, but casual movie-goers should be able to enjoy it as a spectacle.

RATING: 3 out of 5