Star Trek: Insurrection
Rating -

Sci-Fi (US); 1998; Rated PG; 104 Minutes

Patrick Stewart: Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes: William T. Riker
Brent Spiner: Data
Levar Burton: Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn: Worf

Produced by Rick Berman, Morty Hornstein, Peter Lauritson and Patrick Stewart; Directed by Jonathan Frakes; Screenwritten by Michael Piller

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Written by DAVID KEYES

There I was, sitting in a room packed with science fiction fans, watching the ninth "Star Trek" movie: "Insurrection." Even before it started, I had chills going down my spine, pretty sure that I was going to see another flop for the never-ending franchise. It seems to attract attention no matter how many movies are made, and the series may just very well continue its voyage into unknown universes throughout the 21st century. Even while the "Star Wars: Episode 1" trailer still ran on the screen, I was beginning to wonder, "why? Why do I even bother going to these things? Its obvious that all of these movies are like two-hour television shows, so why even go?"

Then, as the movie began, I sat back and tried to free my mind of the franchise's messy past. The movie opens wonderfully with rich landscapes as children and adults frolic together freely through gardens and hilltops, with large, breathtaking mountains in the distance. The place is like a garden of Eden, sort of: peaceful, happy, vibrant, and filled with life.

I have to admit, these first scenes surprised me, because your standard epic space movie almost always takes place entirely in outer space: the void which seems to give off murky and depressing colorization with the special effects and set design. As the children and the adults moved graciously and happily through the gardens of this beautiful place, I was like "wow! I can't believe this! For once, a 'Star Trek' movie is actually good to look at." That, notion, of course, was something that lasted throughout the movie, but aside from its visually appealing style, the movie is no better than any of the other "Star Trek" films that have already passed on. "Insurrection," like its predecessors, has a mediocre premise, a situation between alien races that doesn't make sense, and a story you can't quite care about. It's a movie that gets two stars--quite better than the average franchise film, but that's still not saying much. This is a series that does not appeal to me to much of the extent. I wouldn't care if they discontinued it or continued extending it. After "Insurrection," it wouldn't make a difference: I'd likely not see anymore anyway.

The story involves this alien race (sort of) that lives on an Earth-like planet with rings surrounding it. The rings on this planet seem to give off all sorts of different vibes which prevent the advancement of the aging process for the people. And no wonder: they are over 300 years old, though the vibes they've been exposed to on the planet have made them look like they're in their 30s. This is the alien race which is seen in the first shots of the film: the 'habitat' for these people to "live long and prosper," as Spock would have said. The only problem is, however, another alien race wants them moved off of the planet so they can take advantage of the age-decreasing effects given off by the planet's rings.

Captain Picard and his crew aboard the Starship Enterprise get wind of this situation when one of the Federation Chiefs accompanies the alien race in their quest to remove the others from the planet. Little do we realize, though, that the deformed alien race is actually the same race as the people who currently inhabit the planet, only they are aged, and greedy for the planet's gift to the aging process.

There are a lot of holes and problems in the story, but the most frustrating one is the fact that there's no real explanation to how the aliens got to the planet. Where did they come from? How did they get there? Why did they leave their other planet? Better yet, did all of them look like they had wash cloths glued to their face before the rings took effect on their aging process?

Even though the members of Picard's crew seem to be stiffer than normal, Data has all the best scenes. He's the Enterprise Android (as you should know), and half the time, his limited robotic mind can't quite grasp some things, and it makes for some very funny moments.

Take this scene, for example: As the Enterprise crew transports the entire alien race to the caves in the mountains for protection from their antagonists, one of the crew members says to a fellow crew member, "have you noticed that your boobs have firmed up? It must be the rings." Of course, Data is machine, and probably doesn't have the word 'boobs' in his vocabulary. As he approaches Worf, he uses that line on him as well.

He's the only character in the whole confederation that seems to stand out in a series like this. Think, for a moment, if they decided to make a movie entirely about him. No doubt, audiences would love it better than any film in the "Star Trek" series.

Even though there IS some things to like about the film (most notably the fiery colors from the solar system's nebula), the really great "Star Trek" movie has not been made yet. "Insurrection" may be a prelude of great things to come, but even so, I may not stick around long enough to see them. You can only play a piano so many times before it finally goes out of tune.

1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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