Star Trek: Insurrection
Stewie Takes Cast Of Star Trek Bowling
Star Trek: Insurrection
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller
Cast: 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, Mark Deakins, Stephanie Niznik, Michael Horton, Breon Gorman, D. Elliot Woods, Peggy Miley, Kenneth Lane Edwards
Synopsis: When the crew of the Enterprise learn of a Federation plot against the inhabitants of a unique planet, Captain Picard begins an open rebellion.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sci-fi action violence, mild language and sensuality
Note: In honor of the upcoming new film, "Star Trek Into Darkness", I've taken it upon myself to review every "Star Trek" film adaptation ever conceived; with the notable exception of the 2009 reboot because I already reviewed it.
Family Guy Picard and Troi (Warning: Contains suggestive language. Parental discretion is advised)
Sesame Street: Make It So Number One
Big Bang Theory's Star Trek: The Next Generation reference
Riker, you say you can direct the crappiest "Star Trek" film ever made? Make it so number one! Engage!
Although I wouldn't say that "Star Trek: Insurrection" is the worst movie that I've ever seen, but it's definitely the worst "Star Trek" film that I've ever seen by far. Even the worst of the previous films had some epic moments, but sadly everything in this film very forgettable. Nothing in the movie makes any logical sense.
Not to mention how royally hypocritical the plot is, and how poorly the characters are developed here as well. Granted, I know people love the idea of a shared universe between multiple movie/TV series and etc. However, "Star Trek: Insurrection", and it's follow up (which we'll review later), is a prime example of how a shared universe between multiple shows/movies can go horribly wrong and in the end, bog down the story in what should've been more epic tale.
First of all, lets start off with the appearance of Worf (Michael Dorn). Yes, I'm aware he was a regular character on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", and I'm also aware that he was eventually transferred over to "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", after he made "Star Trek: Generations." However, during this film, the TV spin off series called "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" was still on air, and Commander Worf played a huge role in that show.
I'm not going to lie to my readers, and pretend like I've seen every episode of "Star Trek" so if I miss something here, then I apologize. I'm merely looking at this from a casual fan's perspective. Anyways, getting back to how this relates to Worf, I'll get to that now. As many fans will tell you, Worf got transferred to the space station Deep Space Nine, after "Star Trek: Generations" was made.
During "Star Trek: First Contact", they were able to explain Worf's appearance on the enterprise because he was on the USS Defiant attacking the Borg ship, at the time. For those non fans that have never seen any of the episodes, the defiant is a rather small battleship that's used primarily for combat by the federation. To my knowledge, the ship was first introduced on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." With the way "Star Trek: First Contact" explains it, one could say that it was a plausible explanation on why Worf was there in the first place with the enterprise crew. Granted, it was a rather convenient plot device, so audiences could see the entire crew of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" together again; while still keeping Worf on "DS9" (short for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") for ratings. After all, Worf was one of the franchises most popular characters, so it's understandable.
However, after "Star Trek: First Contact", it doesn't even seem like they were even trying anymore, to come up with a plausible explanation on why Worf shows up out of nowhere, to help the enterprise crew again. In fact, they don't even mention why Worf is there to begin with, unless I'm missing an episode of "DS9" when they explain it. However, they do mention briefly that Worf still serves on DS9 a few times, during this movie. Yet, they never explain why the hell he's back on the enterprise. Granted, I doubt a casual movie fan will care, as I've met a lot of people who've loved all the Trek films, yet they never once bothered watching any of the episodes. Therefore, I don't expect casual moviegoers to be bothered by this. But, if you're a fan of the franchise, then it just raises too many questions.
Maybe they explain it in a "DS9" episode, to set the whole thing up. I don't know. I do know they never explain it in this film; which leads to one of the biggest problems you have when you create a shared universe. At some point, you run into plot holes that won't make any sense, unless you're a die hard fan of the franchise. Don't get me wrong, continuity in a shared fictional universe is essential to satisfy your fan base, but if that continuity becomes so tightly interconnected to where you have to be a die hard fan of the franchise to keep track of what's going on, then eventually over time you eliminate the possibility of newcomers to get into it. Because then the eternal question starts with, "where do I even begin to follow this franchise, so everything makes sense?"
It's the same reason comic book companies often have to rewrite origins for their characters, or sometimes reboot them to some extent (ala Marvel's Ultimate universe, or DC's new 52). Because let's be honest here, if you're character has been around for nearly a century like "Superman" for example, then do you honestly believe that a newcomer, to the franchise, is going to read almost a century's worth of old "Superman" comics just to understand the character before deciding to become a fan? Sure, a few die hard comic book geeks might, but most people won't. That's just reality.
The same logic can be applied to "Star Trek." The reality is that newcomers aren't going to watch all the episodes of every single individual series just to understand what the hell is going on, so they can determine if they want to get into it or not. That's not realistic. Therefore, if Worf's appearance in this film was explained in a "DS9" episode, then that's great. However, it's never explained in "Star Trek: Insurrection", so it doesn't make any sense from a casual fan's perspective. Moving on.
Another point, I would like to point out is how the "next generation" movies seem to only focus on Data and Picard being the main characters; while everyone else is reduced to supporting ones. Why? In "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Picard might've been the main character in some episodes, but the other characters had their fair share of episodes too. In fact, that's one of the key differences between "the next generation" show, and the old "Star Trek" series. In the old "Star Trek" show, Kirk was always the main character. Sure, Spock and McCoy played a huge part as well, and there were other characters like Chekhov, Sulu and etc. However, it was still Kirk's show nonetheless so when they started making movies, this was obviously reflected to audiences on the big screen.
I can understand the mindset, at the time, might've been that they wanted to make Data and Picard the equivalent of Spock and Kirk, when the "next generation" cast got their shot to make films. However, that's not what the "next generation" was about. Unlike the hokey "wagon trail to the stars" western theme of the original series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was more of a serious science fiction drama that meshed together thought provoking concepts and ideas, with interesting characters. And, unlike the old show, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fleshed out most of it's characters, to where any one of them could carry an episode.
Now, I can understand that, in a movie, you won't be able to devote screen time to all the characters, as that's kind of expected. However, why does every film, with the "next generation" cast, have to always be about Picard and Data? Why not make a movie with Worf as your main character? Why not Riker for a change? Hell, I'd settle for Dr. Crusher at this point. However, it seems like Paramount was just content with the movies focusing solely on those two characters; which is rather sad considering how much potential this franchise could've had, during it's cinematic run.
Granted, they did the same thing with "Star Trek: Generations" and "Star Trek: First Contact", and they got away with it. However, those are passable for a few reasons. First of all, I know a lot of fans were upset by the fact that they felt Kirk didn't need to hold the "next generation's" hand, when the franchise reverted over to them. However, I'd have to disagree with that notion, and here's why.
Believe it or not, there are fans out there of the original Trek films that have NEVER seen a single episode of "Star Trek" in their lives, yet they love the original movies. Trust me, I've met quite a few of these people myself, so they do exist. The original films were made sensible enough for casual viewers to follow, but still featured the same feel and tone of the classic TV series. Anyways, the point is quite a few fans that loved the original "Star Trek" movies never even seen an episode of either "Star Trek" or "Star Trek: The Next Generation"; in spite of loving the films featuring the original cast. Therefore, if they had featured the "next generation" crew in a film, without Kirk at least making a cameo, then most audiences would've been confused. People would've argued saying, "That's not Jim Kirk! That's not the enterprise! Where the hell is Scotty? Where's Chekhov? Where's Spock and etc? What the hell is going on?"
Don't get me wrong, I know die hard Trekkies wouldn't complain, as they would know what's up. However, what about those casual fans that solely watch the movies alone? Won't they be confused? And if you're an executive at Paramount, do you really want to lose money by alienating the casual viewer?
Therefore, it makes sense that Picard would be the main character for the first film, as they needed him to meet Kirk, so they could pass on the franchise to a new generation of characters. Plus, it would guarantee that the fans that followed the movies exclusively would not only know what's going on, but also ensure that they'd continue to follow the franchise going forward.
Like "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", "Star Trek: Generations" ended up garnering mixed reviews by both fans and critics, but it was still a success anyway. In "Star Trek: First Contact", they decided to introduce the series' most iconic alien threat simply known as the Borg. As most Trekkies know, Picard has something of a history with them, so it makes sense the movie would use him as the main protagonist again. Granted, his obsession with the Borg was a bit out of character, when comparing his movie version of Picard to the TV series version. However, in context to the movie they were trying to tell, it does fit perfectly to create a lot of strong dramatic moments.
As for Data, he's an android; while the Borg are essentially a race of cyborgs. The stunning contrast between the two alone practically writes itself. The Borg aspire to perfection by assimilating other cultures and technology into their own; while Data yearns to be more human. Needless to say, the filmmakers took advantage of that contrast beautifully to where you can't help but admire them for it. Long story short, Paramount could easily get away with basing the first two movies on Data and Picard, for the reasons I just stated.
Don't get me wrong, I don't plan on deducting any points for the filmmakers intention of making all of films based around Data and Picard, but it's just something that's worth pointing. Now that I've gotten all the minor details out of the way, we can move onto the review.
"Star Trek: Insurrection" essentially takes place years after "Star Trek: First Contact", as the federation is stretched fairly thin as it is. Why are they stretched thin? Well besides the obvious Borg that keeps trying to assimilate countless of races, they're also at war with the Dominion. I won't go into any detail about them, but lets just say they're very tough. In fact, the war with the Dominion plays a huge role on "DS9", but does "Star Trek: Insurrection" tell us any details about it? Hell no. Don't be ridiculous. If you want to know that, then you got to watch "DS9" silly. Sure, there's a small mention of it at the beginning, but that's pretty much about it.
Anyways, the federation was losing badly during that war. Gee, wouldn't that have made a great "Star Trek" film? Seeing the enterprise fight the Dominion. But if they did that, then "DS9" wouldn't have a storyline to entertain its audience, for sweep's week. You see how a shared fictional universe can sometimes hinder a franchise when it comes to movies? For those wondering what the hell any of this have to do with this film, I'm about to make a very good point about that in just a minute, so bear with me.
Getting back to the story, the federation is desperate for allies these days. Meanwhile, Data (Brent Spiner) is sent on an away mission to help starfleet monitor a race known as the Baku. This alien race looks exactly like us in every way, and they live in harmonious peace with nature. Rejecting the ways of technology because they believe when you create a machine to do the work of a man, then you take away something from the man. Fair point.
Although at the risk of sounding like a pompous a**hole about this, those clothes that the Baku wear look very good for people that lack the capabilities to manufacture them properly. Plus, the dam they use in the film is kind of hypocritical as well. Gee, are the Baku sure about that motto about rejecting technology? I mean isn't a freaking well constructed concrete dam a form of technology?
Another thing that doesn't make sense is how the hell the Baku would know what's wrong with Data, when he malfunctions at the beginning of the movie. Granted, I know it's explained that they were once a race that thrived on technology before settling on that planet, but that was over three hundred years ago. I can understand them knowing about technology because they used to study it, but how the hell can you keep up with the latest technology when you don't even bother to use and/or study it for years? Let alone for three hundred years?
Why would the Baku know anything about Data's positronic matrix? I mean wasn't Data created in the 24th century? The same century that the "Star Trek: The Generation" show and movies are based in? Therefore, those Baku shouldn't know anything about Data's design. Speaking of Data, he inevitably malfunctions during his away mission for starfleet; thus uncovering the whole operation.
Needless to say, this prompts Picard and his crew to check things out. As it turns out, the Admiral, in charge of the operation, is on orders from starfleet to study and evacuate the Baku immediately, so the federation can harness it's natural resources. Apparently, the rings around the planet contain very high regenerative properties; hence giving the Baku perfect health, and what seems to be immortality as well.
And considering how badly the federation is losing to the Dominion at the time, starfleet is desperate to harness the planet's natural resources. Take in mind, this isn't the Baku's home planet either, as they even explain that they just moved there three hundred years ago; hence I guess you can technically say that starfleet isn't ignoring their own prime directive about not interfering with other culture's natural habitat.
To make matters interesting, a mysterious race known as the Sona push the Admiral to go through with the plans because they're dying. Why are they dying you ask? Well, I can't really say without giving it away, as you'll have to see the film to find out.
However, Picard objects to the decision, and plans to disobey a direct order from the Admiral, when he orders Jean Luc to leave. Looking at this from a Trek fan's perspective, this is a bit out of character for Picard. In one of the episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Picard too was acting on orders from starfleet to force relocate a race of Native Americans. In fact, Picard even tried to reason with them, by suggesting they'd be better off relocating away from Cardassian space. Yet years later in "Star Trek: Insurrection", Picard is suddenly against the Admiral forcibly relocating the Baku? If memory serves me correctly, Picard was going to do the same damn thing in the show, and he was planning on beaming the Indians off the planet by force using transporters. Therefore, isn't he being a bit hypocritical here by telling his superior officer that what he's doing is wrong?
I guess it's because of the Baku woman that c*** teases him throughout the movie that might've made him change his tune. Gee, I guess it's true what they say about how most guys will throw logic and reason to the waste side to impress the opposite sex. Hm, maybe those Native Americans should've gotten Pocahontas to do the same thing to Picard during that episode, as that might've made a difference. By the way, I'm part Native American myself, so I'm not being a racist saying that.
But then again, maybe I'm overthinking this whole situation, and I should try to look at this from a casual movie fan's perspective. A person that has never seen any of the episodes, but follows the movies exclusively. Okay, I'll roll with that for a minute.
If you watch this movie from a casual fan's perspective, you might find some of the things make sense. Like the whole crap about the forced relocation bit, and how Picard goes off on some long winded speech about the darkest times in our history involved the force relocation of races.
However, what doesn't make sense is that they do mention that part of the reason they need the planet's resources is because of how thinly stretched the federation is during the war with the Dominion; while still defending against other threats like the Romulans and the Borg. First of all, if you're watching this clearly from a casual movie fan's perspective, this makes no sense whatsoever. Because in the last two movies, there was no mention of the Dominion threat at all, so unless you've seen the "DS9" show, then you'll be completely lost about that part. If anything, a part of you will be wondering who the hell are those guys to force the federation to go to such extremes?
Plus, that's not even counting the lack of logic and plot holes to this movie. For starters, how the hell can the Baku know how Data works if they don't use or keep up with the latest technology? They stopped using technology almost three hundred years ago, and Data wasn't invented until the current 24th century of that universe, so how does that make any sense?
Secondly, why is the population of the Baku only six hundred? They clearly establish they have immortality on that damn planet. They can clearly reproduce, as the children are proof of that. Plus, it's a statistical fact that most families that are raised in farming households typically end up having large families. Why you may ask? Because during harvesting seasons there are times, when it's slow, and there's not a lot for Pa and Ma to do; hence they have sex a lot. Plus, without technology, there's no way the Baku could possibly produce things like condoms and/or birth control pills. And, that leads to them having a lot of unprotected sex; which ends up with children most of the time. Granted, I'm not saying that's the case for all families that grow up on a farm, but statistically speaking most families that live on farms typically do. Therefore, shouldn't the Baku have a population that's bigger than six hundred? After all, they don't use technology, and heavily rely on farming for food. They have no way to produce protective sex measures. Plus, nobody dies on that planet of old age, so what the heck?
Do the Baku simply have a rule to only mate once every fifty years or something? Maybe they put a restriction on people on how many children each parent is allowed to have? Or, maybe they just simply kill people once they get to a certain age, so they can keep their population low. Who really knows?
Thirdly, if you clearly establish that the federation is low on allies because of the Dominion and etc, then shouldn't Picard be in favor of the federation gathering as much resources as possible? After all, wasn't it Spock that said once, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Therefore, screw those petty six hundred Baku bastards. If harnessing that planet's natural resources can save millions of lives, then wouldn't that justify the federation's plan to relocate the Baku?
Fourthly, why did Data take out his damn emotion chip? It doesn't make any sense. In "Star Trek: Generations", they establish that the chip fused with his neural net or whatever; which is why they couldn't remove it, after he insisted they do. And as far as I know, they never explain in "Star Trek: First Contact" or "Star Trek: Insurrection" that he could've taken it out the whole time.
Fifthly, if he could've removed it the whole time, then wouldn't it have been a good idea for Data to put the chip back in, so he could easily relate to the Baku after first contact? After all, most of them act coldly to him because he's an android, and they reject technology. Therefore, wouldn't him having emotions kind of make him seem more human to them? Granted, they'd probably still act coldly to him, but it would help make things easier.
Sixthly, Data malfunctioned because his moral chip or whatever conflicted with his duty, during a forced relocation covert mission; which prompted Picard and crew to join in to investigate, as I mentioned earlier. However, why didn't Data malfunction during that same damn episode with the freaking Indians? Just a thought.
Also, the fact that the Dominion was referenced as one of the main reasons the federation desperately needs the Baku's home planet, then a casual fan won't know who the hell they are. Granted, a die hard Trekkie will, but not a casual movie fan; hence the dilemma of having a shared fiction universe because of crap like this hinders your ability to tell a great story.
The original cast had the distinct advantage of standing on it's own. It didn't have to tie it's stories into any other TV shows. No, it was allowed to operate as it's own entity in both the TV series and feature films. Sadly, the "next generation" cast doesn't have that distinct advantage, as it has to tie in it's stories with not only "DS9", but "Star Trek: Voyager" as well; hence limiting it to the kind of stories it can tell.
Plus, it doesn't help that the pacing for this movie is ridiculously slow, and everything about "Star Trek: Insurrection" fairly forgettable. Nothing about this movie stands out to where you can honestly say it has any epic moments. Heck, even the past films at least left you with something, but not "Star Trek: Insurrection." Nah, they give you no memorable moments whatsoever other than a few cheap cliche lines by hypocrite Picard about force relocation of other cultures throughout history...blah blah. Oh wait, there was that one scene where Riker pilots the enterprise with a joystick controller. Oh my lord, that was the most ridiculously laughable scene I've ever seen in a "Star Trek" movie.
Another complaint I have about this movie from a Trek fan's perspective is that they turn Picard into some sort of cheap action hero, in this movie. Whatever happened to the diplomatic Picard that we've all come to love and admire? Instead, we're treated to a cheap action hero version of Picard, who utters cliche lines like "We're getting too old for this", during the final showdown scene with the antagonist.
(Warning Spoiler Alert in this following paragraph if you haven't seen the film) Plus why did the enterprise basically leave the main villain for dead, when the ship was blowing up? The enterprise only bothered to beam up Picard, while leaving the main antagonist to die with his ship. Not even Captain Kirk would do that. Wasn't the whole heart of "Star Trek" besides space exploration was to show mercy to your enemies? Even the ones that try to kill you all the time? Kirk did it various times, as the infamous Gorn episode is a primary example of this. Plus, most Trekkies will tell you that Picard is even more diplomatic than Kirk is, so why didn't they beam up the bad guy too? What happened to the concept of showing mercy to your enemies like the old "Star Trek" shows, and films used to emulate? Sadly, the filmmakers behind this movie didn't care about that. No, they just thought that turning Picard into a cheap action hero was a much better idea; which sadly makes this entire movie very forgettable.
However, it does feature some good acting performances, and fairly decent special effects. Unfortunately, it doesn't make up for any of the flaws that this film suffers from.
Overall, I'd have to give this movie a one out of four. Unless you're a die hard Trekkie, then I would avoid watching this one at all costs.