Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

Starring Patrick Stewart, F. Murray Abraham, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, and Donna Murphy.
Patrick Stewart and Donna MurphyWritten by Rick Berman & Michael Piller.
Directed by Jonathan Frakes.

Grade: D

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

There is a pattern in the Star Trek movies that fans noticed long ago: while the even-numbered movies in the series are all reasonably entertaining, the odd-numbered installments are best avoided. Star Trek: Insurrection, ninth in the Trek series, is no exception to the rule. In fact, the release of Star Trek: Insurrection punctuates a period of general decline for the entire Star Trek franchise. The Next Generation crew is proving to be less compelling on the big screen than the Kirk/Nimoy bunch; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (which used to feature the most interesting cast of characters in Trekdom) has become a bad soap opera; and the five-year run of Babylon 5 has drawn away many Trek aficionados while proving that complex and sophisticated plots can be vastly more entertaining than simplistic moralistic drivel. These days, only the once-unwatchable Star Trek: Voyager crackles with any dramatic fire.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. In Star Trek: Insurrection, our bold explorers happen upon an Eden-like planet where boobs are buoyant and ethical problems are clear cut. (In Trekdom, bold explorers are always happening upon Eden-like planets). But alas, nasty F. Murray Abraham, in cahoots with sinister Federation officers, is planning to relocate the planet's residents and harvest the radio-active minerals (or whatever) in the planet's rings that keep the population eternally young. Naturally, our intrepid crew must stop the nefarious evil-doers.

Director Jonathan Frakes (who also plays the Kirk-like Commander Riker) lurches clumsily between drama, hammy comedy, and moral lecturing. With a different director, a better script, and the old Trek crew, this type of mix probably would've worked. Unfortunately, the writing is too uneven and only Patrick Stewart (and to a certain extent LeVar Burton) among the crew possesses enough acting ability to make any of it work. Brent Spiner and his irritating android Data, who yearns to be human, are particularly annoying--I think most Trek fans have had just about enough of the Pinocchio subplot. Moreover, F. Murray Abraham's talents are sadly wasted under heavy prosthetic skin that hides most of his acting.

Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Image © 1998 by Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

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