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Star Trek: Insurrection  

Directed By: Jonathan Frakes Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy
Rated: PG (Violence / Language) Running Time: 103 Min.


Before beginning my review of Star Trek: Insurrection, I'd like to tell you about a theory I have concerning Star Trek movies. That theory contends that the even-numbered sequels are always the best ones. I first became aware of this pattern at about the time Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home came out. Using my theory, I could accurately predict that Star Trek V would suck, even before discovering that Shatner was going to direct it. This pattern has remained true throughout the series, with the exception of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, and includes the "Next Generation" films.

With Star Trek: Insurrection, a new, larger pattern seems to be emerging. My new theory is that the Star Trek sequels that are divisible by three are also not too bad. This helps explain why "The Search For Spock" didn't fit in with the smaller pattern. The true nature of this larger pattern will not be known until Star Trek XII becomes the highest grossing film of all time. (All I ask is that they put "Q" in it.)

For my money, the best of the Star Trek films was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, followed closely by Star Trek: First Contact, also known as Star Trek - The Next Generation II or Star Trek VIII. (Gee, if they make any Voyager movies, this is going to get REALLY complicated!) So, my views of this film directly relate to what I thought of all the past ones.

Since I've now written three paragraphs without saying a darn thing about Star Trek: Insurrection, I guess now would be a good time to get on with the review!

I liked Star Trek: Insurrection, but it isn't one of my favorites of the series. The plot smacks of having been an unproduced two-parter of the "Next Generation" television show, and much of the look and feel of the film bears that out. There is surprisingly little in the way of special effects, as the story centers more around it's humanoid characters. This is a story that reflects 24th century enlightenment and diplomacy over the "fire phasers first, ask questions later" approach of "First Contact"s encounters with The Borg. The result is a story heavy on drama, but very light on action and adventure.

The plot concerns a planetary territorial dispute, and Captian Pickard is determined to stand by his morals, even if it means subjecting Star Trek fans everywhere to boring exposition about the importance of the Prime Directive. This also means that much of the action will take place not in space, but on a planet where the terrain looks strikingly similar to the mountains and valleys of Northern California. Yawn... what a strange and mysterious planet it is.

Also, since most of the movie is Earth- er, I mean planetbound, we are once again cheated from getting a really good scene featuring the Enterprise-E. Does this ship actually do ANYTHING other than make wide, banking beauty passes? So far, I can't tell. Hopefully, the Enterprise-F will be more entertaining! I now anxiously await the destruction of the Enterprise-E, just to find out!

Some of the things I did like about this Star Trek outing were that the space scenes in the movie looked great, although most of them were only used as wipes between scenes. Also, F. Murray Abraham creates a menacing and memorable villain, and is one performer who proves that a good actor can convey a great deal of emotional range, even through many layers of latex makeup.

Lastly, Jonathan Frakes continues to show that he is the best director ever to helm a Star Trek film. There is a richness in his style that is immediately recognizable, and the techniques he uses help to keep the film from collapsing under it's own melodramatic weight. (For those keeping track at home, Nicholas Meyer would be the second best director, followed by Leonard Nimoy.)

So, while this definitely is not one of the most exciting Star Trek films, if you're already a fan of the series, it's worth a look.

Allen J. Vestal

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