This should be review enough for most Trek aficionados: It’s the better of the odd-numbered movies, but it is definitely an odd-numbered movie.
When the Next Generation series was on, the Jonathan Frakes-directed episodes were always fun ones. Frakes-helmed Star Trek: First Contact (the movie with the Borg) is my favorite of the 9, even more than the whale one. But Jonathan has been away from the helm too long, methinks. Some of this movie smacked of reunions and inside joke scrapbooks and glory days. This is all good for those of us who miss the Next Generation, such as myself. The funny bits are very funny, welcome reminders of the great chemistry that cast had together and the sense of fun they injected into every episode. This has been robbed of them in the two previous NG films, with Data getting an emotion chip too soon and the crew being divided up by plot. So now we get lots of amusing and endearing and fun moments wedged into some pure-dee Old Trek style moralizin’ and butt-whippin’.
Picture Kirk on a planet with a fountain of youth, snapping the Prime Directive in two as he keeps Mean Old Capitalism (thinly disguised) from destroying these nice innocents. OK, now make it Picard, but be sure to keep the inevitable Kirkesque romance with the colonist woman. Add a dash of F. Murray Abraham and of course the vastly superior acting skills of the crew of NC1107-E and you have Insurrection. Insurrection is trying to be every Trek episode – the funny ones and the kick ass ones, the Old Trek moralizing with the New Trek sensitivity and class. The unevenness you may experience may come from trying to integrate all these aspects into one film. I guess every one feels like their last chance, especially the way non-team-player Brent Spiner (Data) makes it harder and harder to get him signed on. Data finally gets to be the Data we all loved on the small screen – no stupid emotion chip getting “smiling Spock” cheap laughs and no re-programmable turncoat/evil twin nonsense either. Data is the 24th century’s answer to Pinocchio and he finally gets to be that again *and* sing Gilbert and Sullivan.
Yes, Gilbert and Sullivan. Old Trek had its Spock proselytizing on rap music, and New Trek has frustrated theatre folk living in space. That’s the fun stuff, if you just sit back and let it happen. But Paramount won’t let them make an all-funny episode, so here comes the cool holographic stuff and the icky bad guys! Woo, how about some sharp-shootin’ and some authority-defiance! Yee-haw! But the film hops around the various directions without ever choosing one. It’s an episode, much like the X-Files movie was an episode, padded for your dollar but really just small and self-contained. I just hope the Paramount execs remember that it is always the odd ones that suck and the even numbered ones that are good and let them make another one.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 12/11/98
Time in minutes 103
Director Jonathan Frakes
Studio Paramount Pictures