Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Star Trek: Insurrection

Lowdown: Events around a mysterious planet force Pickard to rebel against Star Fleet.
Review:
Hot on the heels of First Contact came 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection. Like its series predecessor, this is a Star Trek – The Next Generation movie. Like its predecessor, it’s directed by Jonathan Frakes (i.e., TNG’s Riker). Like its predecessors, Insurrection is full to the brim with bad acting. Like its predecessors, it is full of the silly stuff Star Trek always fed us with. Unlike its immediate predecessor, though, Insurrection seems unable to rise above the crap and deliver a fine film.
The plot has the crew of our Enterprise drop by to this planet after its android Data seems to have gone berserk there. Data was a part of a Star Fleet expedition sent to investigate this old style agricultural society when he turned on them and exposed his fellow Star Fleet humans & aliens to the innocent locals. Or are they innocent? There is something very weird going on this planet, a conclusion that’s virtually inevitable given the casting of Amadeus’ killer F. Murray Abraham as the alien leader to the expedition. We can relax, though: trust Captain Pickard & Co to sort the situation out, even if sorting requires him to take off his Star Fleet uniform and hold a rifle (a silly looking plastic one at that) against the institution that made him what he is.
There is one chief factor standing in favor of Insurrection: it is a Star Trek film. However, against that we have too many other things: a silly plot, the bad acting I was talking about, even more crap than usual about mysterious particles and such (perhaps not more than usual but definitely more than required to sustain the plot), and what pass as cheap special effects by today’s standards. Frankly, to these contemporary eyes, Star Trek: Insurrection looked more like a cheap imitation of the Mass Effect video game when it is actually the latter that is copying Star Trek (albeit using the latest technology).
The comparison with Mass Effect drove me to an inevitable yet sad conclusion. At the time it first appeared, during the mid eighties, I was of the opinion Star Trek The Next Generation far surpasses the original Star Trek of Captain Kirk & Spock. Where Kirk would throw a punch, Pickard would outsmart his opponents. However, The Next Generation seems to fail the test of time: it’s just as outdated now as the original is, and worse – by virtue of it taking itself way too seriously it renders itself unwatchable to critical eyes. In comparison, Kirk and the original series are still watchable today by virtue of the whole thing being so obviously silly to be taken seriously.
Worst scenes: Pickard's love affair with one of the natives is so cliche it's sad.
Overall: I’m giving Insurrection 2.5 out of 5 stars, and that includes a lot of credit for merely being a part of a formerly glorious Star Trek franchise. To the neutral viewer, though, Star Trek: Insurrection has so little appeal it is probably unwatchable.

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