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IN SHORT: The end of the "Odd Number" Star Trek curse [Rated [PG] 103 minutes]
With thirty years and four different series of Trek under our belts, Cranky is going to proceed as Star Trek Film Number 9 does, and assume that you have a basic familiarity with the Star Trek: The Next Generation and ST: Deep Space Nine television series. Anyone who didn't jump into the Trek Universe with ST: First Contact is probably not reading this review.
That being said, Trekkers are no doubt familiar with the numbing regularity of odd numbered Trek films, all of which basically sucked. With a wee bit of numerical prestidigitation, Cranky points out that ST: Insurrection is the second flick to feature the full blown ST:TNG cast and, as an even numbered Trek flick, succeeds handily. For those who want to be surprised, I've saved the story summary for last.
Where ST: First Contact was a balls to the wall slugfest and historical tutorial of the Trek Universe, ST: Insurrection provides heavy duty character development that, with minimal knowledge of what has gone before, is funny as hell. The flick features a new alien race called The Ba'Ku, a Deal-With-The-Devil Alliance featuring the creepiest villain ever to grace the Trek bigscreen (F. Murray Abraham as Ru'afo, leader of the other new alien race, The Son'a) and a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Federation, all counterpointed by special effects that advance but do not overwhelm the story. The climax of this tale may not be as big as the mano a Borg slugfest that capped ST:8, but it is as generous and satisfying.
So much for writing like a film critic. Any Trekker worth his or her salt can not be disappointed by ST: Insurrection. If there are any major points that the hard core Trekker could nitpick about, Cranky didn't see 'em. there are no huge conflicts with Trek continuity that annoyed this fan. Michael Piller's screenplay offers lots of "if you know, you know" history and asides but if you walk in cold it is not too complex to understand. That, in any Trek script, is a mighty difficult thing to accomplish.
Jonathan Frakes does double duty, repeating as the film's director and as Commander William T. Riker of the new, [Galaxy class] Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701E). Rather than explore the universe The Enterprise is functioning, when we first see it, as the diplomatic party ship of the Federation. While Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is stuffed into his dress whites by Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) is off in a newly discovered system nicknamed The Briarpatch, aiding an undercover cultural survey of a newly discovered race called The Ba'Ku. Data, his circuitry running amok, has taken hostages and attacked a ship belonging to new Federation allies The Son'a. The Enterprise sets off on a capture or destroy mission, bending orders given by Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) to look the other way. That's insurrection Number One.
When they find Data, Picard and Co. find the secret of the Ba'ku and the planet they live on -- a ring of radiation that essentially prevents aging. The Son'a covet the energy, for they are an aging race that relies on daily doses of plastic surgery and genetic enhancement to survive. [Yeah, they do that in Los Angeles, too, but the surgeons are all model-types poured into skin tight stretch uniforms and the surgery effects are suitably disgusting. Perfect guy flick stuff.] Picard discovers that the Federation is preparing to covertly relocate the 600 Ba'ku to aid the Son'a, violating the Prime Directive. That, Picard will not stand for and his reaction is the Insurrection of the title. Riker takes command of the Enterprise and heads for Federation space (and a special effects laden battle that, for once, does not destroy the Enterprise) while Picard and crew beam down to protect the planet. Picard, of course, finds love in the arms of a woman who can literally make time stand still (Donna Murphy) and goes one on one against Ru'Afo in the film's climax.
Star Trek: Insurrection evenly balances roles for all the principal characters of the Enterprise, with good bits for Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis), Lt. Cdr. Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) and the returning from Deep Space 9 Lt. Cdr. Worf (Michael Dorn). Troi's story is sexy. Geordi's is touching and Worf's humorous subplot is just plain warped. The whole experience runs at Warp Nine and the surround sound, if properly cranked up, should provide a real nice back massage from your vibrating theater seat <vbg>
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Star Trek: Insurrection, he would have paid...
No Star Trek fan is going to be disappointed. This one wasn't.
Cranky talks with Stewart, Spiner and Frakes in the Star Trek StarTalk
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