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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: Insurrection (Special Collector's Edition) (1998)

"How many people does it take, Admiral, before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral?"
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: June 13, 2005

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis
Other Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy, Anthony Zerbe
Director: Jonathan Frakes

MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action violence, mild language and sensuality
Run Time: 01h:42m:51s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 097360267648
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+A B+

DVD Review

Time to face the Jerry Goldsmith fanfare: I have become the resident Star Trek apologist. My Trek reviews tend to be harsh at times, but I always leave the analysis with an echoing call of vindication—a possibly futile attempt to free the beloved franchise from the dustbin of mere cash-cow status. Has Star Trek decreased in quality over the years? Certainly. Do I still enjoy it? Chalk me up for another "yes". I will probably enjoy the exploits of these bumpy headed wonders until I'm in the grave, but I'm no fanatic; there won't be a picture Spock on my tombstone, but that "live long and prosper" hand sign might be kind of neat...

After the dark, dramatic tones of First Contact, producers decided to lighten things up, creating a more comedic, touching story akin to the whimsical tones of the highly successful Star Trek IV. In an area of space known as the Briar Patch, a group of 600 Ba'ku have found eternal youth. The rings surrounding their planet contain a kind of rejuvenating energy, allowing the inhabitants to live for centuries. The Son'a, a race that resorts to crude skin-stretching procedures to fight aging, has found a way to harvest this energy. They wish to relocate the Ba'ku and utilize the planet's power to help millions, or at least themselves.

Starfleet has allied themselves with the Son'a and their leader, the vengeful Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham). There are dissenting opinions. Captain Picard considers the proposed relocation to be a direct violation of the Prime Directive, but Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) disagrees. The plan is put into motion with Starfleet's blessing, forcing the crew of the Enterprise to take extreme measures. An insurrection is spearheaded by Picard and company, culminating in epic confrontations, stunning revelations, and a little romance for good measure.

Caving to the curse of the odd-numbered Trek films, Insurrection, Jonathan Frakes' second trip to the director's chair, is a decent, but somewhat underwhelming film. The story's concept is actually quite intriguing, but the script's comedic tones come off as out of place. Granted, some of these moments remain funny, but Worf's battle with a pimple, Riker's clean-shaven face, and Data's fascination with the firming of certain mammories are at odds with the more solemn, dramatic tones of the plot. The theme of eternal youth is fitting here, and especially poignant for a cast of actors that have been together for nearly two decades, but the lack of dramatic weight cheapens the tale.

The film looks decent, relying heavily on CG effects, some of which are more successful than others. The Enterprise-E is completely digital this time around; she looks grand, but some of the other bits, like the Son'a collector, look especially transparent. There are also some downright goofy choices here, ranging from a fixation on some strange little Ba'ku pocket pet to a joystick that pops out of the floor of the Enterprise bridge. That's right, kids: all them fancy touch screens can't hold a candle to an old-fashioned red-buttoned joystick! We even get yet another "Data goes haywire" scene. At times, it's a tough swallow.

Here I go again: regardless of the flaws, and the fact this feels more like a decent two-part television episode, there are some enjoyable moments to be had, including some smashing action sequences and a rousing Jerry Goldsmith score. The cast is in top form here, and their camaraderie shines through nicely. Guest roles by Donna Murphy and the indomitable F. Murray Abraham excel, considering the material they are working with. This remains a fine idea for the story, but the final script lacks the execution such a concept deserves.

Fans can be the hardest to please, but we'll still enjoy every awkward minute.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Paramount's anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is certainly different from the previous release, trading an overenhanced image for one that is noticeably softer and free of edge enhancement. As a result, the new image may look less sharp, but this is preferred to the original, edgy transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby and DTS 5.1 tracks will certainly please; both contain the expected surround effects, floor shaking LFE, and fine aural detail. This is a satisfying mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Borg Invasion 4-D
6 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
6 Documentaries
7 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Double alpha
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
  2. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: The menus are slick animated views of the So'na bridge. The extras themselves are a bit fluffy once again, but there are some interesting tidbits. Disc 1 is noticeably lacking a commentary by director Jonathan Frakes; he claimed to have recorded tracks for both First Contact and Insurrection, but there is none to be found. Instead, we are given another text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda.

Disc 2 is divided into six sections:

It Takes a Village (16m:40s) is a look at the film's sets, including the impressive Ba'ku village, with production designer Herman Zimmerman and other members of the cast and crew; Location, Location, Location (19m:54s) examines the film's extensive location shooting; The Art of Insurrection (14m:53s) is one of the better segments, featuring illustrator John Eaves, who takes us through his extensive design work on the film; Anatomy of a Stunt (06m:33s) is an intriguing look at a complicated exterior stunt that ended up on the cutting room floor; writer Michael Piller discusses the genesis of the plot in The Story (17m:17s); Making Star Trek: Insurrection (25m:25s) is a misnomer, focusing on the cast's reactions to the story; finally, the excellent Director's Notebook (18m:55s) contains some rather frank anecdotes from director Jonathan Frakes, who admits to the story's weaknesses.

The Star Trek Universe
Westmore's Aliens (17m:42s) is a brief tribute to Michael Westmore's superb makeup work on the franchise—the focus is primarily on Insurrection; Star Trek's Beautiful Alien Women (12m:39s) is a look at the many stunning women that have donned foreheads and catsuits for our viewing pleasure, and contains comments from cast members of several Trek series.

Creating the Illusion
This exploration of the film's visual effects includes Shuttle Chase (09m:36s), Drones (04m:42s) and Duck Blind (04m:37s). Each segment illustrates the creation of an effects shot, starting with its pre-viz and pre-composited components (such as storyboards, animatics, etc.), and is narrated by a member of the visual effects team.

Deleted Scenes
Noticeably absent from the back cover, deleted scenes are indeed on this release. There are seven in all, including Ru'afo's Facelift, Working Lunch, Flirting, The Kiss, Status: Precarious, Disabling the Injector, and an Alternate Ending. There are some curious bits here, such as the ill-fated library scene, and an alternate ending that sounds good on paper, but does not provide the studio-satisfying synapse-blowing explosion. Scenes are presented in nonanamorphic widescreen, and can be played separately or all together (12m:53s total). They also include occasional introductions by producer Peter Lauritson.

A core dump of storyboards (detailing the opening scene) and a photo gallery can be found here.

The final section contains the teaser trailer, theatrical trailer, an original promotional featurette (05m:02s), and a Borg Invasion trailer.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Insurrection is not a bad film; the final product just doesn't live up to its concept. The cast and crew did their best with the material at hand, but Gilbert and Sullivan can only get you so far during an action scene. Paramount's two-disc reissue is a fine replacement for the former, barebones release.

I'm still recommending it. Don't ask.


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