Monday, 2 March 2009

Star Trek: Insurrection - Movie Review

The Search for a Plot…

The plot basically involves a small group of peaceful (and apparently technically backward) people inhabiting a world, the atmosphere of which contains a unique element that rejuvenates the body right down to the molecular level, thereby giving perfect (and never-ending) health. But someone else wants the planet emptied to distil the substance, and is trying to force the inhabitants off. Captain Picard finds out about this ploy, and also that the Federation are not necessarily against this going ahead... Naturally, he decides that it is up to him and his crew. As for the rest.... well, you'll have to see for yourself!

The plot is good and, while it does have the odd slight inconsistency, it holds together well and is well paced.

Make It So…

The plot revolves mainly around Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). This was a smart move by the producers, since he’s one of the most interesting and likeable characters in The Next Generation cast – oh and add the tiny fact that Patrick Stewart is one of the best actors on the planet, which kind of helps… The other Bridge crew feature strongly, especially Data, which works pretty well too. None of the cast do badly, and Stewart impresses as usual.

The Wrath of Odd Numbers…

As this is an odd-numbered Star Trek film (number 9), you may, like me, have approached it with some caution, since the odd-number films have always been terrible in the past. Happily, this film bucks the trend in fine style.

It does have a slight unfair advantage in that I've always liked the TNG crew much better than any of those in the other series - they're just more interesting. But that didn't make Generations a good film...

Having now seen the atrocity that is Star Trek: Nemesis along with every other Star Trek film (but I am NOT a “Trekkie” – or even a “Trekker” – nor am I one of those to whom William Shatner famously told to “Get a life!” at a convention. Just wanted to make that absolutely clear!), I can safely say that "Star Trek: Insurrection" is, to my mind, the best of the Star Trek films. Definitely better than First Contact (which wasn't at all bad), and a trillion times better than Generations. It has everything - great story, strong performances from all the cast (even Troy isn't too bad), and impressive special effects. I know a lot of people will probably still prefer ST4 (The Voyage Home), which is admittedly a lot of fun, but this one overall has a better storyline and more interesting characters.

Where No Man Has Gone Before?

It also raises relevant social and cultural issues, which is something the best Star Trek episodes have always done. (Albeit often to little acclaim). This time it is the weighty subject of whether genocide of a group (however small) can ever be justified. The film doesn't push this issue in your face, but deals with it in a satisfying way (okay so it's not exactly subtle, but it works).

There are a couple of extras on the DVD, including theatrical and teaser trailers, and a short documentary about the making of the film. These are interesting to watch (once, anyway). A couple more features would have been nice, though. Although the film can be played in several languages, which is pretty good. (Though not very useful to me personally!)

Transference to the small screen also worked much better than expected. I actually enjoyed watching the DVD more than I remember doing at the cinema when it first came out, which is extremely unusual for me.

Beam Me Up, Scotty…

The special effects were excellent for the time it came out, and still hold up very well today, even under close scrutiny. Obviously this is very important to a Star Trek film, but as Nemesis (among a myriad other films) proved, amazing effects do not a good film make. The end sequence is superb, both in terms of the effects and the plot pacing. And of course it features Patrick Stewart. Wonderful stuff.

The Final Frontier

Overall, this is about the only Star Trek film yet which has truly impressed me. It has the scope and vision of the best episodes in TNG, without relying overly much on an individual character. And as a movie, it seems just the right length, whereas most of the others seemed about half an hour too long. Or, in the case of the first, third, and fifth movies, the entire length of the film too long…

The Voyage to Another Review

Click here to read my review of Star Trek: Nemesis

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This film made it into my top ten sci-fi films list - The best (and worst!) in Sci-Fi Movies...

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