STAR TREK: INSURRECTION
For my money, STAR TREK: INSURRECTION ($20) is the film that finally broke the odd numbered STAR TREK movie curse. For those of you who are unaware of the curse, it seemed that all of the odd numbered films in the series have been rather weak in direct comparison to all of their even numbered counterparts. Although probably not as good as any of the even numbered films that proceeded it, this ninth cinematic incarnation of STAR TREK offers a pretty solid story, some nice character moments, cool special effects and a rather nasty villain. My only complaint is that the secondary plot thread concerning Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) rekindling their romantic relationship didn’t get the screen time it deserved. Anyway, Trekkers are certain to get a kick out of the bathtub scene.
STAR TREK: INSURRECTION opens on a peaceful, idyllic world where Starfleet personal appear to be engaged in an anthropological mission- studying Ba’ku, the planet’s inhabitants, from a cloaked research facility. The mission proceeds normally until Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) begins malfunctioning. Data’s unexpected behavior reveals Starfleet’s presence to the Ba’ku. Once the Enterprise is alerted to the situation, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) decides that his people should retrieve the malfunctioning android Data. Determining the cause of Data’s malfunction allows Picard to uncover the Federation’s participation in a forced relocation of the Ba’ku from a planet that proves to be a genuine fountain of youth.
Picard not only finds Starfleet’s participation in this enterprise morally reprehensible, it is also in direct violation of the Federation’s own Prime Directive, which prohibits interference with the natural development of other civilizations. When Picard confronts Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) about this flagrant violation of the Prime Directive, Dougherty sidesteps the issue by making the case that the Ba’ku are not indigenous to the planet; therefore, never intended to be immortal, nor does the Prime Directive protect them. Unable to justify the Federation’s actions, Picard and a small band of his officers, decide instead to risk their future careers in Starfleet in defense of the Ba’ku. Making the situation even more volatile is the Federation’s uneasy alliance with the Son’a, an unethical species that will stop at nothing to posses the regenerative properties of the Ba’ku’s planet. In addition to the other series regulars, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn and Gates McFadden, STAR TREK: INSURRECTION also stars F. Murray Abraham as Ahdar Ru’afo, the crazed leader of the Son’a, as well as Donna Murphy as Anij, the lovely Ba’ku woman with whom Picard becomes enamored. Second time director, Jonathan Frakes handles the film’s action scenes with gusto, while even the quite moments have a nice sense of rhythm.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made STAR TREK: INSURRECTION available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a pretty nice looking presentation, which makes some modest improvements over the original DVD release. Overall, everything appears smoother and less noisy than it did on the previous DVD of the film, but it also ever so slightly softer. Sharpness and detail are generally quite good, but never astounding. Colors are rich, vibrant and completely stable. Flesh tones are always very appealing. Blacks are deep, whites appear crisp and clean, contrast is very smooth and shadow detail is more than respectable. The film elements display only an errant blemish here and there, but otherwise are very clean. Film grain is hardly ever noticeable. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed.
STAR TREK: INSURRECTION features 5.1 channel soundtracks that come in both the Dolby Digital and DTS formats. Both tracks are sound great and make terrific use of all the allotted discrete channels to pan sound effects around the soundstage, as well as creating cohesive sonic environments, with plenty of atmosphere. Fidelity is top of the line, with the effects always being highly convincing, while the fine Jerry Goldsmith score has a full-bodied musical sense of presence. Dialogue is smooth, warm and always understandable. The bass channel is potent and rocks the house at key moments. The DTS track has an edge here, producing a warmer, richer and more detailed listening experience that the standard bearer, although the Dolby Digital track never comes off as weak or disappointing. English and French 2.0 surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
Computer animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's very nicely designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the fine array of supplements, which have been spread across both discs of the set. Disc one features a text commentary on a subtitle channel by Michael and Denise Okuda, authors of The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Presented pop-up style, the text stream provides plenty of Trek trivia and other interesting bits on the making of the movie.
Moving on to disc two, we find the remainder of the supplemental programming, which has been broken up into various sections. The Production section offers the following programs It Takes A Village, sixteen minutes on outdoor locations; Location, Location, Location, a twenty-minute look at the difficulties of location shooting; The Art Of Insurrection, provides a fifteen minute glimpse at some of the film’s design work; Anatomy Of A Stunt is a six minute examination of a stunt that didn’t survive the final cut; The Story spends seventeen minutes on the plot development process; Making Star Trek: Insurrection offer twenty five minutes worth of interviews with the cast & crew; Director’s Notebook provides a solid eighteen minute interview with second time director Jonathan Frakes.
The Star Trek Universe section contains Westmore’s Aliens, a seventeen-minute look at the makeup creations of Michael Westmore; Star Trek’s Beautiful Alien Women is a twelve-minute retrospective on you guessed it. In the Creating The Illusion section one will find three short featurettes on the following effects sequences: Shuttle Chase, Drones and Duck Blind. The Deleted Scenes section offers twelve minutes worth of material with various sequences including introductions. The Archives section offers Storyboards and a Photo Gallery. In the Advertising section one will find a Teaser Trailer, a Theatrical Trailer, Original Promotional Featurette (that appeared on the initial DVD release) and a trailer for the Borg Invasion attraction in Las Vegas.
Personally, I really like STAR TREK: INSURRECTION and think it is the best of the odd numbered films. Paramount’s presentation on this release is good, although not as good as the Special Edition of FIRST CONTACT. Although mildly soft, the picture quality is smooth and still holds up quite well on a large screen display. Sound quality is very solid and the DTS kicks it up another notch. The extras are quite enjoyable and reasonably informative. If you are a Trek fan, you’ll want to add the Special Collector’s Edition of STAR TREK: INSURRECTION to your Starfleet library.
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