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Of all the odd numbered STAR TREK movies, STAR TREK: INSURRECTION ($30) may be the one to finally break the curse. In case you are unaware of the curse, all of the odd numbered films in the series have been rather weak in direct comparison to all of the even numbered films. This ninth STAR TREK film has a good story, character development, superb special effects and a worthwhile villain. My only complaint is that the brevity of the film’s running time precluded the fleshing out of the secondary plot thread concerning Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis). The rekindling their romantic relationship has been a long time in coming, yet it didn’t get the screen time it deserved. Perhaps the tenth film will develop the relationship further. 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 hidden 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 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 their homes on a planet that proves to be the genuine fountain of youth. Picard not only finds this action 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 the Ba’ku were never intended to be immortal, nor are they protected by the Prime Directive. Picard and a small band of his officers, unable to justify the Federation’s actions, decide instead to risk their future career’s 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.

I am glad that Paramount Home Entertainment has gone back to issuing 16:9 anamorphic enhanced DVD because STAR TREK: INSURRECTION is utterly spectacular. This DVD is absolutely demonstration quality for anyone looking for test material to judge a wide screen television. The state-of-the-art transfer recreates the film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio, while offering a razor sharp image with a startling level of detail. Blacks are a luxurious velvety black, and contrast is as close to perfection as one is likely to see on NTSC. Flesh tones are very natural in appearance, while the rest of the colors offer marvelous saturation. There is no evidence of chroma noise anywhere during the presentation and compression artifacts are completely disguised by first rate authoring. 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a wonderful mix that perfectly balances powerful effect driven space battles and richly atmospheric moments in the great outdoors. Dolby Digital’s discrete nature handles both situations with aplomb. The soundstage has a spacious quality across the front that seamlessly wraps around into the surround channels. Dialogue reproduction is both clean and natural, while the bass is rock solid. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is well integrated into the mix, yet has a life of its own. English and French Dolby surround soundtracks are also available on the DVD. The interactive menus are quite simple, but supply the required scene and soundtrack selection features. A theatrical teaser, a theatrical trailer and a short production featurette are also available through the interactive menus.

STAR TREK: INSURRECTION is an entertaining entry in Paramount’s most profitable franchise, plus the DVD is spectacular. Hopefully, Paramount will take the hint and re-issue every STAR TREK film with the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement. Special edition STAR TREK DVDs with extra footage, commentaries and a whole lot of supplements would definitely make die-hard Trekkers happy.



Star Trek - Insurrection (1998)



DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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