My favorite Star Trek movies. 8th choice!

Star Trek : Insurrection

The one with the aliens that are into plastic surgery.

Yeah…I barely remember this one. I saw it when it came out and then again at home sometime five or so years ago. One viewing is usually enough for me. But even after two viewings, this one is still pretty forgettable.

The opening is cool. But Data’s exposure to the locals is awfully reminiscent of a better TV story. “Who Watches the Watchers,” from season three, has the Federation’s surveillance of a primitive race exposed, leading to one of the most interesting missions for Picard and crew. The similarly themed movie turns this premise into a story about Picard bucking the system. While somewhat cool, putting Picard in that position just doesn’t feel right.

The Federation doesn’t seem like a government likely to indulge some a smarmy villain for such a risky gain. So forcing the Federation into the role of smug imperialists rings false. Really the movie fails because it fails on this point. The Federation has acted against our heroes in the past. It’s believable when Kirk is in trouble for activating the Genesis device. The Federation doesn’t go bad at that point. Kirk’s the one that goes rogue, for reasons his bosses don’t understand. The other big anti-Enterprise action committed by the Federation, Starfleet this time, is in the final episodes of TNG’s first season. In this story, some wormy, insect-y aliens have taken over some key positions in Starfleet Command. Big deal. An infiltration is hardly the government itself going bad. Neither is Starfleet’s pursuit of Kirk really indicative of anything besides an organization maintaining its laws and principles.

This movie attempts something very bold in showing evil inside the Federation, and in power. But it just comes across as petty. Like, I get that maybe they were going for a bit of social commentary. That’s a cool concept, but … well, I guess I don’t really have strong reasons for why I think they fail in this. I just have feelings. So I’ll shut up about that.

One complaint I’ve heard a thousand times is that this movie feels like a long episode of the TV show. I don’t entirely disagree. The scope of the Federation’s turn to the dark side is a bit expansive for a TV episode. It’s a concept too big for a two-parter TV episode. But the botched first contact would, and did, make a great episode. And the exodus of the village people does seem like a story more fitting an hour of TV than a Star Trek movie. The attempts to expand the scope of the story kind of fall flat and are mostly unmemorable. The bad guy’s sail ship space ship (which might come from the opening pages of the Planet of the Apes novel) is cool, but I honestly forget why he even used it, and where he was going to.

I need to watch this one again. I truly can’t remember much of anything.

So I’ll watch it again, but I doubt it will move up the list at all. Maybe I’ll do a fan-edit, if it looks like there’s enough cool stuff to salvage it.

Oh. And is this the one with the joystick on the captain’s chair?

The list so far:

The Wrath of Khan

The Undiscovered Country

The Voyage Home

The Search for Spock

The Motion Picture

First Contact

Star Trek



4 thoughts on “My favorite Star Trek movies. 8th choice!

  1. “This movie attempts something very bold in showing evil inside the Federation” – Hm. Is that bold, or just easy? Guess what! That idealistic society you love? Not so perfect! Yous aid it yourself, it rings false. This is why I hate the whole Section 31 thing, as much as I like many, many other aspects of DS9. But with Section 31, DS9 crossed a line from showing us conflict between the UFP and others, to conflict within the UFP itself. A cancer at the heart of the Federation, you might say. Ugh. I appreciate it’s a dramatic story, but is it really Trek? Not so sure.

    It’s like folks who say how “bold” it is to create a dark Superman. No, that’s easy. Telling quality stories using the character in his classic form, that’s bold. And hard. But possible.

    Insurrection is probably at the bottom of my list, with STID sitting just above it. In addition to the “corrupt Federation officers” angle, it just feels like a big “so what” of a movie. I think TREK movies have to have something game-changing to “count.” That’s why they need a big screen, and couldn’t just be another episode. Every other Trek film, even ST V (Spock has a brother?!?), have some Big Event or Big Reveal. Not so in Insurrection. Just a run of the mill Trek adventure with no lasting consequences. Ho-hum.

    But I enjoyed your review all the same! 🙂

    • I think you’re right that going for the ‘dark and brooding’ is the easy way out. My dad and I were just talking about this on Sunday night. I complained about the new Superman movie and he nearly used the exact words from your second paragraph.

      I’ve heard others mention this Section 31 thing. It must not have registered when I heard it in this movie because I’ve only seen a handful of DS9 episodes. It’s a pretty divisive show, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about. It seems like fans of Star Trek either think it’s the best show ever or a smudge on the franchise.

      Yeah….this movie is kind of ‘so what.’ I think that’s what I couldn’t put my finger on. I knew I didn’t like it. But I also knew that I didn’t really care enough about it to dislike it. But it’s because nothing matters. Even though the very foundation on which the Federation and Starfleet are built upon is being shaken, the next movie starts with the status quo intact. Very lame and very disappointing.

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