More noise than signal

Star Trek: Insurrection

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

With everyone reassured that the NG crew could produce a decent film, there must have been some anticipation coming into 98’s Insurrection. Let us take a moment to reflect on how those poor should must have been crushed after watching this thin streak of pish.

Data’s supposed to be on secondment to a task force secretly studying what appears to be a idyllic little post-industrial town on a planet home to the Ba’ku, but he goes mental, blowing their cover and can only be reined in from his madness by Picard and crew showing up and singing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at him. They’ve never quite been able to nail these openings, the NG crew, have they?

This nonsense over with, we can get on to the meat of the piece with the crew uncovering the reason why the Federation and their wilfully, almost comically horrible allies the Son’a are so interested in the plant. The planet’s rings emit a unique “metaphysical particle” or “magic” that restores the Ba’ku, making them effectively immortal.

While the crew get to know the inhabitants of the town, who it turns out are highly technologically advanced but came over all Luddite for some reason not particularly well explained, the Son’a and some corrupt Federation higher-ups plot to remove the Ba’ku from their home and steal the magic planet for their own uses. For the greater good, as they explain it.

Once Picard gets wind of this, he decides that it’s very much not cricket, and sends Riker and Geordi off with the Enterprise to get word of this to the rest of the Federation while he beams down with the rest of the command staff and a crate of guns to lead a guerrilla war, protecting the Ba’ku against the annoying drones the Son’a are using to capture them, leading to an hour or so of boring CG shooting galleries interspersed with exhilarating scenes of sitting about in caves talking about stuff of little to no consequence.

This is perhaps a dismissive way to deal with two hour and twenty minutes of film, but it feels very much like nothing of consequence happens in this film, and it’s almost immediately forgettable. The obvious jive with something like this would be to dismiss it as an extended television episode, but frankly in this case that does a real disservice to the television series which has produced far more interesting multipart episodes than this vacuous nonsense.

I suppose we should congratulate them for picking, largely, one set of antagonists and rolling with them, and giving them a an understandable motive for their actions, even if it is pretty small time even when the twist of their true identity is factored in. It’s a shame that they’ve chosen to apply this new-found understanding of how to write baddies to perhaps the worst set of them they’ve created.

While Star Trek‘s never really been as great at exploring themes as it’s more ardent supporters claim it is, there’s normally at least some attempt at it somewhere in these films, but if there was in Insurrection it has entirely escaped me. Not all that unlikely, to be honest. There’s no obvious point to this film, other than perhaps forced relocation is a bad thing? Thanks for that heads-up. I think it was shooting for just being an entertaining slice of hokum, but, well, it isn’t. Clearly it thinks it is a very funny film. It is not a very funny film. It is not a funny film. I’m struggling whether to even call it a film.

Really the only redeeming feature of this film is that it allows me to insert an obscure reference to the excellent Sega Saturn puzzle game Baku Baku Animal, although as you’ll have noticed by this sentence, not a particularly organic one. Ces’t la vie. Avoid.