On its release in 1998, Insurrection was criticised for a lack of ambition. It was said that the film was little more than an extended TV episode. There’s some truth in that comment, albeit that it’s reminiscent of a TV episode with a huge F/X budget and impressive sets. Insurrection feels like a reaction against the darkness of the previous movie and an attempt to tell a more traditional Star Trek story.
Unfortunately, Insurrection just isn’t that interesting. The Baku are twee and forgettable and Picard’s romantic interest Anij - played by Donna Murphy is drippy and dull. It’s often said that there aren’t enough roles in Hollywood for older women, and Aniij should have been a wonderful chance to redress the balance. Sadly Donna Murphy can’t hold a candle to Patrick Stewart and we instead rely on Picard to tell us why he finds her so appealing.
The film also suffers from an uneven tone, the action sequences feel shoe-horned into story rather than key plot points. The film should have shown more bravery and focused on the romantic relationship between Picard and Anij. It’s clear that the film aims for a more light-hearted tone and this means that there is a lot more humour in this outing. Much of the humour is crass and some of it is just plain stupid, including a god-awful scene in which Commander Riker flies the Enterprise with a cheap looking joystick!
The story is predictable and hackneyed, following a linear narrative that’s broken into very distinctive acts, much like a play. The generic action film ending is the most disappointing denouement to any Star Trek film.
Jerry Goldsmith’s score is very good, but not as notable as the excellent score that he provided for Star Trek: First Contact. The special effect work holds up very well, of note is that this was the first Star Trek film where all the spaceship scenes were computer generated.
In conclusion then, Insurrection feels a little frivolous, the pseudo-philosophical political allegory concerning the forced-relocation of the Baku is both obvious and trite. Still, I actually like Insurrection, there are many aspects of the movie that work well. The film takes care to present the Enterprise crew as well-rounded and likeable people, Patrick Stewart takes centre stage and puts in a lovely nuanced performance. I also think that Jonathan Frakes directs the film well, not only during the action sequences, but also some of the smaller character moments such as when Geordi see’s a sunset for the first time.