A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 330 – Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection – January 24th, 2011

Last night as I was going to bed I kept trying to remember what this movie involved. I knew I’d seen it and I knew that I’d been able to remember it earlier in the day, but I’d totally blanked on it by evening. It just didn’t make much of an impression on me, I suppose. Rewatching it tonight, I can sort of see why. I mean, it’s not bad, honestly. Take a dash of Thine Own Self, a touch of Who Watches the Watchers, a bit of First Contact (the episode) and a plot tool from Homeward and then toss in some unnecessary fiddling with time and baste it with sinister overtones vaguely reminiscent of Coming of Age and Conspiracy (though without the parasites) and you’ve got this movie. And really, when the best way to describe a movie is to list the middling-ish episodes of the show the movie is based on that are similar in feel? That should tell you something.

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t dislike this movie. Take out the time fiddling and the super wise 12 year old kid and honestly? I’m totally fine with it. It’s just that, like the episodes I mentioned above, it’s not really super outstanding. Sure, those episodes have some good moments (and the Data-centric Thine Own Self stands out for me as above the rest), but do they really stack up against the best of the series? It would be impossible. I can even see some hints of The Inner Light being attempted, with a romantic storyline for Picard and the idyllic setting that he can’t stay in. But it just doesn’t succeed like that episode did. For one, there’s too much action. For two, it tries too hard. And it doesn’t fail completely. It just doesn’t hit the mark it’s aiming for.

I blame the time fiddling. See, the plot revolves around a botched attempt by the Federation and new allies the Son’a to relocate the Ba’ku, a group of 600 or so people living on a remote planet in a cluster of nebulae known as the Briar Patch. The planet has a concentration of a particular type of radiation that has regenerative and restorative powers on organic life. The Son’a have found a way to harvest it but it means making the planet uninhabitable. Since the planet is in Federation space they’ve managed to enlist the Federation’s help. But the mission goes awry when Data learns of what’s really going on – not the simple observation mission he was led to believe it was – and tries to interfere. The Enterprise comes running and soon the crew figures it all out too and decide to help out the Ba’ku, who are also not what they appeared. Turns out the Ba’ku have warp capability. They just don’t care to use it or any other form of technology, preferring to live simple agrarian lives on their amazing planet that slows down their aging process. When you barely age, why not take decades to perfect a skill such as weaving or carving or whatnot? Oh, and they can make time stand still.

What’s that, you say? They can do what? Yeah, they can make time stand still. There’s some babble about it from one of the Ba’ku, Anij, whom Picard has rather fallen for, and she goes on about how it took the Ba’ku centuries to figure out that they don’t need centuries to appreciate a single moment and single moments can last as long as a century or something like that. It’s nonsense. It’s ridiculous. And it has no purpose in the plot other than to save Anij herself later in the movie when there’s a thoroughly unnecessary cave-in and Picard has to stop time where they are so the rest of the crew can save them. Yeah. I know. I wish I could explain it. I kept thinking I’d forgotten it being used during the climax or something but it never came up. It’s just sitting there mid-film, padding out the romantic plot and taking up space. It’s like making a point to set one’s phaser to kill and then never firing it (that would be Pavel Chekhov’s Phaser, ha ha).

I’m of somewhat mixed opinion when it comes to the larger plot and mood of the movie. For one, I think it’s uneven. After all, on the planet’s surface you have the paradise, as proclaimed by the movie’s poster, with Georgi’s eyes suddenly working and Worf going through Klingon puberty again, Riker and Troi acting like teenagers in love and so on and so forth. And there’s the romantic plot, with Picard and Anij and the time stopping. And then up in space there are battles and ships fighting and tricky maneuvers through the nebulae and the two plots just don’t fit together terribly well. They aren’t balanced like the surface/space plots were in First Contact (movie this time). Maybe without the romantic plot it wouldn’t feel like the two parts are so opposed, but it got shoehorned in anyhow, like trying to wedge Lessons into Journey’s End and then tacking the mess that made onto any episode involving a space battle.

I’m also conflicted about the mood because of the sinister overtones I mentioned earlier. The Federation and Starfleet in this movie are far darker and less noble than the organizations we know from earlier material. These are not organizations still upholding the ideals they were founded on. Or rather, they are, but only in public. Behind the scenes they’re shown to be as ruthless as their enemies, willing to ally with rogues using banned weapons and destroy civilizations if they’re in inconvenient places. I admit, I never got into Enterprise and I lost track of Deep Space Nine before Section 31 was brought in, but everything I’ve heard and read about it makes me think that this movie was pointing in that direction. And in just about any other universe I’d be all over the morally gray stuff that entails. But in the Trek universe I want my ideals. I want the gray moral areas to be more about specific situations, not about entire organizations going gray from the inside.

Like I said, I don’t dislike this movie. But I am conflicted about it. I like a lot of the components to it. I like the blocks it’s built from just fine. They’re not my very favorite blocks, but they’re solid and all. It’s just that they don’t quite come together to form a good movie. I know I’ve named a lot of episodes in this review and that’s really quite intentional. I think this movie is an episode. It’s a perfectly fine middle-of-the-road episode. It’s not one I’d come back to over and over and over, but it’s also not one I’d go out of my way to avoid. If I passed it on television I’d stop on it, but at the next commercial break I might flip away from it, just like quite a few episodes. If it wasn’t for that ridiculous time stopping thing I might stick around, but hey, if they can stop time then maybe they’ll still be there when I flip back.

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January 24, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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