STAR TREK: INSURRECTION
The film starts on an Eden-like planet surrounded by rings which give
off age-defying radiation. Its people, the Bak'u, live to be hundreds of
years old but still look and feel like college students. Neat, huh? But
Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham), leader of the Son'a, has discovered this and
wants to userp the planet. He plans to transplant all 600 Bak'u to another
world in a ship fitted out with holographic images of their pastoral digs.
According to the plan, they won't realize they've been moved until they
start seeing crow's feet in the mirror.
Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) thinks the Bak'u
are just a bunch of poor saps, but he soon finds from the beautiful and
elderly Anij (Donna Murphy) that they are former spacefarers who have given
up technology for good old-fashioned communal living. Under the rules of
the Star Federation's prime directive (to observe but not meddle in the
affairs of other civilizations), Picard plans to let the situation sort
itself out. But since Federation Admiral Matthew Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe)
is involved in the Bak'u switcheroo, Picard and his crew [first-mate Riker
(Jonathan Frakes, who also directed the film), android Data (Brent Spiner),
engineer Geordi (LeVar Burton), half-Klingon Worf (Michael Dorn), Dr. Crusher
(Gates McFadden), and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis)] decide to disobey
orders and fight for the Bak'u and their peaceful existence.
This story has moral overtones designed for the politically-correct age.
The issues of slavery and the abuse of Native Americans are alluded to;
Picard's decision to defy orders is based on his belief that the forced
relocation of any people is wrong. But while it might make a good ST:NG
episode, the story doesn't rise to the epic level that we have come to expect
from this series. After they've met God face to face and saved the entire
universe from the "Borg," it seems pedestrian to have a story
about Picard waggling his finger and saying, "Hey, you leave those
600 people alone!"
Stewart looks great as usual and is impeccable in his familiar role,
but most of the other principals were seriously underused. Counselor Troi's
mind-reading skill, her purpose for being on the crew, is never mentioned;
she's relegated to the status of an expensive set decoration. Since this
story does not involve Klingons at all, Worf's main task is getting a case
of acne. And although Abraham won an Oscar for his excellent portrayal of
Salieri in Amadeus (1984) his Ru'afo simply adds to the long list
of forgettable villains in Star Trek movie history.
Director Frakes did fine with his talented cast, but the film contains some unnecessary character business (I can just imagine him directing the scene of himself and Sirtis nude in the hot tub: "Okay, now you put your hand there . . ."). And while Star Trek has never been short of things that make you say, "Now, wait a minute," the fact that spacesuits, zero-G, and language barriers were always ignored by the TV show's producers allows Berman and Miller to carry on in the same tradition, unhindered by science, history, or physics. Hard-core trekkies may applaud, but fans of ST:NG's high writing standards may be disappointed in a franchise that fails to deliver what it has led us to expect. ***½
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