Thursday, June 10, 2010

Star Trek: Insurrection

The general rule of thumb that odd numbered treks are terrible is in full swing for Insurrection. There are so many problems with it, reviewing it is giving me horrible flashbacks to watching The Final Frontier again for that review. Unlike The Final Frontier, Insurrection’s problem is not serving as a vanity piece for William Shatner, but being a contrivance, morally hypocritical, and illogical piece of fluff. How it dud not kill the franchise is beyond me.

I should have known something was amiss by the plot description. The Federation teams with an alien race called the Son’a in order to secretly remove the population of a planet so they can exploit the rejuvenating powers of some natural radiation phenomenon. So we have Avatar a dozen years earlier. The Federation does not make it a habit to exploit the resources of other people even in a time of war, as this was. Normally, the federation would be right there preventing the Son’a from such an act, not aiding them. Right off the bat, the whole philosophy behind Trek is thrown out the window.

But Insurrection has far more fundamental flaws. The biggest of all is the darn thing makes no sense whatsoever.

First things first, I understand the need to get Worf involved. But he is on DS9 at this time serving in an important tactical role on the station at a time when it had a pivotal role I a war zone. The idea that he would leave that to be a part of a marginally important diplomatic function on the Enterprise It is a small nitpick, but the rationale for Worf’s involvement is even flimsier than that for First Contact, so it merit’s a mention.

Second--and speaking of contrivances--why is Data, the operations officer of the Federation flagship, part of a cultural observation team on some Podunk planet other than to have some excuse to involve the Enterprise? Data has demonstrated a profound misunderstanding of cultural trappings. This is definitely not his thing. If he was there for some technical assistance, I might could see it, but he is not he is an observer. It is definitely not his forte.

Third, when Data goes wild after being shot because he has gotten too close to the truth, his actions expose the Federation observer base. Said base is on a cliff directly overlooking the Ba’ku village. How did the federation manage to put it therewith no one noticing. It is cloaked, yes, but would not some change in the landmarks be noticeable? Why not put the thing miles away is case the cloak failed? They already did that once in the TNG episode, “Who Watches the Watchers?” Did they not learn anything from when it got all wee weed up then, too? Better yet, why not put it in space/ it is not like the technology is not advanced enough to pull that off.

Third, the plot data uncovers is dumb. The Federation/Son’a team is going to beam out the Ba’ku in the middle of the night when they are all asleep to a floating holodeck in order to relocate them to another world. Not everyone is going to be asleep no matter what time of the night they get beamed out. There are night owls, insomniacs, people using the bathroom, having sex, whatever. I see a slight flaw in the cunning plan.

Fourth, you will never guess where the floating holodeck is hidden. It is in a lake very close to the Ba’ku village. It is submerged in the lake even though it has displaced no water. It is also invisible, so I do not see what the point to submerging it in violation of all laws of physics is to begin with. What is even odder is the Ba’ku, who have eschewed all forms of technology, have built a complex device apparently for the sole purpose of draining the lake. Or, in movie terms, there to give the illusion there is some mystery element to the plot when it is really a straight morality tale about, I dunno. Removal of Native Americans, maybe?

Which brings me to the fifth problem--we have seen this scenario before in “Journey’s End.” The big problem there is our heroes were on the opposite side of the moral quandary in that episode. You may recall the Enterprise. Was called upon to remove some Native Americans off a planet which had been ceded to the Cardassians. Picard was ready to remove them by force, even going so far as to scold Wesley for opposing the action. Picard told him his first priority is to follow orders.

In Insurrection, Picard takes Wesley’s exact position without the slightest hint of hypocrisy or explanation about why he has changed his mind. I would even go so far as to speculate the Picard of the television series would lecture the Ba’ku about hogging the healing radiation for themselves thereby offering a chance for compromise between all parties. But here, he channels Janeway and her wet finger righteous indignation which contradicts last week’s Janeway righteous indignation.

If I wanted to be snaky, I would say Picard was not interested in helping the Native Americans, but as al about aiding white settlers, but that would be unfair. Funny, but unfair.

Sixth, Picard and his rebelling crew went about saving the Ba’ku in the stupidest possible manner. Why lead them on some long march to the caves when they could Justas easily been beamed there by the Enterprise or taken there in several trips of the captain’s yacht? because we need false drama, that is why.

Seven, say, how come these Ba’ku hardly age, therefore staying at childrearing age for centuries, yet there are not more than six hundred of them? Considering how one had the hots for Picard, they obviously enjoy nookie. Is that not strange?

Finally, why did the Son’a add a self-destruct device to their Collector? It is a device that will ensure their race’s survival. Would that not logically dictate it should have all sorts of fail safes and defenses to keep it from being destroyed? I guess the Son’a were following the general role that everything in trek must have a self-destruct.

There are all sorts of other minor continuity problems that cause cracks within the plot, but there is no pint in listing all of them. Insurrection is a poorly thought out, poorly executed action movie full of the typical cliché. Picard even quips he is getting too old for this sort of thing as he and the main bad guy battle on the Collector in the typical hero battles the villain a top a burning villain climatic scene. If I am not mistaken, I believe some of the blue screen is clearly visible behind them as they scuffle. It was just left in there. Insurrection might have made for a decent two part episode with better care given to crafting it, but as a movie, it fails miserably.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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