Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

star trek insurrection

“Do you remember when we used to be explorers?”

The Scoop: 1998 PG, directed by Jonathan Frakes and starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and Brent Spiner

Tagline: The Battle For Paradise Has Begun

Summary Capsule: The Enterprise must protect a puny race who lack their own cool spaceship

Justin’s rating: Ooo, does the big and tough Klingon have a pimple problem? Bwah-hahahahahaha! URK!

Justin’s review: Saddle up, cow-boys and cow-gals, because it’s time for another thrilling ride through the hypocrisy of Star Trek! Today, if we’re lucky, we’ll see the grand-daddy of them all: the elusive Prime Directive!

The Prime Directive is some sort of Federation-only law that says everyone has to keep their grimy mitts off of worlds that are still developing, aka “haven’t discovered warp drive yet” (apparently, once your planet develops warp drive, it’s a free for all in the meddlin’ industry). This law is supposedly super-sacred, but if you’ve seen more than one episode of any Star Trek, you’ll know that nobody gives a rip about it.

On a good day, Captain Kirk would violate the Prime Directive and remold primitive societies in his image before breakfast. Captain Picard, too, found it irresistible to accidentally “crash land” on a primitive planet in order to strut about proclaiming how awesome the Federation is now that they have DVRs installed on every deck of the Enterprise. Basically, the Prime Directive is a big honkin’ joke, and because it is, there is little to no tension underlying Star Trek: Insurrection.

Prepare for some mighty leaps of logic and believability as you go in to see the ninth Star Trek flick, for the scriptwriters were out on holiday and carelessly left the file cabinet unlocked for the interns to discover. There’s this planet, see, with some 600 human-aliens, see, who are basically immortal because the planet has “regenerating rings” or some such nonsense. You’d think that if you lived forever, you’d have a whole bunch of kids running around, but no, 600 is all we got. They’re also very back-to-nature, doing just nearly everything outside, including making quilts, spinning pottery and playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 10 on their wooden Nintendos. Essentially, it’s the Planet of the Amish.

Since they’re pre-warp and all, the Federation is powerless to set up resort spas, but that doesn’t stop them from constructing deer blinds (cloaked in invisibility, no less) to spy on the Space Amish. Excuse me, but since when did the Federation have cloaked ANYthing, including little invisible suits? Wouldn’t something like that come in handy all the time, not just when you wanted to play peeping tom? I’ll bet you non-existent Federation money that we’ll never, ever see the invisible suits again.

Data goes haywire on the planet and the Enterprise gets called in to take the android home and put him to bed, as it is far past his curfew. Before they get there, however, Picard and company must play diplomats to some of the ugliest aliens you’ve ever seen, who foist headgear that looks suspiciously like dreadlocks on top of Picard’s shiny dome. Honestly, that’s the highlight of the movie there for me. Worf’s also mysteriously back on the ship, seeing as how it’s another Next Generation movie and he’s fairly sure they’re never going to make a Deep Space 9 one.

It turns out that there’s another race of cosmetic surgery-addicted aliens out to steal the magical rays from the Fountain of Youth Planet, led by F. Murray Abraham from the school of vague overacting. If you try to read into the contemporary parallels, we’ve got the evils of Hollywood and plastic surgery trying to vamp off of the pure life of the Amish. Weird. Really weird.

As plot devices spring up left and right, Insurrection begins to flounder. The cosmetic surgery aliens have a plan to relocate the Space Amish using a big holodeck ship to recreate the Amish’s village, but their plan is discovered by the Enterprise, and Picard is incensed that someone other than he is taking poetic license to the Prime Directive. The Enterprise can’t contact Starfleet as they’re in a part of the galaxy that blocks communications, of course, so they are on their own to deal with the problem. Picard thinks long and hard how to stop a forced relocation, and finally comes up with a golden solution: to force a relocation of his own!

Yes, that is correct, Picard and his crew gather up the Amish and march them across the planet and into caves. It’s a thrilling and exciting tale of watching people walk from point A to B, so I hope you brought your hiking boots! Don’t trip over your own boredom!

Although the main plot is so strained and bland as to be watered down oatmeal, I had some fun looking past the story to some interesting sights and sounds. We finally get to see the much vaunted Captain’s Yacht in action (a smaller ship attached to the underside of the Enterprise that was always there, just never ever used in any movie or episode up to this point), and there’s an incredibly cute little alien critter that looked like a cross between a slug and a tree sloth (Gigi, where are you?).

In the end, our evil is a little less than their evil, so we win the day and all get to feel younger in spirit and body. Except for losing two hours to a movie that teaches us that boob lifts will eventually make us into mass murderers.

Notice how Starfleet people always shoot with their arms sticking straight out like they want to get that extra half-foot of reach?


  • Nobody listens to female officers
  • Gotta love Picard’s dreadlocks
  • Nobody likes Picard’s singing
  • It’s the first Sing-a-Long Star Trek! Quick, kids, follow the bouncing ball!
  • Riker shaves
  • Klingons have big zits
  • Geordi’s sunrise (and when did his new eyes fall out again?)
  • Worf has firm boobs
  • The “Manual Steering Column” of the Enterprise is… a joystick? The manual control column that Riker uses to steer the Enterprise is a modified Gravis Thunderbird PC joystick.
  • In the opening sequence showing life in the Ba’ku village, the “alien” knife used to cut bread dough is actually an Alaskan Ulu knife.
  • Picard sings “heart” instead of “foot” in the second chorus of “A British Tar”, despite having the lyrics displayed in front of him on his computer.
  • When Anij slows down time (the water falls very slowly, the bird’s wings flap slowly) she picks a flower and then blows the spores off of it. She’s slowed down time, but when she picks the flower the other flowers next to the one she picks move back and forth at full speed.
  • In the beginning when Data is being chased into the village, as the children are running across the stone bridge, it shakes and flexes like a wood prop.
  • Early in the film a woman is knocked backwards, the man standing behind her goes to catch her well before she starts falling.
  • Robert H. writes in: “Did you notice that when Captain Picard was preparing to launch the yacht to go down the the Baku planet, the crew members who were staying, namely Geordi and Riker were still in uniform, while everyone who were going to the surface were out of uniform, namely Data, Worf, Troi, and Crusher. Incredible foreshadowing.”
  • Robert H. writes in again: “On the holoship when Data and Picard stunned the Son’a that was trying to kill them, if you have good eyes, you can see the blue mat the Son’a stunt man landed on when he landed behind the bushes.”
  • Robert H. writes in yet again: “Data says, “In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to act as a flotation device.” But from the Next Generation episode called Descent Part 2, Geordi was talking to Data about Data sinking to the bottom of a lake when he tried to go swimming, and had to walk over a kilometre to shore. 1 kilometre, 46 metres to be exact.”
  • Anthony Zerbe’s character is stretched to death. In Licence to Kill, his character expands to death (inside a decompression chamber).
  • This is the first Star Trek movie in which absolutely no scenes take place on or near Earth.
  • In the original ending to the film Adhar Ru’afo was to escape in a craft that fell into the rings that surrounded the planet, where he would get younger and younger. After it was changed the director sent F. Murray Abraham a tape of the original ending to see how it had turned out anyway.
  • Early previews featured a cameo appereance by Quark, the barkeeper from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This scene was cut out because director Jonathan Frakes thought the appereance didn’t work well for the entire film.
  • When Riker goes to Troi for counseling and she says, “Yuck, I never kissed you with a beard before,” this is only technically true. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Second Chances” she kisses an exact replica of Riker with a full grown beard; for this purpose, it’s the same thing.

Groovy Quotes

Picard: Do you remember when we used to be explorers?

Crusher: What do you think we should do?
Data: Saddle up, lock and load!

Riker: You think it’s possible for two people to go back in time?
Troi: On this ship? Anything’s possible…

Data: In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to act as a flotation device.

La Forge: I’ve never seen a sunrise. Not the way you see it.

Riker: I kiss you and you say “yuck”?

Dougherty: Jean-Luc, we’re only moving 600 people.
Picard: How many people does it take, Admiral, before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand, fifty thousand, a million? How many people does it take, Admiral?

Riker: Our guests have arrived. They’re eating the floral arrangements.
Troi: Oh my God, are they vegetarian? That’s not in the book!
Picard: Have the chef whip up a light balsamic vinaigrette. Something that goes well with chrysanthemums.

Worf: The Son’a wish to negotiate a cease-fire. It may have to do with the fact that we only have three minutes of air left.

Picard: Have you been in a fight, Mr Worf?
Worf: [sighs] No sir… it is a “gorch”.
Picard: A what?
Data: [whispers] Pimple, sir.
Picard: Oh… you can hardly notice it.

Riker: [about Worf’s pimple] Klingons never do anything small, do you?

Picard: Mr. Worf, do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?
Worf: No sir, I have not had a chance to meet all the new crew members since I have been back.

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