Star Trek: Insurrection


I think of myself as the middle child, caught between the elders who lived and died with the original Star Trekkers, and the youngers who follow Deep Space Nine. I fit in only with The Next Generation, for two reasons. First, my son reached Trek-hood when TNG came along, and got me to watch some episodes with him, which hooked me; and second, I'm crazy about Patrick Stewart. For a variety of good reasons we brazenly devalue our television actors, but when the real thing comes along we demean his or her achievements.

With TNG, Stewart was handed a one-dimensional role that in other hands would have been a cartoon (think of Harrison Ford as Captain Picard) and made it into a fully-fleshed human being, and we have to credit the producers for quickly and wisely bringing along the writers to deepen and enrich the character. We think of Stewart as fitting into the role; but in fact his achievement is that he took the stereotype and transformed Picard into a great deal more, and in the process becoming an icon for our culture.

All of which leads us to Star Trek: Insurrection, the current movie version of the show. The story is typical of the show's episodes. Settlers on an idyllic planet, which has the combination of ingredients needed to keep them from aging like the rest of us, are under threat from the Son'a, who -- oh, never mind. Just remember that the Son'a, led by F. Murray Abraham, playing Salieri again, this time in heavy latex makeup, have managed to persuade a Federation admiral that the settlers -- the Ba'ku -- need to be removed and replaced by the Son'a. The Ba'ku, who bear an uncanny resemblance to the 1960s hippies who ran from the world to take refuge in homespun and mantras and show up today at Joan Baez concerts, have of course renounced the use of force to defend themselves.

Fortunately, the good ship Enterprise happens to be around and smells a rat, or in this case a holographic trap that the Son'a have set for the poor Ba'ku. Thanks to Picard's quick action, which involves the crew a) helping the Ba'ku hide from Son'a attack; b) fighting the Son'a with weapons and holographic tricks of their own; and c) dealing properly with the bad admiral, the brave crew manages to a) save the Ba'ku, b) kill F. Murray Abraham, and c) end the picture on a happy note.

Naturally, there are some flaws visible. For one thing, there's a noticeable increase in the combined weight of the crew. Riker (Jonathan Frakes, who directed the picture as well) and particularly Geordi (Levar Burton) have gotten quite zaftig since we last saw them. Even Data seems to have put on a little weight, which is odd since as I understand it androids don't eat. And although we're told there are 600 Ba'ku, the garden plot we see feeding them is a little smaller than the one in my back yard, which with the exception of the zucchini won't even feed my own family.

But since any Picard is better than none, I will happily tell you that I had a very good time, and you will too.