Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Star Trek: Insurrection

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 1998 at 12:00 AM

There is both a presence (of perfect moments and little quirky moments) and a lack (of fascinating villains, Data solutions and Picard's formidable monologues) in Star Trek: Insurrection. Lighthearted, luminous and comic -- despite its Heart of Darkness intimations -- maybe tired of the collective consciousness of the Borg, Star Trek: Insurrection revolves around the Prime Directive which forbids the Federation to interfere with the natural development of other civilizations.

Trying to save the paradise world of the Ba'ku, whose planet, bathed in metaphasic radiation, reverses the process of aging, Picard and his crew find themselves battling not only the Son'a -- the dying race which wants to use the planet's resources at the expense of the Ba'ku -- but members of the Federation as well. Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) tries to justify the Ba'ku relocation: After all, there are only 600 of them. But Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is not convinced by the numeric argument. How many people would it take to turn this act into a violation of the Prime Directive? A thousand? 50,000? A million?

Producer Rick Berman comments: "This is the story of Jean-Luc Picard's realization that no matter how small the group of people might be, the principles that the Federation is founded on must be upheld."

The presence of a "fountain of youth" affects all the characters: A mambo-dancing Picard flirts with his reflection in the mirror before slipping into the action hero persona tailored for him by First Contact; a giddy Riker frolics in a bubble bath with Counselor Troi, the only member of the crew who looks in desperate need of rejuvenation; a thankful La Forge witnesses, for the first time, the burning colors of a sunrise.

There is a tender familiarity about the characters which is precisely what fans expect from every Star Trek movie, but in director Jonathan Frakes' Insurrection this familiarity leads to a plot-driven film. Upstaged by the film's moral dilemma -- what does it mean to be human? -- all the secondary plot lines seem to restrain the characters more than liberate them. Picard's interest in Anij (Donna Murphy), the 300-year-old Ba'ku woman -- "I am attracted to older women," he says when he finds out her real age; Riker's rekindled romance with Troi; Data's desire to experience childhood -- are all "perfect moments" in themselves, but somehow inconsequential.

True, Anij talks about "perfect moments" -- the Ba'ku's ability to prolong a second of beauty -- and that may explain the presence of these discrete episodes. But there are times when, remembering Data's infinitesimal moment of hesitation under the pressure of the Borg, we might experience a slight nostalgic feeling, an awkward absence.

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