Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Space Adventure  |   Release Date - Dec 11, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Bruce Eder

Star Trek: Insurrection is the most complex and ambitious feature film in the entire Star Trek franchise. It doesn't always succeed, but it goes where no part of the franchise ever went before. The plot is filled with elements that refer clearly to events in the real world of the 1990s and beyond. The Federation, going into an alliance with a rogue planet, is prepared to violate the precepts upon which it was founded, ostensibly for the greater good of all; in the process, Captain Picard and his crew discover that, beyond the dubious morality and legality of the Federation's actions, there is also a blood feud being given new life with Star Fleet's help, and they decide to make this known to the public, risking their lives in the process. The treatment of the Ba'Ku by the Federation recalls the history of the United States and Native Americans, but the notion of nations compromising their ideals resounds all the way from Vietnam to recent events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The entire movie is a cautionary allegory about the care that empires must take in choosing their allegiances, and the harm that they can do when making deals with the devil, all in the name of the "greater good." The action and plot may seem small scale by the standards of the best Star Trek movies, but by its nature the script is very bold, dealing with moral questions that the earlier entries (except for The Undiscovered Country) usually didn't embrace. Even during the 1960s, when the original series was trying for topicality on a weekly basis, the show almost never used scripts that brought into question much of American history or current foreign policy in the way that Star Trek: Insurrection does. The movie's only flaw lies in the level of sophistication of the writing -- the authors were so subtle, that the topical nature of the plot eluded most critics and audience members. In fact, if one looks closely at the movie, it seems almost subversive, and it's all the more rewarding for this quality.