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Star Trek IX: Insurrection

Originally Aired: 1998-12-11

Picard fights a Starfleet admiral who is complicit in the relocation of an indigenous people in order to exploit their planet's natural properties. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 5.3

Rate movie?

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- How could Ru'afo and crew not notice *immediately* that they were beamed to the holoship? Being transported is not synonymous to seeing a big flash of light!

- The Son'a are known to have produced mass quantities of Ketracel White, presumably for the Dominion.
- Data's legs are 87.2 centimeters in length.
- This film was nominated for the 1999 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- Data freaking out at the Ba'ku village.
- Picard lamenting about the Enterprise no longer being a ship of exploration but a ship of diplomacy instead, because of the Dominion war.
- I love the way they handled introducing Worf into the Enterprise crew again. You can't hear a single word of his explanation because Riker talks over him. But does it really matter? :)
- Picard hating every moment of the party.
- The shuttle battle.
- The whole singing thing.
- The docking.
- Worf deactivating Data.
- The kids playing haki sack. Extraordinary coordination there.
- The revelation that the Baku have warp capability.
- Picard and Geordi waking up Data.
- Data: "I am the personification of everything they reject."
- Data just casually walking into the lake.
- Data: "In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to serve as a flotation device."
- Picard: "Have you been in a fight, Mr. Worf?" Worf: "No sir, it is a gorch." Picard: "Gorch?" Data, whispering: "A pimple, sir." Picard: "Oh, well, it's uh, hardly noticeable."
- A clean shaven Riker!
- Riker regarding Worf's pimple: "Klingons never do anything small, do you?"
- Picard: "Some of the darkest chapters in the history of my world involve the forced relocation of a small group of people to satisfy the demands on a large one."
- Dougherty: "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?"
- Seeing the Captain's Yacht.
- The Baku running from their village and the sequential beam outs.
- The whole time slowing down scene between Picard and Anij
- Riker: "A photon torpedo. Isn't that the universal greeting when communications are down?" Geordi: "I think that's the universal greeting you don't like someone."
- Worf: "I have an odd craving for the blood of a live Kolar Beast." Data's response, attempting to imitate Troi's and Beverly's conversation: "And have you noticed how your boobs have started to firm up?"
- The Enterprise battling the Son'a ships.
- The Enterprise dumping the warpcore.
- Daniels: "We did it commander! The tear has been sealed!" Geordi: "Yeah, but there's nothing to stop them from doing it again and we're fresh outta warpcores!"
- Riker: "We're through running from these bastards."
- The "Riker maneuver."
- Picard revealing that the Son'a and the Ba'ku are the same race.
- Ru'afo murdering Dougherty.
- Data attacking Ru'afo's ship in the Captain's Yacht.
- I love Ru'afo's blood curdling scream of failure.
- Picard's showdown with Ru'afo and the Enterprise's showdown with Ru'afo's ship.
- Worf: "Captain, the Son'a crew would like to negotiate a cease fire. It may have something to do with the fact that we have three minutes of air left."

My Review
A stunningly beautiful film that has the best combination of landscaping, visual effects, and directing shown so far. Everything from the once again marvelous musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, to the Ba'ku planet, to the external view shots of space in the Briar Patch were just overwhelmingly gorgeous. In my opinion, Insurrection is the first Star Trek film to take a truly artistic approach to telling a story since TMP. In accordance with that ideal, the film is portrayed from a very unique and appropriate standpoint. The Federation in alliance with the Son'a want to move the Ba'ku, population 600, off their planet so they can exploit its natural resources. Admiral Dougherty said, "it's only 600 people!" But as Picard said, "how many people does it take before it becomes wrong?" And so the point of the film is well made. 600 people have just as many rights as the entire Federation itself. The overall plot isn't very complicated, if anything it's a rehash of TNG: Homeward from a slightly different perspective. Some negative things, it's pretty absurd that in a film with the budget they had that the Ba'ku should look exactly like humans. Also, some of the fight, stop, rest, fight repetition started to feel a bit redundant after a while, the film would have been better served to teach us more about the Ba'ku and the Son'a's history and spend less time on the fighting. A lot of fans complained that Star Trek IX was not "First Contact Part II" or a depiction of the Enterprise in a showdown with the Dominion, and in some ways I agree with that complaint. But in reality, Insurrection just isn't that kind of a film. Insurrection is an art film, trying to send a profound message against racial discrimination and force relocations. And I think when looked at it from that perspective, it is one of the most successful Star Trek films ever written.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Paul on 2010-08-31 at 10:09pm:
    I thought it was a little disappointing that the aliens were exactly like humans, but I guess it's possible that they had ridges on their bum or something instead of their nose /forehead :)

    However I thought the son'a aliens were very effective, I liked the creepiness of their stretched skin and the bodyshop procedures they had to endure.

  • From Nick on 2010-09-01 at 1:03am:
    The worst trek film by far. The way it systematically converts the Next Generation cast into comic relief is so disrespectful.

    Not to mention how much of a hypocrite Picard's character becomes. Remember, in the series he was forced to relocate another alien species whose planet fell under Cardassian territory. He went along with his orders, begrudgingly, because they all would have just been killed by the Cardassians if he hadn't.

    In this case the Baku planet fell under Sona'a territory, and even though Picard thwarted the few ships they had in the Briar Patch at the time, they could have easily sent in a whole fleet afterwards, killed the Baku, and used the planet's rings or whatever to develop a cure for aging. The Sona'aa were allied with the Dominion, just like the Cardassians. It's not like the Federation could just flick them away... they were a very hostile spacefaring race.

    (It looks even worse when you consider the planet on the show had a bunch of Indians, and in Insurrection the Baku were a bunch of white people... hmm....)
  • From George on 2010-12-25 at 3:51am:
    Not to quibble with what Nick said, but the Baku planet was not in Son'a territory. Admiral Dougherty has a line to the effect of "we had the planet, they had the technology" or something along those lines. It was a Federation planet which they teamed up with the Son'a to exploit. For that reason, there's a distinct difference from the TNG episode Nick referenced. I thought Picard's stand was pretty good on principle, but ultimately I was slightly overwhelmed by the movie as a whole, no disrespect to our erstwhile webmaster. Still a good flick.
  • From MJ on 2011-02-25 at 9:26pm:
    What bothers me most about this movie is how easily Picard and his crew come to their decision to take off the uniforms and go against the Federation's plans. The real struggle in this movie belongs entirely to Admiral Dougherty, who is trying to weigh the benefits of this new resource to the Federation against what it will cost the Bak'u. For him, it is a moral struggle. Not so for Picard, who takes the apparent moral high ground with ease and has little, if any, hesitation. This from a man who has agonized over decisions to violate or uphold the Prime Directive on many occasions, not to mention other situations that involved ethical dilemmas. This movie robbed TNG of its greatest strength; that being situations in which there are multiple points of view, each of them valid and justifiable, and yet irreconcilable with each other. Usually, an entire TV episode is devoted to flushing out all these points of view. Here, the position of the Bak'u is quite clearly portrayed as the "correct" one, and the Son'a plan is sinister; Dougherty's struggle between the two is shown to be a sign of weakness and ultimately, he makes the "wrong" choice.

    Obviously, the movie provided what a TV episode cannot: stunning visual effects, interesting costume design and make-up, unique and high quality camera shots, and humor and jokes that have a wider appeal. All of this helps the movie tremendously, but does not completely make up for the fact that something went fundamentally wrong in the transition from the TV to the movie screen in TNG.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-04-22 at 10:30pm:
    The plastic surgery aliens were the only really good thing about this.

    Despite a few good moments, this whole movie is a failure because all of its premises are mistaken:

    1. There are only 600 people on a huge planet. Why not just establish several unintrusive colonies? Negotiate with the natives, especially when we learn that they are not ignorant savages, but warp-capable geniuses.

    2. Why would the Sona bother with niceties? The Federation is involved in a war for its life. Just insert some covert commandos and wipe out the tiny village. By the time the Federation notices, it will be too late, and the negotiations can begin.

    3. The crew of the Enterprise received the benefits of the radiation even while in orbit: just allow tourists to fly through the rings.

  • From EvanT on 2011-06-24 at 11:30pm:
    I absolutely loathe this film. It's like a negative of "Journey's End" and a rehash of the same episode, all in one.

    In "Journey's End" we had Federation Citizens not wanting to leave a planet they had lived on for generations that the Federation just gave up in a treaty. Wesley tries to help them and gets shot down by Picard ("as long you wear that uniform, you'll follow orders!") and Wesley resigns.

    Here we have a group of 600 non-indigenous(!) people (warp-capable too) trespassing on a Federation planet which holds a precious resource and hogging it (their longevity isn't even natural) Now Picard is adamant that they must be protected, orders be damned. Gee, I wonder why? Could it have something to do with that Baku lady?

    Is it me or is he ridiculously out of character? (and most of this happens before he gets affected by the radiation)

    As RedLetterMedia put it, I doubt Picard would have an insurrection for that old indian guy :P in "Journey's End". They should call the next film "Star Trek; His Erection" (he's got great reviews of all TNG films).

    I agree that the concept and the basic morals the script tries to send across are good and solid for Star Trek, but the execution is dreadful, full of holes and riddled with continuity errors (not to mention logical inconsistencies). I can't give this more than 3/10.
  • From Sean on 2011-08-10 at 9:22am:
    For a long time, "Insurrection" was always the weakest TNG film for me. I only saw the film once in theatres, but I found it slow and boring. However, I think the problem for me (and a lot of other people) was that they were expecting First Contact II. The film's marketing campaign really did not help, making it look much more action-packed than it really was (even re-using footage from ST:FC in the trailers!).

    So, I re-watched "Insurrection" with an open mind, and I liked it. I've heard it compared to TNG: Journey's End, where Picard makes exactly the opposite decision that he does in "Insurrection", and whine that this is out of character. However, I think what this film subtly does at the beginning is remind the audience that the Federation is not what it once was. The Cardassians, the Borg and especially the Dominion are crippling the once mighty Federation. In fact, when the Evora are accepted into the Federation, the cast mention that the Federation needs all the friends they can get. To me, in TNG: Journey's End, Picard rationalised moving the Native Americans because the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Now, several years later, and with the Federation in the middle of a bloody war, Picard has come to the realisation that if the Federation is to survive, they can't be seen as oppressive and dominating - and above all else, they cannot play God (hmm, does that sound like the Prime Directive?). "Who the hell are we to determine the next course of evolution for these people?", indeed. I actually prefer the outcome of this movie to TNG: Journey's End.

    Also, it's nice that all the crew get something to do other than just "yes sir!", and it's obvious they were having a lot of fun while shooting this film. It's not as masterful as "First Contact", but it's still a fine film.
  • From Jake on 2012-12-01 at 3:55am:
    wasn't there a reference to Data falling into a lake and having to walk for miles to the shore in one of the episodes? Why didn't he inflate?
  • From Rick on 2013-05-13 at 4:32am:
    In response to everyone comparing this to the tng native american relocation episode: they are quite different.

    Insurrection is about a planet within the borders of the federation that is being sold out to highest bidder in order to benefit others. The tng episode is about a disputed planet that is eventually determined to be cardassian as a part of treaty to avoid a war. In fact, during the episode I think that Picard even said they knew the planet was disputed when they settled there.
  • From Axel on 2018-08-05 at 2:19am:
    I think a lot of fans forget that in order for movies to achieve the financial success the studio wants, they have to appeal to a wider audience. It's not enough for the production to simply create a movie-screen version of a TNG episode; it has to appeal to a much larger, and indeed international, audience. So while it's annoying for fans to see Worf become little more than the comic relief of this movie, or the movie to only make brief mentions of the Dominion War that hardcore fans have been watching on TV for years, the film has to be a standalone story that everybody can watch.

    Looked at that way, I think it's a good movie. Not as good as First Contact, but definitely the second-best TNG movie. And it included enough TNG backstory to appeal to fans of the show: we see Troi and Riker get back together, Geordi have a touching moment with his eyesight, and of course, fan-favorite Data in action.

    I agree the visual elements are incredible and that the Bak'u could look at least a little alien. Overall, though, I did enjoy this one. Or, maybe it just looks better in hindsight compared to the absolute trainwreck of a TNG movie that'd watch a couple years later called Nemesis.
  • From Graham Bessellieu on 2019-07-25 at 5:08pm:
    I'm in agreement with Kethinov here, "Insurrection" is not only one of the most beautifully shot Trek films, I now consider it one of the most successful "Trek" films at its heart. By that I mean, while "First Contact" is an excellent film, thrilling and bold, it lacks the principled themes which define the heart of Trek, such as the ethics of cultural imperialism explored in this film.

    One could argue the regenerative / medicinal theme of the Ba'ku to be underdeveloped, the "face-stretching" of the Son'a awkward, Picard's love interest a bit cliche, or the frequent comedic one-liners to be contrived, but I'm willing to overlook these, for the most part.

    It's lovely to see Riker and Troi rekindle their romance, Data's relationship to the Ba'ku boy is endearing, and the overall mystery of uncovering what's going on between the Federation and the Ba'ku keeps the viewer curious.

    While "Insurrection" may be akin to a TNG episode, in many respects, perhaps that is its very strength.
  • From Azalea Jane on 2021-09-12 at 6:38am:
    I know I saw this movie once before, because I remember the Riker/Troi bath shaving scene. But it must have been when it came out, because I had forgotten virtually all of it!

    I was pleasantly surprised to come away from this film feeling pretty good about it. Clearly, it's not universally loved, but I went in with basically no expectations, so it wasn't hard for it to let me down. It wasn't a sweeping epic with huge stakes like the other TNG cast films. No destruction of the Enterprise or Kirk dying, no near-assimilation of Earth, no Romulan political intrigue. It feels a bit more like a long, expensive, cinematically-shot episode. But honestly, that's fine. After First Contact, it makes sense to switch gears a little bit. As Kethinov pointed out, it's a really beautiful film. The fact that Jonathan Frakes directed both this and First Contact speaks to his range as a director. The film has a lot of nice moments, but one that particularly moved me was Geordi getting to see with real eyes for the first time. Oh, Geordi. You deserve it.

    All that said, I think the various criticisms and plot holes are valid observations. It's true that many of the implications are not fully thought-out. Why can only 600 non-indigenous people live on a whole planet? How did the Son'a come to produce Ketracel White? Why don't we see the rings of the planet from the surface? Shouldn't the features of the Briar Patch be visible at night? Also, the "boobs getting firmer" exchange was dumb. Sorta funny, but annoying and undermines the film. Data would know that Worf doesn't have boobs. (eyeroll) Unfortunately, the women of the regular cast have comparatively little to actually DO in this film aside from sort of just ... be there. At least they were good shots with the phaser rifles. *sighs in cynical feminist* I know, it was '98. A different time. I reserve the right to be salty!

    Even though it's pretty self-contained, I think this film does also add some important plot development regarding the decline of the Federation -- likely much to do with the Dominion War, but continuing well after. We see this tackled head-on in Picard (of which I've only seen five episodes at present). I'm reminded of Picard's line in the premiere, telling why he resigned (which he did only ten years after the events of this film): "Because it was no longer Starfleet!" While not all fans might like to see the Great and Lovable Federation lose its moral compass, I think that's a great way to explore how the Federation and Starfleet could eventually be redeemed, and perhaps become even stronger and more morally upright than it was before. In past TNG episodes, there have often been individual problematic admirals, but rarely is the Federation as a whole implicated.

    It was nice seeing Riker and Troi rekindle their romance. I've always loved their relationship. It didn't need to go this direction, but it did. I'll say too, Riker looks much better beardless here than he did in Season 1! I'm not sure if it's his age or that Frakes has gotten more comfortable playing the character.

    For a film, it's a beautiful and solid episode!

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