Star Trek: Insurrection

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When men in silly suits clamber over rocks, being chased by flying tin cans, is this a return to the tradition of B-movie sci-fi? Hardly. More like Star Trek for the Nineties.

We're back in hippie utopia, albeit on a distant planet, where children play in haystacks and farming looks cleaner than Winnie the Pooh's mind. As usual, in these sterilised environments, ladies wear cotton and gentlemen smocks. Brains are shampooed, teeth stainless and bodily functions kept out of sight. There is no sex, no pub, no bad hair days. As for rolling a doobie, you've GOT to be kidding!

Star Trek: Insurrection suffers imagination malfunction. They have been in the bowel canals too long. Even the script pilot (Michael Piller) thinks "Do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?" "No, sir, I haven't had the chance to meet all the new crew members" funny, poor fellow. Patrick Stewart, as the new improved skip of Starship Enterprise, with a French name and an English accent, spends valuable warp time in front of a mirror, checking out the cue ball. He's met a peace-love-and-fresh-veg devotee, who thinks he's the mustard. "It's been 300 years since I've seen a bald man," she purrs. Why not wait another 200 and forget it? She's duller than dandruff and twice as flakey, but hey! What's this 300 years?

It is a clue to the gobbledey, a hint of the gook. Bad guys, called The Sonar, who have faces like elephants' testicles, want to evacuate The Bacou (veggies), in order to exploit their planet's natural resource - an ability to arrest ageing. At 270, you could look 24. No wonder the captain of the good ship "Trekkie" keeps adjusting his chin flab, while female members of staff ask each other, "My tits are hardening, how about yours?" Stewart and Co decide to help the Bacou. Space battles ensue, as well as rock climbing expeditions in search of caves, safe from smart bombs. F Murray Abraham, as the chief loony toon, brings a whiff of sulphur to the clean machine. Without him, the only interest is whether Brent Spiner's pasty faced alien has learnt from Mr Spock, or how long it takes Capt Kirk's stand-in to cop a feel.

Intergalactic warfare is hard to comprehend. A direct hit doesn't mean that any more. Fire in the cockpit is no longer the end of the line, boys, and scientific waffle, mouthed by men in designer sweats, might confuse a 40-year-old computer ignoramus, but what of the kids? Do they care that the dialogue sounds artificially inseminated? A physics teacher's wastepaper basket would glean more relevant info.

Ultimately, this is a recognition game, a longer edition of the TV show, with carefully selected items from the effects department's end-of-series sale. Stewart's personality dominates, because he is not completely bland. Boldly going doesn't have the same ring anymore. There is something rotten in the state of Roddenberry when the story could have been written by a fence post.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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The Enterprise crew try to help the inhabitants of a peace-loving planet.
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Director: Jonathan Frakes

Writer: Michael Piller

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy, Anthony Zerbe, Gregg Henry

Year: 1998

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture