Star Trek Movie Retrospective–Star Trek: Insurrection

“How many people does it take admiral, before it becomes wrong? Hmmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million?”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard questioning Admiral Dougherty’s attitude about forcibly relocating 600 Ba’ku villagers

ins posterThe ninth Star Trek film, Star Trek: Insurrection, isn’t well regarded by fans and even the people who made it. However, it does have some merit. In fact, as our contributor GEO would say, here’s what’s great about Star Trek: Insurrection:

Still looking? Don’t bother. There isn’t anything great about the film.

dataIt opens in a quaint pastoral Mediterranean-looking village on an unnamed planet. The townspeople are a simple and content lot who tend to their fields, bake bread and live a quiet existence. But they’re monitored unnoticed by Starfleet personnel and mummified-looking aliens in a duck blind. They’re also tracking an invisible person who turns out to be the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) who has gone rogue. Other cloaked officers try to stop him from reaching the village, but the android reaches it. The villagers become aware of them, especially after Data removes his invisible suit and shoots at the invisible monitoring station, making it visible to everyone.

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Meanwhile, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is hosting a reception onboard his ship, the Enterprise-E, for new members of the United Federation of Planets. He runs into his old Klingon friend Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) who apparently dropped by the ship to visit. Worf at this time was a regular character in the show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) but it’s never really explained what he was doing on the Enterprise-E.

sona ship enterprisePicard gets an urgent message from Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) who is requesting Data’s schematics and informs him of the android’s behavior. He adds that Data took hostage the Starfleet observers along with the Son’a, the aliens working with the observers. The captain offers to send his ship over to help but Dougherty discourages this since the planet they’re on is in a perilous region of space nicknamed the Briar Patch.  It got that name from its volatile gases in the system’s nebula that creates anomalies like poor communication.

His interest piqued, Picard has the Enterprise-E go to the planet anyway. When they arrive, Dougherty is with the Son’a leader Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham) on the Son’a’s command ship, which was just attacked scout shipby Data in a scout ship. Picard and Worf quickly leave their ship in a shuttlecraft and are in turn attacked by Data’s ship near the ringed planet. Both vessels enter the planet’s atmosphere during a cat-and-mouse chase. Over the radio, Picard engages Data to an embarrassingly dumb musical duet based on a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. This distracts the android long enough for Worf to board his ship and deactivate him with a modified tricorder.

Afterwards, the Enterprise-E crew arrive at the village to free the hostages. They’re surprised to find that the so-called prisoners are treated as guests and are free to leave. Picard meets one of the villagers, Anij (Donna Murphy) and a few others. They’re the Ba’ku and despite their primitive appearance are actually a warp-capable society who are up to date on science and technology but choose to live a simpler life.

Back on the Enterprise-E, Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton) informs Picard that Data’s positronic brain was damaged in a firefight, which is picard data and chickwhy he was acting strangely. Data, now repaired, is activated. The android doesn’t remember much of what happened to him, so him and Picard go back to the planet to investigate. Anij and other Ba’ku, including a young boy named Artim (Michael Welch) who previously encountered Data, join them. They discover a cloaked rectangular ship that is really one large holoship that can recreate any environment inside of it. The ship has a recreated Ba’ku’s village, meaning that the villagers were to be transported there while they slept and fooled into thinking they were still in the village. The mystery just deepens.

Picard and his crew begin experiencing strange reactions to being on the planet, notably that they are getting younger. Worf breaks out in acne, First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) rekindle a dormant romance and most dramatically Geordi regains his eyesight. The scene where Geordi looks at a sunrise for the first time in his life was his best moment in all the films thanks to Burton’s quietly emotional acting.

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Anij explains to Picard what is going on. The Ba’ku left their ruined planet centuries ago and resettled in the current world. The metaphasic radiation from the rings of the planet rejuvenated them, which explains the Ba’ku’s youthful appearance. Anij and many others are actually centuries old thanks to the rings. The Ba’ku’s world is an actual Fountain of Youth, which is why Starfleet and the sickly Son’a are so interested.

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Star Trek Movie Retrospective–Star Trek: First Contact

“The line must be drawn HERE! This far, no farther! I…will make them PAY for what they’ve done!”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard ranting about the Borg

posterWhen producers started making the eighth Star Trek film, they knew it had to deliver big. The previous film was successful but received criticisms over its quality. So for Star Trek: First Contact they brought out the big guns in the form of the Borg, the most popular villains on the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). And it worked.

It opens with a close up shot of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) looking straight ahead. The camera pulls back to reveal he’s inside the nightmarish machinery of a Borg vessel. What’s worse is his transformation into one of them and losing his identity. The Borg are a cold, and nearly invincible cyborg race made up of assorted aliens that are forcibly converted using painful looking cybernetic implants. They seek the perfect union between machine and life and assimilating other races to achieve this objective.

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Picard eventually wakes up from the nightmare, which was a flashback to his ordeal in the classic two-part episode “The Best Of Both Worlds”. He’s onboard his new ship, the Enterprise-E and receives news that the Borg have returned to Federation space. However, instead of being ordered to join an assembled armada to fight the Borg, he is to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone with his ship.

He and his crew are visibly restless about their orders. Later as they carry them out, his first officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) complains about the orders, Picard tells him that Starfleet feels that his own experiences with being turned into a Borg will compromise his ability to fight them.

Just then he and the crew pick up transmissions from the fight. Things aren’t going well for the Starfleet armada, it’s losing badly to the Borg. Having heard enough, Picard decides to disobey orders and join the fight, with his crew behind him. The Enterprise-E then warps off at its highest speed to Earth.

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The very next scene features a mammoth and imposing Borg cube that fills the screen, accompanied by a booming score, as it nears our planet. It’s slammed by weapons fire from Starfleet ships. Unlike “The Best Of Both Worlds” the ships are putting up a better fight, but are still losing. New and eye-catching Starfleet ships abound, one of them is the Defiant, the scrappy escort vessel seen in the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9). Commanding the Defiant is the Klingon Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), who in between films, joined DS9. His damaged ship is caught in a tractor beam from the cube.

borg battleThe  Enterprise-E suddenly joins the fray, rescues the Defiant and beams aboard its survivors. Moments later, Worf joins his old comrades at the bridge, completing the film reunion. Picard takes command of the fleet and orders a simultaneous barrage of weapons fire at specific spots on the cube.

In a spectacular display, the Starfleet ships fire a vicious volley at the Borg cube and destroy it. However, before it explodes, the cube releases a smaller, sphere-shaped vessel that rushes towards Earth.

The Enterprise-E is on its tail as a temporal vortex opens up in front of the Borg sphere that leaves behind borg earthan energy wake that washes over the Enterprise-E.  After the sphere disappears into the vortex, the horrified crew of the starship see the Earth before them become Borgified. The planet’s colorful landmasses are transformed into one continuous field of metallic grey.

They  deduce that the sphere traveled to Earth’s past and assimilated the planet. The ship’s android operations officer Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) theorizes that the wake protected them from being changed with the altered timeline. Before the vortex can close, Picard orders the Enterprise-E to go through it.

The sphere emerges from the vortex and begins attacking a small, rundown town in Montana. The Enterprise-E arrives a few minutes later and destroys the sphere. They learn they’re in the mid 21st century, April 4, 2063 to be exact, about ten years after World War III. Based on that information, Picard realizes that the Borg want to stop Zefram Cochrane, the human inventor of warp drive technology, from successfully testing Earth’s first warp drive ship, the Phoenix. Its flight on the next day will attract the attention of a passing Vulcan ship, which will then travel to Earth. The resulting peaceful first contact will eventually lead to the founding of the United Federation of Planets.

Fearing the worst, Picard with an Away Team beams down to the town, which actually has a missile complex. picard dataEven though most of the personnel in the complex are dead, Cochrane’s assistant and co-pilot Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard) is found alive but suffering from radiation poisoning. She’s taken back to the ship for treatment by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) while Picard looks for Cochrane. The Phoenix (actually a converted nuclear missile) is damaged but repairable.

Throughout the film, Picard was able to hear Borg voices in his head, a residual effect of his ordeal after being assimilated. He hears them again and returns to the ship with Data, while having Riker beam down to continue looking for Cochrane. Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton) also beams down with a team to repair the Phoenix and continue with the planned flight.

Back on the Enterprise-E, the bridge crew discover that they are losing control over several systems and cannot contact main engineering. It soon becomes apparent that there are Borg drones onboard the starship. The captain theorizes that before the sphere was destroyed several Borg must’ve beamed onboard undetected to assimilate the starship. Acting quickly, Picard orders Data to lock out the main computer and heads to main engineering with a security team. Picard’s plan is to puncture the warp core’s plasma coolant tanks, which will flood engineering and liquefy all organic matter, namely the Borg’s organic parts.

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When they get near their destination, several Borg drones, many of whom are assimilated crewmembers, attack Picard’s detail. They’re forced to retreat but Data is captured.

During his retreat, Picard runs into Lily, who evacuated sickbay and separated from Crusher’s medical team after the Borg broke into the medical facility. Lily doesn’t know what is going on and orders Picard at phaser point to be taken back home. PIcard is able to convince her that she is on a ship from the future and takes her with him to a holodeck. They briefly hide there while a 1940s detective story simulation plays until two Borg enter the holodeck. Picard begins to exhibit his inner rage and transforms into a movie action hero while killing them with a holographic Tommy gun. Then he retrieves a neural processor from one of the corpses to learn the Borg’s plans.

outer space fightOne of them is to use the ship’s deflector to contact other Borg for reinforcements. This leads to one of the film’s most suspenseful moments: a dangerous battle with the enemy outside on the ship’s outer hull. They’re truly inhuman with their capability to function without spacesuits, while Picard, Worf and a redshirt named Hawk (Neal McDonough) donned sleek, white EV suits.

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