Star Trek Insurrection

USA 1998

Reviewed by Kim Newman


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

The Ba'ku, an agrarian community who have turned away from the technology of the greater universe, retreat to a planet whose properties give them an extended lifespan. The Federation enters into an alliance with the Son'a race who intend to exploit the Ba'ku world, though it means the forcible removal of the Ba'ku. When android Data, a member of the Federation-Son'a expedition, rebels against the mission, his captain, Jean-Luc Picard, arrives to investigate.

Discovering a plot to evacuate the Ba'ku, Picard protests to Federation Admiral Dougherty and Son'a leader Ru'afo. The admiral orders Picard to keep out of the situation but Picard, now romantically involved with Ba'ku Anij, dispatches crewmen Riker and LaForge to complain to the Federation. Picard remains on the planet with crew members Worf, Dr Crusher, Counsellor Troi and Data to fight a rear-guard action against Ru'afo, who sets up an orbital device which will destroy the planet but preserve its life-extending elements.

Picard learns the Son'a are actually an offshoot of the Ba'ku and that the Federation has become mixed up in a blood feud. The Enterprise defeats Son'a ships, but Ru'afo murders Dougherty and continues his plan to despoil the planet. Picard defeats Ru'afo in single combat. The Ba'ku and the remaining Son'a reconcile, and the Enterprise departs.


It's hard sometimes not to think of the Star Trek films as a two-yearly reminder of the way America feels about the world. Since the 60s, Trek has been almost an instrument of American foreign policy, with the Federation as Uncle Sam and the current race of alien villains standing in for whoever successive administrations have wanted to puff up as global baddies. Traditionally the Federation has stood in for the White House, but now, with America impatient at the inability of compromised international task forces to cope with Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the Federation itself has become a bureaucratic mess capable of backing the wrong faction in a 'blood feud', and the locus of right-thinking values has shrunk to the U.S.S. Enterprise itself.

Though much has been made of the decision of a Trek captain to rebel against the Federation, this aspect is underdeveloped here - Picard sides with the good against the bad and sends off his sidekicks to complain to head office while the other series regulars follow his lead unquestioningly. The problem with the Federation is down to one admiral sticking by an alliance forged through deception rather than any larger flaw. The blithe assumption that once the facts are known, 'public opinion' will want to leave the Ba'ku alone rather than exploit the magical properties of their world to extend their own lifespans is tantamount to claiming that the American people would accept a decline in their standard of life if it meant fairer treatment of third-world peoples. Dougherty's justification for breaking the 'prime directive' (non-interference in alien cultures) is that the Ba'ku are not indigenous to their paradise, an equivocation which means the story isn't about questioning the assumptions of the Trek universe but splitting hairs over the application of the rules.

One of the pleasanter aspects of this Trek film is that it is the first in the series to concentrate on the sort of story they used to do on television. No major characters die (as Spock did in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ) and no significant upheaval is made in the Star Trek universe like the end of the Federation-Klingon Cold War in Star Trek 6. In effect, this is a big-budget television episode, in which the Enterprise visits a planet which has a problem and solves it. The self-contained story introduces the Ba'ku and the Son'a and takes their struggle to a conclusion very much in the simplistic spirit of series creator Gene Roddenberry. These aliens again represent a fantasy of a third-world conflict, but there's a strangely Californian feel to the schism between tree-hugging, new-age commune-dwellers and disease-ridden environmental destroyers who want to rape the planet to avoid getting old.

The Trek movie problem is finding something for all the regulars to do while building up new characters and giving the captain a substantial role. As usual, this means the supporting cast - now looking as waxily preserved as the original crew (and this in a film which uses Clive Barker tactics to condemn cosmetic surgery) - potter around in the background handling sub-plots and comic relief. Patrick Stewart is actor enough to handle romance with a humanoid alien and righteous indignation at injustice in a manner that gives the film an edge over series entries which have to rely on William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy. Stewart even resists the impulse to do a double-take when confronted by Anij with such amorous lines as, "It's 300 years since I've seen a bald man."

The quotient of scientific mumbo-jumbo is extremely high, but director Jonathan Frakes (who also plays Riker) scores with a likable combination of action and special effects, notably a high quality battle in a purple-cloud sector of outer space known as the "Briar Patch", and a nice bit of duplicity involving Trek stand-bys (the holodeck, transporter beams) as actual bits of technology rather than futuristic window-dressing. There are likable embarrassments - Picard does a mean mambo - and overworked bits of business that play only to the fans, but this is the first Trek film which might play as well, or even better, to audiences unfamiliar with the franchise.


Rick Berman
Michael Piller
Rick Berman
Michael Piller
Based upon Star Trek created by
Gene Roddenberry
Director of Photography
Matthew F. Leonetti
Peter E. Berger
Production Designer
Herman Zimmerman
Music/Orchestra Conductor
Jerry Goldsmith
©Paramount Pictures
Production Company
Paramount Pictures presents a Rick Berman production
Executive Producer
Martin Hornstein
Peter Lauritson
Michael Piller
Associate Producer
Patrick Stewart
Production Associates
David Rossi
Eric A. Stillwell
Production Supervisor
Cindy Ichikawa
Production Office Co-ordinator
Christine Haas
Unit Production Manager
Marty Hornstein
Location Manager
Michael Neale
2nd Unit Director
Peter Lauritson
Assistant Directors
Jerry Fleck
Rosemary Cremona
Nancy P. Townsend
David Goldfarb
Wayne Witherspoon
2nd Unit:
Albert Cho
Mark Oppenheimer
Script Supervisor
Judi Brown
Junie Lowry-Johnson
Ron Surma
Barbara Harris
2nd Unit Directors of Photography
John Leonetti
Ivan 'Bing' Sokolsky
Camera Operators
David Luckenbach
Stephen Ullman
Visual Effects Supervisors
Blue Sky/VIFX:
Jim Rygiel
Santa Barbara Studios:
John Grower
Visual Effects Co-ordinator
Dexter DeLara
Visual Effects Editor
Tom Barrett
Visual Effects
Blue Sky/VIFX
Visual Effects Producer:
John Kilkenny
Digital Supervisors:
Anthony 'Max' Ivins
Mark Rodahl
Compositing Supervisors:
Cheryl Budgett
Edwin Rivera
R&D Supervisors:
Caleb J. Howard
David J. Stephens
Digital Producer:
Lisa Goldberg
Visual Effects Production Co-ordinator:
Sara DeCesare
Inferno Artists:
John Heller
Hyun Sean Lee
Anthony Mabin
Caesar Romero
Kenneth Au
Christopher D. Bergman
Digital Compositors:
Dennis Bennett
Jennifer Ann Howard
Randy Brown
Christopher Ivins
Rafael F. Colón
Garrett E. Lam
Betsy Cox
James Do Young Lee
Gregory Elwood
Liz Lord
David Gutman
Lisa L. Pollard
Uel Hormann
Jonathan B. Robinson
Gloria de los Santos-Geary
3D Animators:
Kevin Adunio Bertazzon
Jeff Lin
Brian C. Davis
Ha Ngan Thi Roda
Mark E.A. de Sousa
Erik Lee
Tomàs Rosenfeldt
Brian Samuels
Andy Gauvreau
Michael La Fave
Geoff 'Hoaf' Harvey
David Santiago
Matthew Hausman
Todd Wilbur
Robert D. Thompson
Digital Effects:
Bela Brozsek
Rick Sander
Jonathan Wood
Tsz 'Gee' Yeung
3D Modeller:
Robert Rioux
Art Department Supervisor:
Alison Yerxa
Digital Effects Painter:
Meg Freeman
Matte Painter:
Travis Price
Texture Painters:
Jennifer Jung Kim
David Palmer
Robert Harders
Marian Rudnyk
Bill Schaeffer
Avid Editor:
Gus Duron
Visual Effects Editor:
Zeke Morales
Head of Physical Production:
Gary Nolin
Physical Production Technologist:
Paul Johnson
Miniature Effects Supervisor:
Carlyle Livingston
Model Shop Foreperson:
Patrick Denver
Camera Department Co-ordinator:
Dave Swett
Digital Record Out Manager:
Gary George
Digital Record Operators:
Nathan Eriksen
David Petterson
John Sanders
Video Engineer:
Greg Kozikowski
Visual Effects
Blue Sky/VIFX East
Digital Animation Supervisor:
Mark Baldo
Digital Effects
Mitch Kopelman
Senior Animator:
Doug Dooley
Modellers/Creatures Designers:
Shaun Cusick
Mike DeFeo
Senior Lighting Effects Specialist:
Dave Walvoord
Lighting Effects Specialist:
Jesse Hollander
Digital Effects Producer:
Christopher Scollard
Digital Effects Co-ordinator:
Leslie Schor
Senior Staff:
Richard Hollander
Mark A. Brown
Lee Berger
Deborah Giarratana
Special Visual Effects
Santa Barbara Studios
Visual Effects Producer:
Bruce Jones
Art Director:
Richard Kriegler
Animation Supervisor:
James Satoru Straus
CGI Supervisors:
Ron Moreland
Mark Wendell
Digital Effects Producer:
Diane Holland
Senior Technical Supervisor:
Scott Liedtka
3D Digital Artists:
Michael Parks
Ryan Todd
Kelly Wilcox
Virginia Bowman
Mark Fattibene
Andrew Harris
Darren Lurie
David J. Witters
Lila Vesely
Scott Kilburn
Julie Jaros
Compositing Supervisor:
Hudson Shock
Lance Wilhoite
Software Development:
Matt Rhodes
Eric Saindon
Daniel Hornick
2D Digital Artists:
Tom DeWalt
Stephanie McCann
Ryan Mills
Dragisa Trifkovic
Oliver Lloyd
Peter Lloyd
Visual Effects Editor:
Alison Learned
Pyrotechnic Effects
O'Connor FX
Pyrotechnic Effects Photography
The Chandler Group
Pyrotechnic Miniatures
Hunter/Gratzner Industries, Inc
Additional 2D/3D Graphics
Fulcrum Studios LLC
Software Support
Pixar Animation Studios
Alias/Wavefront Technologies
Mark Sylvester
Visual Effects
POP Film
POP Animation
Visual Effects Supervisor:
David Sosalla
Digital Effects Producer:
Melissa Brockman
CG Producer:
Carl Seibert
David Crawford
Ken Littleton
Jennifer German
Brandon McNaughton
Brian Hanable
Bob Wiatr
Lawrence Littleton
Technical Supervisor:
Barry Robertson
Digital Optical Supervisor:
Greg Kimble
Visual Effects Editor:
Tommy Dorsett
Production Co-ordinator:
Severine Kelley
Special Effects
Terry Frazee
Eugene Crum
Model Makers
Harrison Craig
Gregory Jein
Richard Slifka
Additional Editing
Jeff W. Canavan
Art Director
Ron Wilkinson
Set Designers
Sharon Davis
Alan Kaye
Nancy Mickelberry
Christopher S. Nushawg
Set Decorator
John Dwyer
Production Illustrators
John Eaves
Edwin Natividad
Scenic Art Supervisor
Michael Okuda
Scenic Artist/Video Supervisor
Denise Lynn Okuda
Scenic Artists
Geoffrey T. Mandel
Alan Kobayashi
James Vanover
Doug Drexler
Anthony Fredickson
Kurt Hanson
Storyboard Artist
Ray Harvie
Costume Designer
Sanja Milkovic Hays
Starfleet Uniforms Design
Robert Blackman
Costume Supervisor
Garet Reilly
Make-up Designer/Supervisor
Michael Westmore
Supervising Hair Stylist
Yolanda Toussieng
Main Titles Designer
Phill Norman
Titles/Additional Opticals
Pacific Title/Mirage
Cinema Research Corporation
Alexander Courage
Music Editor
Ken Hall
Music Editors
Darrell Hall
Andrew Silver
Music Recordist/Mixer
Bruce Botnick
theme from "Star Trek The Motion Picture" by Jerry Goldsmith; theme from "Star Trek" TV series by Alexander Courage; "Fourth Movement: Finale - Vivace" from "String Quartet in D Major", Opus 64, No. 5, "The Lark" by Franz J. Haydn, performed by Caspar da Salo Quartet; "Fourth Movement: Allegro vivo assai" from "String Quartet in B-Flat", Opus 10, No. 3, "The Hunt" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; "A British Tar" from "H.M.S. Pinafore" by W.S. Gilbert, A.S. Sullivan; "First Movement: Grave" from "Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Opus 13, "Pathetique" by Ludwig van Beethoven, piano performed by Jeno Jando; "Makeover Mambo" by Alan Silvestri
Additional Sound Design
Michael McDonough
Shaun Varney
Sound Mixer
Thomas Causey
Re-recording Mixers
Robert J. Litt
Elliot Tyson
Michael Herbick
Jack Keller
Marsha Sorce
Supervising Sound Editors
James W. Wolvington
Cameron Frankley
Supervising Dialogue Editor
Michael Szakmeister
Dialogue Editors
Richard Corwin
Susan Kurtz
Jeffrey R. Payne
Sound Effects Editors
Jeff Clark
Ron Eng
Terri Fiyalko
Dave McDonald
Bob Baron
Supervising Editor:
Robert Ulrich
Kerry Dean Williams
Zack Davis
Sarah Monat
Robin Harlan
Catherine Harper
Randy K. Singer
Supervising Editor:
Thomas Small
Tammy Fearing
Christopher Flick
Technical Consultants
Michael Okuda
Andre Bormanis
Aerial Co-ordinators
David Gibbs
Glenn Smith
Stunt Co-ordinator
Rick Avery
Gentle Jungle
Animal Trainers
Carol Sonheim
Steve Hanna
Patrick Stewart
Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes
Commander William Riker
Brent Spiner
Lt Commander Data
LeVar Burton
Lt Commander Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn
Lt Commander Worf
Gates McFadden
Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis
Counsellor Deanna Troi
F. Murray Abraham
Donna Murphy
Anthony Zerbe
Admiral Dougherty
Gregg Henry
Daniel Hugh-Kelly
Michael Welch
Mark Deakins
Stephanie Niznik
Michael Horton
Lieutenant Daniels
Bruce French
Son'a officer 1
Breon Gorman
Lieutenant Curtis
John Hostetter
Bolian officer
Rick Worthy
Elloran officer 1
Larry Anderson
Tarlac officer
D. Elliot Woods
Starfleet officer
Jennifer Tung
female ensign
Raye Birk
Son'a doctor
Peggy Miley
Regent Cuzar

Lee Arnone-Briggs
Claudette Nevins
Son'a officer 2
Max Grodenchik
alien ensign
Greg Poland
Elloran officer 2
Kenneth Lane Edwards
Joseph Ruskin
Son'a officer 3
Zachary Williams
Ba'ku child

McKenzie Westmore
Ba'ku woman
Phillip Glasser
young Ru'afo
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
9,271 feet
103 minutes 1 second
Dolby/Digital DTS sound/SDDS
Colour by
Anamorphic [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011