Star Trek: Insurrection is a 1998 American science fiction film directed by Jonathan Frakes.
It is the ninth film in the Star Trek film series, as well as the third to star the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, with F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy, and Anthony Zerbe appearing in main roles.
In the film, the crew of the USS Enterprise-E rebels against Starfleet after they discover a conspiracy with a species known as the Son’a to steal the peaceful Ba’ku’s planet for its rejuvenating properties.
Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) is temporarily transferred to an undercover mission observing the peaceful Ba’ku people. While on their planet, he malfunctions and reveals the presence of the joint Federation–Son’a task force observing the Ba’ku.
Admiral Matthew Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) contacts the USS Enterprise-E to obtain Data’s schematics for recovery purposes but adamantly states the presence of the Enterprise is not needed. The crew decides to ignore these orders and takes the Enterprise to capture Data.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) becomes suspicious of Dougherty’s insistence that the Enterprise is no longer needed and orders the cause of Data’s malfunction to be investigated.
The crew discovers that the Ba’ku possess advanced technology, but have rejected its use to live simpler lives. Due to unique “metaphasic particles” emanating from their planet’s rings, they are effectively immortal.
By contrast, the Federation’s allies, the Son’a, are a decrepit race who rely on medical technology to prevent death; their excessive use of cosmetic surgery gives them a mummified appearance.
The Enterprise crew also begin to experience the rejuvenation effects of the planet: Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) finds his eyes have regenerated and he no longer requires ocular implants, Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counsellor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) rekindle their long-abandoned relationship, and Picard develops a romantic relationship with the Ba’ku woman Anij (Donna Murphy).
Data and Picard discover a submerged and cloaked Federation ship containing a gigantic holodeck set up to recreate the Ba’ku home village. Data’s malfunction stems from a Son’a attack, the result of his accidental discovery of the vessel. Picard confronts Dougherty and learns that top Federation officers colluded with the Son’a to deceptively move the Ba’ku to the ship and forcibly relocate them to another planet, allowing for the particles to be collected on a mass scale (poisoning the planet in the process). Dougherty orders the Enterprise to leave. Picard retorts that the medical benefits of the particles does not justify Dougherty’s plans for the Ba’ku and violates the Prime Directive.
Picard is joined by some of his crew to help the Ba’ku escape from being abducted while Riker takes the Enterprise to transmission range so he can communicate the violation to Starfleet. The Son’a send robotic probes to locate and capture the fleeing Ba’ku.
The Son’a leader, Ahdar Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham), convinces Dougherty to allow two Son’a ships to attack the Enterprise. Riker defeats the attacking ships and the Enterprise escapes. Their plan exposed, Ru’afo insists upon harvesting the radiation source immediately. Picard, Anij, and several Ba’ku are transported as prisoners onto the Son’a ship. Picard reveals to Dougherty that the Son’a and the Ba’ku are the same race: The Son’a are a splinter faction of Ba’ku who gave up their bucolic existence a century earlier to embrace the use of technology.
They attempted to seize power but failed, and the Ba’ku elders exiled them from the planet, denying them the rejuvenating effects of the rings. The Son’a developed an artificial and imperfect means to extend their lives at the cost of disfigurement, and now seek revenge. Ru’afo kills Dougherty when he backs out of the plan and moves to finish the collection.
While Picard is prepped for execution, he convinces the disillusioned Son’a Gallatin (Gregg Henry) to help him stop Ru’afo. Picard masterminds a ruse to transport Ru’afo and his bridge crew to the holoship and disable the harvester. Ru’afo discovers the deception and transports to the harvester ship to manually restart the process.
Picard follows and sets the harvester to self-destruct, killing Ru’afo and escaping on the Enterprise. The remaining Son’a are forgiven and welcomed back by the Ba’ku. Picard arranges a meeting between Gallatin and his Ba’ku mother to thank him for his help. The crew takes a moment to enjoy their rejuvenated selves before returning to their previous mission.
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- Paramount Pictures sought a change in pace after Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
- Michael Piller was asked to write the script of the next instalment, which was created from story ideas by Piller and producer Rick Berman.
- The story’s first drafts featured the Romulans, and the Son’a and Ba’ku were introduced in its third draft.
- After Ira Steven Behr reviewed the script, Piller revised it and added a subplot involving a romantic interest for Jean-Luc Picard.
- The film’s ending was further revised after test screenings.
- The special effects depicting outer space were completely computer generated, a first for a Star Trek film.
- The Ba’ku village was fully built on location at Lake Sherwood, California, but suffered weather damage.
- Sets from the television series Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were reused and redressed.
- Michael Westmore created the make-up for the new alien races, and Robert Blackman revised the Starfleet dress uniform designs.
- Sanja Milkovic Hayes created costumes for the Ba’ku from cellulose fibers, which were baked and glued together.
- Jerry Goldsmith produced the film’s score, his fourth for the franchise.
- Insurrection was the highest-grossing film on its opening weekend, making $22.1 million in the United States and Canada.
- The film went on to gross $70.2 million in the United States and Canada, and an additional $42.4 million in other territories, for a theatrical run of $117.8 million worldwide.
- Critical responses to the film were mixed; the performance of Patrick Stewart and the directing of Jonathan Frakes were praised, while other critics compared it to an extended episode of the television series.
- Insurrection was nominated for both a Saturn Award and a Hugo Award, but the only award it received was a Youth in Film Award for Michael Welch.
You can read interesting trivia and background details about the Star Trek franchise here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Jonathan Frakes.
- Producer(s): Rick Berman.
- Writer(s): Rick Berman and Michael Piller.
- Music: Jerry Goldsmith.
- Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti.
- Editor(s): Peter E. Berger.
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures.
- Release Date: 11 December 1998.
- Running Time: 103 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.