DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Star Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector's Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Jun 6, 2005.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Star Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector's Edition





    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1998

    Rated: PG

    Length: 103 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Anamorphic

    Audio: Dolby Digital English 5.1, DTS 5.1, English and French 2.0

    Subtitles: English, Commentary

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features:Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Director's Notebook, Text Commentary, Trailers, etc...

    Suggested Retail Price, $19.99 USD


    Release Date: June 7, 2005

    The Mission

    This is the Next-Gen film that Star Trek fans love to hate... well, perhaps until Nemesis stole the crown. Like the old crew’s The Voyage Home, the film seems more accessible and better liked by non-fans of the franchise. There was a conscious effort to make the film “light.” In fact, a directive from the studio indicated that the powers that be were looking for another “save the whales” picture, since Voyage Home was a popular money maker - if not a film loved by the Star Trek faithful. After the dark, action packed outing seen in First Contact, there were those who wanted to slow things down, and lighten things up.

    In Insurrection, Jean-Luc Picard must disobey a direct order in order to uphold the principles of the Prime Directive, and save 600 peaceful inhabitants (the Ba’ku) of a planet in The Briar Patch from forced relocation.

    It seems that there is a mysterious energy in The Briar Patch, and in the Ba’ku homeworld’s ring system. This energy is a literal fountain of youth, regenerating the DNA of the world’s inhabitants so that they can live nearly forever. The Son’a have developed a way to extract this energy from the planet’s rings. The procedure will, however, render the planet uninhabitable.

    Since the planet is in Federation space, the Son’a enlist the help of some in the Federation to secretly relocate the Ba’ku. Commander Data, on a special mission away from the Enterprise to study the Ba’ku, discovers the plot and is damaged in a confrontation with the Son’a. When the Enterprise crew go to investigate, they stumble onto the plan as well.

    The Briar Patch makes it impossible to communicate with Starfleet Command, and the local field admiral is in league with the Son’a. Picard and the crew of the Enterprise must find a way to delay the plan to extract the ring’s energy (rendering the planet lifeless) while they get help from Starfleet.

    At its base level, Insurrection (screenplay by Michael Piller) is very true to the spirit of Star Trek. The story is actually quite a good one - but the execution is flawed.

    A number of small flaws undermine the film. In an effort to make things light, there were bits of humor inserted into the story... most of which just didn’t work. They should have just played it straight. The script was also toned down quite a bit from its original version. Originally, there was a large scale insurrection in the Federation, where as what we are left with in the final product could have been named “Star Trek: A Minor Spat”.

    For me, however, this is less about the insurrection and more about the conflict between the Ba’ku and the Son’a, and how Picard and crew are compelled to intercede. They could have left the Starfleet Admiral out and changed the film’s title and nobody would have been the wiser.

    Insurrection is a prime example of a film which was almost great. Some careful script doctoring and editing could have made a world of difference, at least for those of us Trek fans who don’t need to see large-scale, “save the universe” type of battles.

    Still, I consider this to be the strongest outing of the Next Gen films (I know I’m in the minority in this opinion). Maybe it isn’t as action-packed as the other films, but it isn’t all about the action.

    Viewscreen On
    The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 transfer comes from a clean source print, devoid of any serious emulsion flaws. Excellent contrast and richly saturated colors are the strongest features of the transfer.

    The original release had some minor visible noise and a few compression artifacts, as well as occasional halos from edge enhancement. While the new transfer has reduced these artifacts, it has done so at the expense of detail. High frequency detail has been noticeably reduced. Unfortunate.

    There is also a difference in framing, as we also saw with the First Contact releases.

    Here are some screen captures.

    [​IMG]
    Star Trek: Insurrection - Original Release

    [​IMG]
    Star Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector’s Edition

    Hailing Frequencies
    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very nice, offering up an expansive soundfield, nice panning effects, good frequency response and adequate use of surrounds. It may well be the same mix from the original DVD release.

    This new release also features an excellent DTS track. As is often the case, you can expect to hear a bit more directionality and clarity in the mix as compared to the Dolby Digital track.

    SPECIAL FEATURES

    Text Commentary By Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda

    This is familiar territory for Star Trek fans by now. Nicely done, but nothing new.

    Production

    It Takes a Village (16:40)

    Rick Berman and Herman Zimmerman talk about the large number of sets and exterior locations used for the film - more new sets were built for this film than for any other Star Trek film since The Motion Picture. Most impressively, the entire Ba’ku village was created from scratch. Included, also, are comments from set decorator John Dwyer, illustrator John Eaves, actors Donna Murphy, Gates McFadden, Michael Welch, director Jonathan Frakes, and others. This featurette is about more than just the village set (as hinted in the title) - it is about all the different sets from the film.

    Location, Location, Location (19:55)
    Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Donna Murphy, Herman Zimmerman, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Rick Berman, Brent Spiner and others talks about the joys and difficulties of shooting on location in rugged terrain, and in the village set. Some interviews are from the set, and others are contemporary.

    The Art of Insurrection (14:53)
    John Eaves talks about the art of the film, concentrating on ship design and architecture. He makes special note of the transition from models to CGI for this film’s ships. Many stills of Eaves sketches are shown to his narration.

    Anatomy of a Stunt (6:34)
    While interesting for its behind the scenes footage, it is odd that this featurette focuses on a stunt that didn’t make the final cut of the film.

    The Story (17:18)
    Michael Piller talks about how he came up with the idea for the story while shaving. Piller talks about the major themes of the film, and talks about how the script evolved through the drafts. There is good insight into the writing and editing process, here. Piller talks about the negative reaction that his friend Ira Behr (Deep Space Nine) had to an early draft, and how that helped him steer the project into a more focused direction. There’s some really good stuff in here about where this story could have gone... I won’t divulge it all...

    Making Star Trek: Insurrection (25:06)
    This featurette is illustrative of one of the problems that I’ve seen in most of the Star Trek Collector’s Editions. It is misnamed. This is not what I would consider a “making of” featurette. Don’t get me wrong... I like this 25 minute segment... it just isn’t what the title suggests. What we have here is interviews with virtually the entire cast, who give their impressions of the story and its themes... and an anecdote or two of the days spent filming. Nice... but hardly “making of.”

    Director’s Notebook (18:55)
    Outstanding! I’ve regained admiration for Jonathan Frakes. After his sub-par commentary on First Contact, I wasn’t sure that would be possible. Frakes delivers an excellent interview here. He is very candid about his role as director and actor, his methods, and his friendships with the cast and crew. He’s funny, too. This is one of the best featurettes of all of the Collector’s Editions.

    The Star Trek Universe

    Westmore’s Aliens (17:42)

    This is a retrospective of all of the aliens that Westmore has been responsible for over his years in Star Trek, with, of course, a particular focus on the aliens of Insurrection. He talks about his inspiration - always earthbound and familiar - and how he makes it alien. Of particular interest are his comments on the Son’a’s skin stretching, and how he had actually scrubbed in on some facelift procedures in the past to study the way that skin “works”. It is always interesting to hear from Michael Westmore.

    Star Trek’s Beautiful Alien Women (12:40)
    Jonathan Frakes guides us through the start of this aptly titled featurette. Light, fluffy goodness, with comments from Marina Sirtis, Connor Trinneer, Robert Picardo, Terry Farrell, Chase Masterson, Alice Krige, Patrick Stewart, Donna Murphy, and more.

    Creating the Illusion

    Three short featurettes focusing on specific effects sequences from the film:
    Shuttle Chase
    Drones
    Duck Blind


    Included are storyboards, animatics, model shots and blue screen shots, with commentary by Peter Lauritson. These total about 18 minutes.


    Deleted Scenes (12:53) (with “Play All” feature)
    Most of these scenes add nothing to the exposition of the film, and some contain failed attempts at humor - so they are perhaps better off removed from the final cut. An alternate ending with Ru’Afo’s age regression as he enters the metaphasic rings is the last of the deleted scenes shown. It has cue screens in place of missing effects shots, but you are able to see the way the scene originally played out. Some scenes have a brief introduction by Co-Producer Peter Lauritson.

    Scenes included here:
    Ru’Afo’s Facelift
    Working Lunch
    Flirting
    The Kiss
    Status: Precarious
    Disabling the Injector
    Alternate Ending

    Archives


    Storyboards - Secondary Protocols
    Photo Gallery


    These are standard and self-explanatory.

    Advertising

    Teaser Trailer
    Theatrical Trailer
    Original Promotional Featurette (from the original DVD release)
    Borg Invasion Trailer



    Final Thoughts
    A strong story formed the basis for a screenplay that needed some minor surgery in this Trek outing, resulting in a good - but flawed film. Still, I liked it.

    The transfer is a bit of a let down, due to some softness as an apparent result of noise reduction filters. Not bad - but if you already own the original, the transfer alone probably isn’t worth an upgrade.

    Nice special features round out the set, with an excellent “Director’s Notebook” by director Frakes, in lieu of a commentary.
     
  2. ZackR

    ZackR Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the great review. While certainly not my favorite Trek film, I did enjoy it despite the flaws. The Next Generation crew was "my" Star Trek crew that I grew up watching, so tend to be more forgiving anyways. [​IMG] I'll definitely be picking this up tomorrow. [​IMG]
     
  3. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Oh my God! That Special Collector’s Edition transfer looks horrible. It's too soft. [​IMG]
     
  4. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

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    Uh, yeah. That new print looks terrible. Way too soft. I'm surprised more wasn't made of this issue in the review.
     
  5. Clark Bradley

    Clark Bradley Stunt Coordinator

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    I was hoping you posted those backwards. Horrible, new video. [​IMG]
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the review. Those screen shot comparisons convinced me that I made the right decision in not upgrading this title.
     
  7. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Great review, Scott! Were you able to find the Easter eggs on the second disc? There are three of them in total.

    Also, it's a bummer that the extended deleted scene from the final coda, featuring Armin Shimerman's cameo as Quark, was not included among the deleted scenes. There's been a number of photos from that lost scene that have made their way around the 'net, which proves once and for all that the scene was shot. But why it wasn't included in the deleted scenes section is beyond me.

    And no audio commentary? That's a first for these 2-disc sets. Real bummer.

    My overall rating on it: 3/5. Pretty much for the completists out there, IMHO.

    Hey, maybe if we push hard enough, maybe we can convince Paramout to do a special collector's edition DVD set of all of the missing trailers and TV spots from the Trek films and TV series that didn't make it onto DVD! It'll sell like hotcakes, I tell ya! [​IMG]
     
  8. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    I was certain that the top image was from the new version--gak, that's just horrible. You'd think they would have learned how to do this right after doing such a stellar job on First Contact (and after screwing VII (Generations) up so badly).


    edit-meant to say that Generations was screwed up, not VI, which does looks super.
     
  9. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    Derek


    Do you mean VII (Generations)? VI (The Undiscovered Country) was a steller transfer (IMHO) - no pun intended...[​IMG]
     
  10. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Not to make excuses for this transfer, but it should be noted that the new release looks quite nice on a mid-size 32 - 36 inch tube display. In fact, there are a some reputable sites that have posted more favorable reviews than mine.

    A direct digital capture of unresampled pixels of a single frame is like putting the transfer under a microscope. While it does accentuate the flaws, it is a good way to judge detail. I had captured several different frames for comparison. The one I posted was typical of those I looked at.

    -Scott
     
  11. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    Scott, could you possibly put up a few more comparison shots, as that might help us get a better view of the transfer differences. Thanks!
     
  12. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    These are the only other captures I didn't delete:

    [​IMG]
    Original


    [​IMG]
    Special Collector's Edition


    As you can see, the Special Collector's Edition has less EE and noise... but the expense of the noise reduction was far too great.

    There are also, as I mentioned, minor framing changes - and differences in color and exposure.

    -Scott
     
  13. PeterTHX

    PeterTHX Cinematographer

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    Not only does there seem to be a loss of detail, but a loss of COLOR as well.

    If the new picture transfer is softer because of DTS I'll be pissed. A "slight" sound imporvement is NOT worth the tradeoff of a definate picture degredation. The DD track on the original release is outstanding.
     
  14. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Holy backwards step, Batman! Those caps for the new video look really bad, and I'm usually looking for any reason to double dip...looks like the money is staying in my wallet this week for this. Disappointing since I actually...gulp...liked this movie. :b
     
  15. Rocky F

    Rocky F Second Unit

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    I am still on the fence about this one myself. I have decided not to be a completist when it comes to these sets. I am happily leaving V out of my collection, but this was a question mark. I enjoyed it, it just doesn't seem like something I must have. I never bought any of the original DVD's,(except Nemesis) although I actually have the widescreen VHS of Insurrection. I'll wait until I get a few more opinions, but the PQ issues may be enough to keep me away from this one. I actually enjoyed Nemesis, but the SE of it will have to be great, maybe even have a director's cut (highly unlikely I know) in order for me to upgrade it.
     
  16. Nick T Robot

    Nick T Robot Supporting Actor

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    I'm getting it, I don't own the original and It's only $11.99 (Costco)
     
  17. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

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    these studios seem to have a rather skewed idea of what special is. soft mush ain't it by my standards. if only this review had come out earlier. i would have purchased the old version.

    if paramount can't get standard dvd right, this doesn't bode well for their HD content. are we going to get a new generation of HD coffee coasters from these people ?
     
  18. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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    ST:FC had DTS AND a transfer that was superior to the orignal DVD, so you can't put the blame on the DTS track. My guess is that since it's considered a sub-par Trek film, it was given sub-par treatment. Whereas it was obvious a lot of effort went into the transfer and compression of First Contact.

    Disappointing; the original release was quite good for its time. The PQ and excellent soundtrack made a not-the-greatest Star Trek film a real joy for a good home theater. But, it wasn't perfect. This was a chance to improve upon an original as Paramount did with First Contact. I'd been upgrading to all the Collector's Editions, but I don't think I can bring myself to do it if the PQ is actually a step backward. Might as well hold out for HD. I like DTS, but the DD track is good, and I can live with the PQ on the original. Surprising that the original seems to have a higher black level. The CE may have more contrast though.
     
  19. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    Judging by those sample pics, this transfer *does* appear to be too soft; although, in general my setup (an X1-based 96" FPTV system) seems to be less forgiving of EE than high-bandwidth noise reduction filters ... In any event I'll know first hand soon enough: I've had this title pre-ordered for weeks and will be able to compare it to the original release late tomorrow night.
     
  20. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I was definitely going to get this, but now I'm having second thoughts. It's one thing when the improved picture quality is marginal - I usually go ahead and upgrade. But when it's negative improvement... [​IMG] That leaves me upgrading just for the deleted scenes, which may not be worth it based on what I've read about them.
     

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