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. Star Trek: Insurrection - Original Release 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.