Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Star Trek: Insurrection

Go To

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: A lot of people consider the Ba'ku to be the true villains of the story.
    • We honestly don't know what the effects of the metaphasic radiation has long term. While its kept the Ba'ku alive for over 300 years, we also know that it increases metabolism, energy levels and youthful feelings from those affected. Hell, that was even a concern in the film, how much it was affecting the Enterprise crew's rationality! What exactly is there to say that the Son'a, once deprived of this, eventually suffered massive withdrawal symptoms? And while 80 years of normal aging clearly has affected them, they constantly have to undergo medical procedures and blood toxin filtering, despite not seeming to be either infirm nor decrepit beforehand. After 300 years of exposure, who's to say that the real reason they have such Body Horror is because the radiation simply destroyed their bodies' natural ability to function and they are simply rapidly decaying without it?
    • Advertisement:
    • The Son'a are mentioned as having no issue with taking slaves. Come to think of it, for a society that has rejected the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner, the Ba'ku settlement is remarkably clean, don't you think? After all, it's heavily implied they've got a large stash of technology lying around somewhere, how about in that massive system of caves? What else might they be hiding?
    • As another strike against the Baku's supposed perfection, they're not even indigenous to the planet, so they really have no right to claim rightful ownership of its radiation. And consider that a common tactic of imperialist colonialism throughout Earth's history involved getting the indigenous population hooked on some form of narcotic, which was then used as leverage for trade. Sounds a lot like the Son'a's addiction to the radiation, doesn't it? Not to mention how many online eyebrows have been raised over the fact that the Baku are very, very, um, blonde, white and perfectly healthy. Taking this into account, especially when you consider the Son'a were once Baku themselves, it comes across a lot less like "evil alien drug lords preying on the space Amish" and more like "small group of ethnic purist colonists who got lucky on the right planet hoards control of its riches for themselves to maintain a position of power, leverages control of healthcare and addictive narcotics over an exiled ghettoized population (who soon adopted those same tactics to build an empire), and then running to the Federation for help when the people they exiled comes back to turn their own tactics against them."
  • Angst? What Angst?: At the point where Worf is at in his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine arc, he's just become a widow due to the death of Jadzia Dax and would still be in the grieving process in the subsequent season. The lack of acknowledgement on this was the result of justified Executive Meddling, as the sixth season of DS9 hadn't aired in the UK yet, meaning Jadzia's death would've been a spoiler for international audiences. Still, the fact that Worf does not seem even slightly despondent throughout the film is very odd.
    • Possibly odd, but different people handle things in different ways. For Worf, this adventure would be another chance to be "like warriors from the ancient sagas", how he viewed the Enterprise. And considering he was in a pissy mood most of the time on DS9 anyway, it's not at all hard to see this as a thrilling vacation.
  • Anvilicious:
    • Picard's monologues in which he speaks of forced relocation in human history, both with Anij and Admiral Dougherty.
    • The Son'a, a race whose hat is being overly tanned, getting too many facelifts and dealing drugs, are an incredibly unsubtle satire of people from Los Angeles.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The theme for the Son'a is just grand.
    • Few people can deny that this is one of Jerry Goldsmith's best soundtracks in the franchise.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The Bolian scientist Hars Adislo approaching Picard on the topic of thermionic transconductance; Picard excuses himself to attend to other matters. It is never brought up again.
    • Advertisement:
    • The "Have you noticed how your boobs have started to firm up?" scene. Data repeating it to Worf doesn't even merit a punchline reaction, since they get interrupted by drone fire immediately afterwards.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: This movie contains several references to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that are meaningless if you weren't watching it at the time.
    • It caused an additional problem for non-US viewers as well — the UK, for instance, was only about halfway through the show's fifth season when the film came out, but the film made references to stuff that happened in the seventh season. (This, to the consternation of many viewers, left a reference regarding the death of Jadzia Dax, Worf's wife, out - UK audiences would be spoiled, given that her death happened at the conclusion of DS9's SIXTH season, while the US audiences were left seeing no one comment on Worf's development since joining Deep Space Nine, despite Worf's marriage and widowing being something of a major life event.)
    • Riker's fleeting reference to the Son'a producing large quantities of ketracel white, the narcotic used to control the Jem'Hadar, is the only thing in the movie that hints at the fact that they're Dominion allies. For those who don't understand the significance of the reference, it can end up making the Son'a seem more sympathetic than they're intended to be — and even if you do understand the reference, it still takes a leap in logic to register that they're actual allies of the Dominion instead of, for instance, someone just carrying out business with one side of a war they have no stake in. One could justifiably argue that the Dominion are clearly evil and that anyone who would even conduct business with them ought to be considered an enemy of the Federation, but the movie doesn't bother establishing that either.
  • Designated Hero: The movie perches how perfect the Bak'u are and we're supposed to draw parallels between them and native Americans that endured genocide from the US government, but they're hogging the planet's radiation that could save billions of lives just because they don't want to be inconvenienced.
    • Picard even defends them by saying that "Forced Relocations have destroyed cultures whenever they have happened throughout history," which is rather seriously undermined when you remember he has taken part in at least two forced relocations in his own career, including one against a planet full of Native Americans. It's true that he might have had a change of heart, but not only is this not really cited (you'd think he'd bring it up), but it ignores that those other relocations were largely for political reasons, rather than, you know, the secret to immortality.
    • On an individual level the film has Data with his "ethical subroutines" which are here treated like they somehow provide absolutely correct judgment in complex moral decisions.
  • Designated Villain: Admiral Dougherty, who's intentions are to save billions. The Son'a are Dominion Allies who have ZERO intention of fulfilling their agreement with him, but he doesn't exactly know that, and the fact that the Enterprise Crew figures this out and doesn't bother to tell him raises some serious questions.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The movie ends with the Bak'u welcoming the Son'a (who are banished Bak'u) into their society and allowing them to keep their planet and its fountain-of-youth powers. Except that it was pointed out that it will take ten years for the planet's rejuvenating effects to really affect the Son'a, and many will not make it that long. Plus, the Bak'u will maintain their monopoly on rejuvenating powers which would certainly benefit billions across the galaxy. Billions, mind you, that will almost certainly die without the medical technology, as the Federation is in the middle of a war with the Dominion and Cardassians, who outnumber and outgun the Federation, Romulans, and the Klingons combined. So, the thousands- if not millions- who die in the war who could have been saved after being shot by the Jem'Hadar by the medical techniques and technology developed by studying the healing energy? They can die easy, knowing that the thousand or so Ba'Ku/So'na are going to be all right.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In this film, Picard is essentially playing Moses, with Admiral Dougherty leading the Philistines. Marina Sirtis joked about this on set.
  • Fan-Preferred Cut Content:
    • Michael Piller's original version is was very different from the final film. Inspired by Heart of Darkness, it would have seen Picard tracking down an old academy friend who has allied with the B'aku against the Romulans. His first draft can be found in the unpublished book Fade In and is widely thought to be better than the actual film.
    • The originally-filmed ending, where Ru'afo's escape pod falls into the rings of the planet, exposing him to such a massive dose of the metaphasic radiation that he grows younger and younger until he de-ages out of existence altogether, is considered by many fans to be a more fitting Karmic Death than the reshot ending, where he's simply blown up with the collector.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: This is not the last time we will see Donna Murphy playing a Really 700 Years Old character.
  • Idiot Plot: The plot itself breaks down immediately due to the fact that there are only about 600 Ba'ku, living in a single village, with no advanced technology. This makes the entire plot a glaring case of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, as it is never explained why the Son'a had not simply taken up regular residence someplace else on the planet decades earlier. There was no indication of how the Ba'ku could have forced them to remain offworld, even if they were not welcome in the community. Likewise, the Federation could have established entire cities elsewhere on the planet, thousands of miles away from the Ba'ku village, without them ever even knowing!
    • The concept of using one of the most iconic technologies in Star Trek, the Transporter, to simply beam Data to a secure location once he starts going crazy would have prevented the entire plot from happening.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Even though they've been welcomed back by the Ba'ku, the Son'a will likely die out in the next few years, as Dougherty pointed out it would take 10 years of normal exposure to the planet's rejuvenating radiation to help them, and most will not make it that long.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: While overshadowed by certain other complaints found here, another major one is that the film feels like little more than an episode of TNG, which is doubtlessly a consequence of writer Michael Pillar having worked exclusively in television before this. Insurrection would end up being the only feature film he ever wrote (he started work on a couple other movie scripts, but passed away from cancer before finishing them).
    • Not only is Insurrection's tagline, "The battle for paradise has begun", almost exactly the same as Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country's, "The battle for peace has begun", they had similar posters, too.
    • Being like an episode isn't necessarily bad, but Data not bringing his emotion chip and regressing several years in development to have scenes with the kid that occurred years ago on the show is hardly inspiring.
    • Picard has a quasi-midlife crisis and misses exploring. Whether you're a Kirk or Picard fan, most agree that Kirk's Story Arc in his films did it better.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Ru'afo.
  • Mary Sue Topia: The Bak'u, who live on a planet with fountain-of-youth powers and espouse a technology-free society. They still use all pre-industrial technology though, making them not as "primitive" as they'd like to claim.
  • Misaimed Fandom: While Dougherty's motives are ultimately sympathetic, it's rather disconcerting for some that so many fans of the franchise see his plans - i.e., invading an occupied planet, kidnapping the entire population and stealing its resources in a way that will make the planet uninhabitable, and possibly completely destroying whatever made the resource so valuable in the first place - as completely reasonable simply because he has a couple of legal loopholes on his side. Most likely because, other than the ethical issues around the relocation, nobody in the actual movie even questions his assertion that the plan will actually work, despite the fact it was conceived of by known allies of the Dominion.
  • Narm:
    • Riker steering the Enterprise with an obviously off-the-shelf joystick.
      • That, coming after Riker requests "Computer: Access manual steering column" and the joystick rises majestically out of the floor!
    • Anything Ru'afo does usually qualifies.
    • Not even the fountain of youth can bring Picard's hair back.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The blue-skinned Bolian theorist Hans Adislo, whose brief exchange with Captain Picard over thermionic transconductance comes out of the blue and is then completely forgotten.
  • Ron the Death Eater: A lot of people found the Ba'ku repugnant because they didn't want to share the medical benefits their planet could provide. Supposedly they're preventing medical benefits that could save billions of lives from the Dominion, but considering the people who came up with the "destroy the planet" plan worked with the Dominion, maybe trusting them at their word isn't the best idea, especially since no one seemed to think they could just set up medical facilities on the opposite side of the planet.
  • Rooting for the Empire: The Federation are considered by many (including some members of the cast) to have had very good reasons for trying to force the Bak'u off the planet to study the anomaly, and they were consistently willing to use non-lethal methods to do so.
  • The Scrappy: Anij, for her Dull Surprise acting — the only time she even raises her voice above a hushed speaking tone is when she's drowning — and Designated Love Interest status, and Sojef, for coming across as extremely sanctimonious when lecturing the Enterprise crew about why they don't use technology.
  • Sequelitis: An interesting example. When it was first released, it had pretty positive reviews, with some reviewers even saying that it broke the Star Trek Movie Curse (even-numbered movies good, odd-numbered bad). But as time passed, with more viewers agreeing with the villains, and the whole Trek franchise grinding to a standstill, it's now regarded as one of the weakest Trek films.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Of all the "bad" Star Trek films, perhaps the one that has the fewest defenders or detractors, on account of being so ineffectual and forgettable.
  • Special Effect Failure: ILM didn't come back for this film (in part due to being busy on The Phantom Menace, though Rick Berman said at the time that he wouldn't have hired them anyway, since he felt other FX houses, in this case franchise regular Santa Barbera Studios and newcomer Blue Sky Studios, could provide the same quality for cheaper) and the quality of visual effects suffered a major drop as a result. The effects aren't terrible for the most part, but they were considerably behind even what other film were doing with CGI in 1998.
    • The hummingbird seen during the slowed time scene looks really horrible. And Artim's pet almost looks like an animated animal from an old live-action Disney movie.
    • The fight scene in the projector, where they just left the bluescreen in instead of chroma-keying whatever was supposed to be there.
    • When Picard orders Riker and Troi to do some research on the Son'a, Jonathan Frakes is clearly wearing a fake beard that looks nothing like his normal beard, suggesting that the scene was shot after principal photography.
    • Admiral Dougherty's death is achieved with some low-resolution computer morphing that would have looked bad even on Deep Space Nine or Voyager, to say nothing of a theatrically-released film.
  • Squick:
    • Pretty much everything involving the Son'a facial procedures. It even counts In-Universe, judging by Dougherty's squeamishness.
    • Dougherty's murder is one of the more graphic in the Star Trek mythos. Death by skin stretching.
    • The colonists are so over the top "happy" and perfect, some viewers will feel uncomfortable or even literally cringe just watching them.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Shouldn't the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? While the Bak'u were supposed to come off as innocent victims of an under-the-table Federation plot to steal their planet's resources, viewers tend to interpret them as selfish pricks who won't share (or tolerate anyone of their own who wanted to share) their planet's amazing power of healing, leaving the rest of the galaxy to die of diseases they themselves easily overcame. Of course, the idea of a land grab from them greatly violates their rightful sovereignty, and is in itself wrong, even if it was meant for the greater good of the galaxy. But since the Bak'u are interpreted as such Jerk Asses for not being willing to give up their homes to allow the radiation to be collected and distributed, it's hard for some to feel sympathy for them. Also, the Bak'u don't have a better claim than the Federation to the planet. They were just refugees who just happened to crash land on the planet and decided to eliminate all their technology, fooling the Federation into thinking that they were a pre-Warp civilization.
    • Patrick Stewart himself admitted that if he, not Picard, were in that position, he would've made the Bak'u leave.
    • Admiral Dougherty makes a point that many viewers considered a better argument than the writers did:
      Dougherty: They are not indigenous to this world, they were never meant to be immortal!
      • Though this ignores the point that a significant number of the Ba'ku were born on the planet... Though by that logic all of the Son'a were also born on the planet and were forced to leave by the Bak'u due to ideological differences.
    • And there are only like 600 Bak'u on the entire planet. Most small towns have more people than that.
    • And worse, as many have pointed out, this movie takes place during the Dominion War, and the medical technology that could have been developed from the planet's energies might have helped give the Alpha Quadrant races a distinct advantage. Also, once the Dominion found out about the planet (as their excellent espionage would have almost certainly allowed them to do) they would not have hesitated to obliterate the Ba'ku and take the planet for themselves. Ironically, the only thing likely to save the Ba'ku from such a fate would be the Federation!
    • The weird part is that the whole thing could be easily resolved by revealing the Son'a were lying, or at least having the characters suggest it as a possibility. In fact many viewers argue that very thing, as can be seen elsewhere on this page. But this is never even acknowledged.
      • Note also, that there wasn't really much that said the Bak'u even had to leave! If you just use the radiation as is, well... you have a very nice medical planet and age treatment facility. Set up a hospital there, you can check about exposure.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The original script had Data apparently going berserk and Picard tracking him down and terminating him, only to find out afterward that Data was right, but Patrick Stewart wouldn't go for it.
    • There's also the basic fact that the movie took place during the Dominion War, and the Enterprise is one of the most advanced and powerful starships in the Federation fleet. And instead of showing the Enterprise out on the front line... This.
      • At least one extended universe novel handwaves the Enterprise going in the opposite direction of the war for plot purposes by stating that it and the crew are just as high-profile in-universe as they are to the viewers, if not moreso, and thus they can't be deployed to the front lines for fear of inspiring the Dominion to throw a completely disproportionate response at whatever force its assigned to (unfortunately, why no one thinks to use this to bait the Dominion into an ambush or at least an unwise engagement is not covered.) Or just move the crew to another ship for their diplomatic work and put the flagship back in the fight.
    • The Federation were currently operating in a time of war against the Dominion and they are losing. More than one reviewer has noted that it wouldn't have been too hard to have the crew become divided over whether removing 600 people to potentially save billions is the morally right option.
    • The Son'a and their ties to the Dominion. What should be a critical plot point, is instead briefly mentioned and treated as an afterthought. Sure, Dougherty would probably have wanted proof, but you have to wonder why no one thought to tell him or the Federation that they are basically about to screw over a neutral party and hand medical technology over to an enemy that they are losing a war with.
    • The issues surrounding forced relocation is a complex one that Star Trek normally loves to delve into, but being very explicit that it was only 600 people who were not actually native to the planet graphically undermines the moral dilemma when it came to revolutionizing medical science with a no-strings-attached fountain of youth. A bigger budget to show hundreds of thousands of people on the planet and a resource that was more utilitarian than noble medical research (like a super fuel) could have made something of the plot.
    • Relatedly, the concept of the "flying holodeck" also reveals some of the behind-the-scenes thinking at work: the movie is meant to be something of a Dark Reprise of the fairly well-regarded TNG episode "Homeward", wherein a group of people were rescued from a dying world, in technical violation of the Prime Directive, but which Worf's human brother can't accept ethically (and a lot of viewers sided with him). The movie is meant to show exactly why the PD exists, especially in these circumstances, and show how, if Starfleet didn't have such a directive as a core part of their operational culture, all kinds of abuses of the less-advanced would be possible, even if one uses the very same "humane" technique Nikolai employed in "Homeward". Unfortunately, as noted, the rest of the setup for the plot badly undermines the message.
      • It's also pointed out that the Prime Directive doesn't apply to the Ba'ku, since they are not prewarp (though they choose to live that way) and not indigenous to the planet, and it is not a purely internal matter since the Son'a are involved. But that's textbook Loophole Abuse, using the letter of the law to defeat the spirit of the law. The letter of the Prime Directive doesn't protect these specific people in this specific instance, but the whole purpose of the Prime Directive is to protect people exactly like this from exactly this sort of exploitation. Much could be raised and debated about when the Prime Directive does and does not apply as opposed to where it should and should not apply. It could have been an interesting inversion of the way the Prime Directive usually comes up in Star Trek: instead of finding a reason to break the rule because it would be the morally correct choice, finding a way to apply it where it normally wouldn't because that is the morally correct choice. Instead, with the revelation that the Son'a are the Ba'ku, the loophole is closed as it is now a "purely internal matter."
  • Unfortunate Implications: The characters repeatedly refer to the Ba'ku planet as a paradise and the people as perfect. All of the Ba'ku are skinny, have light hair, and are white. Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis even sarcastically point this out in their DVD commentary.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The Son'a. Despite being "villains," viewers tend to sympathize with them because they're dying and trying to cure themselves. They are Dominion Allies, but this mention is brief and easy to miss, and you'd think that would be more central to the plot if it's true. But instead, the Enterprise Crew whine about how Starfleet had no business getting involved. note  Additionally, the potential for the Ba'ku's source of immortality to be used as medicine was meant to be shown as the Son'a being two faced and caring more about extending their own lifespans than cleaning up their behavior and rejoining the colony, but came off as making them seem reasonable instead.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The Ba'ku, to the point where some viewers argue they deserve to die. The intention was to portray them as peaceful people who only exiled the Son'a because they were morally bankrupt, but the way it's presented, they instead come off as moralistic elitists. It's also kind of understandable that they don't want to lose their immortality, but the potential for its source to be used as medicine muddies this a bit.
  • Wangst: Ru'afo basically spends the whole movie doing nothing but whining and complaining.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: