The main problem with Insurrection (among several) is that it's just too puffy and goofy. It feels as if every regular cast member had a specific "vanity" subplot that they insisted on doing, which means we get some truly painful lovey-dovey material from Riker & Troi, a tentative and relatively geriatric romance between Picard and a semi-immortal hot-mom, and loads of Data the Android as he sings Gilbert & Sullivan tunes when he's not delivering dorky quips or kocking villains over with his patented "turnstile swat."
The plot feels like something dug out of an old pile of Next Generation scripts, with a fuzzy focus on the wonderment of newfound youth. The planet our pals are protecting, you see, has a "fountain of youth" vibe going on, and that means we get to see our old space heroes as they deal with pimples, horniness, and acne. To say this material sucks the excitement out of the "action & intrigue" sequences would be a massive understatement. If any Star Trek movie could be improved by adding a laugh track, I suspect that Insurrection would be the one. Still, for all that belly-aching, it's not exactly an awful little space adventure, particularly where the action sequences are concerned -- and I applaud the Trekkies who can still love the flick despite its obvious and myriad flaws.
Disc 1 contains just one extra feature: It's a text commentary written by Star Trek artists (and experts) Michael & Denise Okuda. The track runs throughout the movie, dispensing little nuggets of trivia, be they production tidbits or old-school Star Trek minutiae. Fun stuff for the serious Enterprisers.
Disc 2 is where the treasures lie, and there's a whole bunch of stuff to be found in here! (Gold Star to Paramount for choosing to offer optional subtitles on all of their featurettes. Frankly I don't need 'em, but I always love to see the subs offered as an option on supplemental material.)
It Takes a Village is a 16-minute featurette that focuses mainly on the production design of Insurrection. Various cast and crew members drop by to share their thoughts, and much of the accent here is on the fairly expansive village set that was constructed for the hippie alien families.
Location, Location, Location explains that while most of the Star Trek adventures are shot almost exclusively on sets, Insurrection was an extremely location-reliant shoot. (Most of the flick takes place in the rather lush hippie village.) This 19-minute featurette illustrates that director Jonathan Frakes and production designer Herman Zimmerman seem thrilled to work out of doors, despite the added difficulties that come with location shooting.
The Art of Insurrection introduces us to "concept illustrator" John Eaves for about 14 minutes, and the talented artist walks us through the trek from concept art to finished product to onscreen coolness. Given how many spaceships and gadgets were designed for Insurrection, this is an entertaining peek at the various processes.
Anatomy of a Stunt runs about 6 minutes and offers a behind-the-scenes peek at an action sequence -- that never made it into the movie! Stunt coordinator Rick Avery is forced to toss three stuntmen off a cliff (one of whom is his son!) when Data the Android comes to the rescue!
The Story is a visit with screenwriter Michael Piller as he explains the whys and wherefores of the Insurrection story -- from the inception of the "fountain of youth" conceit to various early concepts that were ultimately deemed unnecessary. This 16-minute visit with the writer is amiable enough -- but what's particuarly telling is a shot of the screenplay's cover, which lists at least 17 rewrite citations.
Making Star Trek: Insurrection is a 24-minute love-fest from all the Star Trek Part 9 performers. It's partly a non-stop gush-a-thon, but there's also a clear and obvious affection among these folks -- for the series, the characters, and their fellow actors. Fun for the fans, but not particularly deep or insightful in any meaty way.
Director's Notebook opens with Mr. Frakes himself admitting that Insurrection's "story wasn't as strong" as the previous entry -- so now I don't feel so bad about sucker-punching the movie a few times. He goes on to explain how he believes this this movie "looks great," but he really hurdles over that "weak story" admission and doesn't look back. The director of Clockstoppers and Thunderbirds spends about 18 minutes talking about the chemistry among the cast, the difficulties of being an actor and a director at the same time, and all sorts of anecdotal material. Classy move on John's part to admit how integral was the guidance of cinematographer Matt Leonetti.
(Easter Egg: Click "left" from the "It Takes a Village" title to highlight a green spot. There you'll get a 1-minute introduction to the fine art of Craft Services, courtesty of Marina "Deanna Troi" Sirtis.)
The Star Trek Universe
Westmore's Aliens is a great little 17-minute visit with Star Trek Make-Up Supervisor Michael Westmore, and we're not just talkin' Insurrection here. (Well, mostly, but there's lot of old snapshots, too.) Mike Westmore has done fantastic work on Star Treks: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Generations, First Contact, Insurrection AND Nemesis -- so obviously we're looking at a body work work that includes lots of Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans, and tons of other freaky faces. Since the make-up effects have always been among some of Star Trek's strongest assets (this is very true of Insurrection in particular), it's pretty cool to sit down and appreciate Mr. Westmore's creations and inspirations.
Star Trek's Beautiful Alien Women is the 12-minute featurette that all you red-blooded Trekkie boys will want to see! From Jeri Ryan, Terry Farrell, and Jolene Blalock to Kim Cattrall and Kirstie Alley, and every lady in between; all the old Trek-babes are present and accounted for. (Glad to see I'm not the only one who thought Alice Krige's Borg-Babe was creepily sexy!) Mr. Frakes reminisces over Bebe Neuwirth, Marina Sirtis, and a particularly "enticing" pair of Klingon babes. Fun stuff, especially for the male fans, though I could have used just one shot of Denise Crosby! Trek vets Robert Picardo and Connor Trinneer also stop by to share a couple of Kiss & Tell stories. And wait till you see good ol' Captain Kirk gettin' busy with a space-babe!
(Easter Egg: Click "right" from the "main menu" title to visit with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello as he's all decked out to play an evil "Son'a" alien!
Creating the Illusion
Shuttle Chase is narrated by co-producer / 2nd unit director Peter Lauritson, who details the Insurrection chase sequence from production design to FX work to finished product. Runs about 9 minutes.
Drones is the same as above, only now we're focusing on a sequence involving the evil drone ships from the flick. This one goes for just about 4 minutes.
Duck Blind is the last of the three featurettes in this category, and it also runs about 4 minutes. Here Mr. Lauritson pays some close attention to the "duck blind" sequence, in which several characters and structures are at least partially invisible.
Here's a collection of seven deleted / extended scenes, which you can which individually or as part of the "play all" function. Mr. Lauritson is back to introduce these scenes, which when combined total about 12 minutes in length. I won't spoil the surprises for you, but here's what the excised sequences are called on the menu screen:
Disabling the Injector
Storyboards - Secondary Protocols is a collection of storyboards of sequences involving clueless villagers and invisible watchers.
Photo Gallery is precisely what it sounds like: lots and lots of on-set snapshots.
Choose between the teaser trailer, the theatrical trailer, the original promotional featurette (5 min.), and for those who live near Vegas, the Borg Invasion Trailer. Cool move on Paramount's part to include the fluffy EPK featurette in the "advertising" archive -- where it belongs.
(Easter Egg: Click "left" from the "main menu" option for a brief & goofy conversation between Michael "Worf" Dorn and Marina "Troi" Sirtis. The gag is that they don't seem to know the plot of Insurrection.)