A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Star Trek: Insurrection has two longtime characters from the Next Generation cast plunge into a playful sexual relationship under the aphrodisiac influence of an alien environment, and they cuddle in a hot tub with alcoholic beverages (by the next movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, they are married). No explicit sensuality or nudity, though. Ray-gun space battles, explosions, and perils include combatants taking fatal falls, and children and families fleeing from an ariel attack -- though rather than being killed the victims are beamed into captivity, making it more like "tag." There is some barely-PG-worthy profanity, and the villains are ugly aliens who undergo frequent plastic surgery. One uses a sort of facelift machine to kill a character.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) of the 24th-century starship Enterprise, receives an emergency summons to a remote, Eden-like planet to corral a member of his crew off on a mission. It's the intelligent android Data (Brent Spiner), gone beserk during some sort of secret surveillance of the planet's civilization, a small society of gentle, contented people who have renounced space travel and technology. Picard and the other crew members do some detective work and discover that behind Data's breakdown is an unethical deal between their commanders in Starfleet and some nasty local aliens to banish the innocent natives and exploit the planet's miraculous resources.
Is it any good?
This reasonably engaging movie seems uncommonly like a typical episode of the hit Star Trek: The Next Generation cast TV show. The budget for special effects is kicked up a notch, but otherwise Star Trek: Insurrection is a fairly routine escapade for the well-drawn, principled, and likeable space-traveling heroes. Early script drafts called for the famously bald Capt. Picard to find his hair growing back courtesy of alien rejuvenation, or Data getting killed. But these Very-Special-Episode gimmicks were ultimately excised, making Insurrection just an ordinary entry in an admittedly extraordinary and high-quality science-fiction franchise.
Even the big payoffs -- stalwart Picard revolts against an ignoble Starfleet and falls in love with an enticing alien -- carry little impact because much the same happened every week on the various TV shows (especially with Capt. Kirk at the helm). Conclusion: if your family loved the television program and considers the characters like old friends, enjoy the ride and the reunion, but don't expect the loftiness attained by earlier Trek theatrical features.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Picard's decision to defy Starfleet. Compare the attitudes in this movie with those in the original 1960s TV show, when Starfleet -- pretty much an idealized vision of the U.S. military -- was a righteous authority that simply never made any mistakes. What happens when authority figures make decisions that are unjust or immoral?
What are some of the parallels between the events of Star Trek: Insurrection and real life historical events? What other sci-fi books and movies draw parallels to real history?
What's the difference between following the rules and doing the right thing? Is there a simple answer to this problem?
- In theaters: December 12, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: June 7, 2005
- Cast: Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn
- Director: Jonathan Frakes
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence, mild language and sensuality.
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