Star Trek: Insurrection appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Due to too much tinkering, this became a disappointing image.
The biggest concern stemmed from the overuse of digital noise reduction. In the attempt to scrub clean grain, the movie ended up with a sterile, unnatural appearance.
This became a bigger problem during interiors, and since so much of Insurrection took place on the bright, sunny Ba’ku planet, those exteriors managed to avoid the worst of the noise reduction. Nonetheless, the DNR became a constant, distracting presence that left the movie with a mushy, clay-like appearance too much of the time.
This impacted sharpness, as the image could feel a bit soft and tentative. At its best, it displayed fairly good delineation, but the DNR robbed the transfer of real accuracy and made it less than precise.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, but some light edge haloes crept into the presentation. In terms of print flaws, a few small specks materialized but nothing muchoccurred in thar realm.
Colors tended toward a bright, natural palette, one that those Ba’ku exteriors bolstered. The hues often came across with nice vivacity and fidelity, so they became a highlight of the presentation.
Blacks felt largely deep and dense, while shadows brought fairly appealing clarity, though the DNR again created some concerns in that regard. At its core, I think Insurrection could provide a strong image, but the heavy-handed noise reduction doomed it to mediocrity at best.
Expect a solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. All five channels received a nice workout, as various elements cropped up all around throughout the movie.
Effects moved precisely and accurately from channel to channel, and the entire package blended together smoothly. Surround usage seemed excellent, as the rear speakers kicked in a great deal of unique information as well as support of the front. From flying drones to phaser fire, the flick offered many opportunities for sonic action, and the soundtrack took full advantage of these.
Audio quality also appeared solid. Speech seemed natural and distinct, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music sounded clear and concise, as the score presented natural and dynamic tones.
Effects also worked quite well, as those elements consistently appeared clean and accurate. The track boasted very solid low-end response, with bass that seemed tight and lively. Ultimately, the audio of Insurrection worked very well, and it added to the experience.
How did this Blu-ray compare to those of the prior SE DVD? Audio showed the usual boost in fidelity we find in the leap to a lossless soundtrack.
As for visuals, those demonstrated improvements solely due to the superior capabilities of Blu-ray, and this meant stronger colors and blacks. Unfortunately, the overuse of noise reduction held back this sense of growth and made this a less than inspiring upgrade.
In terms of extras, the Blu-ray mixes elements from the prior SE DVD with new components. We open with an audio commentary from director Jonathan Frakes and actor Marina Sirtis. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at… not much of anything.
They watch the movie and interact without telling us a whole lot of concrete data about the film. On the positive side, Sirtis and Frakes enjoy a nice chemistry, and there’s some charm to listening to them interact as they watch the movie. If they’d been guests in my living room, they’d have been enjoyable viewing partners.
However, as commentators on a taped track, Frakes and Sirtis prove less enthralling. This is mainly because they relate so little actual information about Insurrection. I like Frakes’ willingness to criticize aspects of the movie, and the occasional factoid emerges.
However, those moments are so few and far between that I can’t actually recall anything interesting I learned. The chemistry between Frakes and Sirtis makes this a listenable track, but it’s not educational.
Another running feature arrives with the Library Computer. This “interactive playback mode” allows you to learn about various elements that crop up throughout the movie. It gives us notes about characters, technical pieces, and other connected tidbits.
Some of these are tightly ingrained – such as facts about main characters – while others are more tangential. Because of the changing circumstances of the film’s world, some of the same subjects arise multiple times. For instance, new information about Ru’afo comes up as story elements affect him.
All of these come via links, so when the title of a subject appears, and you select “enter” to read about it. You can examine these in two different ways.
If desired, you can have the links crop up at the appropriate times during the movie. You still have to hit “enter” – there’s no option to let them play without viewer input – but this shows the notes in tandem with the onscreen material.
The “Library” also presents an “index”. This posts the links in alphabetical order. This is a more efficient option if you want to watch the movie without interruption, but it’s less connected to the story.
Either way, the “Library” includes some nice details. It’s pretty dry, but it throws out a lot of background facts and gives us a satisfying glimpse of Trek information.
We find seven featurettes under the “Production” banner. It Takes a Village runs 16 minutes, 41 seconds and brings notes from Frakes, production designer Herman Zimmerman, producer/writer Rick Berman, set decorator John Dwyer, illustrator John Eaves, animal trainer Sheryl Harris, and actors Gates McFadden, Michael Welch and Donna Murphy.
The program covers the movie’s sets, ships and effects, props, and creatures. As implied by the title, it emphasizes designs created for the Ba’ku village. Other elements pop up as well to make this a fairly broad and informative show that lets us know a lot about design issues.
After this comes Location, Location, Location. This 19-minute, 56-second piece presents Frakes, Murphy, Zimmerman, McFadden, Berman, aerial coordinator Glenn Smith, and actors Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis.
As you might assume, it concentrates on the movie’s exterior locations and also gets into more about set design. We get a look at all the spots used to create the Ba’ku sequences and the challenges created by the outdoors circumstances.
There’s enough crossover with “Village” that it seems odd the material’s split into two programs, but “Location” covers its information well. I particularly like some of the anecdotes such as the one about Spiner submerging himself into frigid water.
For The Art of Insurrection, we get a 14-minute, 53-second discussion with information from Eaves. He leads us through a tour of the conceptual art created for the movie.
We look at the drawings as Eaves discusses various elements of their design. It’s a low-key but informative piece.
When we go to Anatomy of a Stunt, we take a six-minute, 33-second ride. It features stunt coordinator Rick Avery on the set as we watch the choreography and execution of a stunt cut from the final film. The show leads us through the stunt well and gives us a quality examination of the various challenges.
We continue with the 17-minute, 19-second The Story. In it we get notes from writer Michael Piller, as he talks about the tale’s origins and development, various themes, different drafts of the script and changes made along the way, character issues and the particulars of various sequences.
Simple but effective, “Story” covers all the requisite topics efficiently. Piller presents an honest look at his work and helps us understand the writing of the script.
The area progresses via Making Star Trek: Insurrection. This 25-minute, seven-second program presents statements from Stewart, Frakes, Murphy, Spiner, Sirtis, McFadden, Welch, and actors LeVar Burton. Michael Dorn, Anthony Zerbe, and F. Murray Abraham. They chat about the story and its themes, acting approaches and relationships, and anecdotes about certain scenes.
“Making” seems mistitled, as that moniker implies a broad focus, whereas the program concentrates solely on the actors. Those folks tend to be unrevealing interview subjects, and that makes “Making” fairly generic at times.
Sirtis has always been a fun participant, and she adds a good story. Stewart also tosses in a self-effacing tale, and the footage on the set makes this one better.
It’s amusing to hear Frakes refer to “wacky Captain Pecan” and to watch Spiner act with an orange. We also get shots of Frakes without his hairpiece.
Heck, I never knew he wore a rug until I saw the images of his bald spot! (Or I didn’t know he wore one in 1998 – Frakes’ baldness became abundantly clear later.)
“Production” ends with the 18-minute, 56-second Director’s Notebook. As one might expect, this sticks solely with remarks from Frakes. It acts kind of like a mini-commentary as Frakes covers general topics related to the movie.
He discusses the story, what it’s like to direct and act at the same time, the atmosphere on Next Generation projects, and various anecdotes about the shoot. He demonstrates a nice sauciness as he chats about the flick and makes this program both fun and informative.
Within “The Star Trek Universe”, we find seven components. Westmore’s Aliens runs 17 minutes, 43 seconds, as we hear from makeup designer/supervisor Michael Westmore and makeup artist Scott Wheeler, though Westmore heavily dominates the show.
He chats about his general inspirations for his alien designs and then goes over the specifics of some of Insurrection’s characters. We learn a lot about his influences and methods here.
For more about the designer, we go to Westmore’s Legacy. It fills 12 minutes, 45 seconds with info from Westmore, his cousin Christiana Benson, and his daughter, actress McKenzie Westmore.
They chat about the family history of makeup work throughout the Westmore family as well as some of Westmore’s Trek work. I never knew the Westmore legacy in Hollywood, so that side of things proves effective, and Westmore’s comments about his career remain compelling.
Next we see Star Trek’s Beautiful Alien Women, a 12-minute, 40-second piece. It includes statements from Frakes, Sirtis, Stewart, Murphy, producer/writer Mike Sussman, and actors Connor Trinneer, Robert Picardo, Terry Farrell, Chase Masterson, and Alice Krige.
A general look at Trek’s babes, it often degenerates into a game of “Remember the Hottie”. There’s not much information on display here, so other than some eye candy, we don’t get much from it.
The next two programs focus on actors. Marina Sirtis: The Counselor Is In goes for eight minutes, 26 seconds as the actor reminisces about the four TNG flicks. She’s always been a fun interview subject, so she makes this an engaging piece.
A continuation of a series started on Generations, Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 3 lasts eight minutes, 17 seconds. The actor discusses Insurrection and some other aspects of his career. Like Sirtis, Spiner is usually an enjoyable speaker, and that allows this to become another good piece.
The 10-minute, 50-second Trek Roundtable: Insurrection involves a few parties. We hear from writer Larry Nemecek, Trekmovie.com’s Anthony Pascale, Planetary Association associate director Charlene Anderson, and Geek Monthly editor Jeff Bond.
They reflect on the movie in a variety of ways. The first two “Roundtables” were pretty flat, but this one works better. It digs into the flick in a reasonably satisfying manner.
“Universe” concludes with Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief 009: The Origins of the Ba’ku and Son’a Conflict. In this three-minute piece, we get thoughts about the film’s races. We already learn all of this in the movie itself, so the clip seems redundant.
Under “Creating the Illusion”, we see three more featurettes. Shuttle Chase fills nine minutes, 36 seconds with remarks from co-producer/second unit director Peter Lauritson. He leads us through the different steps required for the scene. This means he narrates as we go through concept art, storyboards, animatics, and various effects stages.
Lauritson provides similar examinations of Drones (4:43) and Duck Blind (4:38), though we also get some notes from model shop foreman Patrick Denver for “Drones”. All three featurettes offer tight glimpses of the various processes.
Next we find seven Deleted Scenes that last a total of 12 minutes, 56 seconds. Lauritson pops up a few times to discuss the pieces, but most pass with no details.
Although we get an alternate ending and a kiss between Picard and Anij, none of the scenes add much to the story. Probably my favorite is the extension of “Flirting” between Troi and Riker, mainly because it gives us a better glimpse of the Enterprise library.
With that we shift to the “Archives”. This area presents Storyboards for one scene: “Secondary Protocols”. 49 drawings appear and give us a look at the scene’s planning. The Photo Gallery gives us 40 shots, mostly from the set. It’s a decent little collection.
The disc ends with “Advertising”. Two Insurrection trailers appear along with an original promotional featurette. This five-minute, two-second piece mostly just tells us about the story, but a few decent tidbits emerge.
We see movie shots and images from the set and also hear sound bites from Berman, Stewart, Abraham, Sirtis, Spiner, Westmore, and Frakes. The material about the Son’a make-up provides the most substantial data in this glossy and insubstantial program, though it’s useless since we hear everything better explained elsewhere in this set.
Not the best Star Trek film but far from the worst, Insurrection lags at times but it generally provides an entertaining piece. I maintain some philosophical problems with it and think it comes across as dumber than most Trek flicks, but the action and humor make it worthwhile. The Blu-ray offers solid sound and a bunch of bonus materials but picture quality disappoints. This turns into a lackluster release for a spotty movie.
To rate this film visit the original review of STAR TREK: INSURRECTION