Star Trek: Insurrection appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite a few minor concerns, the movie generally presented a solid picture.
Sharpness mostly looked solid. Some wide shots demonstrated slight softness, but those issues caused only a few concerns. Mostly the film appeared concise and crisp. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, but I noticed some light edge enhancement at times. As for print flaws, I detected a few specks; otherwise, the image seemed clean and fresh.
As it benefited from many daylight settings, Insurrection displayed a nicely natural palette. The DVD replicated these well, and the tones consistently looked lively and vivid. They showed no signs of noise or other issues, and the colors came across as vibrant and distinct. Black levels seemed deep and rich, but shadow detail was a little heavy at times. The movie featured quite a few low-light shots, and these seemed somewhat dense. Still, most of Insurrection presented a positive picture that merited a “B+”.
While the prior Insurrection DVD included only a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, this new release added a DTS 5.1 mix as well. For the most part, the pair seemed very similar. I thought the DTS edition opened up matters a little more and blended a bit more tightly, but I didn’t discern improvements severe enough to give it a different grade.
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 Star Trek: Insurrection worked very well, and it added to the experience.
How did the picture and sound of this “Special Collector’s Edition” release of Insurrection compare to those of the original 1999 DVD? Both areas seemed quite similar for both DVDs. The visuals looked almost identical. The new DVD might be slightly smoother, but not by much. The audio was marginally superior if you screened the DTS mix, but the Dolby tracks on both DVDs were identical. The new disc offered mildly stronger picture and sound, but don’t expect substantial improvements.
While the original Insurrection DVD came with only a few minor extras, the “Special Collector’s Edition” broadens things considerably. Surprisingly, Insurrection doesn’t include an audio commentary. That makes it the first - and only - Star Trek film to lack an audio commentary. Given the boring nature of director Jonathan Frakes’ chats for First Contact and Thunderbirds, I can’t say the commentary’s absence disappoints me too much, but it would’ve been nice for Frakes to try one more time. This also would have created a nice sense of continuity for all the DVDs.
We do find the usual text commentary from Michael and Denise Okuda. The commentary covers locations, sets and production details, Trek trivia and connections to other programs, cast and crew bios, visual effects, costumes, props and set design, and character and story notes. Fans who watched prior Okuda commentaries will find more of the same material here. I suspect it will appeal mainly to moderate fans of Trek. Diehards will know most of the information, while lukewarm Trekkers won’t care. In any case, I like these commentaries and think they’re consistently fun and educational, but that may be because I fall in that “moderate fan” category.
Heading to DVD Two, we open with seven featurettes under the “Production” banner. It Takes a Village runs 16 minutes and 40 seconds and uses a format that will span all the DVD’s featurettes. It mixes movie snippets, production elements, and interviews. Here we receive notes from director/actor Jonathan 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 and 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 and 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 and Eaves discusses various elements of their design. It’s a low-key but informative piece.
When we look at Anatomy of a Stunt, we take a six-minute and 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 and 18-second The Story. In it we get notes from writer Michael Piller. 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 and five-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; 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!
“Production” ends with the 18-minute and 55-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 two components. Westmore’s Aliens runs 17 minutes and 42 seconds. 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.
Next we see Star Trek’s Beautiful Alien Women, a 12-minute and 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.
Under “Creating the Illusion”, we see three more pieces. Shuttle Chase goes for nine minutes and 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 (4:42) and Duck Blind (4:37), though we also get some notes from model shop foreman Patrick Denver for “Drones”. All three featurettes offer tight glimpses of the various processes.
Though not listed on the DVD’s packaging, we do find seven Deleted Scenes. These last a total of 12 minutes and 53 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 DVD ends with “Advertising”. Two Insurrection trailers appear - both of which already popped up on the original DVD - along with an ad for the Las Vegas “Borg Invasion” attraction. We also get the same original promotional featurette from the old disc. This five-minute and 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 DVD offers very good picture and sound plus a terrific set of extras that prosper despite - or perhaps due to - the absence of an audio commentary.
If you don’t own the prior Insurrection DVD, this is definitely the one to get. As for folks who possess the original release, I think a repurchase is in order unless they really don’t like supplements. The new extras are the most substantial difference between the two packages, so if you solely care about picture and sound, you’re probably fine with the old one. I think most Trek fans dig all the behind the scenes stuff, however, so they should be happy with this solid set.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: INSURRECTION