Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) (part 9 of 9)

Elsewhere on the ship, Ru’afo is standing at a control panel when Dougherty comes in and tells him they’re leaving. Ru’afo snaps, and beats him up, tossing him over rails, and slamming him headfirst through glass. Eventually, he throws Dougherty into a chair and uses the face-stretching device on him, which somehow kills him instantly. So, essentially, Dougherty just got face-lifted to death. Not much more I can add to that, is there?

Caption contributed by Ed

Face lifts gone wrong, next on 60 Minutes.

Oddly enough, this is the second time Anthony Zerbe has played a villain who dies by having something rather nasty done to his head. The first time was in Licence to Kill, where he’s thrown into a decompression chamber and his head explodes. See, this film is constantly reminding me of better things I could be doing. Not watching Licence to Kill—I mean, I would rather be experiencing my head exploding in a decompression chamber.

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Ru’afo comes onto the bridge and tells Gallatin to begin the harvesting procedure. Gallatin balks at killing everyone on the planet. So I guess he still has some sentimental attachment to the Idyllic Villagers, which will in no way become crucial to the plot later. But Ru’afo tells him to stay strong, and orders him to put the prisoners in a part of the ship which, as Gallatin reminds him, is not shielded from the effects of the harvesting.

Ru’afo simply dismisses him, and sits down in his command chair, and stares at the viewscreen. Two things strike me as unintentionally hilarious. First, the bridge of this ship resembles the student lounge in a college dorm, or a frou-frou coffeehouse more than anything else. Seriously, a comfy looking couch as the command chair?

Caption contributed by Albert

“Can we get some better games in here, already? I mean, who plays backgammon anymore?”

Second, and more disturbingly, there appears to be a giant floating dick moving across the viewscreen which is, in fact, the machine that will do the harvesting. Ah, how Freudian. Yes, the big bad piece of hardware that will destroy the planet is a giant, floating space phallus. I suppose I should avoid the connotations of the Enterprise crew members, all with Naval ranks, boarding the thing. Oh yes, I believe I will.

The sides of the Giant Floating Space Phallus (I’ll call it the GFSP from now on—there’s no need to go all Letterman on the jokes here) begin to open up. It then sprouts wings to form a giant satellite. And at this point, I have to believe that Sigmund Freud would be staring at the screen with his mouth hanging open in shock.

Caption contributed by Ed

Man, sex-ed films in the future are weird!

In the holding cell, we see that out of all the imprisoned villagers, Picard is the only one with the balls to attempt any sort of escape. Did you expect any less? He’s fiddling with some panel on the wall, but gets a warning from Anij. Gallatin enters and orders Picard to come with him. As they head through corridors, Picard lays a massive, unending guilt trip on the guy, about how he’s too much of a coward to prevent this atrocity. He then switches tacks to a personal appeal, telling Gallatin it’s not too late to return to his people. This, surprisingly, actually seems to work. Gallatin agrees to help Picard get in contact with Data and Worf.

Caption contributed by Ed

“I paid good money to see Masterminds. I’d like to speak with you about that.”

And then, it’s back to the bridge as Ru’afo begins the harvesting. A three minute countdown is initiated. Okay, then. Does every big mechanized threat in a Star Trek movie need a countdown?

Data appears, piloting the captain’s yacht, ready to fire on Ru’afo’s ship. Ru’afo blows off the threat. Meanwhile, Picard and Gallatin make their way to the bridge through some duct work. Data does a little damage to the shields, after which Ru’afo orders his men to return fire. Unfortunately, he does it in the most pissy, bitchy way possible. Jesus, has there ever been a villain more whiny than this guy?

Data backs off, and suddenly, the bridge of Ru’afo’s ship is engulfed in a bright light. No one can explain it, so they just continue on. Yeah, why worry? I’m sure that won’t become important later.

The countdown continues and the GFSP ejects a device into the rings. I repeat, the big phallus shoots a tiny, spherical object into the planet’s rings.

Caption contributed by Ed

Oh yuck, it’s shooting its space seed!

As the bridge watches in anticipation (Wait for it), we get a shot of the rock hard device firmly penetrating the soft, yielding rings, resulting in an explosion of white hot… Um, sorry. It’s really hard not to read all sorts of bizarre subtext into the work of the production design team. What bothers me most is that all of this had to be approved by the producers and the director. Surely, somewhere along the way, somebody should have realized what this would look like.

The procedure appears to succeed, but a crew member reports that there are no changes to the rings, and the entire ship seems to be offline. Ru’afo stomps around the bridge and finally notices part of the bridge is flickering in and out. He draws his weapon and fires repeatedly, revealing that Ru’afo and his men are all actually on the holoship. He exposits that they must have been transported when they reset their shields during Data’s attack. Which explains the bright light that bathed the bridge.

While that sounds like an interesting ploy in theory, shouldn’t Ru’afo and crew have known that intense, bright light like that meant they were being transported? No? Okay, forget I asked.

Caption contributed by Ed

Despite all the advances of 24th century technology, mildew buildup is still prevalent.

And so, upon learning that the GFSP has been deactivated, F. Murray Abraham launches into one of the most awful bits of overacting I’ve ever seen. He lets out an anguished scream. Well, actually, it’s more like he’s whining very loudly during a temper tantrum, and it’s just horrible to watch. And this is the take they used, folks.

Caption contributed by Ed


On the actual Head-Stapler ship, the countdown has been stopped at six seconds, and Worf and Picard have taken over the bridge. As they decloak the holoship and lock onto it with a tractor beam, Gallatin reports that Ru’afo and Company must have figured things out, because they’re now on the offensive. On the holoship, some Treknobabble is spewed as Ru’afo tries to get a transporter working.

Picard orders the GFSP destroyed, but Ru’afo’s crew is interfering with this, elsewhere on Ru’afo’s ship. Suddenly, the countdown resumes. Gallatin checks, and it turns out that Ru’afo is onboard the GFSP, and he’s raised the shields. He’s given it protection, if you will.

The bridge starts shutting down. Picard wants to be beamed over to the GFSP, in order to manually trigger the self-destruct mechanism. He grabs a rifle, in preparation for giving Patrick Stewart yet another action hero moment. Gallatin warns him not to fire during the self-destruct sequence, because it could ignite some randomly venting exhaust or something.

Picard beams over to the GFSP, and a rather bland shootout ensues between him and Ru’afo. On the Head-Stapler ship, the crew breaks onto the bridge, and a big fight starts. Actually, it’s more like a bar brawl. But eventually, Worf and Gallatin are subdued.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise (forgot about them, didn’t you? Well, I don’t blame you. The film sure as hell did) races to the planet, homing in on Picard’s location. You know, a scene where they find out there’s trouble would have been nice, don’t you think? Instead, they just appear out of nowhere.

The countdown continues. Over on the GFSP, Picard fiddles with the ship’s controls, and exhaust begins to vent. So, I guess that’s not just a Federation design flaw, after all.

Onboard the Enterprise, they’re rocked by fire from Ru’afo’s ship. Riker tells a random crewmember to target the other ship’s life support systems, and then he sets a collision course.

On the GFSP, Picard keeps fiddling with the controls and Ru’afo comes at him from behind, weapon drawn. Picard tells him not to shoot, because he’ll ignite the exhaust. Ru’afo lowers his weapon, so Picard goes ahead and fires his weapon, igniting the exhaust. Thankfully, this only causes a good accidental explosion, which blasts Ru’afo over a railing. Ru’afo hangs on for dear life, his shawl finally coming off.

Caption contributed by Ed

“No, not my shawl! It covers up my bald spot!”

The Enterprise keeps coming at the Head-Stapler ship, and there’s a funny moment where one of Ru’afo’s men, standing beside Worf, sees the Enterprise getting closer and says, “He wouldn’t!” To which Worf coolly replies, “Yes, he would.” Although, it would have been much funnier if the Head-Stapler had said, “Oh no, he didn’t!” while snapping his finger in the air. I mean, if you’re wearing the shawl, you’re already halfway there, is all I’m saying.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Okay, fine. I’ll play a round of Parcheesi.”

The Head-Stapler ship dodges the Enterprise at the last minute, but the Enterprise fires and disables the ship. Meanwhile, Ru’afo pulls himself up onto a platform. Riker radios Picard, telling him to be ready for beam-up in ten seconds. Picard sees there are only a few seconds left and says, “Sorry, time’s up.” I guess they figured he needed an action hero one-liner, but those are usually said by the hero to the soon-to-be-offed villain, not to his second-in-command.

More unintentional comedy occurs as fire begins to race up the interior of the GFSP (must… resist… tasteless STD joke). To make a long story short (I know, too late), the Enterprise swings by and beams Picard up just as the GFSP explodes. Now, there’s really no reason they couldn’t have beamed Ru’afo up, too, but regardless, he gets blown up with his ship. Geez, even his death is whiny.

Farewell, GFSP. You brought us, well, lots of unintentional comedy, and possibly some really screwed up nightmares, at least for those of us with impressionable minds. Thanks a bunch, you giant prick.

Caption contributed by Albert

—”Hell yeah, I got lucky on this mission. How about you, sir?”
—”You bet your ass, Number One.”

On the bridge of the Enterprise, Riker reports that the forced relocation has been halted on the orders of the Federation Council. The Head-Stapler ship hails them, and we get a genuinely funny line from Worf, who is technically still a hostage.

Worf: Captain, the [Head-Stapler] crew would like to negotiate a cease-fire. It may have something to do with the fact that we have three minutes of air left.

Our coda takes place back on the planet. The villagers return, and the two races are reunited, despite Haystack Boy’s Dad’s skepticism. Off in the distance, we see an Idyllic Villager mom reunited with her Head-Stapler son. She embraces him. So, there’s your big, evil Star Trek baddie: All they ever needed was a hug from Mom. Is there any wonder why this franchise ended up in the toilet?

Caption contributed by Albert

“It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

Meanwhile, Worf reassures Riker that his newly re-blossomed romance with Troi will continue even after they leave the planet. Unfortunately, Nemesis will bear out this prediction. Meanwhile, Picard and Anij say tender farewells. Picard plans to bring some of that Idyllic Villager magic to the Federation Council. Also, he plans to spend a considerable amount of upcoming vacation time with Anij. Yeah, we’ll see about that, won’t we? By which I mean, we won’t be seeing that, at all, ever.

Then there’s one last “comedy” bit from Data as he re-enacts the haystack scene from the opening with Haystack Boy. There’s more strangeness as Crusher calls Data inside, basically like he’s her mom. Maybe Data told her he wanted to feel like a kid again, and Crusher… went along with this? Somebody revoke her medical license, immediately.

Caption contributed by Ed

Naturally, this is a still from Attack of the Killer Haystacks 2: Baler of Blood.

Data rejoins the rest of the crew. Haystack Boy has one last word of advice for Data: “You have to have a little fun everyday!” Trust me, kid, Data needs no encouragement in the area of goofing off and not doing any work.

Immediately following his advice, Data does a dumb “made you look” thing with Riker and everyone has a good hearty laugh. After some final tender looks between Picard and Anij, the crew finally beams away and we go to the end credits.

Caption contributed by Ed

“I might not be able to pick my commander, but by god, I can pick my commander’s nose!”

Well, there’s not much left to say, so I’ll keep this brief. This film is a prime example of why you should have a better reason for making a movie apart from “Well, it’s time to go to the well again.” The film is a limp, dull piece of sci-fi action/adventure with everyone on auto-pilot throughout, and a basic premise that utterly implodes in many, many ways upon any type of scrutiny. No wonder it took them four years to make another one.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Tag: The Star Trek Movies

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  • joe fiore

    Insurrection wasn’t bad. It was a smaller, kinda charming film. How is Insurrection on this list, but Nemesis (aka THE WORST STAR TREK MOVIE OF ALL TIME) not??

  • Clu Gulager Alert!

    They actually never said that the Head Staplers wanted to leave the planet, just that they wanted to “follow the ways of the offlanders.” I took that to mean that they wanted to stay on the planet but have things like computers, replicators, indoor plumbing, etc.
    Not that the movie didn’t have lots of other problems. I always wondered how Will managed to convince the Federation Council to postpone the evacuation (and so quickly too, because apparently the council just sits around all day waiting to make decisions). He couldn’t have known about the “big twist” with the two races being the same. Did he turn on the charm, or does he have compromising photos of all the council members?
    I thought this would’ve made a good NextGen episode, with a few modifications (felt the same way about The Final Frontier). Nemesis was by far a worse movie in terms of glaring plot holes, but at least it had decent action and a good pace.

  • Granger

    I agree with Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker). First Contact was one of the best Trek films (one of the only I personally like), yet how did the guy who directed that end up directing this, because it’s such a bore. But I hardly think it’s the worst ever. It’s just boring and forgettable.

    • Statalyzer

      Because the director isn’t the writer.

  • Jason Carpp

    My least favourite line from the movie is Troi: “have you noticed how your boobs have started to firm up?” Dr. Crusher: not that we care about such things these days.” I thought “be careful what you say, particularly with others around that might listen in.”

  • Jason Carpp

    I do like the line “we’re through running from these bastards”, by William Riker. I thought that sounded just like him. Forget John Wayne, check out Jon Frakes.

  • Mick Reynolds

    What is wrong with all of you naysayers? First of all, its just a movie. Lol second, its a star trek movie. And third, it really wasn’t nearly as bad as some of your comments would have people who have not yet seen it believe lol
    Relax, enjoy it. If you really dislike the writing of the movies so much, go to Hollywood and become a playwright. Lol
    Have a great day!

  • metal_storm

    Yes, this movie is as bad — if not worse — than people are making it out to be. Poor characterizations all around (do we see any character do anything we haven’t seen before — they don’t even seem to be doing the things they usually do!), awful humor (already nailed in this article) and a generally uncinematic look and feel to everything. This is a slightly larger-budget episode movie, like the second X-Files movie. It’s cliched (Data malfunctioning, singing) and pretty self-aware to the point of mockery (let’s make diplomacy a source of comedic relief and laugh at aliens and their funny cultures). It’s also plain boring, trite, dull and unimaginative. Besides the Abrams abortions, this is one of the worst Trek movies ever. Ever.

  • Statalyzer

    “And by the way, how is it that Data, the guy who’s basically third in command, has this much free time on his hands?”

    He doesn’t have to spend 1/4 to 1/3 of his life asleep.

  • Graeme Cree

    “The major problem with the Prime Directive is that it’s never been
    stated exactly what the rules are (only parts of it were ever spelled
    out in the original series).”

    Oh, it’s even worse than that. The rules contradicted themselves in the original series. For example, in Bread and Circuses, it’s clearly stated that no identification of self or mission is permitted. No reference to the fact that there are other worlds with people on them. Then a few weeks later, in The Omega Glory, Kirk cheerfully volunteered that information to the natives. Even Captain Tracy, the guy we were told had violated the Prime Directive, didn’t do that.