After the success of First Contact it was clear that Paramount was eager for another hit from the Star Trek: Next Generation film franchise with Insurrection. The idea to go for a more lighter tone seemed logical, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, is considered one of the most entertaining of the original series film franchise because of it's laid-back comedic feel. Unfortunately, Star Trek: Insurrection feels like a rushed production with a script that forces the humor to come through as opposed to naturally making it part of it's story.
Wait! This sequel had a story?
The crew of the Next Generation consisting of Marina Sirtis, Patrick Stewart, Brett Spiner, Michael Dorf, Johnathan Frakes, Levar Burton and Gates McFadden basically start some mess between themselves and The Federation over a "Fountain Of Youth" like planet. Somehow another alien race wants their hands on the same thing, or do they?
It doesn't matter either way considering the villain wasn't really a villain, but more like a drama queen from an episode of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.
Michael Piller's script clearly was inspired by the humor of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the problem is there are too many shifts in-between the drama. Most of the comedic elements, including one where Picard and Worf sing while nearly crash landing on a planet surface, make Insurrection feel like a film made by the creators of Super Troopers.
Frakes, who played Commander Riker in the Next Generation television series and returns here in the same role, feels largely out of place in his own film. I always felt he had the weakest performance and the worst character in the Next Generation series. Why? He's way too uptight and when he loosens up for this particular entry of the franchise, it looks as believable as the "romance" they give him with Troi.
Speaking of romance in Star Trek, I never the relationships on Star Trek to be particularly interesting. I hardly believed that Kirk would ever have a relationship with anyone other than himself and The Enterprise, and yet somehow in The Wrath Of Khan we are treated to not only a former flame, but the son he never bothered to see. The problem continued in The Next Generation series and ended up infesting The Next Generation movies.
Here, in addition to the bland Riker/Troi romance, we are treated to another Picard-in-love subplot where the Captain begins to fall for one of women of the planet they seek to protect. Of course due to the fact that she has been regenerated constantly while living on the planet, she is actually far older than she actually appears. This isn't exactly gross considering it's sci-fi, but Picard doesn't seem to engage in the youthful tradition of pre-martial sex when it's clear there's interest from the woman who is interested in her.
Perhaps the only time that I felt a relationship on Star Trek worked was on The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light". In that episode Picard's romance was short-lived (and tragic), but it had the greatest effect on him. Something from that episode needed to be included in here -- at least in terms of emotional satisfaction.
Gates McFadden, who plays Dr. Beverly Crusher in this film and played the same character in the Next Generation series, is given once again very little do to. About the only funny thing she's given is a scene where she and Troi are talking about boobs which causes Data to do a double take. I would have preferred Data be more disgusted.
McFadden, even in the television series, was probably never sure what the producers of The Next Generation were doing with her character. Sometime later towards the end of the series, they hinted at trying to make Crusher a possible girlfriend for Picard. Thankfully that petered out in the films -- they always seemed like distant relatives that regretted meeting each other.
Look at Star Trek: Insurrection as a laughable waste-of-time on a Sunday afternoon, and you'll probably come out alright.