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Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection
A Paramount Home Video Release
1998, 103 Minutes, Color, Rated PG

Starring:  Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 05/11/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Single Layered (DVD-5)
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Interactive Menus, Scene Selection, Behind the Scenes Featurette, 2 Theatrical Trailers

The Star Trek series now adds up to nine feature films with the inclusion of the latest installment, Star Trek: Insurrection, released day-and-date with its VHS counterpart. The story begins when Captain Picard receives a communiqué from Admiral Dougherty that Lieutenant Commander Data is malfunctioning, holding his people prisoner on a foreign planet. The Captain decides to disobey previous orders and bring the entire Enterprise to a region of space known as the "Briar Patch", an inhospitable zone that blocks transmissions and is hazardous to starship travel. When the crew arrives at the idyllic home world of the peaceful Ba’ku they discover a clandestine plot between the Son’a and certain Federation figures that threatens to undermine the Prime Directive - the guiding principles upon which the Federation is founded.

While Insurrection begins at a slower pace than several of the previous films, it quickly develops into an action-packed spectacle. A lot of broad laugh-out-loud humor is provided that brightens the mood and allows even non-Trekkies to get into the story without being overwhelmed by nitty technical details.

The anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen presentation is of exceptional quality. 16:9 enhancement is a welcome addition since not all of Paramount’s previous Star Trek releases have been so endowed. Colors, from the deep reds of the "briar patch" to the bright, cheery blue of the sky are vibrant and well saturated - one of the true selling points of DVD over magnetic tape. Black levels are perfectly calibrated while still maintaining ideal brightness, a welcome sight after The Relic’s dark transfer. Contrary to previous Star Trek DVDs there is little film grain perceptible - the image is sharp, smooth and detailed. The entire film is stored on a single layered disc and occupy just under four and a half gigabytes.

Star Trek films have traditionally been complemented by excellent orchestral scores, and Insurrection is no slouch. Violins, trombones and horns surround you front and rear. Plenty of couch-shaking bass can be found in numerous explosions and engine sounds, while the split surrounds are used well for directional gunshots. The one flaw I detected that detracts from an otherwise superb soundtrack is moderate raspy peaking on some interior vocal recordings, scattered through about one third of the film. Also included are English 2.0 and French 2.0 ProLogic audio tracks. Users with Dolby Digital equipment will have to manually switch from the 2.0 to 5.1 soundtracks with either the setup menu or the audio button.

Paramount is finally beginning to include a few features with each of their discs, which is a welcome change from the previous "film only" style of releases. Insurrection includes two theatrical trailers in 1.85:1 widescreen and 5.1-channel sound, plus a 5 minute behind the scenes featurette in fullscreen video and 2.0 audio. The quality of these three videos isn’t quite up to that of the main movie, but they’re more than adequate.

Star Trek Insurrection will appeal to a larger audience than most of its predecessors, but in exchange loses some of the darker, more in-depth storytelling that appeals to many Trekkies. Overall, it’s a great transfer of a worthy movie that should be on any Sci-Fi fan’s short list.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on May 13, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony KV-27V65 27" Television using S-Video
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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