Thursday, May 20, 2010

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) [PG] ****

Star Trek: Insurrection opens in the village of the Ba’ku - six hundred people living in balance with Nature on a remote planet. Their planet's rings bathe the Ba’ku in a metaphasic radiation that suspends aging, like a fountain of youth. This radiation is coveted by an off-planet group called the Son’a, who suffer from a rapid aging illness. The Son’a have a technology that concentrates the radiation and can reverse aging, but it will render the planet uninhabitable. So the Son’a have made a deal with the Federation to move the Ba’ku off the planet in exchange for the Son’a technology. Discovering the plot, Picard (Patrick Stewart) reminds his superior that they are ignoring the Prime Directive (no interference with the natural development of any culture), and that Earth's history contains many tragic examples of a native population being wiped out or relocated by a powerful group intent on stealing its land or other resources. Picard cannot stop the plot, so he and the Enterprise crew are forced to take desperate measures to protect the Ba’ku and their planet.

Besides being great science fiction, Star Trek: Insurrection uses the Ba’ku and Son’a as symbols to make a statement about geopolitics. Baku is actually the name of the capital of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea. It's the center of an oil-rich region that has been coveted for its energy resources for centuries. Imagine that the metaphasic radiation symbolizes oil, the Ba’ku symbolizes the oil-rich, militarily-weak Caspian region, the Son’a symbolize the greedy, rapacious U.S. multinational oil companies, and the Federation symbolizes the powerful, energy-hungry U.S. government. In the same way that the Son’a and the Federation formed an alliance to exploit the helpless Ba’ku, so does the U.S. government work with the U.S. multinational oil companies to exploit oil-rich, militarily-weak nations like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and others. We may predict that, as global demand for petroleum increases, and exceeds global production, competition for the Caspian region's oil resources will grow even more intense, and this strategic region, bordered by Iran and Russia, could be where the next oil war erupts.

Labels: action, adventure, sci-fi, thriller
Internet Movie Database 6.4/10
Metacritic 64/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=58, viewers=62)

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