Matchup of the Day: Star Trek: Insurrection vs. Star Trek Beyond
Today, the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of science fiction’s most enduring franchises. Star Trek Beyond, the big 50th-anniversary film, broke ground in a few ways, not the least of which was finally moving J.J. Abrams‘s “reboot” films away from Earth.
In fact, putting so much distance between the crew of the USS Enterprise and humanity’s homeworld was almost something unique among Star Trek films, as only one other film in the franchise features no scenes set on or anywhere near Earth: 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection. Despite a few stark differences in direction and tone, these movies are not without their plot similarities, either.
With Insurrection, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E venture into the Briar Patch, an area where travel is limited due to quantities of hazardous material – the remains of supernovae, severe radiation, etc. – that hampers space travel. They are there to rescue android officer Data (Brent Spiner), who has apparently gone rogue. What they uncover is a plot to remove a settlement of people called the Ba’ku from their idyllic planet within the Briar Patch, so that the energy from the planet’s rings – which has a miraculous “Fountain of Youth” effect – can be harvested.
In Beyond, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew of the USS Enterprise venture into a dense nebula not far from Starbase Yorktown in an attempt to rescue a stranded alien crew, only to be ambushed by an invading swarm of aliens attacking from the planet Altamid. Kirk must then attempt to save captured members of his crew from the villainous Krall, and stop Krall’s planned invasion of Yorktown.
The films’ villains have a lot in common: Ahdar Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham) and his Son’a crew want to use the radiation from the Ba’ku planet’s rings to regenerate themselves. Krall (Idris Elba) uses an ancient weapon called the Abronath to harvest energy from other beings to prolong his own life. Both are hideously disfigured by their life-extending methods, and both are not exactly what they appear to be: (SPOILERS) Ru’afo and the other Son’a are revealed to be members of the Ba’ku race, while Krall is a long-lost Starfleet captain from a bygone era.
The hostage-taking of several members of the USS Enterprise crew figures prominently in each villain’s MO, and each turns his crusade into a somewhat personal vendetta against the famed starship’s captain.
Big, bad villains and apocalyptic threats are nothing new in Star Trek, but Insurrection and Beyond feel a little different from other Trek films because the action takes place so far from Earth. Instead of trouble coming knocking on humanity’s doorstep, in these films, the crew of the Enterprise has to go find it, because they’re out exploring the galaxy. For a franchise that’s all about “boldly going where no one has gone before”, that seems like an important distinction.
- Star Trek: Insurrection is currently ranked #13 among Star Trek films on Flickchart, and #4,025 of all time.
- Star Trek Beyond is currently ranked #9 among Star Trek films on Flickchart, and #2,243 of all time (and climbing).
Star Trek Films, By the Numbers:
- 13: The number of Star Trek films.
- 4,839: The number of days from the debut of Star Trek on television to the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- 13,378: The number of days from the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to the release of Star Trek Beyond.
- $75,204,289: The opening weekend gross of Star Trek (2009), the highest-grossing film in the franchise.
- $18,513,305: The opening weekend gross of Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), the lowest-grossing film in the franchise (adjusted for inflation).
- 77: The longest amount of time, in months, between the release of Star Trek films. (Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Trek .)
- 24: The shortest amount of time, in months, between the release of two Star Trek films. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.)
- 5: The number of films directed by a principal Star Trek actor. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Leonard Nimoy; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by William Shatner; and Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection by Jonathan Frakes.)
- 5: The number of Trek films that use time travel as a plot device.
- 4: The number of directors who have helmed more than one Star Trek film. (Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy, Jonathan Frakes and J.J. Abrams.)
- 3: The number of films that feature a villain or villains directly from the television series. (Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek Into Darkness, and the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor in Star Trek Generations.)
- 3: The number of principal characters who are killed in a Star Trek film. (Spock, Kirk and Data.)
- 3: The number of times the USS Enterprise is destroyed on screen in a Star Trek film.
- 262: The highest global ranking on Flickchart for a Star Trek film. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
- 2: The highest ranking on Flickchart for a Star Trek film within its year of release. (Star Trek in 2009.)