“It’s a song, you green-blooded…Vulcan! You sing it! The words aren’t important. What’s important is that you have a good time singing it!
Oh, I am sorry, Doctor. (Pause) Were we having a good time?
God, I liked him better before he died…”
“What does God need with a starship?”
Sigh. This movie…
I’m going to do my best to be fair and just with this one, but in all honesty, this movie is just really terrible. It has some isolated moments of greatness, but overall, the story is a mess, the performances are shaky, and the absence of ILM in the effects department REALLY shows (they were busy with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at the time).
But if you enjoy Uhura doing a naked fan dance, the bro-iest of bro-y Klingons being told to apologize for being mean, and Spock shooting “god” in the face with a Klingon bird of prey then, by gum, this is the movie for you!
You have weird taste in movies, but I don’t judge.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
The Ship: U.S.S. Enterprise A (Constitution Class refit) which was obviously hastily assembled and frantically cobbled together from specs of the first Enterprise during Kirk’s multi-month exile on Vulcan. I know the plot calls for it, but I have a hard time believing the Starfleet Corps of Engineers is THAT inept.
The Captain: Kirk. *looks around* huh. He didn’t have to steal anything this time. In fact the ship gets stolen from him. How does it feel, Kirk? Huh?
The Premise: Spock’s half brother Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), who can brainwash people with catharsis (*shrugs*), steals the Enterprise (because again, it was the only ship available) in his quest to find God *makes huge air quotes with fingers* at the center of the galaxy.
That’s literally the whole thing. The plot is padded out with other stuff like cookouts in the California wilderness and the brash Klingon Captain Klaa (Todd Bryant) who wants to explode Kirk because he thinks it would be really cool (and because he’s bored). Other than that, the main plot is as thin as…a thing that’s really super thin (look, they can’t all be winners).
The Best Moments: The camping scene with Kirk/Spock/McCoy is fun.
The scene where Kirk/Spock/McCoy are in the brig is fun.
Are you sensing a pattern here?
There isn’t much that I like about this movie APART from the Kirk/Spock/McCoy moments. They’re genuinely delightful and brimming with McCoy snark and Spock being all passive aggressive and Kirk being all, “I totally know what I’m doing…kinda.”
Although I will admit that I love St. John Talbot (David Warner), the Federation ambassador fellow. David Warner is a magnificent actor whom we’ll see in the next film and in Star Trek: The Next Generation in two more amazing and independently iconic roles, but I love his grumpy, cynical, slovenly persona here. He hates his job, he hates himself, and I’m pretty sure he hates everybody else, except the elegant Romulan ambassador, Caithlin Dar (Cynthia Gouw), whom he seems to find rather compelling by the end.
Why It’s Awesome: It isn’t, but I’ll be nice.
I do like the score. Jerry Goldsmith returns to Trek to give us a genuinely beautiful musical setting that is very different from his more experimental Motion Picture score. The main theme is memorable and soaring and is a clear precursor to his magnificent First Contact theme, which we’ll explore later.
I also like how it shows a more cynical view of Federation idealism. Paradise City is so skeezy and run down, it doesn’t even feel like a Star Trek setting. We’ve got a Star Wars-y cantina, a three-boobed dancing cat gal, and an army of toothless hobos. It all serves no purpose, of course, but it’s a fun set piece for our heroes to pass through as they try to figure out when the actual plot will start.
Let’s see, what else do I like? Um…I like the end credits? Cuz…that means it’s over..
It’s so disappointing that this movie is so blah. This very nearly destroyed Star Trek as we know it since audiences were still pretty meh about TNG, which had just started, and Star Wars was the sci fi franchise that everyone was talking about. William Shatner (who got the directors chair via a contract technicality) has an eye for heroic visuals, but he can’t direct people. The side characters feel like completely different people, especially Scotty and Uhura who have this odd romantic tension that freaks me out (not that they wouldn’t be a good couple, but it’s so awkwardly written that it causes me physical pain). While Nimoy was able to really bring out everyone’s personality and genuineness in the previous film, Shatner just spent all his time making shots look cool-ish and then didn’t spend much time with the actors who all just fumble about and do their best with the script’s clunky dialogue.
Captain Klaa has hair the size of all of the 80’s, but he’s just a bored dude who wants to be awesome. It’s like he’s literally 12 years old…and in command of a ship. He’s not even a main villain, he’s just…there. His first mate (??) Vixis (Spice Williams, a legendary Trek stuntwoman so cool, she’s basically a Klingon in real life) is awesome and would have been a waaaaay better villain if she’d had the chance.
And the whole “god” thing is achingly lame. The Star Trek novels actually give him a name and a genuinely interesting backstory (he’s called The One, and he’s brought through the Guardian of Forever by an all powerful entity known as 0 [Nil] who catches the attention of the Q continuum when the two, aided by some other omnipotent beings, destroy the T’Kon Empire) but in this movie he’s just Disappointment Personified. He’s not any sort of god, Sybok fails in his quest and dies when the Enterprise tries to blow up “god,” and everyone saunters off never wondering what the heck just happened or why. The whole Great Barrier thing is underwhelming, and Sha Ka Ree is never mentioned again. I’d like to point out that in the original series, the Enterprise passed through the other Great Barrier on the outside of the galaxy and it gave Gary Mitchell freaky mind-control powers. I was expecting something a LITTLE BIT cooler here, but alas…
It’s so dumb, I’m going to just stop there and let you go about your business, BUT come back next week for a Star Trek classic that is so good, you can forget Star Trek V ever happened!