Tag: Star Trek V the Final Frontier

MOVIE REVIEW | ***TREK WEEK*** Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

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Apparently, not everyone appreciated the feather light touch of subtly and nuance brought to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by director and co-story originator, William Shatner.   According to my crack research team at Wikipedia it was, “a critical and financial failure”.  So a lot of hope was put on the last outing for the original crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  And while it managed to bounce back financially and critically compared to Frontier, I found it a real let down.

Frontier was a bit of a mess, but it was attempting something big.  So at least it was an interesting mess.  Undiscovered Country however, just looks like a tired franchise, out of ideas, trying to finish on an, if not remarkable, at least respectable note.  I felt like I’d heard all these notes before.  An uneasy truce between the Federation and Klingons that not everyone on either side fully aggress with…  Didn’t we see that in The Search for Spock?  An original member of the Enterprise working on another ship that plays an important part in the instigating the action…  Chekov in Kahn, Sulu in Undiscovered Country.  The aging Enterprise and its also aging crew being the only option to save the world through overly convoluted exposition…  That seems to be the starting point for every movie in this franchise.

This outing felt like the biggest slog to get through in the series.  Maybe it fell victim to me mainlining six Trek movies in three days, or maybe it’s just not very good.   The deus ex machina moon destruction that gets the story rolling…  The mystery surrounding the shots fired seemingly by the Enterprise…  The laboured portrayal of Kirk’s hatred for Klingon’s (based on the half assed relationship unsuccessfully established in Kahn and Spock)…  The message of tolerance gently shoved down the audience’s throat like a ball gag…  It all just felt too much of the same old, same old I’d seen over the course of the other movies.  And ultimately, watching Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country felt like work.  Hard work.

By bringing back Kahn director (and writer of a butt load of Trek in various forms) Nicolas Meyer, I’m sure everyone was hoping to recapture some of whatever it was that made Star Trek II the enduring highpoint with fans and critics.  But to me, it just didn’t work.  But there is one major upside to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  According to my afore mentioned crack research team, the 71 year old Deforest Kelley who played “Bones” McCoy, “ was paid US$1 million for the role, assuring a comfortable retirement for the veteran actor.”  So, there’s that.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Directed By – Nicolas Meyer
Written By – Nicolas Meyer, Denny Martin Finn

MOVIE REVIEW | ***TREK WEEK*** Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

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Directed by William Shatner…  If those four words don’t lift your skirt, you should probably check that you have a pulse.  Shatner may have become a jokey self-parody in recent years, but you don’t get to do that without first establishing a strong, charismatic persona that people just can’t ignore.  But in 1989, Shatner was yet to shat-ner the bed completely with over saturation of, and over reliance on, his quirks.  So when I saw his name pop up on the opening titles of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, I was all of a sudden a lot more interest in what this movie might throw my way.

Throughout all the films that preceded this point, Shatner’s enthusiasm and full commitment to even the most outlandish of bullshit has been one of my favourite aspects of this franchise.  Even better, not only did his name appear as the Director, he also gets a “story by” credit.  So the thought of what might happen when this nut job gets control of the story and the helm of the entire movie has me pretty excited.  Success or failure, I was sure it should be glorious.  And as far as his “story by credit” goes, Shatner delivers.

They’re looking for God, people.  Yep, God.  That is the kind of hubris that I want from Shatner.  Similar to every instalment so far, they begin Frontier as the old, almost put out to pasture crew of an antique ship.  Also similar to every other instalment, some contrivance occurs making them the only crew and antique ship up to the mission at hand.   You see, Spock’s half-brother, Sybock has built a ragtag group of apostles and taken some other people hostage so he can hijack the star ship sent to save them.  Once he has a star ship, he’ll use it to fly to the planet where he thinks creation began.  But none of that really matters.  What matters is Shatner, Nimoy and everyone else getting to ham their way through philosophical debates, physical set pieces and general absurdery.

The Final Frontier had a tough job.  Coming off the triple punch of Wrath of Kahn, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home, it would be a tough ask for any movie to follow that saga.  And unfortunately, this isn’t up to the job.  Shatner definitely brings a sense of fun that I didn’t see in the movies leading up to this, but it just misses the mark in too many ways.  Also, the effects, never a strong suit in the Trek series, may be even more on the nose than usual.  When they finally meet “God”, it looks like the same effects for Oz, before he’s found out behind the curtain.  Impressive in 1939, not so much half a century later.

Five movies in, I really do wonder how necessary the regulars are.  Like all the others before (besides The Voyage Home), The Final Frontier cruises along nicely when concerned with the core trio, Kirk, Spock and McCoy.  Whenever we stop down to give Chekov, Uhura, Sulu or Scotty something to do, it feels like the movie jamming on the brakes.  But I think Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was really summed up perfectly by George “Sulu” Takei, who said the biggest challenge of the film, “was learning to ride horses”.  I think there’s something in that for all of us.  Don’t you?

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Directed By – William Shatner
Written By – David Loughery