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After two successful sequels by Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner got a chance to direct his own STAR TREK movie. Unfortunately, the resulting film, STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER, turned out to be what is now infamously known as the worst of the STAR TREK films (I personally would argue that everything after the subsequent STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY save STAR TREK 2009 were even weaker). I don't know whether the blame lies on Shatner (who, in all fairness, tries, but never quite seems to get a good grasp on the atmosphere of STAR TREK in the same way Nimoy did) or on the poorer production values (the special effects are obviously cheap and shabby -- ILM was unavailable to produce them -- and the editing is unforgivably choppy), but either way, this is a major disappointment after a fantastic triad of films. It's not all bad, though; Laurence Luckinbill is well cast as the film's interesting antagonist, Spock's half-brother Sybok, and the climactic confrontation with a mysterious entity who claims to be the God of Sha-Ka-Ree is the highest point of the film. Jerry Goldsmith's music is also top-notch. However, there are too many instances of character distortion (at one point, Scotty becomes goofy and bangs his head and Uhura does a nude dance), failed attempts at humor, and ridiculous implausibilities (how can someone like Kirk climb something as high as El Capitan without ropes?) to recommend STAR TREK V over its superior peers.
1989's infamous Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the one concieved and directed by William Shatner and certainly the weakest of the six films in the original Star Trek cycle of pictures that ran from 1979 to 1991. During his time on Star Trek, Shatner had a parity contract with co-star Leonard Nimoy whereby whatever one got the other was entitled to. Once Nimoy had directed a couple of the films it was inevitable that Shatner's ego would insist he did one too and so he got his wish in the end. The final result was not so great with even Shatner later admitting the film could and should have been a lot better. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier begins with Kirk (Shatner of course), Spock (Nimoy) and Dr McCoy (DeForest Kelley) camping on Earth in Yosemite National Park where Kirk does some macho rock climbing and they all sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat around the fire as they toast marshmallows and eat beans or whatever. "It's a song, you green-blooded Vulcan! The words aren't important. What's important is that you have fun singing it!" I'd like to go camping with Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Sounds like fun. Anyway, their well deserved holiday from galaxy hopping and saving the universe is interrupted when three ambassadors are taken hostage on the arid desert planet Nimbus III. Kirk, his trusty (and by now rather geriatric) crew and the USS Enterprise are sent by Starfleet on a rescue mission but they have a few surprises waiting for them. The head of the apparent terrorist group is in fact a renegade Vulcan named Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill). He's not just any old Vulcan. He has powerful mental abilities that can make people follow him blindly and has become like a cult leader. He also eschews Vulcan disciplines and has emotions (even laughing when the mood takes him and Vulcans never laugh). Sybok has deliberately lured the Enterprise to Nimbus III so he can seize the ship and use it in the ultimate quest for knowledge. He intends to fly the Enterprise through the Great Barrier to the centre of the universe where Sha Ka Ree - the legendary birthplace of all creation - is said to reside. Sybok intends to meet God himself! As if that wasn't enough, he's also revealed to be Spock's half-brother. They kept that one quiet.
I suppose the obvious joke here is to say that Shatner's direction is not much better than his acting but Stanley Kubrick probably would have had his work cut out on Star Trek V let alone William Shatner. The first problem is the story - another cliched staple so beloved of Roddenberry. The Wizard of Oz. Searching for God. It's mildly (I stress the word mildly) intriguing at times but the film never really pays you off and just peters out in the end without ever doing anything especially memorable or interesting. The other major problem with The Final Frontier is that it looks by far the most cheapjack and shoddy of all the Star Trek films. Industrial Light and Magic were unavailable this time and Shatner (constricted by a very tight budget) had to shop around for a cheaper alternative. The special effects he did manage to obtain are frankly embarrassing. The other films have majestic shots of the Enterprise in space and spiffy laser battle capers but you don't really get any of that here. The effects often seem to be computer generated rather than models and they look dreadful. More The Last Starfighter than Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Shatner said in his memoirs that budget cuts made the picture look much cheaper than his vision for it had been and also robbed him of having a big ending. Shatner's ending was deemed too expensive to film (it involved him, Spock and Bones being chased by a rock monster or something) so they had to practically cobble one together from footage they had already. It shows. The beats for the jokes are way off here at times too. Often a character will say something faintly amusing and then everyone seems to stand around for five minutes as if if someone had predicted that would get such a gigantic laugh in the cinema they needed to pause for ages before anyone speaks again. Very noticeable and weird.
There is even a bit of slapstick when Mr Scott (James Doohan) knocks himself out walking through a corridor. It seems somewhat out of character for someone who has always displayed absolute competence and knows the Enterprise inside out. A cheap laugh like Brody in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade being turned into a buffoon. The biggest complaint many Trekkies had with the film was the treatment of Spock and McCoy - who both appear to almost betray Kirk at certain points and side with Sybok. This element was actually toned down after complaints from Nimoy and DeForest Kelly, both arguing that their characters would never let Kirk down in a crisis. Shatner's original idea was apparently even more egomaniacal and he'd proposed having everyone fall under Sybok's spell while Captain Kirk stood alone John McClane Die Hard style! It is unavoidably rather annoying the way that the whole crew become putty in Sybok's hands so easily. You'd think that having seen off Khan, Klingons and Earth threatening gas clouds and probes in the first three films that a bearded hippy Vulcan would be something they could probably handle if they set their minds to it. Sybok's desire to make everyone confront their "pain" and inner turmoil is very hippy new age California and becomes a bit wearing. "Let us explore it together. Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light. Share your pain. Share your pain with me, and gain strength for the sharing." It does though supply a good scene for DeForest Kelly where he has to relive the death of his father.
The theatrical Laurence Luckinbill is ok as Sybok in a part was actually concieved for Sean Connery (Connery wisely decided to do Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade instead) but the character ends up being rather vague. They never quite decide if he's good or bad or clever or an idiot. One weakness of course is that there has never been any mention at all before of Spock having a brother so Sybok always feels contrived and artificial. Todd Bryant as the nutty Klingon Captain Klaa out for Kirk's scalp seems like a tacked-on thread to shoehhorn a bit of action into the mix and is merely rehashing Christopher Lloyd from the third film. It's like they decided the film lacked an obvious villain and invented one at the last hour. The Final Frontier is pretty flat on the whole and looks alarmingly cheap for a Star Trek film. I liked the way that films 2 to 4 all followed on from one another and were like one continuous story. This is the first stand alone entry since the first film and you miss the ongoing arc - the sense of watching unfolding chapters that were connected. Still, despite myself, I always find this film sort of watchable and not as bad as its reputation would suggest. I like the campfire scenes at the beginning and the end, the stirring music by Jerry Goldsmith, the imagery of Sybok first appearing at the start of the film on Nimbus III and, just generally, watching these old codgers together onscreen once again, even if the adventure here isn't so great. It is just fun watching these characters solve problems and interacting together and the fact that they are all old enough for a bus pass now is a part of the charm. You are truly never too old to save the universe. I think Uhura's sultry fan dance was probably pushing it a bit though! I like parts of it and can always sort of enjoy it but Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is clearly a weaker entry in the series and probably one for fans only.
Whilst on shore leave on Earth, Captain Kirk and his crew are summoned back to the Enterprise to travel to the planet Nimbus III where a hostage situation is taking place. On the planet, Sybok, Spock's emotional half brother is holding a Klingon, a Romulan and a Federation representative hostage. This is a ruse designed to apprehend a starhip so that he and his followers can sail past the Great Barrier and meet 'Sha Ka Ree'. Sha Ka Ree (a play on word based on Sean Connery, the original actor offered the part of Sybok) is God. Will the crew and Sybok's followers meet God, and will he be pleased to see them?
Directed and co-written by William Shatner himself, The Final Frontier borrows heavily from The Motion Picture and episodes of the original series. It is much more of a character piece, mainly concentrating on the relationship between Spock, Bones and Kirk. The three of the them put in good performances, adding much more depth to their characters than we have seen before, they are more emotional than previous films and less reactive to science-fiction elements and therefore more realistic.
Shatner does well as the 'doubting' Kirk, a man who isn't taken in by Sybok's claims that they are on a mission to find God. He is more concerned with the safety of his crew and the use of his ship. Apparently Shatner beefed up quite a bit for this role and he is obviously a lot more physical - here rock climbing to begin with and fighting with alien creatures.
DeForest Kelly also puts in a good turn as the ageing Dr McCoy. Suitably grumpy throughout, his character is taken in by Sybok who shows him a vision of his dying father, whom he could have saved. Usually McCoy's character is used as the comic relief; here it is the relationship between him and Spock that generates the most laughs.
Leonard Nimoy's Spock is much more playful in this film. There are some quite silly parts of the film where he uses some gravity boots and is seen floating about the place with them on. This is a little unrealistic and is obviously inspired from Back to the Future films. He also gets to plate a lute and sing 'Row Row Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream.'
The rest of the crew again are bit players, but Scotty gets the biggest laugh of the whole film when he says 'I know this ship like the back of my hand' and then promptly hits his head on a low pylon. There is also a bizarre part of the film where Starfleet commandos think that getting Uhura to dress up as a belly dancer and gyrate ion the top of a sand dune is a good military strategy - this has to be seen to be believed.
In all, the odd numbered Star Trek V obeys the law of the series by being poor and lacklustre. It's a shame really as there is a good story here somewhere, but Shatner never really manages to get to it. This could be due to budget restraints that the film had imposed upon it, but it's also down to the storyline. The film was much derided at the time and was seen a death knell to the film series.
I enjoyed the development of the characters throughout the film, specifically how McCoy, Spock and Kirk are with one another, if there is something to enjoy about the film, then it is that. Shatner's direction is uninspired and perfunctory and has little flair about it, but the music again is excellent from the brilliant Jerry Goldsmith.
Being the penultimate Star Trek film to feature the original crew, The Final Frontier is a bit of a let down, but if memory serves, The Undiscovered Country more than makes up for this one.
Film only review, sorry for DVDers.
Star Trek V has cultivated a bit of a reputation for being the worst of the original crew's outings on the big screen. After the massively successful trilogy that ran from Star Trek II to IV, the poor box office response for "The Final Frontier" almost caused the studios to lose faith in the franchise forever and if it were not for the success of The Next Generation we would never have had the excellent Star Trek VI. Most Star Trek fans can tell you this story but what you won't hear is that Star Trek V really isn't that bad.
Picking up after Star Trek IV, the crew have taken some much deserved leave after a long and stressful series of events that began all the way back in Star Trek II. The original Enterprise has been destroyed and ever reliable engineer, Scotty is busy refurbishing a new Starship Enterprise. Elsewhere in the galaxy, a coalition government of the Federation, The Kilngon Empire and The Romulan Empire, as the three main powers in the region, have formed a coalition government in a failed experiment to create a peaceful, haven planet. The three representatives of this government are about to be taken hostage by an eccentric, Vulcan terrorist. Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise will be left to resolve the situation.
As the film begins it becomes clear that it is written in the vein of the previous film, the script uses are familiarity with the characters to create humour. Unfortunately it's not quite as successful as the last film and when the meat of the plot begins it's clear that the two are mismatched. As the story develops into more serious and philosophical areas, the zany antics of the Star Trek gang become a bit embarrassing. Fortunately they do tone it down in the second half of the film and by this point it has developed a character of its own. Despite its schizophrenic style, if you sit to watch the film through the experience is not unsatisfying.
William Shatner steps into the director's chair for this film and I think this has a lot to do with its poor standing. Shatner has become something of an unintentional comedy figure over the years and I'm pretty sure people enjoy a giggle at the thought of him directing. Sadly for Shatner, I don't think he ever deserved the giggles. The Final Frontier is competently directed throughout and at no stage does Shatner surrender to his infamous ego. Instead, he respectfully directs each and every shot. He understands that in a Star Trek picture, the starship is the star and does the best job with the bridge that he can. It's just a pity that the studio pulled the carpet out from underneath. It's well known that the humour was included at the studios insistence and that the budget was repeatedly slashed. The special effects here are the weakest seen in Star Trek since the 60s but Shatner knows how to restrain the scenes so this isn't obvious at first. What's really tragic is that the shuttlebay sets and other less seen areas of the ship look a bit cheap. However, this isn't intrusive and the film tends to maintain its credibility.
The cast here is on top form, they've played these parts for years now and they're familiar and comfortable. The minor characters get less screentime than Kirk, Spock and Mccoy but this is nothing new. However, in this picture there are times when the lack of the supporting cast really feels like a shortage.
Otherwise, this is a decent film but it does have some notable weakness that have been over-estimated a bit too often.
"Space, the final frontier." For four decades now, those simple words have been associated with one of the biggest cultural phenomena to come from US television. So when those magic words were applied to the fifth movie, expectations were high. Alas Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was something of a misfire, but that doesn't stop me from revisiting the original DVD release from time to time.
An enigmatic Vulcan has taken the representatives of the three major powers hostage on a barren world in the Neutral Zone. This untimely crisis interrupts the hard earned vacation time of the Enterprise crew, although Scotty has foregone his leave to repair the new Enterprise, a ship with more than a few teething troubles. The rescue mission goes badly wrong when the crazed Sybok captures the landing party. He reveals his intention to steal the Enterprise and take it to the centre of the galaxy, where lies the fabled planet of Sha-ka-ree and an encounter with god himself. Sybok has a mental power that converts people to his cause, and Kirk finds his own crew turned against him. Even his faith in Spock is shaken when Spock reveals that Sybok is his brother. Meanwhile the Klingons aren't far behind.
A Special Edition with an anamorphic picture and plenty of bells and whistles has superseded this edition of Star Trek V. However if you do find this, you'll have to put up with a 2.35: 1 letterbox transfer that does a pretty good job with the clearer scenes but struggles with grain and definition when it comes to dustier or darker moments in the film. There were moments that I felt that reds were over saturated, and of all the Trek films, this one suffers more than most when it comes to lacklustre special effects.
You get a choice of DD 5.1 English and DD 2.0 Surround German. The surround does a good job of conveying the effects, there's plenty of ambience and the action gets some hefty sounds backing it up. There are plenty of subtitle options and they are all zoom friendly.
This barebones disc comes with the theatrical and teaser trailers, but what more would you expect from Paramount and their idea of features/
I've never used the word balderdash before, but that sums up this preposterous story to a tee. The search for God is a waste of ninety minutes, a sense of mysticism and wonder that is completely misplaced in this ridiculous premise. What makes it all the more disappointing is that of all the Trek excursions, it's in this film that they manage to recapture the magic that existed between the original series characters, and explore the dynamics and friendships between them.
When you forget the plot, and concentrate on the Kirk, Spock, McCoy relationship in this film, it becomes an enjoyable experience. The strongest moments in the film are when the three are sat round a campfire discussing the meaning of existence and how it applies to the lyrics of 'Row Your Boat'. The supporting cast also get to shine, though not always in a complimentary manner. Scotty knocking himself out on a overhead beam in a ship that he knows like the back of his hand, seems a crass and misjudged attempt to get a cheap laugh, and the less said about Uhura's fan dance the better. But this film hints at a deeper friendship between the two than is explored in previous or subsequent Treks.
Despite the plot, the guest cast acquit themselves well, with Laurence Luckinbill bringing an earnest veracity to the misguided Sybok, and David Warner making an early appearance in Trek as the bedraggled ambassador St. John Talbot.
Star Trek V, is fast paced, action packed and has that magic that has entertained generations of Star Trek Fans. It's just a shame that the story was so pitiful. You can put your mind in neutral and have a good time with the antics of the original crew, and when it comes to character, Star Trek V is still light years ahead of many other sci fi film.
With the brand new Enterprise-A being introduced to us at the end of the previous film, it was inevitable that the crew of Starship Enterprise would have the chance for more big screen adventures to be released, the ending of Trek IV effectively opened the door. With Star Trek V - The Final Frontier we have a complete mish mash of a story and complete and utter mess in continuity and a complete injustice to fans.
The film begins with Kirk, Spock and McCoy on a camping trip, unknown to them a renegade Vulcan has taken hostages on the plant Numbus III. The planet being unique as it is the only place in the universe that Klingon, Human and Romulan live together. The Enterprise is sent, the problem being that the Enterprise is not fully operational as transporters don't work; instead shuttlecrafts are used as means of transportation. When the Enterprise arrives they find that things aren't what they were told by Starfleet Command and find themselves caught in the middle of a diplomatic episode that has been orchestrated from the beginning.
All the main cast have returned, again the main characters all have slightly different aspects to them. Early on in the film we are introduced to them as they are being rounded up for the mission. For the characters of Chekov and Sulu this is their outstanding moment, even though the scene is quite embarrassing as the Helmsman and Navigator of the Enterprise are lost. Scotty seems a lot more laid back about the whole thing and acts as back up, although very loud at times and also the character is suggested to be having a romance with Uhura I the early part of the film. Uhura has her own scene that shows Uhura doing a fan dance on a ridge as a diversion to allow Kirk and party to enter the buildings in Paradise City where the hostages are being held, it is also suggested that she is naked apart from the feathers.... moving on! The whole feel of Paradise City is very Cowboy to say the least, set out in a desert with winds blowing the sand, Kirk and party also travel on horseback as well to enter Paradise City.
The film centres on Spock who is the key to the story as it is the revelation that he is related to Sybok, the leader of the terrorists on Nimbus III. Spock becomes the character that has to decide who to join as he has to decide where his loyalties lie. Something that Kirk tries to take advantage off throughout the film. Sybok was originally due to be played by Sean Connery hence the name of the character, however Connery decided to play Henry Jones in the third Indian Jones film instead... good call! Sybok is played by actor Laurence Luckinbilll, who has the task of attempting to convince Kirk that the Enterprise is the right craft to complete his premonition that he has received from God. Luckinbilll has the charisma to fill the screen with his personality, but you cannot help thinking that the character was a last minute thought as the God storyline is a pretty lame thing to fall back on. In fact it is only Dr McCoy that seems to get the lighter ride, with Kirk being beaten up and forced to relinquish Command, Spock having family issues and the rest of the cast being locked out for what seems like the remainder of the film, it is clear that the film has indeed to go to the final frontier.
There are a number of problems with the film; firstly the problem is William Shatner. In an attempt to emulate the success that Leonard Nimoy has had as director of Trek III and Trek IV, Shatner has attempted to put his own spin on the films and this has backfired completely. The look of the film is not as epic as you would expect from a film that is trying to continue o from the massively entertaining Trek IV. The direction of over the shoulder shots and alternate angles give the film the feel of a TV two part show rather than an epic film that this is supposed to be.
Secondly, the plot is somewhat smaller in impact and nature than before and doesn't seem to have the gravity of a Star Trek film; this makes the film feel uncomfortable to watch. A good example with the script is the scene with Uhura and Scotty flirting together on the bridge or the fact that the Enterprise now has a staggering 72 decks when before it only had 11! This is never explained and yet can only be assumed that this is a mistake that continuity didn't pick up. Also the way the Enterprise has been fitted out looks just ugly, pipes run across the corridors that the cast have to manoeuvre and lift a leg to get themselves over to get through, this doesn't work at all.
Thirdly, the ending with Kirk being attacked was cut due to budget constraints. This meant an alternate ending had to be thought of and what has happened has meant the film ends on a whimper rather than a bang.
It's hardly a surprise to learn that production had its own problems; Paramount didn't really want to be flexible for the release date of August 1989. This was so that the film could compete with the big releases of Batman, James Bond, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This meant that special effects company ILM couldn't supply the required special effects to the film and therefore Paramount got another company to do these for the film. The result is hardly worth writing home about as they tend to compete on the same level of the effects from the TV series.
Extra wise the film contains a lot of arguments put across from the cast as to why the film doesn't work, Documentaries about the making of the film has Shatner saying why the Executives at Paramount wanted thing done their way and how he didn't agree. This on its own is more entertaining than the film as Shatner really does show some anger towards Paramount. There is also the chance to see the lengths that the production team went to get the proposed ending. There are a number of deleted scenes and also a text commentary that helps lift the film when watching it again. Overall this isn't a bad package of extras, but seeing the calibre of the film its not surprising that the back up entertainment is actually better than the main feature itself.
This was easily the lowest point in the Kirk tenure of the franchise, the problems that I have mentioned with the film just doesn't help and by the end the viewer starts to see the whole film fall apart. As I said earlier as a two part TV movie this would have been good and compared to the recent Red Dwarf offering is still a lot better in entertainment, its just that this is the fifth film in the franchise and the standards have dropped considerably. Add in a number of scenes in which the characters are not performing at their potential then this is a film that can be given a wide berth without actually impacting anything else in the series of films.
Sure...the Engines work...but its everything else that doesn't. Good old Scotty...having to deal with Kirks every whim!
Star Trek five was directed by Leonard Nimoy and is dare I say....the weakest of the Star Trek movie franchise.
To be fair to it though, there are so moments of genius. I loved Mr. Spock, Bones and Kirk singing 'Row Row Row your boat' around the camp fire. It is a touching moment, especially when Kirk laments that he has always known that he will die alone...it is like the last supper for three dear colleagues...who have become great friends and family.
I also enjoyed seeing the new ship (remember the old one was burnt up in Star Trek 3). It was originally the USS Yorktown, but was renamed in honour of Kirk and his crew who had just saved Earth...again (see Star Trek 4)!
The scenes with the rocket boots are also really well done and a lot of fun.
The film is about the search for God and features many of the fine original cast. it also, features Spocks brother...a Vulcan who has enbraced his 'humanity'.
the film has all of the elements that we have come to love in a Star Trek film, buit it lacks the gravitas of even the weakest of episodes. I watched it...I wanted to love it, but I couldn't (surely I am not the only one who would not get turned on by Uhuru dancing sexily in the sand dunes!).
In terms of Trek films,it is more like an episode. I didn't walk away from it thinking about it...it is forgotten about quickly and deep down I kind of think that that is for the best!
William Shatner, circa 1988:
"I'm fed up. Star Trek was meant to be MY series, MINE. I was the star. First billed. I was the one who was meant to get all of the girls and who the series was meant to be based around. But instead that SOB Leonard Nimoy got too much credit. Just for sticking on some pointy ears and pretending to have no emotions. When the show finished he got straight onto a starring role on Mission Impossible, and I got to do hardly anything and even had to live out of my car for awhile. I was meant to be the star. I was meant to be the one who'd get work as a lead on another show straight away, but no, Nimoy gets it. I have to wait until the 80s to get another successful TV show, TJ Hooker. And that was rubbish.
"OK, so finally we get to make a film in the late 1970s. It was meant to be a new TV show and Nimoy wasn't going to do it, but once it became a film he came on board. Well there's a surprise, a chance for higher exposure in a film of course.
"Then he only agrees to come back for the second film if he gets killed off because he doesn't want to play the role anymore.
"Then he only agrees to come back for the third film if he gets to direct.
"Then he only agrees to come back for the fourth film if he gets to direct and come up with the story.
"Well now its my turn. I want to direct. I want to come up the story. Oh bugger, I can't think of anything. I know, let's have Kirk and his crew meet God, or at least someone pretending to be God, that always seemed to work in the old series.
"Nimoy'll want to have something worthwhile to do or he won't come back. I don't care, I don't want him back, this is meant to be MY series. Ah well, I guess the audience probably won't come if he's not there, the fools. Let's give him a brother then. That's right - audiences have known this character for over 20 years, but they'll swallow a brother that they never knew about.
"What about the rest of the cast? Well they don't matter, let's not give them much to do, they're not important anyway. Oh hang on a minute, let's have 50-odd-year-old Nichelle Nichols do a flirty semi-naked dance in silhouette on a ridge. Yeah, that'll bring the young lads in to the theatre. Stupid fools.
"Special effects? Damn, the studio haven't given me much money to make the film. Never mind, let's make the special effects out of papier mache where we can, that'll save some money. The audience'll never know the different between good effects and bad effects. It's Star Trek - they'll come anyway.
"What? You'll only let me direct 1 film? But Nimoy directed 2. It's not fair. I'm going to throw a tantrum. Oh, it's not going to work? OK then, I'll just make a rubbish movie, that'll show you..."
...and so he did.
I have posted this review on ciao under the username phurren2006
If you sat patiently through the first four Star Trek films solely in the hope of seeing awe-inspiring sights like Kirk in a chequered shirt, Spock eating some baked beans and neck-pinching a horse, Scotty banging his head on the ceiling in an almost convincing way, an ageing Nichelle Nichols performing a nudie dance behind big leaves, ingenious foreshadowing of rocket boots as a subsequent plot device, a second-rate actor pretending to be Sean Connery, and God zapping lightning from His eyes
you probably would have left the cinema feeling extremely disappointed. But have no fear: Star Trek V is here! For all your overacting, franchise-embarrassing needs. You make me sick. Its only a shame that Kirks pursuit by a rock monster was cut. Apparently, they couldnt make the costume look convincing enough, because a scene like that would be quality Star Trek in all other respects.
Its easy to dismiss Star Trek V as the worst of the profitable and popular Star Trek film series by far, and as a wholly unwatchable film in general. It just gives you so much material to work with. But for fairness sake, the end result of this shambles is largely due to studio interference and general bad decisions and bad luck all round. Ego-mad director William Shatner gets criticised slightly more than he is due in attempt to repeat the success of his co-star Leonard Nimoy, who did a nice job helming Star Treks III and IV.
Star Trek V is the story of a madmans search for God. The Vulcan Sybok (Captain Spocks brother), blessed with a unique telepathic ability, holds Federation, Klingon and Romulan delegates hostage on Nimbus III in a ploy to lure a starship which he can then steal to travel through the Great Barrier at the centre of our galaxy. Unfortunately for the holidaymaking crew of the new and not-quite-operational U.S.S. Enterprise, they are once again the only available ship to deal with the disturbance, and to play right into Syboks hands.
The search for God in an apparently godless Utopian future is marketed as the greatest adventure yet for the Enterprise crew, but this whole film feels like a second rate episode of the television series, especially disappointing after the high quality of its cinematic predecessors. Everything has been done before, and more impressively: the ships takeover, the mutual deal with Klingons, a powerful alien masquerading as God and the shock factor that other Vulcans are related to Spock. Gene Roddenberrys atheistic universe is founded on the principle that all organised religion is detrimental to human progress and enlightenment, following his own beliefs; The Final Frontier does nothing but dance around this issue with some poor action scenes, out-of-place humour and forced attempt to regain the character dynamics of the original series.
This film does contain some particularly cringe-worthy humour from the onset, which serves to completely ruin what should have been a thoughtful, mystical and sombre tone. The success of Star Trek IV, which was occasionally funny in its people of the future visit the 1980s plot, somehow convinced Paramount that audiences would only accept a sequel that was full of silly jokes. Thus, we have the embarrassing campfire scene in which Kirk, Spock and McCoy perform Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Spocks hilarious punchline: Captain life is not a dream. Go to sleep, Spock. The most offensive scene comes when the late James Scotty Doohan is forced to reduce his engineering genius to a bumbling, fat fool who falls over, while the triumphant rescue scene near the end is spoiled by Spocks out-of-character quip: please Captain, not in front of the Klingons! Woo-hoo, what a script! If it wasnt for all of these pointless and detracting light hearted moments, I could begin to take the predictable plot of Star Trek V a little more seriously.
Supporters of this film praise the return of the power trio from the original series, namely the interaction of Kirk, Spock and Doctor McCoy. This featured a little in the earlier films, but for the most part the characters were separated into one-on-one discussions, nevertheless providing some great Spock and McCoy banter in Star Trek IV. The trios early scene in Yosemite National Park doesnt fit comfortably into the Star Trek world, but thankfully their scenes on the Enterprise are somewhat better. As usual, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov and Sulu are all but ignored (they have always merely been supporting characters after all), but most are at least assigned tasks that are relevant to the plot.
This is arguably the only film in the franchise that plays out exactly as a TV episode would, with the ships crew at their correct posts and the status quo effectively being restored by the end with no lasting consequences. Whether this makes it better or worse as a film, in contrast to the to be continued style of the successful trilogy of sorts in the three previous films, is down to the viewers patience.
As if all of the important aspects of the film aren't bad enough, the special effects of Star Trek V are also pretty poor. Apparently due to Industrial Light and Magics commitments elsewhere, we have to settle for substandard optical effects of the Great Barrier, shuttle antics and a space battle with the Klingons. The musical score is also strangely unsatisfactory, and is easily the least impressive of the franchise; Jerry Goldsmiths fanfare-heavy theme for the first Star Trek film (re-used for the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation) is re-used completely here for the opening titles, and the only music that stands out elsewhere is the silly 80s ethnic dance number for Uhuras dance. This film really doesnt have a lot in its favour. Just imagine if Sean Connery had accepted the role he was offered to play Sybok, if he hadnt been busy filming Indiana Jones. Just imagine if Shatner hadnt been offered the script.
Star Trek V has long been available on video and DVD, and was recently re-released as a special edition with bonus features. Eager to repair the films quality and reputation, Shatner reportedly asked for the opportunity to re-cut the film, as Robert Wise was permitted for the first Star Trek picture. Shatners original proposal for The Final Frontier would have resulted in a much darker and less silly end result, in which all of the films first half would have been the same, including the rubbish mountain climbing / campfire scenes. On second thought, maybe this guy deserves everything we can throw at him.
His request was denied, leaving Star Trek V as one-star material for ever more. Kirks mock-prophetic justification for climbing dangerous mountains reflects the only real reason for Star Trek fans to accept this terrible film into their collection between films IV and VI: because its there. Shatners egotism is evident in his over-the-top acting, self-indulging rock-climbing and fist fight scenes and steadfast, rebellious dialogue with the Almighty. It all culminates quite spectacularly at the end of the film, in Kirks response to McCoys starry-eyed question of whether God is really out there. Shatner grins, points to his own chest and says: maybe hes right here.
Admittedly, he then follows up with the Roddenberryesque point that God resides in the human heart, but if your video happened to screw up at that point, it would make for a far more satisfying ending and moral. He should have been given that directors cut.
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForrest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koening, Nichelle Nicholls, Laurence Luckinbill, David Warner
Directed By: William Shatner
What's it all about Alfie?: A renegade Vulcan (Spock's half brother no less) believes he has found Eden. The Enterprise gets dragged along. Jim batters God.
Can you give me a bit of interesting information about the film?: Enterprise-D corridor sets from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" were used as Enterprise-A corridors in this film. Very few cosmetic alterations were made so as not to interfere with filming of the TV series, which was under way at the same time.
Out of the ten Star Trek films, where would you rank it?: 10th
You know that feeling you get in your throat when you know you are going to be sick but your body hasn't caught up to your mind yet. That is the feeling I get every time I think about the abomination that is Star Trek V.
In Premiere Magazine's 'Top 20 Films For Summer' of 1989 Star Trek V came in fourth behind Indiana Jones, Batman and Ghostbusters II. When you find out it only managed to scrape a place in the top 15 and is the second lowest grossing Star Trek movie (ahead of 'Nemesis' which didn't have a summer release) it slowly dawns on you how bad this film was. And the fault of this can lie only at one mans door; William Shatner himself.
The story, if you can call it that, follows Kirk (recently demoted back to Captain) and crew sent on the new and untried Enterprise-A to find out just what the devil is going on the 'Planet Of Galactic Peace' in the Neutral Zone. It turns out that a renegade Vulcan (we know he's renegade because he laughs a lot and has long hair) has taken representatives of the Federation, Klingons and Romulans hostage. However when Kirk and the boys arrive on the planet they find that, instead of being glad to be rescued, the captives have been brainwashed by the Vulcan and, after some dilly dallying on the surface and a very poorly executed crash landing of a shuttle in the Enterprise's shuttle bay it turns out that the renegade Vulcan, Sybok, is actually Spock's half brother. No, really. Didn't see that coming from a thousand miles off did you?
As, one by one, the rest of the crew are 'brainwashed' by Sybok, Jim and his trusty lieutenants, Spock and McCoy try in vain to radio for help but, wouldnt you know it, it is intercepted by a Klingon ship who just so happen to want to get Kirk for all the damage he did to the Klingon nation in Star Trek III. When Sybok's true intentions become clear (he claims to have found Eden which all the different aliens call something different) he allows Kirk to take charge of the ship again and they all go in search of God, chased all the time by the Klingons.
Now usually when writing reviews, I tend to go a little further into the plot than that but.....errrr....that's it really. And who wrote the story? William Shatner. And who directed the film? William Shatner. There does seem to be a pattern emerging here.
To say that this is a vanity piece for Shatner is stating it mildly. From the start of the film when he is climbing a sheer rock face in Yosemite (called El Capitan, geddit?) to the fact that the only lines that Chekov and Sulu seem to have are in the first five minutes, to the fact that his DAUGHTER plays a yeoman, Shatner seems to have been given his head and told to run with it; straight into a brick wall. Never has Leonard Nimoy looked more pained as Spock, and this is the man who directed Three Men and a Baby. One can accept that Shatner wished to move away from the 'Spock Trilogy' of Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock and Voyage Home but he constantly alludes to it, with the Klingons after him for the events of Star Trek III and the references to Spock's death and rebirth. The little bits of back story are shoddy; for example if Spock is a Captain, why is he on the Enterprise and not commanding his own ship?
The attempts at humour are leaden; you want Scotty saying that he knows every crook of the ship and then immediately banging his head on a bulkhead? You got it. You want a cringeworthy attempt at Row, Row Your Boat by Spock? That's there too. And surely the laughs that come when the guards on the Planet of Galactic Peace are distracted by a naked Uhura were intended? No? Come on, Uhura was sexy in 1966 but she was nearly 60 by then. There is just no excuse.
The film that put the nail in the coffin of Star Trek films being event movies this has nothing to recommend it except using the DVD as a coaster. Luckily they went back to tried and tested people for the next film but this will always be remembered as when the ego that was William Shatner finally landed.
Yes the old team are back - William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly et al. All looking far too old to be doing this sort of thing. Ironically, the starship Enterprise has been refitted and most of it doesn't work quite the way it should and has seen better days - bit like the crew then!! The plot of the film is so thin as to be transparent. Basically, strange Vulcan type manages to show people the way to enlightenment (brainwashing we call it!!). When he's brainwashed enough people for a small army he takes over the capital (and only) city on the Galactic Planet Of Peace. Kirk, Bones and Spock are enjoying a bit of camping (and that's not just the acting!!) when they are recalled to the barely working Enterprise. Their mission - to go and rescue the ambassadors (including a Klingon) to the Galactic Planet of Peace (yawn - haven't we seen that before?). They rush off as fast as their zimmer frames will take them, racing against a young (possibly prepubescent) Klingon who thinks by confronting and killing Kirk he will become famous (only as a mercy killing!!). The nasty Vulcan type takes over the Enterprise, reveals himself as Spocks brother, and charges into the Galactic Barrier (a sort of no go area for starships - bit like the M25!!). According to our Vulcan zealot this is where the universe was created and therefore where God must be. OK - first of all lets get this straight - I do like Star Trek, but this has to be the low point of the who franchise. Absolutely nothing happens in the film and the crew of the Enterprise are playing the whole lot for laughs!!! My recommendation - stay well away unless you dress up as a Starfleet Officer on the weekend or you are REALLY bored.
I've always liked Star Trek and, because of that, I'd taken great pains to avoid this movie (even Gene Rodenberry, Star Trek's creator, tried to say wasn't really part of the Star Trek story). I mean, I always knew that Bill Shatner was at best an average sort of actor and, having read one of the TekWars books on a train journey once, knew that he couldn't write for toffee, but this acting/writing/directing disaster truly plumbs new depths of ineptitude. This movie is the momma of all turkeys and I am still cursing my wife for buying me the movie box set for my birthday and exposing me to it. Ignorance, in this case at least, was bliss. STV is so bad, in fact, that I'll going to spare everyone's delicate feelings of IMDb users and only discuss the first half hour, just to give a taster of how completely awful the whole thing is. But where to start? How about basic logic flaws? At Kirk's opening scene, for instance, he falls thousands of feet off a mountain and is caught by Spock (wearing magic boots) a scant six feet from the ground without damaging himself at all - inertial dampers in Kirk's wig anyone? Or in the bar on the "Planet of Galactic Peace" (TM Really Corny Names Inc) which features a sexy dancer who appears to be half-woman and half-cat and is obviously intended to entice in horny drinkers, in spite of the fact that there seem to be no half-man, half-cat beings on the planet (certainly there are none in the bar - she gets thrown into a bath or something later on by Kirk which allows the viewer a good view of the wires lifting her out of the good and somewhat over-weight captain's arms and propelling her through the air?) Or how about the plain embarrassing - Nichelle Nicholls doing some kind of sexy dance wearing mainly see-through bri-nylon sheets and exhibiting the fact that, while she might look good for her age, she has the legs of a lumberjack and would not - as in the
movie - entice every guard in sight to throw their weapons away and run up a hill to ogle her, thereby allowing Kirk and his pernsioner sidekicks to slip into the city (and don't even ask where the music to which she is dancing is coming from ?) Or let's try the rationale for the Enterprise going to the PofGP in the first place, despite the fact that even the doors don't work and with, as Scottie (James Doohan as splendid as ever at least) points out, not even a skeleton crew. Well, eh, you see, there's no other Starships about, um, and hey - half a dozen over-age and over-weight fifty and sixty year-olds plus a few expendable security types must be better than sending half a dozen faster smaller ships with a full complement of highly trained and motivated troopers...or something. Frankly, the entire movie is dreadful. Even the special effects are a bit ropey and the actual premise of the story is not worthy of an episode of Space 1999, never mind a multi-million pound chunk of Paramount's most profitable franchise. Now at least we know why Shatner never directed another one.
This was the movie where William Shatner took over the directorial reins from his colleague, Leonard Nimoy, and almost killed off the movie series for good. The storyline is atrocious, with the crew in search of God, but finding a man in a funny suit (ok, not literally, but almost!). The special effects leave a lot to be desired, and the 'humorous' moments, such as Scotty bumping his head, are just painful (excuse the pun!). I rate William Shatner very highly as Kirk, but if this movie is anything to go by, he should stay in front of the camera instead of going behind it.
After seeing his co-star direct two Star Trek films, William Shatner seized the opportunity to take the helm for the fifth outing, ominously entitled The Final Frontier. Spock?s half mad brother hijacks the Enterprise in search of God, but only finds a dangerous alien which almost destroys the ship. From the outset Shatner makes his mark with plenty of action scenes. There?s rock climbing, phaser battles on horseback and shuttlecrafts crash landing. Many of the cast were doubtful about Shatner directing but were pleasantly surprised, and indeed he does keep the story flowing at a quick rate. Unfortunately Shatner also wrote the story, and writing is not his strongpoint. The movie is full of clichés. There?s a superman scene, the Klingons are back and the Enterprise is understaffed but the only ship available for the mission (again). They really should shoot whoever?s in charge of rotas. Worse though is that Shatner seems to have learned the wrong lesson from the previous movie. It was not successful because it was simply a comedy, but a witty intelligent comedy. Instead Shatner goes for slapstick routines which are frequently embarrassing. Just to make matters worse, the producers were unable to get the services of ILM, meaning the special effects were disappointing. And fortunately for Sean Connery, he was busy making another film and therefore unable to play Spock?s brother. Although actually Laurence Luckinbill did quite a good job. Ultimately they discover "God" is a fraud. If only Shatner too - author, director, star - had understood the dangers of omnipotence.
The fifth installment sees Spocks half brother taking over the new Enterprise in search of God, who supposedly lies beyond the barrier which has never been breached. I know a lot of people do not like this movie but I think it is quite a good movie and would actually rate it higher than the fourth one as this gets us back to Star Trek and not just trying to entertain everyone. Although the premise is slightly out there and the way Sybok takes control of the ship is a little far fetched it is still a good story. I liked it.