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Film Review: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Updated on December 21, 2016

Background

In 1989, William Shatner released Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, based off of the 1966 television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, as the fifth film in the franchise. Starring Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Laurence Luckinbill, Todd Bryant, Spice Williams-Crosby, David Warner, Charles Cooper and Cynthia Gouw, the film grossed $63 million at the box office.

Synopsis

With a brand new Enterprise, Kirk and the crew set out to resolve a hostage situation. However, they uncover a grander scheme by a Vulcan named Sybock. He commandeers the Enterprise and wins over most of the crew with telepathy, making them search for God at the center of the galaxy.

Review

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is an absolute mess of a film and the worst of the films based on the original series. To be sure, it has an interesting idea for a plot, finding what is thought to be God at the center of the universe. The way the film is carried out is where all the problems lie though, using what could be considered three perfectly good ideas for films in their own right and forcing them together. There’s Nimbus III, the whole character of Sybock, and finding God.

An entire film could have been spent on fleshing out Nimbus III as it seems like Star Trek’s version of Tatooine. What’s supposed to be an entire planet based around intergalactic peace has a reputation for being the farthest from.

As for Sybock’s character, there should have been an entire film based around him, his character, and his villainy. What is presented in this film is one massively underdeveloped anti-villain that turns at the last second because of his own epiphany.

Further search for God was massively underwhelming, mainly because there had to have been focus on Nimbus III and Sybock. If there was an entire film with the Enterprise crew searching for God under pursuit by Klingons, without having to focus part of the film on Sybock’s introduction and his half-hearted characterization, the payoff of “God” being some abomination in the middle of nowhere that seeks to kill because he’s questioned might have made more sense. Alternatively, it could have had an entirely different payoff altogether.

Furthermore, in trying to replicate the natural humor of the previous film, it forces humor to fit in between the serious moments, making for a serious case of whiplash. Take for instance the scene immediately following the jailbreak. Spock, Kirk, and McCoy are avoiding pursuit by using hover boots to go up an elevator shaft and they miss their mark and almost crash into the ceiling. It’s really no place for a joke, but there’s at least two along with a part before that where there's a comment about tossing Spock in the brig for failing to carry out an order. Not only is Spock already int he brig, the line's delivery just falls flat. While there are humorous moments, but they come naturally and mostly at the beginning of the movie.

This film is completely different in tone from anything else in the franchise too. Up until now, Star Trek had been devoted to an optimistic, peaceful future with highly advanced technology and human brotherhood figured out. Here, on the other hand, it’s cynical. The technology is unreliable, everyone only gets along because of Sybock’s version of the mind meld, there’s hardly any peace and God is nothing but a jerk.

Yet, despite the above pretty much ruining everything in the film, there are some good moments between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Early on, Kirk says he knows he’s bound to die alone, which is why he’s always got the other two around. When he’s saved by Spock at the end, he says he thought he was going to die. Spock replies that he was never alone. What follows actually is one of the truly well done humorous moments in the film.

1 star for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Razzie Awards

  • Worst Picture
  • Worst Actor (William Shatner)
  • Worst Director

Nominated for

Razzie Awards

  • Worst Supporting Actor
  • Worst Screenplay
  • Worst Picture of the Decade

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