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Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989) - An Illustrated Reference

Updated on September 14, 2017

Star Trek V The Final Frontier was directed by William Shatner. It premiered on the 9th June 1989 Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Laurence Luckinbill, David Warner, Charles Cooper and George Murdock. Screenplay by David Loughery. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. 107mins.

At Nimbus III, the Planet of Galactic Peace, Spock’s Vulcan half-brother Sybok hijacks the Enterprise and demands that Kirk take him and his followers to the Great Barrier at the centre of the galaxy to find the mythical Sha Ka Ree, the source of Creation.

Leonard Nimoy had directed two successful Star Trek movies and William Shatner wanted a crack at directing one too. Shatner thought up a storyline where the Enterprise crew go searching for God and find the Devil instead. Filming would not go smoothly, many changes were made to the screenplay and the spectacular climax envisioned by Shatner was not to be.

McCoy: Jim. if you ask me I think this is a terrible idea. We're bound to bump into the Klingons, and they don't exactly like you.
Kirk: Feeling's mutual.

William Shatner (1931-) / Captain James T. Kirk

Born in Quebec, Canada, William Shatner has also starred as James Kirk in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991) and Star Trek Generations (1994).

McCoy: I'll tell you one thing, Spock: You never cease to amaze me.
Spock: Nor I, myself.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-) / Mr. Spock

Born in Boston, Massachussets, Leonard Nimoy has played Spock in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Kirk: All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer by.
McCoy: Melville...
Spock: ...John Maysfield.
McCoy: Are you sure about that?
Spock: I am well-versed in the classics, Doctor.
McCoy: Then how come you don't know "Row, Row, Row Your Boat?"

DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) / Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, DeForest Kelley has appeared as Dr. McCoy in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Sybok: Spock. It's me. It's Sybok. After all these years you've finally caught up with me. Don't you have anything to say to me?
Spock: You are under arrest for seventeen violations of the Neutral Zone Treaty.

Laurence Luckinbill (1934-) / Sybok

Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Laurence Luckinbill plays Spock’s half-brother Sybok, his father was Ambassador Sarek and mother a Vulcan princess. Sybok uses his Vulcan mind melding abilities to ease people’s pains and turn them into followers. Receiving visions from what he believed was “God” he makes it his lifelong ambition to find Sha Ka Ree, where life began.

David Warner (1941-) / St. John Talbot

Born in Manchester, England, David Warner would also appear in Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991) as Klingon Chancellor Gorkon. He also played the ruthless Cardassian interrogator Gul Madred in the ST-TNG episodes “Chain of Command p.1-p.2” (1992).

His films include – Tom Jones (1963), Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), Straw Dogs (1971), Cross of Iron (1977), Time Bandits (1981 as Evil Genius), Tron (1982 as Ed Dillinger / Sark), The Man With Two Brains (1983), Titanic (1997) and Planet of the Apes (2001).

Charles Cooper (1926-) / Klingon General Korrd

Born in San Francisco, California, Charles Cooper has also appeared in the ST-TNG episodes “Sins of the Father” and “Reunion” as the Klingon Chancellor K’mpec.

Todd Bryant (1963-) / Klingon Captain Klaa

Born in Santa Monica, California, Todd Bryant plays Klaa, bored of shooting at space junk he decides to go after Captain Kirk for personal glory. Bryant would play a Klingon courtroom translator in Star Trek The Undiscovered Country.

George Murdock (1930-2012) / God of Sha Ka Ree

Born in Salina, Kansas, Veteran character actor George Murdock portrays the entity claiming to be the God of Sha Ka Ree, a malevolent noncorporeal being imprisoned on the planet beyond the Great Barrier. It wants Kirk to bring the Enterprise closer so it can “join” with the ship and escape the planet. Murdock also played Starfleet Admiral Hanson in the ST-TNG episodes “The Best of Both Worlds p.1-p.2” (1990).

Kirk: Excuse me! What does God need with a starship?
McCoy: Jim, what are you doing?
Kirk: I'm asking a question.
"God": Who is this creature?
Kirk: Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you God?
Sybok: He… he has his doubts.
"God": You doubt me?
Kirk: I seek proof.
McCoy: Jim! You don't ask the Almighty for his ID!

In the early scripting stages when Kirk and his crew confront “God” at the climax of the film, the bearded visage of God melts away and reveals the face of Satan, the crew make a run for it some are captured by minions of Satan and are marched off to Hell, Kirk somehow saves them. This is still Star Trek isn’t it Cap’n?

The film was also originally to have ended with Kirk and co chased by rock creatures on Sha Ka Ree. Rubber monster suits were designed with smoke billowing out of them but it looked too ridiculous and the whole idea was scrapped.

William Shatner asked the studio to let him finish the film as he originally intended for the DVD release with presumably CG rock monsters, this idea was rejected.

Shatner’s daughter Melanie plays a yeoman on the Enterprise bridge.

Sean Connery was considered for the role of Sybok but he was too busy filming Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), the name Sha Ka Ree is a word play on his name.

The mountain Captain Kirk climbs in Yosemite National Park at the start of the film is named El Capitan (The Captain). When Kirk accidentally slips and falls off the mountain the stunt was performed by Ken Bates who set a record for the highest fall supported by wire rigging.

This would be the final Star Trek with Sulu at the helm of the Enterprise, he would be promoted to Captain of the USS Excelsior in the next film.

The Earth probe used for target practice by the Klingons is Pioneer 10, which was launched in 1972 and is now heading for the star Aldebaran 68 light years away, it should reach the star in about 2 million years.

ILM were busy on the visual effects for Ghostbusters II and Indiana Jones III, the Star trek producers looking for a good effects company chose Bran Ferren’s company Associates and Ferren. The effects budget for the film was slashed by Paramount and the resulting visual effects were substandard.

Star Trek V The Final Frontier had the best opening weekend so far for the series, $17m in 3 days, but the celebrations were short-lived the following weekend the gross had dropped by 58% and the film was already starting to fade from theatres. The total US take was $49m with an eventual worldwide gross of just $63m, less than half the take of Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986).

Kirk, McCoy, Spock: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream...

The fifth Trek movie is a classic example of the “odd-numbered curse”. Most of the reviews were negative, in my opinion the entire concept of a laughing Vulcan searching for God was risible to begin with.

There is one scene I really like in this movie and no it's not the singalong around the campfire, it’s when Kirk, having been saved from “God’s” wrath by Spock on the Klingon Bird of Prey, goes to hug his Vulcan friend and Spock says “Please Captain, not in front of the Klingons”.

A major plus point is Jerry Goldsmith’s majestic score.

Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise would sign off in Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

The Critics Wrote –

“Jaw-dropping in its ghastliness. With a rubbishy script, a cast who are well past their sell-by stardate and some remarkably ugly visuals, this is the least appetizing sci-fi spectacular since The Black Hole .” (Kim Newman, Film Review)

"Scene for scene, Mr. Shatner's direction is smooth and sharply focused. He has a sure feel for keeping ''Star Trek'' just this side of camp, and for the slightly tacky, artificial look that lets us know this is all a game. But he pays dearly for abandoning the Enterprise's mission: ''to boldly go where no man has gone before.'' Despite the attempts to break out of the formula Captain Kirk and his crew go where too many film makers have too often gone before." (New York Times)

“Even diehard Trekkies may be disappointed by Star Trek V. Coming after Leonard Nimoy's delightful directorial outing on Star Trek IV, William Shatner's inauspicious feature directing debut is a double letdown.” (Variety)

“There is no clear line from the beginning of the movie to the end, not much danger, no characters to really care about, little suspense, uninteresting or incomprehensible villains, and a great deal of small-talk and pointless dead ends. Of all of the Star Trek movies, this is the worst.” (Roger Ebert)

"Tired and tedious, flaccidly directed by William (Captain Kirk) Shatner. Uhura's dance of the seven veils might pass muster in a glamorous granny competition, but is embarrassing in any other context. Several other members of the cast look and act as though semi-embalmed by a negligent mortician." (Chris Tookey)


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    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      I thought it was a forum glitch Flora, thanks for letting me know. Sorry to hear about the spamming, first your bio gets nicked now this.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Steve-just wanted to let you know that I've switched my comment status on all my hubs to moderated following that idiot happymania123 person spam posting comments about pens and pencils on my Ellery Queen hub. the person hasn't posted anything since. Hooray!All your posts came through. Thanks again for the acrostic.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Mentalist I thought your comment was acrostic for a moment there. :)

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      This Was My Least Favorite Star Trek Film As Far as The ending Goes...Throughout The Film I Was Wanting To meet A Dynamic Realm Of A Divine Alien,Ending With A Needful Shadow....

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Rob, I appreciate that and I enjoy your reviews. It won't be long before I start adding your comments to the Critics Wrote section of my hubs. :)

      Yeah David Warner was wasted, such a good actor. The next film was a lot better, at least they finished on a high.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      This is generally regarded as the worst of the 'Trek' films and its hard to argue with that. Whatever vision Bill Shatner might originally have had in mind when he began making this film, the final result was extremely disappointing. Nothing in this film really worked.

      The script tried to add in some humor to the proceedings because the previous one had so many laughs. Unfortunately, the laughs were all at the expense of the characters. We were laughing at them, not with them. A few examples...The helmsman and the navigator get lost; Scotty the engineer bumps his head and knocks himself out while bragging about how well he knows the ship; Genius Spock comes across as the absent-minded professor. And the only female crew member , Uhura, is reduced to removing her clothes as a distraction.

      Also, where the hell did that Scotty/Uhura romance pop up from? I notice it wasn't mentioned again in any subsequent films. It was just a bad idea.

      David Warner is such a talented actor and he got nothing to do in this film. (He was much better provided for in the 6th film.)

      This film makes me think of a cartoon strip in "Starlog" magazine called "Sisko & Ebert", about Captain Sisko (From DS9) and Roger Ebert reviewing this film. I recall that the punchline was Sisko saying "I'm a Star Fleet Officer. I'm required to like them all."

      All-in-all, this was a failure as a 'Trek' film, which is too bad, because the premise of the Enterprise meeting God had been floating around ever since Gene Roddenberry's aborted 'Star Trek: Phase 2' series, and I thought it had potential.

      I liked your hub much better than the film.


    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Well I do watch the film at least once first without the commentary. Some commentaries are packed with facts others are just enjoyable to listen to (and read). Rebecca, Notorious and Psycho have good fact filled commentaries.

      Not a great Star Trek film but V still has the legendary original cast and I own it and watch it along with the other Treks, they only appeared in six films together (and 79 episodes). :)

      Thanks for commenting Flora, much appreciated.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I don't watch the movies with the commentary on as I want to focus on the movie itself-probably related to the fact that I love suspense films. a comedy with Laurel and Hardy might not bother me since much is visual anyway.. I might try putting a blanket over top of the screen and listening to it like a documentary.

      As for this film, Shatner talks about this in one of his autobiographies. He had great ideas in his mind of how this film should work, and it just doesn't translate. as he asked for the ending to be different, it is obvious that this isn't entirely his fault.

      My favourite scene in the film is the one you describe of Kirk wondering what God needs with a Starship.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Cogerson, your comments are always appreciated. You watched the films with the commentary? Oh you're definitely a Trek fan. :)

      I love dvd commentaries, here in the UK we have them subtitled so we don't have to hear the director or film historian drone on in the background. I would watch the film with the normal audio on and read all the subtitled info at the bottom of the screen, it's greet mon! :)

      I feel sorry for Shatner he was hoping to top Leonard Nimoy's two films and ended up making the worst in the series and the least successful. And it was a rubbish story too.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Nice illustrated reference....not sure I can say the same thing about the movie. Although I must admit it was much better on the 2nd viewing...but then again I could not believe how bad it was on the 1st viewing. Maybe by the third viewing I will think it is a classic.

      Shatner does provide an excellent commentary on the DVD ....and it makes you feel sorry for he realizes the shortcomings of the film....but he explains what he wanted to direct and what he had to direct due to limited resources from Paramount. He is still pissed that all he got was two dancing rock people at the end of the movie.

      Just reading the four reviews you included further make me feel sorry for Shatner....but then again maybe this is what he deserves for getting fresh with my mom 60 years

      I like your favorite scene as of Spock's great one liners.....the Row Row Row Boat scene has to be the low point of the entire and movies....I remember people groaning at the theater. Great hub on a not so great movie....voted up and awesome.