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