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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek - Mythbusters - Gorn Cannon
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Denny Martin Flinn
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Kim Cattrall, Mark Lenard, Grace Lee Whitney, Brock Peters, Leon Russom, Kurtwood Smith, Christopher Plummer, Rosanna DeSoto, David Warner, John Schuck, Michael Dorn, Paul Rossilli, Christian Slater
Synopsis: On the eve of retirement, Kirk and McCoy are charged with assassinating the Klingon High Chancellor and imprisoned. The Enterprise crew must help them escape to thwart a conspiracy aimed at sabotaging the last best hope for peace.
MPAA Rating: PG
Note: In honor of the upcoming new film, "Star Trek Into Darkness", I've decided to review every single "Star Trek" film ever conceived; with the notable exception of the 2009 reboot because I've already reviewed it.
AVGN's review of the past Star Trek games (Warning: Contains Adult Language and Violence. Parental Discretion is advised)
The wagon trail into the stars has finally come to an end with the undiscovered country....which happens to be the unknown future...
Although I would hesitate to say this is the best "Star Trek" movie that I've seen, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't one of the better ones out there. Unlike the previous films, the antagonist isn't something as simple as some alien threat that wants to destroy the Earth over a simple misunderstanding, nor is it an enemy who merely wants to destroy Captain Kirk; while trying to attain a potentially dangerous device. No, the enemy that presents itself in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" is far greater than that. The enemy is racism, and the fear of change.
Even in a utopian future like "Star Trek", racism still exists. Sure, there's always idealists who want things to change for the better, and venture into the "undiscovered country"; which happens to be the unknown future, to where maybe...just maybe...we can put aside our differences for the greater good. Unfortunately, as our own history has taught us, change isn't something that everyone wants.
Sometimes society fears change because of the unknown. When people grow up being taught to hate a particular group of people their whole lives, it's hard for them to accept change, and it scares them because of the unknown future, where their prejudiced is no longer necessary. After all, hating that particular group for being different is all they've ever known. In our current society, we see this everyday. People grow up hating a particular groups of people for being different from them. And in return, some of those same people that are persecuted against for being different end up hating the groups that oppress them; hence the term reverse-racism.
And in some cases, we often generalize a tragic event that took place, and use it as a reason to hate on an entire race of people; even when it's unwarranted. Take the the infamous Klu Klux Klan for example. Granted, I'll be the first to admit that they're heartless monsters for the crimes they've done throughout history and if I had my way, they would all be serving a life sentence in jail. However, when a group of KKK members burndown an African American's house and kills his family, that man may end up growing a deep seeded prejudiced towards all white people because the KKK members are predominantly white. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that's the case for everyone, but I'm only using this as an example.
Granted, one could say that the black guy has every right to be mad at the KKK, and he should be. However, is that really any reason to hate all white people because those KKK members just happen to be white? After all, not every white person in America is part of the KKK the last time I checked, so is it fair to condemn an entire race for the actions of one radicalist group that just happens to have that same ethnicity and/or beliefs?
I could literally go on all day with examples, but I'm sure readers get my point by now. Granted, I would never compare a real life tragedy to a movie, but when you stop to think about it, a lot Kirk's racism, in this film, is deeply seeded in reality of how sometimes racist beliefs begin. In one particular scene, Kirk says during his captain's log that he'll never trust the Klingons because of what they did to his son (i.e. they killed him in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock).
Notice how Kirk never makes the distinction that it was only that particular group of Klingons that killed his son, and not the entire race. No, instead he blames and condemns the entire race for the actions of one small group; without even considering how illogical that is. Sadly, to this day, many people still do that. Is it fair? No, but it happens nonetheless.
In a lot of ways, that's what makes "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" an interesting movie to watch, as it talks about the concepts of racism; while exploring how it even starts. It ranges from people being raised their whole lives to hate a particular group for being different, to condemning an entire race for the actions of one radicalist group.
Granted, the film drags a bit at times, but it's still very interesting to watch. The story essentially picks up after the fifth one, where Kirk and McCoy are about to retire from the federation. However, they're called back to duty to perform one last task which is to escort the Klingon ambassador through federation space, so they can negotiate peace, and possibly become part of the federation. As expected, this news is met with mixed reactions. One of them says, "They'll be the garbage of the federation", while Kirk adamantly says that the Klingons cannot be trusted.
Needless to say, the feelings are mutual. When Captain Kirk entertains the Klingon ambassador on the enterprise, there's a certain air of uncertainty and awkwardness, as you can tell that neither party fully trusts or enjoys each other's company. Don't get me wrong, it's understandable. You go so many years hating each other, so it's expected they're not used to being on civil terms. But sometimes in order to achieve peace, one must be bold enough to embark into the undiscovered country, and embrace change; regardless of how scary it can be.
To get back to the story, something goes horribly wrong, as Kirk and McCoy get framed for the assassination of the Klingon ambassador. They both end up going to some distant asteroid planet to serve time, while Spock conducts an investigation into who the real culprits are; while Kirk and McCoy try to escape their new prison. And during a sequence of events, our heroes discover that there's a conspiracy to prevent the federations' last hope for peace with the Klingon empire. Who could be behind such a conspiracy? Who knows? Readers will just have to watch the movie to find out.
Unlike the last film where our main protagonists became parodies of themselves, this one treats the characters with a bit more dignity this time around. In fact, I don't think any "Star Trek" fan could've asked for a better conclusion to Kirk's journey. The film is chalked full of suspense, mystery, and a bit of political drama to make it interesting. Granted, most Trekkies will tell you that the federation and Klingon politics are vastly portrayed better in the TV spin off, "Star Trek: The Next Generation." And if I'm honest, they're a hundred percent right. However, the key difference to remember is that it's easier to go into detail about the politics between the federation and Klingon empire, in an ongoing TV show, than it is to describe in a two hour movie. Therefore, we have to keep that in mind when watching this.
And for what the film happens to be, it's a great way to end the franchise with the original cast. The antagonists in this movie are very well written, and highly believable. Christopher Plummer brings a lot of class to this film, as he always does. Plus, the original cast isn't that bad in their roles either, as they go from being parodies of themselves in the last film, to respectable heroes in this chapter.
As for the technical stuff like the visual effects, settings, and etc, it's vastly improved over the mediocre attempt that "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" ever gave us. Sure, the film does drag sometimes, as I mentioned earlier, and it lacks the memorable moments that one could get from "Star Trek II" and "Star Trek IV."
However, it's still arguably one of the best science fiction films ever made, and it definitely features a strong social commentary on prejudices in the world, and how they come to be. It's a very powerful thing to watch, as I'd highly recommend it at a rating of three and a half out of four.