‘Star Trek’ movies rewatch: ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’

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The story

Kirk and the veteran crew of the Enterprise are despatched to the peace planet Nimbus III, where a renegade Vulcan named Sybok has taken several ambassadors hostage. After Sybok and his militia of followers take-over the Enterprise, the enigmatic Vulcan plots the ship on a course to the centre of the galaxy and the Great Barrier. There he believes he’ll find the Supreme Being, aka, God…

Best moments

Not a film renowned for its air-punching moments (Uhura’s ‘erotic’ fan-dance is memorable for all the wrong reasons), but both scenes featuring the gravity boots – Spock saving Kirk from a plummet off a mountain, and Spock, Kirk and McCoy’s escape up the turbolift shaft – are worth mentioning. As is the shuttlecraft crash-landing into the Enterprise’s shuttle bay.

However, it’s Kirk questioning ‘God’ that’s the defining moment of the movie, simply because it reminds you of the brash, young, Gorn-fighting Captain of the early years.


» The only Star Trek film to be nominated for, and to win, a Golden Raspberry Award for ‘Worst Picture’. For his efforts, William Shatner also won ‘Worst Director’ and ‘Worst Actor’.

» Several pieces of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Enterprise-D set were used for the Enterprise-A, including the corridors and the sick-bay. They remain unaltered as the TV show was filming on them at the same time.

» Sean Connery was originally asked to play Sybok, but was busy filming Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. The name of the planet in the film, Sha Ka Ree, is a play on his name. ‘Fashinating, Captain…’

» Director William Shatner had a grand finale plotted for Kirk’s fight with the Supreme Being, which involved a 10 levels of Hell tribute to Dante’s Inferno, and rock monsters. Both ideas were scrapped due to budget constraints but test footage of the rock monster can still be found on YouTube.

» The film performed so poorly that in many foreign locations it was a straight-to-video release.

Best quotes

» Kirk: “What does God need with a starship?”

» Chekov: ‘Admit it, we’re lost.’
Sulu: ‘Alright, we’re lost. But we’re making good time!’

» Kirk: ‘Well don’t just stand there, God’s a busy man!’

» Korrd: ‘I am a foolish old man.’
Spock: ‘Damn you, sir, you will try!’

» McCoy: ‘I’ll tell you one thing Spock, you never cease to amaze me.’
Spock: ‘Nor I myself.’

The verdict

The Final Frontier is poorly regarded by fans, but you can’t blame the film’s failings – or its dismal box office performance – on any one person. Writers’ Guild strikes cut into pre-production, ILM weren’t on special effects duty, Shatner was too ambitious in his vision for the film and, to top it all, it was released among summer blockbusters Batman, Ghostbusters 2 and The Last Crusade. Ouch.

It isn’t as dreadful as its detractors would stress, but nor is it good enough to full-throatedly defend. It lacks both the operatic drama of Wrath of Khan and the comic timing of Voyage Home (Scotty knocking himself unconscious is about as good as it gets), and though Laurence Luckinbill makes Sybok an enigmatic threat in the end it all feels unusually bland.

That’s not helped by the sensation that in both plot and pacing The Final Frontier feels like a TV episode script stretched to a cinematic running time. Only the core premise of flying a spaceship into Heaven is intriguing enough to keep a first-time viewer’s attention until the end, whereupon they’ll likely yawn ‘Was that it?’

For those of us sitting through a repeat viewing there’s still the curmudgeonly dynamic between the ageing Enterprise trio of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to enjoy. Each as irascible as one another, you feel they’re all a moment away from grumbling “I’m getting too old for this ship…” Mind you, at this point if they did, you might just find yourself nodding in agreement.

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