Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
What about the movie?: Again, it is a direct sequel to the last episode, where the crew of the Enterprise must deal with a renegade Vulcan who seems to be the leader of a mysterious cult which involves the search for God himself. The theme is obviously the sense of religion in our lives and the credibility of the deities that represent those philosophies. As deep as it seems though, it is still pop-science-fiction and the 80′s, which lead to ‘easy’ answers and very entertaining moments that goes nowhere, unfortunately. It is the only episode directed by William Shatner himself.
What’s nice about the movie?: Humor is a part of the movie and it gives a little charm to a movie that could be very boring easly. Again, the ‘bro factor’ between Kirk, McCoy and Spock is still there and funnier than ever. It is refreshing to see some scenes with the characters off duty, giving us a good idea of their day to day conversations in life.
The serious aspect on the religious side is interesting enough and the story goes into the territory of what is the nature of religion, what is the meaning of it and how can we trust those cults lead by charismatic figures who claim to have the Holy Truth. It is a teflexion on the subject that is not deep per se, but ask good question nevertheless.
What’s sucky about the movie?: The ending is probably the worst of all the movies so far. There is a reason for that, though. Originally, the ending was different from the theatrical version and had a sense… but test screening indicated that the reactions were negative because of the very bad special effects involving Rock Monsters that looked like papier mâché men from outer space… so instead of this fiasco, the ending became a joyful clusterf*ck where it makes no sense. While the idea of discovering the Truth at this Final Frontier in space (the Vulcan cult leader claims that this zone in space is the limit of the Universe) about life and death leads to a certain climax, the result is so disapointing and stupid that it simply falls flat. Too bad.
Is it a good Star Trek?: Really, the ending is stupid and destroys the climax that could have been interesting for the rest of the movie. While the humor is good, it doesn’t save it. Reminds me of a Night Shyamalan movie…
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
What about the movie?: The 6th installment has a very different tone than all the others and is very interesting. Nicholas Meyer, the director of Wrath of Khan, returns in a new episode where Kirk and his old crew member Sulu (now captain of a ship called Excelsior) must stop a plot that could compromise a peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingons. It becomes a more political story and goes into themes that are very accurate even for today’s politics: how change is feared, how war is often seen as a solution instead of peace.
What’s nice about the movie?: The political aspects are very well written and the action is not based on the exploration of new worlds of the Universe, but on the consequences of a plot that could break a peace offer between two factions that are at war for way too long. The story becomes a whodunit, where Kirk and his comrades try to find who is responsible for the killings that occur in the middle of a possible treaty. The movie takes a more dark avenue than the others and explores a different side of the Star Trek world, which is more interesting, in my opinion, than space exploration.
We can also enjoy Christopher Plummer as General Chang, an old klingon warrior who has respect and hatred for Kirk, giving a good duel of wits in space while trying to destroy the Enterprise.
I also like the message that the story tell us about politics, which is the fear of change in any new laws that can reconstruct an element of society for the best. Some people prefer staying in their old shit rather than evolve for a better life. Even today, this applies perfectly.
What’s sucky about the movie?: The whodunit part is a very weak one, unfortunately: you will guess in a heartbeat who is responsible for the plot. However, despite this weakness, it doesn’t affect the movie itself, since there is many good points that make this chapter shine from the last movies.
Some scenes are still cheesy and some situations seem too impossible for the protagonists to get out easily like they do in the movie. Ah well… If you can’t get over some of those weaknesses, you can’t appreciate Star Trek!
Is it a good Star Trek?: It is a very good attempt to change the tone to do something different and it is indeed refreshing. Politics is one of Star Treks true strengths and it shows it a story that go deeper in the relation between humans and klingons. I recommend it.
Final rating for Original Series movies: This ends the saga of the Original Series movies with the crew of the 60′s with Captain Kirk as the lead. The next movies will go with Star Trek Next Generation characters and Captain Jean-Luc Picard played by Patrick Stuart. For now, here is my ranking for the 6 first movies. Stay tuned for the next part!
1. Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan – 8/10
2. Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country - 7.5/10
3. Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home – 6.5/10
4. Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier – 5/10
5. Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock – 4.5/10
6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 3/10