Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

1.5 stars

Theatrical release: 6/9/1989
PG; 1 hr. 47 min.
Screenplay by David Loughery
Story by William Shatner & Harve Bennett & David Loughery
Produced by Harve Bennett
Directed by William Shatner

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

July 27, 2004

I was tempted to buy the two-disc special-edition DVD of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier because I was interested in hearing the commentary track by William Shatner. I'd imagine a commentary track on this failed film would be illuminating, or at the very least interesting.

Ultimately, though, I decided against the DVD purchase (I already have a copy on VHS). In a capitalist society, we vote for consumer products by using our wallets, and Star Trek V is a movie that I must strongly vote against. Instead, I recently pulled out my VHS copy to revisit this film for the first time in many years. I can say with renewed confidence that this will indeed be the only Trek film that won't be making its way on to my DVD shelf. (After having just watched it, I won't need to watch it again for many more years, if ever. Besides, how can you face the clerk at the checkout line at Best Buy when you're buying Star Trek V: The Final Frontier? Kidding, kidding.)

Let me begin by saying that I like William Shatner. As an actor, I think he sometimes gets a bad rap. Yes, his acting choices are occasionally odd or campy or overshooting the mark, and you can point to it in places in the original series' run. But that's why we love the guy. Even when he's doing camp, he's doing camp entertainingly. Everybody remembers "KHAAAAAAAN!" from Star Trek II. It's a laughable moment, yes, but great. It seems, however, that many people are slower to recall that otherwise in Trek II Shatner delivered possibly his best performance, with grace and nuance. He is not a bad actor. He's just an actor who sometimes employs stylized acting.

But was he a competent director? I'm not sure I have enough information to say. I can say that in Star Trek V he made a pretty awful film, a failure on nearly every level, although a sizable percentage of the blame must also go to screenwriter David Loughery. This is easily the worst of the Trek films. It's a mess.

(Truth in criticism requires me to point out that my VHS edition is a 4:3 pan-and-scan presentation of what was a 2.35:1 widescreen film. I would typically call this a butchering of the film, but that would be overstatement in this case since The Final Frontier was ground chuck to begin with.)

Where to begin? How about the first hour of the movie? It's mostly just extended setup material — far too extended and aimless, if you ask me.

It opens on Nimbus III — a backward hellhole of a desert world that's perhaps too ironically dubbed "the planet of galactic peace" — where a Vulcan named Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill, reasonably cast) takes hostage the human, Klingon, and Romulan diplomats assigned there. But even the setup has its own setup; we first meet Sybok in a pre-title scene where he laughs, and the plot takes its time moving along to the point where Sybok takes his hostages.

The diplomats are cast in such a way they initially seem to be legitimate supporting characters. We have a human named John Talbot (David Warner); an obsolete Klingon general named Korrd (Charles Cooper); and the newly arrived Romulan representative, Caithlin Dar (Cynthia Gouw). Given the amount of dialog these characters have in the pre-crisis prelude, one would think they'd be developed significantly into the storyline. They aren't. Their purpose in the film is merely as a worthless scrap of plotting, as bait to lure a Federation rescue ship to Nimbus III, which Sybok intends to steal. The plot's goal of stealing a starship could've been accomplished in any number of vastly more time-economical and interesting ways than is done here.

To insert David Warner as this superfluous throwaway is unforgivable (and fortunately his role in Star Trek VI helps right this wrong). Charles Cooper is serviceable in an almost equally unnecessary part, while Cynthia Gouw is awful in a completely pointless role. These characters should've been either written as necessary pieces of the story, or cut completely. As it stands they are simply inexplicable afterthoughts, and exist as an indicator of the script's clunkiness.

Back on Earth, the crew of the Enterprise is on shore leave while the new Enterprise-A, still in space dock, provides Scotty with one example after another (far too many for those of us in the audience) of how Starfleet's assembly line must've been asleep at the controls when the ship was built. What we get here are a lot of pointless vignettes that try to offer up lightweight characterization but succeed only in being some of the worst so-called "comedy" moments in the history of the franchise.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are on a camping trip at Yosemite National Park, where Kirk fancies himself a free climber as he attempts to scale El Capitan Mountain. The rock-climbing bit strikes me as an especially implausible conceit. After the three previous Trek films that showed older and wiser characters as aging people, the message here seems to be that Star Trek V is a return to glib episodic immortality. Yes, there are a couple palatable ideas that counter this notion, like Kirk's line that he has always known "I'll die alone," and the issue of these career Starfleet guys who have no families. But then the payoff is the infamous "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" scene, which tries with all its misguided might to bring these guys down to earth but succeeds only in looking completely ridiculous. Only the fact that these actors have inhabited these roles for so long does this scene maintain the slightest trace of dignity, because this is simply poorly written, dead-end material.

The problem with most of the lame comedy in Star Trek V is its forced nature. The movie is like the anti-Star Trek IV. Where Trek IV was about well-oiled nuance where humor grew naturally from situations and character, the early scenes of Trek V are about painfully labored, in-your-face Three Stooges gags that clunk and clang to the floor. Among the most cringe-worthy is the awkward Scotty/Uhura innuendo, which seems to hint at a relationship in such a way the audience is left to decide for itself. It's such a needless and poorly played detour that the only possible response is one of befuddlement.

That's not to say there aren't a few good lines. Some of them work because they don't insist on themselves. For example, Kirk says, "I could use a shower." Spock replies, simply, "Yes." And I sort of got a kick out of Spock's line near the end: "Please, captain — not in front of the Klingons." But for every moment like this there are two like the one where Scotty hits his head on the bulkhead, har har.

The plot slowly tries getting off the ground when Starfleet orders Kirk to take the disaster-prone Enterprise — where nothing is working — to Nimbus III to rescue the hostages. The amount of illogic in Starfleet's decision is beyond comprehension; apparently there's no one so qualified as the Great Jim Kirk, so Starfleet dispatches a starship that's not only almost nonfunctional, but docked in orbit at Earth. (Surely there's someone closer than a ship docked at Earth.) This contrived situation is of course something we must grant to get our characters into the action, but considering the only reason to have the Enterprise docked at Earth in the first place is for the sake of the lame setup material — well, what's the point?

Adding to the mess of the choppy storyline is a thread involving a Klingon Bird of Prey commanded by Captain Klaa (Todd Byrant), which immediately signals itself as being on an obvious collision course with the Enterprise. The Klingons are naturally the TOS era's default villains, but here they're mostly extraneous. It doesn't help that Klaa is a boring young hothead with so little believable motivation. His only purpose in life is apparently to go into battle against Kirk. His shallow immaturity only weakens the character to that of an obviously lesser opponent. There's no teeth to the part, and no point.

When the Enterprise reaches Nimbus III to rescue the hostages, we get some blandly routine action sequences in a production that's envisioned as a Western. The visual effects throughout the film are easily the worst in the entire feature series. Many of the other Trek films' visuals were produced by Lucasfilm's ILM. Not this one, which was supervised by Bran Ferren, who, based on the results here, apparently had no grasp of motion-control photography of miniatures. Few of the visual effects are convincing, and many are laughable.

Still, none of that compares to the film's worst character indignity, which is to put poor Uhura on center stage in a partially nude dance routine that's a jaw-dropping embarrassment. Do we really want to see our vaunted Starfleet officers reduced to this sort of wretched punch line?

Finally we get to a point where the movie should've arrived much sooner, when Kirk & Co. are captured by Sybok. There's the revelation that Sybok is Spock's half brother, but that's ultimately of so little consequence that I'm only devoting this one sentence to the matter. Sybok announces his intention to take the Enterprise through the Great Barrier, which surrounds the center of the galaxy. According to myth, the planet Sha Ka Ree (that's the Vulcan name for it) lies beyond the Barrier. No ship has ever breached the Barrier, and no probe has ever returned. Sha Ka Ree is alleged by some as the origin of all life, where God Himself may exist. We'll get to the God question in a moment.

Sybok is able to brainwash the crew of the Enterprise into following him on this mission by using his unique power to sense and release others' worst emotional pain. How this power works is unclear, and the manner in which he converts the crew to willing denizens is muddled and too convenient.

But I must also praise the film where praise is due. There is a good scene where Sybok uses his power to look into the souls of McCoy and Spock. McCoy in particular lives with an awful moment that has long haunted him (and relives it here in the film's single best-played dramatic scene). Spock's pain, somewhat less plausible as presented (Sarek seems awfully cold; would this Vulcan have married a human woman in the first place?), centers on his half-human nature and hearkens back to the core of the character. And Kirk's response to Sybok is very true to his character: "I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!" Vintage Kirk.

There's also a little bit of interest to find in the journey through the Great Barrier, which is presented as a landmark moment. Jerry Goldsmith's score sells it, and McCoy asks in disbelief, "Are we dreaming?" Kirk responds, "If we are, then life is a dream."

The moment loses its luster, though, when you consider the shoddy special effects. And more importantly the obvious question: If the Barrier is indeed only an illusion of danger, and yet has long been believed as a possible gateway to the answer to the ultimate cosmic question, why has no one tried going through it before? Planet Sha Ka Ree itself is a disappointment, looking roughly like the same desert locations used for Nimbus III, except as seen through a magenta image filter.

Finally comes the film's climactic moment when we meet "God." It seems to me that this moment is the very definition of an inescapable narrative catch-22 — particularly for Star Trek. You simply must ask yourself, how can Star Trek presume to actually find God? The answer is, simply, it can't, and deep down we know that. Star Trek is about exploring space and the human condition, and the moment the exploration of either of those things actually finds God in a tangible physical form is the moment when Star Trek has jumped the rails beyond the scope of its parameters and announced its journey as over.

The flip side of the coin is that if you don't find God here, what do you find instead? The answer is that you must find an inevitable disappointment, because there's virtually nothing you can do that will pay off that promise once you've set it up.

Given that catch-22, this film obviously opts to find the inevitable disappointment, and delivers it disappointingly. What we're dealing with is something masquerading as God, and in a hopelessly hokey and unimaginative way, to boot: "Brave souls — welcome!" rumbles the basso profundo voice. A face appears and I'm thinking of The Wizard of Oz. "God" is soon revealed as merely an aggressive entity that wants to use the Enterprise to escape its prison of a planet. ("What does God need with a starship?" Kirk asks, not unreasonably. Big mistake, 'cause you made it mad.)

The story gives no explanations for where this entity came from, why it is trapped here, how it knows certain things about the visitors that now stand before it, why it is surrounded by the Great Barrier, or why with all its powers it needs a starship to escape. The ensuing threats and showdowns, the silliness with the Klingons showing up and opening fire on the Enterprise, "God's" frankly pathetic pursuit of Kirk, etc. — it's appallingly weak. Only in this movie can a sequence begin by pretending to have found God, and end with a Klingon cannon blowing "God" up.

I welcome any intelligent attempt to consider questions of religion alongside science fiction. But The Final Frontier hopelessly bungles that attempt. Was its particular premise even workable? Probably not. The ending almost seems to acknowledge this, with Kirk saying that perhaps God isn't out there in space, but simply within the human heart.

If you want a superior film that tells a story with religion and sci-fi in a real-world setting, I highly recommend Contact (1997), which addressed these questions in probably the only truly plausible way possible — by saying that answers lie within personal beliefs that can't be proven. (As an agnostic, my own feeling is that the existence of God, or whatever made the universe and passage of time possible, is not something that can be comprehended in this lifetime.)

Regardless of theological background/belief (or lack thereof), it's hard to imagine anyone walking away satisfied with The Final Frontier. It employs labored storytelling, an inconsistent tone, half-sketched characters, and unfocused plotting to arrive at a thin conclusion to a misguided premise. Since William Shatner was the one sitting in the captain's chair when this ship hit the rocks, I suppose the blame lies with him.

Previous: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Next: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

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101 comments on this post

Amy Quinn
Sun, Dec 2, 2007, 7:25am (UTC -5)
I think I am about the only person in the world who actually enjoyed this film (suspending disbelief helped!) but I think this review is excellent. Just thought you'd like to know.
Wed, Dec 5, 2007, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
The film's unfunny attempts at humor makes it almost as bad as Tomcats(almost-because thankfully there are no tasteless gags involving body parts).
Commodore Decker
Thu, Jan 24, 2008, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
I entirely agree with this review except, when Spock said "Not in front of the Klingons" I wanted to finally barf. This entry in the series was way too jokey and much too hokey.
Some good moments, but not worth watching again.
Alexey Bogatiryov
Fri, Feb 8, 2008, 4:35am (UTC -5)
Like I said in an old email to you Jammer - I actually enjoyed this film. Since you don't wanna watch the commentary on DVD, I suggest you pick up the book by Jim Dillard. It has a ton more background and every single major cast member from TOS gets to face their greatest pain. I loved that part when Kirk said he needs his pain - stayed with me all of my life. Also, when "God" first appeared, they really had me going for 20 seconds that it was the real thing. Watching it again today as an adult still gives me chills downs my spine. I am glad to agree to disagree as your other reviews have been dead on.
Sun, Mar 16, 2008, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
The 4 TNG films may have been, shall we say, uninspired, but they were a lot more watchable than this crap.
Thu, Jun 5, 2008, 9:56am (UTC -5)
This movie is no masterpiece, we all know it. But all in all, to me it plays like a clumsy season 3 TOS epidode, which makes it more watchable than STMP, which comes off as something more or less unrelated to TOS and a boring 2001 knockoff. This movie has it's charms, and really only goes off the rails in the ridiculous 3rd act. It's just too damn bad they went with this script and concept, and it looks worse than it is in comparison with the great 3 films that preceded it. It has it's moments.
Sun, Aug 3, 2008, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
I agree with levi... it is like a TOS episode blown out of proportion for the movie screen. In fact, it recalls "Who Mourns for Adonis" and really, the Enterprise meeting one 'god' was enough. Especially when you think of Trelane, the Thusians, the Metrons, etc. etc. there were too many options if they really wanted a script where the Enterprise had to face a 'greater power' that would have tied more closely to the series - did we really need another disembodied, all-powerful (except he can't kill 'The Kirk' of course) being... and does anyone else have a problem with the ship being able to make it to the center of the galaxy when it could barely leave spacedock?
Don't even get me started on how the script humiliates Scotty....
Finally, I agree with Jammer in that it yanks the characters (especially Kirk) backward in development from the things (again, especially Kirk) that they've faced with regards to their own mortality, their winding toward the end of their careers in space, the upcoming hotshots and new ways of doing things that they don't quite understand, etc. rather than building on these themes from the prior movies.
Sat, Aug 9, 2008, 1:22am (UTC -5)
I just always thought it was really cool. I mean, something like 100 billion galaxies in the universe. And turns out God was living at the center of OUR galaxy. Of all the gin joints.... :)
Sat, Dec 6, 2008, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
DeForest Kelley must have known that William Shatner probably wasn't going to be able to steer this one to success, but damn if he didn't give it 100% in his scenes anyway. I really think he gives the best performance in the movie.
Alexey Bogatiryov
Fri, Mar 6, 2009, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Common, can't you guys appreciate the scenes where Sybok makes the main characters reveal their pain? Bones recalling the euthanizing of his father was certainly a character defining moment!

Did anyone else get a tingling sensation when "God" appeared - I thought it was the real thing for about 30 seconds the first time I saw it. Liked the line about God being in the human heart - reaffirmed my atheism. Also - The "Boldly Go where No Man Has Gone Before" on the steeting wheel was a nice touch.

The re-invogorated youth of the characters can be attributed to some middle-age crisis :)

Common Jammer - it deserves at least 2.5 stars!
Latex Zebra
Mon, Mar 23, 2009, 9:36am (UTC -5)
Who was God though... Not God certainly.

It's funny (to me anyway) when I was young and before TNG came out I recorded this when it was on TV. It's far to say I have seen this more than any other Trek film as a result of having it on tape.
I wouldn't say I loved it but I loved Star Trek and at the time it was the one easy way for me to watch the characthers I loved. If you'd have asked me back then to rate it out of 4 stars I would have probably given it a 3 and half. If you asked me now. I'd probably give it a one.
It really hasn't aged well in comparison to the other movies.
Tue, May 26, 2009, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
The movie's humor was juvenile, but I still enjoyed it. I loved the scenes with Kirk, Spock and Bones at the campfire.

The novelization fills in the movie's wide gaps.
Tue, Jul 7, 2009, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
There was a Next Gen book series ~10 years ago, called the 'Q Continuum' I think.. anyway, it took upon itself to provide backstory for some of the stuff from TOS, including 'God' trapped at the center of the galaxy. A good read, if you can find it.
Fri, Jul 17, 2009, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
"The movie's humor was juvenile, but I still enjoyed it. I loved the scenes with Kirk, Spock and Bones at the campfire."

I couldn't agree more... The film had a nice atmosphere in the first two thirds... but the rest is really a shame.
Wed, Jul 22, 2009, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
It's funny to me that the worst Trek movie gets one of the best scores. I love Goldsmith's music especially the Mountain Man and Busy Man cues. I wish they'd release a special edition of this score the way they did for TMP. If you pick this up make sure though you avoid the awful Hiroshima track at the end.
Wed, Aug 19, 2009, 10:05am (UTC -5)
For all its considerable faults, I will still take this one over Nemesis. I just can't forgive the way Nemesis took characters with 7 seasons and 3 movies worth of backstory and turned them into nobodies. At least here the characters, though rather broad caricatures of themselves, are mostly recognizable.
Thu, Aug 27, 2009, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
Definitely the worst movie of the franchise to date. A half-star movie.

The Spock-birth scene alone would be a reason to kill this movie dead, talk about a horrible mis-characterizations of Spock's parents.
Thu, Aug 27, 2009, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
Because Vulcans force pregnant women to give birth on stone slabs in dark caves.... because that's totally logical. Right. (sarcasm!)
Wed, Dec 23, 2009, 12:08pm (UTC -5)

Actually, I don't have such a problem with that notion - maybe it's the Vulcan equivalent of a 'home birth': an old-fashioned or traditional birthing. Considering how traditional Vulcan culture can be, maybe some of them choose to give birth as their ancestors did and perhaps Amanda chose to do the same? Also, considering how hot Vulcan is, I'm sure a nice cool stone bench in a cave would be a pretty comfortable place to lay.

Okay, you're right. It's ridiculous. Especially considering the cross-species nature of that pregnancy, she should have been in the Vulcan Hospital.
Tue, Mar 9, 2010, 8:21am (UTC -5)
Lousy movie and completely killed the momentum created by ST IV. It was simply a stupid plot. As a long time Trek fan it is somewhat amazing to me how I, III, and V could have been so ill conceived.
Fri, Apr 16, 2010, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
I actually liked STV, but only after it was over. A New-Agey Vulcan claiming to be leading the crew to God actually leads them to the Devil (a being willing to imitate people's idea of God and deceive in order to get what he wants? Sounds like the Devil to me); and it's not the logic of Spock, or the emotionality of McCoy that spots the problem, but the plain, ordinary, common sense of Kirk. To certain world-views, that'll preach.
Thu, Jan 13, 2011, 11:56am (UTC -5)
I remember liking this movie when I saw it in the theater when I was 9. But the characters -- aside from McCoy -- are so off in this movie. Kirk trying to HUG Spock on a KLINGON VESSEL? Kirk didn't hug Spock after Spock was brought back from the freaking dead!

The writing for Kirk is just so bad, and Shatner plays the role without any of his usual charm, "He's sorry. That makes it all right. He's sorry." Spock is too cutesy and Scotty is like a bad Scotty impersonation.

The logical gaffes can be ignored. Nobody complains about the Enterprise-E getting from the Neutral Zone to Earth in time to help stop the Borg in 'First Contact'. But there's very little else that's defensible in this film.

I will say that I don't think this movie is all that much worse than STTMP, which I find to be boring and badly written. But 'Final Frontier' is just truly awful.
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 5:36am (UTC -5)
Like others, I really liked this movie when I was young. I didn't notice the poor sfx and humour, but loved the action scenes, the running around through the ship and even the banging of Scottys head.
I watch it again, yesterday, on DVD for the first time in about ten years, and I am afraid I have to agree with the review. While the premise of the story isn't that bad - it has a nice flow to it and focusses on the (main) characters -, it really isn't executed well. The very poor sfx prevent you to be sucked into the story or to "belief" in the visuals, such as the great barrier and "god". I must credit the shuttlebay set though, even if it is scaled weirdly. Engineering, on the other hand, is... wait, which Engineering? Well, it beats a brewery I guess.
Ignoring Kirks omniscient and heroic portrayal, I thought the interaction between the great three was still good, such as the camp fire beginning/ending, the pain part, the brig part and the standing by the steering wheel whilst entering the Great Barrier.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
I have a soft spot for ST V because this was the first ST film I saw on the big screen. I was only just beginning to learn about ST from a friend of mine who was a true Trekker.

Still, it's clear on subsequent viewing this is the weakest film of the 11 (unless the Abrams sequel disappoints, but I have a hard time believing it will).

But in its favor I can say that while the God plot could never truly work, at least it was an attempt for something a bit more cerebral than you usually see in a Hollywood sci-fi film.

What can I say? I'm helplessly biased in favor of TOS. Yes, Part V is bad, but I'll still watch it from time to time.
Mon, Jun 6, 2011, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
Since writing that last post I realized I haven't watched ST V so I watched it again last night for the first time in years. Certainly this film will always be the worst of the motion pictures, but rather than rake it over the coals again, here are some of the things I liked or thought worked in the film.

1) The slow-mo arrival of Sybok on his horse seemed mysterious and dramatic.
2) Sybok's laugh at the end of the prologue.
3) The singalong is a silly idea, but the "I'll die alone" dialog is well written and performed.
4) James Doohan's performance. If Simon Pegg were truly trying to ape Doohan's portrayal, I think it would have to be from ST V. It's Doohan's most comic of the film series.
5) I know that some people think having Sulu and Chekov getting lost in the woods is demeaning, but I get the joke that's trying to be told. Here are these experts of flying through uncharted space, but staying on a hiking trail in the States appears to be beyond their abilities. It reminds me of a line Hawkeye said in MASH to a patient once: "I know what you're thinking. This guys looks like he can't fix a bicycle tire. Well, I can't. But I'm going to get you through this."
6) The night raid of the Enterprise crew (while not the greatest action scene of the film series) isn't bad for as short as it is and the phasers and gattling gun disparancy is refreshing. Or at least it seemed so at the time.
7) Chekov's charade as captain. I wanted to hear more of his conversation with Sybok.
8) Laurence Lukenbill really doesn't look like a Vulcan (despite the makeup) and I don't care for the halfbrother plotline, but his performance is very well done. He has the evil glint in his eye when he's throwing Kirk around the shuttlebay, the innocence and faith as he meets "God." The whole thing. He's not really a villain, but he has the capacity to do some evil things. A well rounded portrayal of an emotional vulcan. Much better than what we saw in ENT: "Fusion."
9) McCoy remembering the death of his father. A terrible choice, something a lot of people can relate to today and very well acted.
10) Kirk's "I need my pain" speech. Very in character and Shatner's best bit in the film.
11) The implied romance between Scotty and Uhura comes out of nowhere, but it's an intriguing idea and it at least gives Doohan and Nichols more to do.
12) The scene where Kirk is "captured" aboard the Klingon ship at least hints that the film is going into a slightly different direction. I remember being in the theater watching it for the first time truly wondering what the Klingons were going to do to Kirk now that they had them.

So anyways, never the best, but there are some likeable moments in ST V.
Fri, Jul 8, 2011, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
I don't know if this site is even still active, and I wish I had not just found it, but I love it. It is RARE to find a Review Site that actually has intelligent, well-written reviews and - even more shocking - intelligent responses in the Comment Section.

I agree with almost ALL of your reviews - and the few things I don't agree with you on are what make it fun and interesting to think about.

Here is the STORY BEHIND Star Trek 5 as *I* remember hearining it:

Voyage Home was due to be the Swan Song for TOS did shockingly well however so Paramount decided to try to milk the cash cow a bit longer. They went for a TWO movie contract with the cast to wrap it up but Shatner insisted on being allowed to direct one of the two - as Nimoy had been doing. 5 was a mess, but there were some things that were beyond control. It was such a mess that it made it all the more shocking that 6 was such a dang good film
Sat, Jul 9, 2011, 12:08am (UTC -5)
Glad you like the reviews. This site is most definitely still active (I still have two seasons of TNG left to review), so stick around...
Sun, Jul 10, 2011, 10:42pm (UTC -5)
Thanks a lot, Jammer! I definitely plan on hanging out! Yove done some amazing work here.

I remember the old saying that the secret to Trek Films was that the ''Even Ones'' were the good ones. I have to admit, I disagree with you on your affection for the Motion Picture (1) and your critique of Nemesis. On the other nine reviews you have, I think you hit many nails on many heads.

Two points then I'm out:

1 I think I am the only person on EARTH that not only thought nemesis was good, but thought that it was BRILLIANT. (I have many reasons for that, and as someone who has seen every ep of TNG many times - definitely enough to make me geek royalty) I'd love to share my thoughts on that sometime.

2 If you want to see a MASTERFUL example of how to reboot/reinvigorate a franchise, go talk to Russ Davies, Steve Moffat, the BBC and gang. I had never seen an episode of Doctor Who in my life before 2005 and am now scarily addicted, lol, and in posession of a severe mancrush on Matt Smith who has held the fort down the past season and a half as The Oncoming Storm (an alias for The Doctor).

I'm sorry I strayed from STFIVE and thanks again for the welcome!

- Fanner
Tue, Aug 30, 2011, 11:55am (UTC -5)
I originally agreed with Jammer's take on the Uhura fan-dance in ST:V.

However, when Nichelle Nichols was asked what her favorite memory of working on the Star Trek films was, (at the 2011 Las Vegas Trek convention) She said it was the fan dance scene! It gave her character something new and unusual to do, and was fun to shoot-

So, with this very different perspective, I've adjusted my opinion of the scene (if not the movie...)
Thu, Sep 1, 2011, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
In her memoirs, if I remember correctly, Nichelle Nichols recounts that Shatner actually asked her if she would be comfortable performing the fan dance or if she wanted a body double. She declared that she was in great shape and insisted on doing the scene herself (and she also added that Shatner "could not have been nicer" as they shot the scene).

Great to see you still around, Jammer. I was reading this site regularly back in the 90s and early 00s when Voyager and DS9 were still running, then drifted away after Voyager wrapped (I had no interest in watching Enterprise). Along with Delta Blues, this is the best Star Trek review site I've ever found, and I'm thrilled to see that you're now working on TNG reviews. Keep up the good work!
Sun, Oct 2, 2011, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
Since Jammer covered pretty much all of the conciet and other ridiculousness here, I'll just say that for most of the movie I found myself embarrassed for everyone involved.

And Captain Klaa's hair reminded me of Red Fraggle...surely I'm not the only one...
Thu, Dec 29, 2011, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
The real problem with ST: V is that other than McCoy none of the characters act like they should. There's at least one scene with every other character that makes absolutely no sense.

1) Scotty would not hit his head walking down a corridor.

2) Checkov and Sulu would not get lost in the woods and pretend they were hit by a blizzard.

3) Spock would not go all "be one with the rock" to Kirk as he climbed El Capitan.

4) Kirk would not hug Spock on the Klingon ship.

5) Uhura would not fan dance.

And this is just a list of one example per character. The movie generally just got the characterization all wrong. The Klingon captain is particularly stupid.

This movie reminds me of the later seasons of MASH, when the Alan Alda had more creative influence and when the characters were generally snippier and meaner to each other. Just as Alda got more creative control, Shatner's take was to make the characters goofier and snippier. "I miss my old chair," etc.

There are a handful of good things in this movie (Sybok wasn't a bad villain, and McCoy is at his best). But other than that, yuck.
Tue, Sep 4, 2012, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
It makes sense that this film is the worst of the TOS films--it's based consciously or unconsciously on one of the worst episodes of TOS--"The Way to Eden".

In terms of buffoonish humor--JJ Abrams Trek has that stupid bit with nuKirk's tongue and hand swelling to cartoonish sizes; and who could forget nuScotty shooting through the Willy Wonka-like tubes in engineering?

However, while I consider Star Trek V (along with Nemesis) a bad Trek film. They're at least Trek. Star Trek 09 cannot even be considered Trek. It's more of a Michael Bay movie with pointy ears. So, I give Shatner's debacle a tick higher in rank.
Latex Zebra
Sun, Sep 30, 2012, 11:10am (UTC -5)
I haven't seen this movie for years but have just borrowed all the Trek movies off my Step Dad (he used to be the voice of Joe 90 Sci Fi fans!) and I plan on revisiting this with an open mind.
I shall post back soon.
Brad The Phat
Mon, Oct 1, 2012, 7:55am (UTC -5)
I haven't watched this movie in many years, and honestly I have no desire to. I just wanted to say that, even though it's horrible for a movie to take such a cheap route (IMO), I was always under the impression that the movie was Kirk dreaming.
Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this movie for the third time since its initial release. I chuckled often. Maybe I am just in a good mood or maybe there are too many people who take these shows too seriously. This film is jovial for true fans of the characters like me who enjoy the camaraderie between the actors.
Mon, May 13, 2013, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
I don't mind this film as much as most others do. But if I ever end up watching this again, I'm skipping the Uhura dance scene never to see it again. Ugh...
Nick P.
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 11:13am (UTC -5)
I agree this movie blows, but I also agree with a quote about it I heard when Nemesis came out "Star Trek Nemesis is un-watchable bad, not watchable bad like Star Trek 5 or the motion picture". I think that perfectly says it all about this film.

So, i think the premise is actually a good one. Seriously, it is classic star trek. It felt more in line with the original series than ANY of the other trek movies. The characters mostly act like they should. I think this is the one trek movie, that with the right edits, could go from terrible to awesome. Start by re-doing EVERY special effect, than cut out the ridiculous character scenes (scotty versus the bulkhead), add some motivation for Klaa and 5 might be one of the better trek films.

I really hate the argument the premis is bad, because some of the best Sci fi is the search for god, "the Star" by Arthur C Clarke being one of the greatest sci fi stories ever is a very similar plot.
Nick P.
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 11:37am (UTC -5)
@ Gatton, they did recently release an expanded ST5 soundtrack, and it is quite GREAT!!!

BTW, you can "borrow" is online if you don't want to pay 60 bucks!
Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
I definitely want full duration in the agony booth for whatever patach demanded WILLIAM SHATNER to do "more humor."
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
The Ent-A has 78 decks, apparently, as we see in the rocket boots scene, which seems like a ridiculously large number. Also, the deck numbers increased as they went up...I thought Deck 1 tended to be the bridge, which is at the top of the saucer.
Tue, Sep 10, 2013, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Definitely the weakest of the films, but not without its moments.

If we were generous we could call it an irreverent take on TOS... if we were generous.

Still though, we should bear in mind TOS... this certainly is in keeping with some of the weaker episodes of that series.

But true fans will forgive... and hold their noses between IV and VI.
Tue, Sep 10, 2013, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
Although it is good looking effects wise...

I think that Scotty's clumsiness can be put down to being enamored with Uhura...

Maybe a better idea would have been to make it about that planet of peace and politicking between the Fed., the Romulans and the Klingons... perhaps that's what they were going for at the beginning
Sun, Sep 29, 2013, 7:51am (UTC -5)
This film is (IMO) the best Guilty Pleasure ever!

It's so bad (laughable effects, silly story) I got a huge amount of entertainment out of it.

Also, Final Frontier also has some legitimately good parts. I like the scenes with Kirk, Spock & Bones interacting (such good chemistry with one another) and Jerry Goldsmith's music is also very enjoyable.

The WORST scene though is the Uhura dance. Ugh... I'm sure Nichelle Nichols is a nice woman, but that scene was so icky I NEVER want to see it again.
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Well I'm sure William Shatner was glad to see STID come out so it can rightfully take this film's place as worst in the franchise.

It is kind of fun to watch in a humorous quirky way. But for the most part, as everyone's mentioned, it's pretty bad.
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
The novelization was pretty good, I think this could have been a good movie. Jettisoning the attempts at humor would have helped. "Use the horse" was a particularly bad attempt. Slapping a horn on a horse to make it an alien animal didn't work. Just use horses, it doesn't stretch credibility that horses could have been imported to this planet.

I also didn't find it credible that a Klingon captain would take orders from a washed up general who was, after all, under alien influence. And even if he did take orders, making him apologize was too much.

But the basic plot - a powerful malevolent alien imprisoned and posing as God in order to escape - made sense. That a Vulcan mind-meld could be used to free people of the burden of painful memories made sense. Scientists are working on something like that now - no, not mind-melds, but methods to make painful memories less painful. We've seen Spock turn his back on Kolinar, the Vulcan path to eliminate all emotion. Over time, Spock seems to follow a path between pure logic and the more emotional path of Sybok.
Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 1:03am (UTC -5)
Star Trek V cannot be properly defended as a film or as any other form of entertainment.

It's not so bad it's funny, and it's not good enough to work as a film.

I'd take any other film, including "NOOO!! Beeeelaaaay thaaat phaaaaser oooordeeeer!!"
Sun, Apr 20, 2014, 8:06am (UTC -5)
Very excellently reviewed. While true the film didn't explain the entity, I believe later "non-canon" (since I do like my extended material and consider it canon myself if it's worthy), explained that "The One" from this movie was a lackey of the entity known as 0 (zero). 0 was encountered by deLancie's Q through means of the Guardian of Forever, and then invited that entity into our dimension. Long story short, after a string of shenanigans whereby Q was supposed to be curtailing 0's nonsense on behalf of the Continuum, a war broke out between 0, his lackeys, (*) (the entity that pitted the Enterprise and Kang's crew against each other and kept reviving the dead to keep the conflict going) , Gorgon (from TOS episode "And the Children Shall Lead) and The One, and the Q Continuum. At its conclusion, The One was stripped of power and trapped in the centre of the galaxy while 0 was trapped without it (hence the existence of the outer barrier encountered in early TOS episodes) while the other two fled through a black whole and were later defeated themselves.

Now that I've finished ranting xD on to your review for 6!
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
To me, this film is better than every single Next Gen movie. For one, there are good actors in it with real chemistry. Laurence Luckinbill certainly can act. So long as you view it as a TOS episode, it makes sense. It's really no different than one of them.

There was potential with trying to make a "paradise world" as a cooperation between three different races. That's what the movie should have focused on. You'd have the Romulan woman be the idealistic one, while the human guy just wants to make life a little less miserable for the poor fools assigned to this stupid desert world. And the Klingon is of course still a lush. By cutting the other Klingons out of the film and staying on Nimbus III would have added a lot more to this film's credibility.

Besides, the ST:NG movies felt really dead. Most of the characters were under-utilized, Data was forced through too obvious plot threads, Lily was the only good character in First Contact, and Nemesis, well, was just crap. What Star Trek V has above them is that the people involved really did try.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 8:00am (UTC -5)
A better film than Nemesis and Into Darkness. It also has more personality than The Motion Picture and probably all the TNG films, although not as good technically or in terms of story.

I think the spiritual focus should be given more credit than people give it. It's not about the destination and whether God is there at the end. The movie does, at times, get you thinking, in a very muddled way. It's decent sci-fi. But in the end it's too muddled. I liked the idea that the barrier was something which only belief can penetrate - but did they really intend that? After all it's not God. Why did Sybok get through and no one else?

In the end, it was far too ambitious for its own good. Maybe Kubrick directing with Arthur C Clarke writing could have pulled it off. I'm still glad the film exists.
Tue, Oct 21, 2014, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
This film gets a bad rap. I won't claim it's among the best of the Star Trek films. But I like it better than Nemesis and Insurrection. I think I like it better than Star Trek 1: The Motion Picture, too. I'm probably a bit biased since its the first Star Trek movie I saw in the theater.

Here are some reasons I like it:

1. It has humor.
The jokes don't land as well as they did in Star Trek IV, but they are not terrible. It's a more "human-relatable" movie than several other Trek films.

2. The "big three".
The camaraderie between Kirk, McCoy, and Spock is a welcome re-visit that helps close out Spock's character arc of re-adjusting after being reborn, which started really in Star Trek IV. It gave me a warm feeling and it made me think of how William Shatner was probably waxing nostalgic in having so many scenes with the three characters that really were the heart of Star Trek. "God I liked him better before he died!"

3. The whole God thing was really not a bad plot line.
In many ways it was reminiscent of numerous TOS (and a few early TNG) episodes that dealt with a near-omnipotent alien entity masquerading as something else. Actually this entity reminded me of the one they encountered in the first episode of the Animated Series (that one also tried to use the enterprise to escape a dead star/planet, episode title: Beyond the Farthest Star). I suppose for people not familiar with TOS, this may have seemed like a copout from dealing with issues of religion, but really this plot line makes a lot of sense in Star Trek context. It was never about religion, it was about the dangers of thinking too passionately instead of thinking critically.

4. It has a good underlying message:
While it could be argued that Vulcans rely too much on logic, Sybok is the embodiment of going too far in the other direction. He embraces passion and emotion too much, without drawing enough on the cool dampening of rationality. He's also a pseudo-hedonist, convincing people that the bad part of their pasts should be forcibly forgotten and banished from your psyche ("release your pain"). Kirk provides the useful counterpoint: "I need my pain! It makes me who I am!"). This film explores some of the consequences of passionately leaping before you look. (Sybok finally sees the error in his ways, having been taken with legends and seeing what he wanted to see instead of what actually was.)

5. It further develops Kirk's character.
In Star Trek II (yes, probably the best), Kirk went from bemoaning his old age to the greatest ending line of the ST movies: "How do you feel Jim?. . . Young. I feel young."
Now here Kirk goes from bemoaning the solitary nature of the life he chose as a Starship captain (climbing El Capitan alone, saying he knows he'll die alone, telling Bones and Spock that "Men like us don't have families."), to realizing the people close to him are indeed his family, and that he never really has been alone. ("I lost a brother once. . . lucky for me I got him back." "I thought you said men like us don't have families?. . . . I was wrong."

6. It introduced that snazzy Klingon theme music.
Sun, Dec 7, 2014, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
Did anyone notice that the sound effect used for God's howl is exactly the same as for the alien who Kirk kicks in the knee-crotch in Undiscovered Country?
William B
Tue, Mar 31, 2015, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
I think it is time to rescue this film's reputation. Mot only is it not the terrible film it is made out to be, it is by far the best of the Trek features and the crown jewel of the franchise. In fact, while I understand that reasonable people can disagree, I think this sublime meditation on man's place in the universe runs circles around so-called classic cinema; the visuals and thematic force so far outshine 2001, the theistic intelligence is as far above something like Ingmar Bergman as humans are above dead cockroaches. There is the beautolly constructed plot, the subtle, satirical and incisive bits of humour, beautiful musical numbers -- how the musically gorgeous "Row, row, row your boat" didn't become a breakaway pop hit is surely criminal -- and held together by William Shatner's assured direction and redtrained performance. A true masterpiece! I feel like I can say without hyperbole that if the Earth were to be destroyed tomorrow, this film would be the single document most worth preserving.

P.S. I don't know what time it is elsewhere, but it just turned midnight here. So, you know. Also, I actually did watch this recently and maybe will do a real review comment later.
William B
Tue, Mar 31, 2015, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
Sorry about typos, in tablet. Mostly clear except redtrained = restrained.
Thu, Apr 2, 2015, 10:46am (UTC -5)
I'll say this: It's the funniest ST of the lot, both intentional and otherwise.

"Yes, captain?"
"Yes, captain."

Hahahaha, I don't know I think this movie's pretty hilarious :D
Captain Jon
Wed, Apr 8, 2015, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Again, my "FULL EXPERIENCE" review can be found at

The Enterprise is dispatched to Nimbus III, "the planet of Galactic Peace", where a radical group has taken hostage the representatives of the Federation, Klingon and Romulan Empires. But the hostages are only bait, and the Enterprise is captured by its leader, Sybok, who turns out to not only be Spock's brother, but is on a quest to the center of the galaxy where he hopes to find the planet Sha Ka Ree and God.

Ah, yes...Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I remember as a 5-year-old boy the excitement I had as my parents picked me up from preschool one Friday afternoon to drive to the local theater to see my first Star Trek film in theater. I was a budding Star Trek fan, having watched all of the previous entries in the series on VHS and loving Star Trek: The Next Generation which had just wrapped up its second season on television. At the tender age of 5, I left the theater thrilled by my experience.

If only that ignorance stayed with me as I grew older to prevent me from realizing how wrong I was.

When William Shatner agreed to return to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, he was promised that he would get the opportunity to direct Star Trek V, taking over from fellow cast member Leonard Nimoy who had directed both Star Trek III and Star Trek IV. From the get-go Shatner had envisioned an epic that would not only be a thrilling adventure but be thought-provoking as well. His idea would see Kirk standing alone as the Enterprise crew became enthralled with a mad man's claims of divinity, taking them on a journey to a planet to meet God in person. Shatner and producer Harve Bennett worked on the story and wished for Nicholas Meyer to return to write the screenplay. Meyer was unavailable at the time, thus writer David Loughery was hired instead.

Loughery's work was interrupted by the Writers Guild of America strike in 1988, but he returned to work at the strike's conclusion why Shatner went overseas to Asia for another job. Shatner returned to find that Loughery had made significant changes to his story with which he disagreed. The character of Sybok's search for God was changed to a mystical planet where ultimate knowledge could be found. Though Shatner was able to convince Bennett and Loughery to make changes to his script, the planet Sha Ka Ree (a play on Sean Connery, who was originally approached to play Sybok) remained. After making changes that pleased the studio and both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, a troubled production began under studio pressure to release the film by summer 1989 so as to not lose Star Trek IV's tremendous momentum. Shatner's original cut was over two hours but he was forced to cut it down to a one hour forty-five minute runtime. Harvey Bennett's cut horrified Shatner and the two fought over what should stay and what could be cut.

If one thing can be said for William Shatner's turn as director, it's that he sure went for it. You can't hold him at fault for having big ideas and shooting for them. Unfortunately, the execution is where Star Trek V falls apart. The story feels like three separate and disjointed ideas brought into one uneven movie. The first third of The Final Frontier deals with a hostage situation. The crew of the Enterprise is on Earth on shore leave after it's discovered that their new starship is riddled with glitches. Kirk, Spock and McCoy go camping together. Kirk goes mountain climbing in an opening sequence that's beautifully filmed but ill-conceived.

Right away with this opening sequence, The Final Frontier disregards all the character work that's been done in the previous three movies. The smartest thing that Nicholas Meyer did in The Wrath of Khan was to give Kirk glasses to show that the character is aging. The aging of these characters was acknowledged in the two follow-up films. But here, the characters are returned to a state of "eternal youth", any and all acknowledgment of them having aged in the 20 years since Star Trek ended dismissed. A perfect example is the painful-to-watch naked fan dance of Uhura in the desert. Sure this would've worked on an episode of the series (had censors allowed such things at the time) but 23 years after first hitting the air, these people aren't exactly spring chicks anymore yet the characters are treated as such. It feels like a big step backwards.

The three friends sit around a campfire having discussions about death, family and friendship. The bond that's depicted between each of the characters is touching and noteworthy, unfortunately the scene finishes with a very ill-advised sing-along.

Once the crew is reunited, it's off to Nimbus III to resolve the hostage situation. The crew races to save the hostages as the Klingons have also sent their own ship, led by Captain Klaa (Todd Bryant in a thankless role). This leads to Uhura in a naked fan dance with a big moon behind her in the desert before a shoot-out in a city taken right out of a western. The action is poorly paced and unimaginative. The ultimate revelation: the hostages are now on Sybok's side.

So much time reassembling the Enterprise crew from shore leave to embark on their adventure that by the time the hostage situation is resolved halfway through, we realize that it's only purpose was to launch us into the "main adventure". The hostage situation is nothing more than a setup plot to get the main thrust of the plot going. The hostages themselves are mere cardboard characters with no purpose, no personality and no impact on the rest of the movie whatsoever. The talented David Warner is utterly wasted while Cynthia Gouw is painfully wooden as the Romulan ambassador.

The second portion of the story deals with Sybok's takeover of the Enterprise. Using his ability to "remove people's pain", Sybok is able to convert Uhura, Chekov and Sulu to his cause. How Sybok is able to do this is never explained and the ease with which these three characters fall victim to his manipulations only demeans the characters. As Sybok hijacks the Enterprise to take it to the center of the galaxy, Kirk, Spock and McCoy work with Scotty to try to call for help while avoiding capture by Sybok and the Enterprise crew. This leads to a slapstick moment where Scotty knocks himself out by walking into a low ceiling.

Which leads to another criticism of The Final Frontier. The humor isn't very humorous. The Final Frontier tries to emulate The Voyage Home's success by mixing lighthearted fun with drama but it doesn't work here. Campfire sing-alongs, mispronunciations of the word "marshmallow" and chairs that rock aren't funny. The humor is forced and doesn't take full advantage of the cast's natural chemistry. At times, it's painful to watch.

Sybok manages to catch up to Kirk, Spock and McCoy and tries to convince them that Sha Ka Ree exists. Sybok offers to take away their pain. This leads to a good scene where McCoy must relive his father's death. DeForest Kelley nails the scene. Less effective is Spock reliving his birth. I find it unlikely that Spock would be able to remember the first seconds of his life. In true Kirk fashion, Kirk refuses to allow Sybok to take his pain away claiming that our pain is what makes us who we are. The line is one of the few in the movie that strikes true yet also calls into question Sybok's ability to remove someone's pain.

The final portion of the film revolves around the Enterprise's arrival at the center of the galaxy. The Great Barrier is a disappointingly realized. Intended to be impenetrable, it looks like nothing more than swirling ink in a jar through which the Enterprise easily passes in a matter of seconds. Any suspense is quickly removed. The planet of Sha Ka Ree is also a disappointment, looking similar to the desert used for Nimbus III only through a purple filter. Sybok's quest is to ultimately meet God from whom he's been receiving visions.

This leads to the ultimate bind for not only the film but the franchise as a whole. What will they find at Sha Ka Ree? Will they really meet God? If so, this is truly the final frontier and what's the point of trying to go further? Once you've found God, what else needs to be explored? If it's not God, however, what do you find instead? Obviously, God will not be found and instead find an evil alien that wants to use the Enterprise to get off Sha Ka Ree, a planet which it claims Sybok created. This is never fully explained and the ultimate climax involves the alien creature chasing Kirk and the Klingons attacking the Enterprise. Reportedly, Shatner had different plans for the climax that didn't come to fruition, thus leading to the ending being salvaged in the editing room. It sure seems like it because the ending is a muddled mess.

The resolution with the Klingons is also a little too easy. Of the three rescued ambassdors, Charles Cooper as the Klingon Korrd is the only one who manages to have a role in the film's finale. Unfortunately, the peace that's brokered with the Klingons not only takes place off-screen but isn't justified. Korrd is supposedly a drunken has-been in the Klingon Empire who's been put out to pasture. If so, how does he have enough sway to talk Klaa out of his attack on the Enterprise? It doesn't add up. The Klingons are also demeaned to being cocktail party guests aboard the Enterprise. How unfortunate.

The closing moment is nice, though, as Kirk, Spock and McCoy contemplate on whether or not God is really out there. Kirk's line that "Maybe God's in the human heart" is thoughtful and seems to grasp the idea that Shatner had originally intended. The Final Frontier tackles theology and religion in a way that Star Trek hadn't done before and it's a noble endeavor. Too bad the movie itself is pretty bad and never achieves the greatness that Shatner sought.

On a visual level, The Final Frontier is pretty bad. Though the Enterprise bridge is probably one of the best looking bridge sets in the franchise, the rest of the movie's visuals are bad. The special effects are pretty awful and unconvincing, especially the Enterprise's escape from an incoming Klingon torpedo and the aforementioned "Great" Barrier.

The performances of the cast are decent. Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley are reliable as always, as is the rest of the supporting cast. There are actual attempts to develop the supporting characters more, particularly a supposed budding romance between Scotty and Uhura. Unfortunately, no matter how noteworthy this attempt still falls flat. And as mentioned before, the crew succumbing so easily to Sybok only diminishes them.

Laurence Luckinbill gives a good performance as Sybok, a Vulcan who puts his emotions on full display. However, the actual character is underwritten and not very threatening. Anyone who knows that Sybok is intended to be Spock's half-brother will not that I'm only now mentioning that little plot point. The reason for that is that it's so inconsequential that Sybok that it's a needless inclusion into the story. Luckinbill gives it his all and compensates for the character's underdevelopment but he doesn't save the character.

Ten years after writing his Academy Award-nominated score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Jerry Goldsmith returns to provide a fantastic score that stands out as The Final Frontier's strongest aspect. Goldsmith reprises both his main march (that was currently being used as the main title for Star Trek: The Next Generation) and his Klingon theme, putting both to good use. His new themes that accompany the friendship scenes as well as the journey to meet God are great. It's a shame such a great score accompanies such a bad movie.

William Shatner gives it his all, striving to think big and think epic. Unfortunately, he falls far short of his intended vision for a thought-provoking epic adventure. Instead, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is an uneven, disjointed, sometimes painful movie to watch that provides little excitement and easily ranks as the worst entry in the series.

Writing: .5 / 2.0
Characters: .5 / 2.0
Acting: .75 / 2.0
Entertainment: .5 / 2.0
Music: 1.0 / 1.0
Visuals: .25 / 1.0

TOTAL: 3.5 / 10
Wed, Jun 10, 2015, 2:14am (UTC -5)
I have always had a soft spot for this film, mainly because of a few excellent and in my opinion, essential scenes in the ST continuum.

The first is the campfire sequence in which McCoy is going off on Kirk for being irresponsible and careless...and Kirk elegantly and believably responds by sharing his feelings about the way he knows he's going to die....alone. This works on so many levels. First you have the three iconic men of Trek (the big three, if you will) in each others company in a touchingly intimate and deep way that we really haven't seen before. When Kirk says "I knew I wouldn't die....because the two of you were with me" it drives home the acknowledgement of the kind of deep, almost unspoken, unconditional friendship and bond that exists between these men and it's laid out in a simple and classy manner. It then turns into an even deeper reflection as Kirk explains further that he knows he'll die alone, as in not in the company of his friends or dear ones. The look the on faces of the other two round off what is a masterfully written, directed and performed scene. The three lead basically tragic lives, with no families of their own to be with when off-duty, and yet they still have each other. Kirk then is the most tragic of the three in that he feels that when his time comes he won't even have these friends there with him in his final moments. Absolutely profound.

The next scene is the much acclaimed Sybok flashback scene and subsequent "I need my pain!" dialogue from Kirk. Jammer and others have said enough about this sequence so I won't attempt to parrot them.

Finally there is the scene where Kirk and co. meet and confront "God". Look past the hokey special effects, painfully obvious ominousness of the God character and McCoy's flip-flopping out-of-character moments and you have something genuinely well done.

Kirk is not just confronting this "God" in the here and now but in his one simple question, "What does God need with a starship?" he is simultaneously questioning every God, deity or entity of faith that has ever existed or rather purported to have existed. He puts into question the very concept of belief and faith in supposedly "higher" beings, something humanity has struggled with in the past and continues to struggle with now. Since the days we drew stick figures on cave walls through to today, for all our advances we still cannot provide a definitive answer. Again profound, not lacking in the nuances of the Kirk character or the attitude of ST as a whole, it manages to articulate the point across well; that one way or the other we will never know.

As for the God character, I address you directly Jammer, is it really important who or what it is and why it is there? The mysterious element serves it well but that aside, any explanation would only distract from what the picture was trying to get across, namely that whatever this entity is it is not "God". Trek viewers are usually imaginative enough to assume what this being likely is or why it had to be "imprisoned".

Perhaps this can be seen as a motif for the dangers of blind belief, represented by Sybok in this scene, who would surrender to a religion that is only as powerful as it's believers make it, represented by this more or less powerless yet still dangerous being wishing to be unleashed to "spread it's wisdom to every corner or creation". In other words God is our prisoner because we created him and he is only as powerful as we make him.

Also the score in this film was outstanding.
Wed, Jun 10, 2015, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Nice post Leaflet. Great points.
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
It's a shame this flopped so badly, in some ways, because this movie contained several genuinely great moments. The campfire discussion when Kirk says he's going to die alone, the moment in the ready room when Sybok looks into Spock's and McCoy's lives followed by Kirk's "I need my pain" moment. Good stuff; I just wish they'd put that in another movie.

Also, this movie debuted my favorite phaser pistol design (the "assault phaser") which would later be used in Star Trek VI. (Hey, I'm trying to find some positives about this movie to mention here, but admittedly that's about as pointless as admiring the deck chairs on the Titanic)

Agree with you about Contact, Jammer, but comparing that masterpiece to this movie is like comparing fancy French food to week-old McDonald's french fries.
Mallory R.
Mon, Jul 27, 2015, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Painful to watch. I remember thinking I'd wasted an afternoon at the cinema. Shatner says that this is his favorite. I like the guy, but...what? Only thing I can think of this mess is that someone wanted to punish the fans or the studio.
Fri, Aug 12, 2016, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
As a director, William Shatner is a cut above Ed Wood. As a movie, this film is a cut above "Plan 9 From Outer Space." But just barely.
Fri, Sep 30, 2016, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
As someone pointed out the other night while we watched this film, of the big three Kelley and Nimoy have already passed on, Shatner remaining. Looks like Kirk really will die alone, in a sense. It kind of puts his somewhat melodramatic campfire confession into a darker context, considering the reality that followed.

I don't think this movie is as bad as Trekkers say it is. It probably holds closer to canon and previous continuity than ST:IV, and while the humor's more uncomfortable this time around, there are some genuine moments. The franchise would suffer from the excision of these moments.
She Wolf
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 12:28am (UTC -5)
With a few minor exceptions, Jammer has elegantly described my feelings about this movie. The humor was often especially cringe-worthy. I understand the underlying theme of "row row row your boat" but that was one of the cringe-worthy scenes and somehow could have been done better. Or maybe left out. Much of the humor here was forced. The scene with Scotty hitting his head on the bulkhead was expecially bad. There certainly were some good scenes as people have already mentioned. But some of the characters seem to me to be just "off." Spock sometimes seem to be slightly out of character by exhibiting too many emotional expressions, and Kirk by being immature and inexplicably angry. "Sorry, he says he's sorry. And that's supposed to make it all right. That's just great" The ending appears very muddled and full of fury, signifying nothing. Shatner explains some of it in his autobiography, and it really was a muddled mess. It appeared as if somebody said let's throw everything in but the kitchen sink . As someone has already said, the intent was good but the execution fell flat.
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 5:28am (UTC -5)
I would have to say I rate this as 2.5 stars- not in the "loser" category, but almost. Maybe it's because I actually found the humor to be kind of funny (even if not always dignified), maybe it's because I don't take TOS quite as seriously as others (I'm a TNG and DS9 guy), or maybe it's because I find the pseudo-mystic plot intriguing, as I like plots of that nature. But yeah, still not a winner either. I like it better than the new Trek movies though.... I'd say they are no better than two Star affairs.
Peace of Landru
Tue, Apr 10, 2018, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
I watched this again recently and kept thinking it was really a lost opportunity. After the events of ST IV, this could have been a story about teaching an old dog new tricks. The original crew after getting the Enterprise A would likely not be on another 5 year mission but more likely be in an ambassador role. Not doing anything too elaborate but more ceremonial type things, ambassador, stuff like that. So Kirk and crew grow careless, and the ship gets taken over by an inside job, in contact with the ambassadors from Nimbus III, working with Sybok. Kirk blames himself for getting old, cocky and careless, but then the original crew works to take back the ship.

Main things I'd change:
- while i like the Yosemite scenes, being on Earth, again, is a trope used too much. This should have been Risa or somewhere else.
- Sybok being Spock's half brother is too forced for me. There's no reason for it and it doesn't need to be there for the story.
- The Uhura dance scene is just preposterous.
- The shuttle landing in the bay is ridiculous. Maybe the shuttle bay is as long as the runway at the end of Fast and Furious 6 however?
- The jailbreak scene - I've long thought that a better way of doing this would have been having Scotty beam them out of the brig. They would rematerialize and Kirk would say something like, "Scotty! What... I thought beaming out of the brig was impossible?" Scotty: "Yeah, people keep telling me that."
- I like the great barrier idea. Would have been better if it looked more like it did the in TOS.
- Klingons felt forced in this episode. Don't need them at all.
Warp Capable
Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 12:35am (UTC -5)
> If you don't find God here, what do you find instead?

I accept Jammer's challenge :-).

In the key moment, Kirk notices the problem, and Spock supports him, but it's Sybok who figures it out. This place is like TNG's "Where No One Has Gone Before". They've found *Sybok's thoughts*, amplified through all the crew under his influence, reflected back at them!

"Sha Ka Ree, a vision you created."

Through everything Sybok's done, it's always about him. Even when he talks of God, it's just a way to talk about himself. It's Sybok that wants the starship, for own chariot. He's on this enormous ego trip, and part of him doesn't want to let it go. But another part of him is now realizing the destructiveness of it.

"This is my doing. This is my arrogance. My vanity!"

The vision collapses into the image of Symbok himself, as Sybok relinquishes his last denial, and begins to honestly confront himself.

Yes, the line "An eternity I've been imprisoned in this place", doesn't fit, but other lines, like the ones I quoted here, don't fit if it's some stuck alien. So I think it's best to ignore that one line. There is no alien. It's Sybok's thoughts, in his own mind, and in the minds of those he's reached.

So yes, Star Trek can't meet God literally. But consider this: a strange planet, that appears to be one thing but is really another, a kind of mirror, reflecting your own thoughts back to you in physical form, including thoughts that you haven't admitted to yourself, while you grapple with the consequences, is quite Trekable. And is it really very different?
Ari Paul
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
I love this movie. It was the first trek thing I ever saw at 5 years old. I was hooked. I wanted to live in that time and place. This is the thing that did it, this film.

As I grew up I realized that the other movies, and many other episodes, were better written or had better effects, but my affection for this film has never diminished even one bit.

There is a humanity to this film that none of the others have...a self-depricating earnestness...a not taking itself too seriously in peripheral areas, but speaking thoughtfully on serious subjects, that make this film uniquely special.

Then there's the tone of the film. This film, out of all the star trek original crew movies, best captures the tone, tenor, and spirit of the original series. It's a lovely film if you watch it with the right perspective--which is to say you don't take the star trek universe as fact, but for what it is: a human mythology.

Also, the score of the film is BY FAR the best. Goldsmith's music here is the best score in all of star trek, from the majesty of the Yosemite opening scene to the hauntingly mysterious use of synthesizers in the scenes when they arrive at the "great barrier" the music is just fantastic.
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
I think this movie is OK ... I like slapstick humor generally and it was OK here too, I thought generally better than in TVH (which seemed a little too both desperate and self-impressed about its humor).

The supporting characters being mocked by the humor and betraying Kirk is bad and definitely weird but not that bad or damaging and enough of the humor is also at Kirk's expense, the movie, certainly the story, is kind of meant to worship Kirk but I don't think the movie actually does do that too much, not annoyingly so. I also don't mind the special effects (I rarely notice effects for being bad).
Thu, Apr 18, 2019, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
I hate this move so much. I've been rewatching all the classic Trek movies, and was hoping I might discover that this one was better than I had remembered after not having seen it for years. Nope. It was just as irredeemably terrible as I remember.

Jammer said the humor reminded him of the Three Stooges, I was reminded of the slapstick gags straight out of Wile E Coyote Loony Toons episodes. (Especially with those rocket boot scenes.) I'd say that the Uhura dance wasn't nearly as embarrassing as those ugly, unflattering, brown clothes they made the actors wear which showed-off all of their middle-aged paunch and flab. Seriously, nobody took a look at that footage and asked for a wardrobe change? They all look so much better in their Starfleet uniforms. In comparison to the rest of the original Trek movies, everything about this movie looks so cheap and ugly like something from a low budget TV episode instead of film.

I feel like a person could go on forever criticizing ST V. I don't want to waste everybody's time by doing that, but I did want to point out one other particular moment from the move that made no sense. When the ship arrives at Sha Ka Ree, it's this barren waste of rock and sand, but everybody stares in wonderment like we're viewing paradise and the music swells like we're supposed to be taking in this absolute beauty and majesty that is nowhere onscreen. Bizarre.

I was trying to think about how the movie could have been salvaged and improved. I think the main problem is that the script is so meandering and unfocused. We are just sort of bounced around from random scene to scene until way late into the movie when Sybok finally reveals his plan to find Sha Ka Ree. (And even then I don't think he mentions God at all.) God only comes up when the characters come face to face with the entity on the planet. But this was the only single part of this movie where I felt there was some potential, the part where Sybok finally realizes he's been duped and he commits a final heroic act of trying to save Kirk, Spock, and McCoy by turning on "God." I felt like all of ST V should have been building toward that climactic moment.

So, my ideas about how the movie could have been vastly improved:

1. Do major revisions by cutting all of the many extraneous scenes that serve no purpose such as all of the Yosemite camping stuff. (Introduce us to the Enterprise crew at the space dock instead.) Get rid of most of the Nimbus III opening scenes, the assault on Nimbus III scenes, most of the footage of the chase and escape scenes, etc.

2. Now use all the movie time gained by axing the pointless material and give Sybok a major role on par with that of Khan in ST II. Develop the Sybok character by inserting more scenes that flesh out his mission and motivation. If Sybok seeks God, then ST V should have been about that from the very opening scene. (I would have shown Sybok communicating with God in that very first scene.) Show scenes where Sybok wrestles with the idea of whether or not his faith and mission are true. Similarly have scenes where the Enterprise crew all have to individually wrestle with the idea that maybe Sybok really is a prophet of God.

3. Instead of introducing "God" only at the very end of the movie, it would have been much more effective to have had multiple scenes interspersed throughout the movie that show Sybok communicating with "God" in visions. (Sybok could also manifest these visions to the Enterprise crew and others to help convince them.) Doing that would have better helped win the audience over to Sybok's side, and have given Sybok and his quest more of an air of credibility. And all of this could have more effectively set us up at the end for the turn where "God" turns out to not be what we were expecting.

(The visions approach also would have made more sense (at least to me) than the idea that Sybok turns people into mindless followers by taking away their secret pain. In order to believe people would follow Sybok unconditionally if he took away their pain, you have to imagine that everyone is so emotionally crippled by some traumatic incident that they can barely function. But, even if characters like Bones or Sulu have memories of bad things, we don't see that these bad things from their past overwhelm them to the point where they don't keep living out their lives.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts on how ST V could have been a much better movie. Give the plot a tighter focus, give Sybok much more of a focus and role.
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
This film is nowhere near as bad as most people including Jammer are claiming!

I think it just didn’t need all the stuff on the desert planet. And I know that’s not really “just” anything when it’s a huge part of the plot but it’s not necessary and it’s where all the worst parts are.

I could easily watch a whole film of Kirk Spock and Bones camping or Uhura and Scotty having inexplicable sexual tension.

I thought Sybok and the “god” were fine, it’s just that they needed to make the diplomats and the desert planet more interesting or cut them entirely. The pink planet and the special effects were not as fascinating as we were clearly supposed to find them and most of that could have been removed. That’s the same problem the first film had.
Tue, Jul 2, 2019, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
As my brother declines in his cancer, we’re watching Star Trek together at his request. Most of it is new to me. This was tonight’s selection, and the first time I’d seen it.

He hadn’t seen it since 1989, in theaters. He said, “The first third is tolerable.” With this endorsement, I suggested any number of alternatives, but he was firm. Onward.

Uhura’s dance scene was sadly undignified and also an unbelievable plot device. “Yoo-hoo, boys, looky this way.” Someone earlier said “Roadrunner cartoon” and this smacked of it.

Most of the jokes weren’t terrible but the delivery was off. They were too self-aware.

The bald dirt farmer in the prelude: When Sybok said “I don’t believe you would shoot me for a field of empty holes,” and the farmer said “it’s all I have,” that was a powerful moment for me.
Mon, Sep 16, 2019, 9:26am (UTC -5)
So I watched movies IV - VI this weekend because they were free on Amazon Prime. The infamous Row, Row, Row Your Boat scene is ironically a setup for a pivotal moment of the climax. When meeting !NotGod, Bones asks Kirk if this is all a dream, and Kirk answers “If that’s true then life is a dream.” Yeah, the rest of the rowboat song is the punchline of the film. They even put a boat steering wheel on the ENT-A so we’re sure not to miss the analogy. Let that boat analogy sink in (get it, sink? I kill me!), because apparently this is meant to be taken as mystic wisdom the film imparts.

Anyway, Jammer’s review is great. This is easily the worst of the Trek films - with Nemesis hot on its heels. The one thing I think it gets right is the idea that Kirk, Spock, and Bones need not fear death alone because they have each other. This almost makes the film worth it, but honestly after Search For Spock it feels like a message that could’ve been left unspoken.

Finally, I nearly jumped out of my chair reading William B’s review until about 3/4’s the way when I picked up on the gag. Bravo, sir!
Latex Zebra
Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 6:38am (UTC -5)
Script here. If anyone can face going through. Read some of the cringe inducing comedy they removed.
Sarjenka's Brother
Sun, Jul 19, 2020, 12:43am (UTC -5)
Mostly a misdirected, hokey, jokey mess -- but buried deep within in this is a really good story:

First of all, get rid of "God," the galactic core, Nimbus III and Shatner's hammy direction.

Sybok is a religiously fanatic Vulcan who has embraced emotion, has a messianic complex, powers stronger than a mind meld, the same ability to reach a person's pain (the best part of a movie) and a quest to reunite Romulus with Vulcan.

(And he happens to be Sarek's younger brother -- not Spock's older brother. And the back story is he attempted to help Spock embrace his human, emotional half).

At any rate, Sybok's vision is a blending of the two world with himself as its benevolent head, bringing emotion to Vulcans and logic to Romulans in harmony. His Romulan "ally," on the other hand, is a cunning female Romulan woman who dreams of outright conquest of Vulcan. She the true villain of the piece.

It's something of a MacBeth tale -- and the Shakespearean tragedy of the movie is Sybok realizes too late his Lady MacBeth has driven him to acts that are both cruel and illogical.

And I think each "Trek" regular should get a scene exploring his or her pain.

I think that could have been a great movie.
Fri, Jul 24, 2020, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
I'm taking my friend through Trek for his first time, and we recently watched the 2nd TOS pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" which involved the ship crossing a galactic barrier and humans gaining god-like powers and ambition... now granted that was travelling OUT of the galazy, rather that towards its center. Yet, I can't help but wonder, is the "god" being here merely a being similarily enhanced as Mitchell and Denher were? An alien exiled who then obtained these powers thanks to his journey?

(Ignoring all the continuity of there even BEING a Great Barrier at the center of the universe and that it was seemingly impossible to pass through, yet incredibly easy to do so)
Tue, Jan 26, 2021, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Star Trek V: The Search for God

"Why did you do it?

To preserve his dignity.”

- Sybok asks; Bones answers

3 stars (out of 4)

Here is a movie about the end of the line. The Nobel Laureate W. B. Yeats once wrote,

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

I thought of those lines as I re-watched this sober ode to growing old. If the last few Star Trek movies have taught us anything, it is that our heroes aren’t getting any younger. In “Khan”, Spock literally died. The end of the line doesn’t get much more final than that. In that movie, Kirk has a line,

KIRK: My life that could have been, and wasn't. And what am I feeling? Old. Worn out.

In “Search,” the ship itself is so old - twenty years - that Star Fleet plans to decommission her and put her out to pasture. She doesn’t make it even that far.

Now here, in The Final Frontier, we have a crew led by a 57 year old William Shatner, a 57 year old Nimoy, and tagging along is Bones and Scotty, both 69 years old. I’m sure by this point in their lives, they thought about death and god. A lot. And so they’ve made a movie like the book described in Yeats’ poem, one to take off the shelf when you’re old and grey and nodding by the fire.

In a lot of ways this movie is very faithful to The Original Series. There was no shortage of encounters with gods in those three years. From sparring with Apollo in “Who Mourns for Adonais” to men turning into gods in “Where no Man has Gone Before” (h/t @Nolan, fascinating theory), to dealing with a fanatical cult leader searching for the mythical planet in "The Way to Eden”, to Spock’s own search for meaning in “The Savage Curtain” with Surak.

"The Way to Eden" has particular resonance with “The Final Frontier,” as far as Spock is concerned. In that episode he said he wanted to understand the cult members searching for Eden because they felt like aliens in their own homes, as did Spock,

SPOCK: They regard themselves as aliens in their own worlds, a condition with which I am somewhat familiar.

The reason I think of The Motion Picture as the perfect bookend to The Original Series is, in part, because of what TMP does to move forward Spock’s search for balance between his human and vulcan sides - thanks to his encounter in TMP with Voyager. That whole spiritual journey for Spock is what lets him tell his half brother Sybok here in this movie,

SPOCK: I am not the outcast boy you left behind those many years ago. Since that time I found myself and my place and I know who I am.

Indeed, we see in “The Final Frontier” an emotionally fully mature Spock, and it has been an arduous effort to get here. He literally had to let his old self die, and in a real way, get born again.

This movie does for Kirk what the series of movies so far have done for Spock. It completes Kirk’s emotional development. At the beginning of the movie, in a very charming fireside camp scene, Bones wonders why they bother to spend their shore leaves together. Kirk laments that they don’t have families to go to,

McCOY: What do we do when shore leave comes along? We spend it together. Other people have families.

KIRK: Other people, Bones. Not us.

That’s what haunts the old and aging, isn’t it? The what ifs. The could have beens. When Picard is in the Nexus, it is a family he imagines. Picard had planned to spend part of his retirement with his brother and sister-in-law and nephew, but they died in a fire. Now who does he have? Other people have families. Not us. Kirk - who does he have? Other people have families. Not us. Maybe Sulu gets a family. But not us.

By the end of the movie, though, Kirk has come around to some resolution. When he tells Spock that he lost a brother, I initially thought Kirk was talking about the season 1 finale "Operation—Annihilate!” But then Kirk says he got his brother back, and I realized he was talking about Spock. And as I was watching it, and the light bulb went on for me, evidently it went on for Bones as well,

SPOCK: I was thinking of Sybok. I have lost a brother.

KIRK: Yes. I lost a brother once. But I was lucky, I got him back.

McCOY: I thought you said men like us don't have families.

KIRK: I was wrong.

In a lot of ways, this also is the conclusion Picard comes to in “All Good Things”. After seeing his lonely life in the future flashes, Picard goes down to play poker with his bridge crew. They are likely to be the only family he will ever have (aside from a few Romulan assassins who live on his vineyard). As Picard says,

PICARD: I should have done this a long time ago.

There are things that people do when they accept that they are in their old age, that they would not do, or did not do, or did not have time to do, when they were in their prime, consumed by life, consumed by career, surrounded by friends, attending party after party. Sometimes all it takes is meeting a sympathetic person to release that side of you.

Sybok’s super power is empathy. We see it right in the first minutes of the movie, when he has his very first conversation,

SYBOK: Your pain runs deep.

J'ONN: What do you know of my pain?

SYBOK: Let us explore it together. Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light. Share your pain. Share your pain with me and gain strength from it.

J'ONN: Where did you get this power?

SYBOK: The power was within you.

J'ONN: It is as if a weight has been lifted from my heart. How can I repay you for this miracle?

SYBOK: Join my quest.

J'ONN: What is it you seek?

SYBOK: What you seek. What all men have sought since time began, the ultimate knowledge.

The key insight of The Final Frontier is that everyone is in pain. They key warning of The Final Frontier is that well-meaning folk who offer to share that pain and lift that burden, may well be taking you on a wild goose chase.

The interesting thing about Sybok is not that he’s a villain taking over the ship like Khan. Or that he’s insane like the cult leader in Way to Eden. Or even that he’s wrong. After all, everyone does make it through the barrier at the center of the galaxy (again, galactic barriers were pretty common in The Original Series).

No, it is just that Sybok has been tricked. And a lot of people pay the price. Including, of course, Sybok himself.

If there is one aspect I didn’t like about TFF, it is the treatment of Scotty (h/t @robgnow). In The Original Series, Scotty was third in line of command, right after Spock, and there are many fine examples where Scotty took command and did an excellent job. He was the chief of engineering, for sure, but he was also so much more. TFF completes the slow erosion that has happened over the course of five movies to Scotty’s character, and here he is little more than a caricature. I don’t begrudge Chekov his career advancement, but it was jarring for me to see Chekov in command of Scotty, when on TOS things were very much the opposite.

SCOTT: Mister Chekov, I've lost the Bird of Prey. She must've cloaked.

CHEKOV: Raise shields.

SCOTT: The shuttle?

CHEKOV: Do it.

It was a very short bit, but seeing as I only just finished a re-watch of TOS, it was jarring. Again, it is a totally earned change, and I support it; but I suppose that is what it means to grow old, to accept change :-)

At least the beautiful Uhura gets to perform for an audience one last time, as enjoyable here as she was 23 years earlier,

That’s a hell of a lot to write about a movie that I really like, and that I know most Trekkies do not. But that’s hardly a unique situation. Seeing as @Jammer gave “The Way to Eden” zero stars, and I gave it 3 1/2 stars, and given that of all TOS episodes, that is the closest in theme to The Final Frontier, I am, shall we say, perfectly prepared for my opinion to differ greatly from everyone else’s.

To see that there are so many others who enjoy this movie,

@Amy Quinn,
@Alexey Bogatiryov,
@Ari Paul,
@Sarjenka's Brother,

is really quite a wonderful delight.

I have taken the first step. The other steps we'll take together. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Preferably with Spock on the strings.
Tue, Jan 26, 2021, 11:29am (UTC -5)
^ Fantastic review, Mal!

I too think this movie is underrated. While I think there were too many attempts at comedy (probably seen as necessary after the success of The Voyage Home) I think this movie does the best job of showcasing the comradery of the characters and the chemistry of the actors. I also appreciate the fact that the story had some "big ideas" instead of just being an action flick.
Sleeper Agent
Mon, Feb 15, 2021, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Having heard about the negative reputation of this movie, I admittedly was hesitant to even give it a go. Even though I loved the first one and didn't really care much for the second, the fans opinions of The Final Frontier somehow got to me. Boy was that a mistake.

Storywise, the film falls short. It doesn't really have a villain and the plot kind of gets lost mid way. The evil entity at the end was just as much a dissapointment to me as it was for anybody else. But be that as it may, this movie has a helluva lot going for it.

Because it isn't about the story. It's about the characters we have all come to know and love for so long now. They have aged, they have become dependent of each other, not as mere working colleagues, but as family.

So when the big Three sits down at a camp fire on a purely recreational weekend in the wilderness it feels not only legit but even most appropriate that they sing a song or two. Preferably an easy one, so that Spock can adapt. Yes, it feels a bit cheap when Scotty walks into a beam and passes out, but why focus on that particular moment when the rest is at least satisfactory?

The relationship between him and Uhura might not be the most believable, but it isn't out of the question, and besides it serves as the perfect excuse to show the viewers that they too, have a human side. It was a bit of shock to see Uhura's seductive dance, but it was just as much fun as Nichols probably had doing it.

I have three more points which I can't tie up in an eloquent way, so let me just list them:

The scene where McCoy and Spock encounters their most traumatic moments is nothing but Trek gold.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this the first time we saw Klingos speaking only klingon in their own company?

And honestly, who didn't enjoy Chekov in the captain seat?

3 Solid Stars.
Matt B
Sat, Feb 20, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -5)
I remember this film being not that good, and of course hearing about just how terrible it is. However, after watching all the TOS movies, this is underrated and not as bad as its made out to be. I certainly enjoyed it more than STI and STIII. It's not a great move by any means, and has its bad moments, but I enjoyed watching it. It has a decent story at its core, and for the most part doesn't drag on.
Jason R.
Sat, Feb 20, 2021, 11:03am (UTC -5)
@MattB I wouldn't call it good but it's not boring and that's something.
Bob (a different one)
Sat, Feb 20, 2021, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Edit out the feeble attempts at comedy, and you have a good Trek movie. I still rewatch this one more often than any other Trek movie outside of TWOK and TUC.
Mon, Mar 22, 2021, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
It does actually resemble a TOS episode more than any other movie in tone and plot. Flying off to find God does sound like a typical high concept episode of TOS. And that was Shatner’s intentions. Unfortunately, it would still be a lousy episode. Still, to me, it’s way better than several of the other films.

Sybok is a pretty amazing character. Some feel it was a cheat because he was never mentioned before, but with the grief about “emotions” Spock regularly gets from Kirk and Bones, there’s absolutely no way he would mention he has a full Vulcan half brother emotion loving heretic.

And Luckinbill played him magnificently. Just as a viewer, it was easy to get carried away with his charisma and optimism. About the time Kirk started to believe Sybok might really be on to something, I was feeling the same way.

Unfortunately, the stakes were set so ridiculously high, of course it had to be a total letdown. I really didn’t need to see Sybok not only be a complete miserable failure but also lose his life. That really made a downer ending.

Shatner’s concept arose from watching televangelists. He kind of succeeded, but it just seems like an ill advised concept, especially for a feature film.

It does have some great stuff, Luckinbill’s acting being one. McCoy’’s euthanizing scene is absolutely top shelf.

Regarding Sybok— I don’t know if the JJ-verse will continue, but with the destruction of Vulcan, it’s easy to see how the tens of thousands of surviving Vulcans might be swayed to following a visionary like Sybok.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Maybe there is a theme here.

Fifth Movie shitness!

Star Trek V = Shit
Rocky V = Shit
Attack of the Clones = Shit (the 5th Star Wars movie made)

Any more?
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Any more? Here’s some....

DC Cinematic Universe - “Justice League”
Jurassic Park - “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
The Terminator - “Terminator Genisys”
Alien - “Prometheus”
Die Hard - “A Good Day to Die Hard”
Post-TOS Star Trek - “Star Trek” (2009)
Top Hat
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
Prometheus is only the fifth if you leave out Alien Vs. Predator (and its sequel).

Conversely, the fifth Godzilla movie, Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster, is a classic. Mind you, it's only fifth if you don't count the solo Mothra and Rodan films. The third James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, is hardly top drawer but pretty good.
Latex Zebra
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 4:36am (UTC -5)
@Luke - I quite like Fallen Kingdom. TBH, there is yet to be a JP film I haven't enjoyed.
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 7:07am (UTC -5)
This movie suffers from biting off more that it could chew.

It has some truly cringeworthy moments (Uhura dance) and most all the stuff in the desert town looks really low budget, but it has good parts too.

If you are going to make a movie about God, you need to go all the way.
Jeffery's Tube
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
Things I like about this movie:

1) The opening Yosemite and campfire scenes. Yes, including the "row row row your boat" part.

2) The score. Goldsmith was the best composer for Star Trek, and he really outdid himself with this one. Then again, if the standout element you're noticing about the film you're watching is the score, then that speaks volume about the film itself, doesn't it?

3) Uhura actually has a real part. And I mean beyond the infamous dance scene. We actually see her do more than just "be there" because she's supposed to be. As I'm rewatching these films, I've noticed she and Sulu really get nothing much other than a stray line here and there. The big three get good parts, Scotty gets good parts, even Chekov gets a meaty role in Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home. Meanwhile in III, Uhura had a scene in the transporter room at the start of the film then peaced out until the end on Vulcan. And Sulu's done about the same, or even less. Both of them are treated as important roles by this story, and I appreciate that.

4) DeForest Kelley gives an amazing performance in this movie. Maybe his best ever as Bones.

5) William Luckinbill turns in a good performance as Sybok. The character may have been badly conceived, but he sells it.

6) Kirk's line about needing his pain, and it's what makes him what he is. That's a real, authentic, "big" Star Trek moment, right there.

And, well . . . that's about it. Yep. That's all.
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 6:07am (UTC -5)
Yeah, how about them gin joints......made me queasy....ugh.

One of Shatner's daughters was in this one. When Capt K goes to the bridge and see the mess....she walks up to him.

Luckinbill married Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball.

I felt ashamed for Nichelle doing that stupid fan dance. And the powers that be used another singer's recording of the song Nichelle had recorded. That hurt her.

The best actor was the tall scary scary Klingon with the afro. I really liked him. I also expected more from him that I got in the movie.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Shatner’s talking post landing - sounds like something from ST:V
Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal
Tue, Jan 26, 2021

What a thoughtful review (a tour-de-force really) on one of my favorite movies.
To those cold to the movie, I say:
One can dwell on the flaws of anything has them, so what?

Mal recognizes that:
Its various messages are important. Kirk: "I lost a brother once. But I was lucky, I got him back." Mc Coy's line: "I thought you said men like us don't have families. To which Kirk replies: "I was wrong. " The film's score during this penultimate scene matches the dialogue perfectly. I cry every time I experience it. The viewer can choose to understand what Kirk is talking about.

Human heart is spoken to...and who knows what replies. Should that something then be listened to, one then transcends surmise.

For all its missteps, thought fills the script. Towards the end, the false god of Sha-ka-ree actually quotes Ezra Pound, or nearly so "And no sun comes to rest me in this place".

The Tomb of Akr Caar (1912)

For me No. 5 was a much more enjoyable experience than the vaunted Star Trek VI with its floating Klingon blood, the impact of which was just terrible.
Wed, Apr 27, 2022, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Refering to the start of Jammer's review. I did also not pay for this, at least not directly. I am glad for that.

After having watched DISC season4 I saw a lot of paralelles. The get into problem and after a mix of viewable and less viewable sceenes they come to a place and talk with som strange entity. They finish the discussion and solves the problem (ok different methods) then there is a party an everyone is happy.

One movie was 2 hour the other 13.

The final frontier had a lot of charm. Discovery vas visually more entertaining and had some viewable side characters.
Willy Lovington
Fri, Jul 1, 2022, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
I must say this was an enjoyable romp. How about that saucy cat girl, what a minx! There really isn't enough of them in Star Trek. And I must say, my monocle misted over when Miss Uhura did end dancing thing with the big leaves.
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
@ Warp Capable
"""In the key moment, Kirk notices the problem, and Spock supports him, but it's Sybok who figures it out. This place is like TNG's "Where No One Has Gone Before". They've found *Sybok's thoughts*, amplified through all the crew under his influence, reflected back at them!

"Sha Ka Ree, a vision you created."

Through everything Sybok's done, it's always about him. Even when he talks of God, it's just a way to talk about himself. It's Sybok that wants the starship, for own chariot. He's on this enormous ego trip, and part of him doesn't want to let it go. But another part of him is now realizing the destructiveness of it.

"This is my doing. This is my arrogance. My vanity!"

The vision collapses into the image of Symbok himself, as Sybok relinquishes his last denial, and begins to honestly confront himself.

Yes, the line "An eternity I've been imprisoned in this place", doesn't fit, but other lines, like the ones I quoted here, don't fit if it's some stuck alien. So I think it's best to ignore that one line. There is no alien. It's Sybok's thoughts, in his own mind, and in the minds of those he's reached."""

This is among the best of the explanations behind this movie I have ever read. Kudos!

"""So yes, Star Trek can't meet God literally. But consider this: a strange planet, that appears to be one thing but is really another, a kind of mirror, reflecting your own thoughts back to you in physical form, including thoughts that you haven't admitted to yourself, while you grapple with the consequences, is quite Trekable. And is it really very different?"""

It's really not a bad movie at all, and I do see the TOS influences on it. I was not embarrassed by Uhura's fan dance. I, actually, was more embarrassed for her and literally cringed when she sang that song during Charlie X.
Jason R.
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Is it a good movie? I'd say not. But it's not nearly as bad as some claim. It has the virtue of not being boring, and that counts for a lot in my book.
Peter G.
Mon, Mar 13, 2023, 12:05am (UTC -5)
I think the reason ST: V works as well as it does is the untouchable ensemble work and comraderie that continuously sells this cast. They work together so easily that it is effortless to play scenes with nuance and shifting levels of humor and irritation without it being a paint by numbers emotional plot. Unfortunately Scotty became a running gag by this point, whereas in TOS he was one of the strongest dramatic presences, especially when he was in command or dealing with some crisis in engineering. Sulu and Uhuru get an especially unlucky draw in the parts for this one, while at least Chekhov gets to play the 'outrageous' part of being a captain, despite in fact actually being a commander. That's sort of like an ensign play-acting at being a Lt. junior grade, isn't it? Not really much of a humorous reach there. I suppose he might only be a Lt Cmdr at this point, I didn't bother checking.

The main problem with this film isn't that it has no real ideas or any sense of scripting structure, but that it thinks it's being deep. Asking "is God out there" isn't a deep question. Concluding that "maybe God is in here" (tapping heart) isn't even really saying anything. Depth requires not scope but precision; you have to be actually asserting *something* and giving us a demonstration of why it might be worth thinking about. It's like saying you're rich because you have 'a billion'. A billion what? You're richer if you have one actual real dollar than a billion nothing. And one actual real idea would have been welcome here.

The Klingon sub-plot is actually ridiculous, and not just because Klaa is preposterously underbaked. Even Kruge, who was set up as a random jerk (but who we now must realize was the real intellectual of ST: III), was at least given dramatic scope. Klaa is almost a literal clown, with his hair doing a lot of work. He spends his time flying around in a presumably expensive ship hoping for target practice against asteroids. Does he have nothing better to do? His crew seem to admire his hobby, so perhaps it's they who are bored. When he hears that a Federation starship will be going to Nimbus III, he realizes this is finally a chance to attack...anyone. Naturally this leads us to conclude that the probe in ST: IV must have disabled all space craft in the galaxy, having taken the galactic winding bus route to get to Earth. There are literally no other ships *anywhere* Klaa can attack? Only later he learns that it's Kirk's ship, which is just a random ego-boost for Shatner, to write himself as having this massive Klingon bounty on his head. But why this sub-plot borders on comical, beyond the "he's good!" narrow escape, is that the puny Bird of Prey goes through the impassable galactic barrier in pursuit of Kirk, ending up at the planetary prison guarding yet another jackass incorporeal demi-god (Trelane doesn't have the trademark on isolated planets in the middle of nowhere). And they are willing to engage in this impossible and legendary feat for target practice! Hahahaha!!! And let's not forget the lingering shots of the Enterprise console having dramatic scenes all to itself portraying the Klingon ship cloaking, decloaking, attacking, and all the other fun stuff, to ethereal background music. I lol'ed at this part.

One character detail that has always rattled me was Sybok's claim that he's just freeing people from their pain, which makes them automatically follow him. And he does this almost instantaneously in most cases. We know that Vulcans are telepathic powers, and Spock has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he can in fact alter perception (Spectre of the Gun) and even memories (Requiem for Methuselah). Sybok is a full Vulcan, apparently with a top-tier mind, so we might imagine his mental powers are formidable. And I'm supposed to believe all he's doing is helping people? Seems like a pretty slam dunk case that he's doing even worse than McCoy's presumption of brainwashing people, and is in fact outright mind-controlling them. I can see why he'd be expelled outright from Vulcan, even putting aside his rejection of Surak's code. The guy is willing to commit as many crimes as is necessary to do anything he wants, is clearly a megalomaniacal narcissist, and we're supposed to believe it when he calls Kirk "friend" near the end? So yeah, this has always bugged me. It does occur to me now, though, that he and his quest cause ST: V to resemble The Way to Eden quite closely, with Sybok taking the place of the mad Dr. Severin. The fact that Sybok is also literally searching for Eden makes me think I'm dumber than this story for not making that connection sooner.

Another callback is Kirk's "I need my pain!" which hails to all the episodes where Kirk rejects a false paradise. This Side of Paradise sticks in my mind the most, but he was always the champion of human struggle over pleasant ease. It's actually a nice note to bring back in this film, even though it's not put to any good use. The fact that Kirk is the one to 'doubt' God lacks any profundity since he's never been cast as a skeptic, but at least he holds his perennial ground on refusing easy answers to life's challenges.

One thing that should be written off as a contrivance necessary for the story to work is that the Enterprise is the only ship "in the quadrant" while it's not even fully functional yet. And I don't want to write it off, as it suggests something far more interesting than was intended: that space is such a vast and immense place that even with all its resources the Federation's ships are spread all over the place and extraordinarily far from each other. I imagine there were times in the era of the British Navy when a ship near Africa might in theory be the closest vessel to South America, if all the others were scattered elsewhere. Even at warp speed starships could be weeks or even further away from each other, in the Beta Quadrant or who knows where. Trek often understates how big the galaxy is, and TOS often created that frontier feeling of a lone Starship being the only sheriff in town for a long way out. TNG, which was already on-air at this point, seems to introduce a much more populated skyway with starships all over the place, often meeting each other. But the Trek feature films I-VI all seems to exist in the world of TOS, which I think is pretty cool.

Regarding the humor, the film got laughs in the cinema, and big laughs again when the VHS came out. I laughed, my friends laughed, my parents and their friends laughed. It's somewhat lowbrow, but it worked. I don't approve of Shatner's story writing style (and never cared for his Tek series), and he often runs the risk of Flanderizing the characters. But the jokes did mostly work, such as they were. It's too bad that it's one of the main highlights of the film, and yet is only decent. Another highlight, surprisingly, is IMO Shatner's performance. He wrote his own character arc, and I think it must have meant a lot to him because he acted his heart out in many of the scenes. Even though his ST: II performance is more understated and dignified, this one has more guts and I actually respect the heck out of that.
Peter G.
Mon, Mar 13, 2023, 8:30am (UTC -5)
I forgot to mention two things that bothered me about the art direction, which is the shameless stealing from Mad Max 2 (presumbly) for the people and terrain at Nimbus III, and the SECOND appearance of the Mos Eisley cantina in the Trek films, the first being in ST:III when McCoy is trying to procure a 'fast ship.' It's really pathetic that a series with this pedigree should be resorting to a lazy cut and paste instead of coming up with original designs.
Richard P.
Thu, Apr 13, 2023, 8:38am (UTC -5)
I must say that maybe I'm the only one beyond the barrier but I quite like this movie. It is by no means a masterpiece but it's also not the awful garbage everyone says.

I think I’m the only one beyond the barrier who gets the massage right: This movie is about friendship, and nothing else – just about friendship. I can’t imagine why nobody gets it.

Every scene with Kirk, Spock and Bones is about their friendship, literally! There is not one scene in which Kirk, Spock and Bones are separated – they are always together – in every freakin’ scene!!!

And not only does every scene shows their friendship, no they also talk about their friendship in every freakin’ scene! Hello? How can anybody not see this?

And it’s not only about the friendship of our three heroes, but also about the friendship of Chekov and Sulu and of course Scotty and Uhura.

Even the Villain is not evil, no Sybok is likable and always nice and friendly. Even at the end on the planet when the false God shoots at Kirk and Spock he shouts: Why do you hurt my friends. Even the supervillain calls our heroes friends!!!

And not even the Klingons are really this bad – at the end Spock shoots the false God from the Bird of Prey and they all have a nice party with the Klingons. Now this is what I call a happy ending!

Mr. Shatner wanted to make a movie about friendship – is this such a terrible thing?
I think not – this is a most sympathetic movie with the heart on the right spot and in times of war and hate I must say I appreciate that even more!

Nowadays when every movie has to be cynical, dark and violent, this movie shines like a spark and this is a good thing – at least in my book!
Fri, May 5, 2023, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
When this film came out, one unfair criticism the critics had was how old the crew looked. They made snarky comments about their age and yet said nothing along these lines for Star Trek VI.

I haven't watched Star Trek Picard yet but see posts about it all the time in my Facebook feed. Now those people look old yet we don't hear much about it from critics like we did back in 1989. Have attitudes changed or was Star Trek V subject to any little dig people could come up with?
Sat, Jul 15, 2023, 9:10am (UTC -5)
As an older GenX, this movie came out at, I suppose, a formative time in my development. Every time I rewatch it, I can still remember how I felt the first time I saw many of the scenes.

And yes, I still regularly rewatch Star Trek 5. It is one of my favorite movies, bar none. Yes, I know I am in the minority here, and yes, I do enjoy reading negative reviews of the film so as to compare them to my own opinions.

I love the music. I love the relationship between the characters. I love that Sybok is a sympathetic figure who sacrifices himself to save the others. I love Kirk's line that maybe God is not out there, but in the heart. And the scene with Sybok and the big three in the observation lounge is quite possibly one of the best scenes in any Star Trek film.

I do understand the negative reception. I get that the production problems, budget constraints, and studio interference have detracted from the movie. But for some reason, I either ignore or look past the flaws and see a really great film that speaks to me.

And, ok, maybe it IS just me.

But I have loved Star Trek Five since the first time I saw it 34 years ago. And I'm not ashamed to admit it!
Lawrence Bullock
Fri, Sep 8, 2023, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
I think it's fine. Expectations are high for all ST films. Not going to say this was a great one, but as others have mentioned, this one had good moments. I do have to agree with the Uhura Maneuver though, Nichelle Nichols was badly used.

I, too, watched it with idea that it seemed like one of the B list TOS episodes that you watch, but don't expect as much from, happy to enjoy the contribution to to the Canon.

It also struck me as a definitive vision of Shatner's. His view of the journey. A bit cloying at times, a bit corny, a bit hokey, but laced through with a pride and realization of his place in it. Can't really blame someone for that. For gosh sakes, it's Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Deal with it.

I watched the double feature DVD (with ST VI) version. I'll probably listen to the commentary, but not tonight.

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