Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) – William Shatner

 

The next stop with the U.S.S. Enterprise according to the Sci-Fi Chronicles is the fifth film in the series, as I’d previously reviewed IV. Shatner takes the helm both as Captain James T. Kirk and as director and helped with the story as well.

Big ideas get caught up in budget restrictions and less than stellar special effects, also caused by the budget cuts. The original plan was the Enterprise would seek out god, but instead finds an evil being, the devil (?), posing as god.

Star Trek has always taken on big ideas, but this time it just doesn’t fly, though the film does have some fine, classic moments, countered by some stupid ones, but some fine moments.

The film opens with the crew of the Enterprise on shore leave, Kirk, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) spend it together but are called to help out on Nimbus III, the planet of Galactic Peace, when a rogue Vulcan with a secret, Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) grabs the Romulan, Klingon and Human (David Warner) peace delegates hostage.

When he seizes control of the Enterprise he reveals his ultimate plan, to breach the center of the galaxy, where god is waiting for him in Eden.

The film happily sees the return of all the major cast, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Scotty (James Doohan), Sulu (George Takei) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) all get moments, and Jerry Goldsmith returns to score the film.

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The film seems to want to be more serious fare than the very successful IV, while still providing the humor we’ve come to expect from the original series. But, sadly, it’s not as balanced as it could be, but, as mentioned the most glaring thing about the film, is that despite Shatner’s best efforts, it doesn’t look as good as any of the previous films, because Paramount cut the budget back drastically.

Well, that, and the Klingons, in this film, are a bit of a non-threat, and the stupid humor coming from the new Enterprise not being up to snuff.

But there are classic Trek moments… When Sybok reveals the inner pains of those closest to Kirk. The campfires definitely illustrate the trio’s friendship in a wonderful way, and of course, take on the big questions of friendship, brotherhood, and the existence of god.

Shatner and the rest know their characters so well by now, that they slip into their roles easily, and are undeniably, the strongest part of the film, listening to the interplay, and seeing the character moments.

It’s not enough to save you from the letdown of an ending, and even the original proposed one doesn’t sound a lot better, but it all does, at least, sound better when you add in Goldsmith’s score.

While not my favorite Trek Film, it’s my least of the Classic, but not of the series, even this one is enjoyable, and I always like spending time with these characters, even when the story doesn’t live up to the excitement of seeing them again.

But, at least the classic series ends on a high note… next time!

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