Star Trek V - The Final Frontier Reviews
This fifth adventure starts off on a good note with some nice sequences. A short intro with the main antagonist on the sandy world of Nimbus III which looks good (sandy desert like worlds always seem to look good in sci-fi films). Then its straight into some good old fashioned soppy Star Trek humour courtesy of Kirk, Spock and Bones as they enjoy their leave in Yosemite National Park. I can't deny that rock face climbing sequence was pretty amusing and virtually the highlight of the entire movie!
Following that we get a brief intro back on board the [i]Enterprise[/i] where everything is in the process of being fixed as its not working too well. Obviously this is the cue for Scotty to huff n puff with frustration at the circumstances yet we all know full well he will fix absolutely everything with time to spare. God bless that light-hearted Star Trek nonsense.
After this pleasant start which all point towards the beginning of a good fun film things take a bit of a nosedive. Basically there is no real plot here and little explanation for anything. Oh OK, Sybok wants to hijack the Enterprise and use it to find the mythical planet of Sha Ka Ree...yes you read that right and I spelt it right. This planet is at the centre of the galaxy and is supposedly where all creation began...highly doubtful I would imagine seeing as there are millions of galaxies beyond our own. Why don't the crew ever venture outside our Milky Way galaxy and explore another? now that would be exploration alright.
Renegade Vulcan Sybok isn't really explained at all unless you count Spock's brief flashback where we are given more big news that he and Spock are half brothers. We have no reason for his religious crusade, where he came from or how he ended up on Nimbus III.
There is also no explanation for Nimbus III, its inhabitants, its name (the planet of galactic peace?), why there are horses from Earth on it and why exactly everyone is on Sybok's side. Beats the Dinks outta me!
It also kinda amused me that originally Shatner wanted Sean Connery to play Sybok but for whatever reasons he declined. Thusly we have the mysterious Laurence Luckinbill who just happens to look very much like Sean Connery with a beard. I mean really Shatner...OK you wanted Connery and he said no, you didn't have to use another actor that looked like a poor mans Sean Connery, surely it wasn't that necessary.
Of course the main issue here is the fact they all run off looking for God at the centre of the galaxy. Personally I really can't think of a more risky idea than this! apart from possibly alienating a huge amount of the audience who will have their own religious views and beliefs that are sure to conflict. The flip side is you know straight away they won't actually find God as how could a sci-fi film proclaim what God would look, sound or behave like. How could the film makers preach or force their own beliefs and ideals of God on a world where there is such religious diversity.
So right away you know the plots outcome and thusly the film becomes pointless. On top of that the obvious alien creature/power (that isn't God) which they come across is not explained. No idea what it may have been, what it wanted, how it lead them to believe it was the one true God etc...
Another issue that bewilders me with the Star Trek film franchise is how or why the special effects seem to have gotten worse as the sequels progressed. As discussed in my review the first film really did have an epic feel to it with some beautifully sweeping model shots, but this fifth entry really does look dire. As usual we get more dodgy looking bluescreen shots and yet more hokey looking shaky sets which I have come to accept (sign of the franchise I'm afraid).
The actual models are sound and are clearly well made but it just looks as though the act of putting them on film has been rushed. From what I've read it does appear things were done as cheaply as possible and without the best folk available. To be honest you expect a lot more from a huge franchise and its fifth sequel.
So a very silly choice of plot which could of completely back fired (amazed it didn't), plus it has too many similarities to the first Star Trek film with the V'Ger story. Dull pacing, poor effects, weak characters and the rather creepy and definitely un-sexy fan dance by the aged Uhura was also a bit ewww.
Not much really happens in this film after the events on Nimbus III in my humble opinion. Its a very mediocre outing throughout with a very predictable anti-climactic finale which almost killed off anymore adventures for the original cast for good. Striving for glory clearly...but alas a supreme failure on all accounts truth be told.
The story revolves around a renegade Vulcan who captures the Enterprise (any ship would do, but it's the one that he ends up with) and uses it to go on a quest to discover the deepest secrets of the universe, primarily the existence of God. The film actually does have some neat ideas, concepts, and themes, but the way it is handled and presented is where the film falters.
I don't think Shatner had the skills as a director, and they should have gone with someone else. Also, the script is a shambling mess that's uneven, all over the place, and doesn't really present or do anything all that exciting and unique. There's humor, which is fine, but it goes overboard, and most of the jokes fall flat, and there's a ton of silly and ridiculous crap all over. DeForest Kelley actually saves it as far as the zingers go, but aside from him, all of it falls flat.
I get that this film had re-writes and all sorts of issues during production, so maybe some of this could be excused, but even then, the film is just really nutty and overblown, and it felt like a lot of this was incomplete and put together poorly and hastily. The presence of David Warner helps things a bit, but sadly he's underused and barely seen, so it's more of a waste than anything.
I wasn't bored, but I didn't really care. It was hard for me to take a lot of this seriously, because it was obvious that there was a lack of care and passion behind it all. Like I said though, it had some good ideas, it just comes up really, really short.
The cinematograhy is nice, and the music is really good, and, like I said, Kelley is funny, but the reast just stinks. Unless you feel obligated to see this one, just skip it.
But little do they know that Spock's half brother, a fellow Vulcan, has a goal of capturing the Enterprise ship and then going on a venture to find God. Will he be one of the crew's fiercest enemies ever? So much for shore leave!
There's not much, if anything, that hasn't already been said in the many reviews for "Star Trek V - The Final Frontier." Its plot is sort of bleh, the main enemy doesn't even seem like an enemy the majority of the time, the special effects are underwhelming, and there are many other things about the movie that are a bit subpar. Yep, I agree that this is the worst Star Trek movie that includes the original members.
However, there are some good times to be had. I thoroughly enjoy the shore leave scenes, especially the ones that take place around the campfire. It's this good-natured humor and reminiscing about the past (Kirk saying he misses his old chair, McCoy getting into his usual arguments with Spock, etc.) that will remind you of the Original Series episodes of Star Trek. I also thought that the character development was done fairly well.
All in all, "Star Trek V - The Final Frontier" is an average movie at heart, but, like all the bad episodes of Star Trek and the other not so spectacular movies, it's worth seeing. If, for nothing else, IT'S STAR TREK. You may not want to own it, but if you're a Trekkie, you KNOW you want to see it. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2003. What can you say, not one of the better Star Trek films, but it has many classic scenes to give it some brownie points.
You know there's going to be problems from the start when this appears on the screen:
Directed by William Shatner
To be honest Shatner can't direct himself out of a paper bag. I've seen better direction in animal sex footage. He also had a hand in the story, which starts out ridiculous and ends up stupid. The camping scene in the beginning, which could have been pretty good, fails horribly. Horribly. Stupid dialogue, bad acting, and shoddy effects ruin this sequence and continue to hamper the film throughout.
I've seen better entertainment going into a public toilet and noticing the last occupant did not know how to flush after a night of Taco Bell and vodka. The toilet has better production values, definitely.
The only mistake was hiring an effects crew who had never done motion control blue screen model effects before. And that was NOT William Shatner's fault. That was Ralph Winter's and Harve Bennet's fault. Quit blaming William Shatner. The producers hold the purse strings, and hired idiots. Watch the new DVD and you will see model test shots that were not for action blocking, but were the effects team actually trying to figure out how to do the effects. Lame
Watch this movie, focus on the characters, and ignore the space shots, and it's pretty good. I think since they reworked ST:TMP with new effects based on the original story boards, they should have done the same for ST:V for the new DVD. That would have fixed the whole movie.
Besides all of the exterior ship shots, the scenes I would have fixed are as follows:
The turboshaft - Change the deck numbers to make sense and erase the shadow made by the boom holding them up.
All viewscreens - Insert remastered footage digitally to replace the poor rear-projection versions. The new Enterprise would have an even clearer screen, not a grainy, dim one. The only one that worked was the observation windows as they approached the great barrier.
The fall scene at the beginning. Inserting the closeup of Kirk and Spock ruined the entire scene.(Exactly like the parasailing scene in Die Another Day) Seeing a real stuntman is always better than seeing a fake shot of the actor.
OK, let's get all of that out of the way. The special effects could have been better (i've seen worse). ILM, which created the effects for Star Treks II-IV were busy or unavailable and the producers turned to another company. The effects would've been OK for TV, but on screen they came off pretty cheesy. The saga of how Shatner lost the budget to create the ending he envisioned for his film is legendary. The final product looked rushed because it was rushed. Finally, Shatner as director was probably as restrained as you could hope for. The supporting cast really shined.
With that out of the way, let's talk about five reasons you should reconsider "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier." The acting. I would stack the acting of this movie against any of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy era. Check out the scenes when Vulcan renegade Sybok forces Spock and McCoy to "face their pain." Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly are given the ability to really act here and the payoff is some truly emotional scenes. Honestly, they are great to watch.
The Kirk-Spock-McCoy trio. Have these characters ever been better? Seeing them sit around a camp fire, discussing family, friends, life and death is great. It's funny, poignant and really takes advantage of the history these characters (and actors) share. How else could Spock react to the campfire song "Row, row, row your boat," other than to try and disseminate the lyrics? "Captain... life IS NOT a dream." Seeing that line pay off in the climax is brilliant.
The Pace: "Star Trek V" is a fast-paced, rollicking adventure that only slows down when it needs to. It not a great movie but it's never dull.
Its place in "Star Trek" history. There will never be another "Star Trek" film with the classic crew. As one of only six that were made, we should relish this film and the many good things about it. Klingons, renegade Vulcans, Jerry Goldsmith's fantastic score, Spock and McCoy arguing, Scotty fighting with the transporters, Starfleet rescue parties on horseback, Vulcan nerve pinches, phasers blasting, creatures pretending to be the almighty, great barriers, warp-speed escapes, birds of prey, mind melds and Kirk proclaiming that he "fears nothing. Overall not for non Trek fans but worth a look for the original crew in action.
With Nimoy directing the previous two installments, Shatner insisted on being allowed to direct 'The Final Frontier', having come up with the film's original concept. After the high-concept, commercially appealing story-line of 'The Voyage Home', Shatner wanted to pursue a more heady plot-line, one which essentially boiled down to the crew of the Enterprise setting out to find God. In concept, it was closer in theme to the first movie, but the lighter tone of parts two, three and four continued here. In fact, this is by far the funniest installment of the series.
At the time of its release, 'The Final Frontier' was slated by critics, chiefly for its ambitious but simultaneously weak plot. It's this lightness of plot that makes the film enjoyable though, as we get to spend time with the central trio. The opening and closing campfire scenes are some of the best seen throughout the franchise. The relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy is Trek's greatest asset and it's a joy to just hang out with these characters. Personally, if the entire film had just followed the trio on their camping trip for two hours I would have been quite happy.
The plot is indeed nonsense but Luckinbill, an actor Shatner discovered playing President LBJ in a one-man show, gives a great performance which really sells the idea. When we do finally meet 'God', it's an anti-climax, but how could it ever not be?
The sound of 'The Final Frontier' is notable, reprising the bells and whistles so familiar to fans of the original TV series, yet largely absent from the previous four films. Thanks to the return of composer Jerry Goldsmith, we get the best score since 'The Wrath of Khan', erasing the memory of Leonard Rosenman's horrible work on 'The Voyage Home'. Goldsmith reprises the march he wrote for 'The Motion Picture'. At the time, younger fans mistook it for a borrowing of the 'Next Generation' theme, which was, of course, the very same theme.
If you're looking for a gripping story, this wouldn't be your first choice among the Trek series but, if you just want to hang out with three of pop culture's great icons for a couple of hours, 'The Final Frontier' is thoroughly enjoyable.