Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country Reviews
Its strange really, up to this point the previous films have been average to poor with visuals and in some cases bland in plot, but this last entry really comes back with a bang. It does feel as if everyone really came together and pushed for the best send off possible for both the fans and the original cast...and boy did they get it right.
Being the last movie for the vintage crew it feels appropriate and traditional that the enemy facing off against them be the Klingons (again with the Klingons). The old enemy, the vicious pirates of space that have caused problems for the Federation since day one...well if you don't count those pesky Romulans of course, they must feel left out. Its time for a truce and its up to Kirk and his old boys (and girl) to break bread with the war mongering Klingons...but only because their home planet is under threat after its nearby moon blew up shattering its ozone layer. So the Klingons are forced to make peace with the Federation but naturally some are not so happy with this. Cue assassinations and the framing of Kirk...the adventure begins.
First up, visuals, what on Titan happened here? all of a sudden this franchise looks delicious. The sets look polished and realistic with actual depth and slick control panels, costumes maintain the naval militaristic feel looking devilishly sharp, models glide through space with ease rivaling some Star Wars work (would you believe they reused old models?) and all technical electrical effects actually appear realistic this time. Hardly any dodgy bluescreen shots anywhere folks! I've never seen such a bold flurry of sexy looking starship fire. Admittedly there are a lot of CGI effects going on here and they do indeed look like CGI. The morphing effect used for the shapeshifter also looked pretty obvious but you do tend to expect that from Star Trek, its never perfect.
The whole film is packed with colour and flare making it an absolute joy to watch. The colour schemes are perfect, I loved the purple coloured shock wave that engulfed the Excelsior, pink Klingon blood in CGI (an eye opener for the time) and the neon blue interior of the torpedo bay. That might seem minor overall but its the little things that make the difference. It really is a complete departure from all the previous films and such a victory for all involved.
As said I think it was a wise move to use the Klingon's as the enemy in this final film. The Klingon's are the classic enemy (Romulan love?) and what better way to go down in a blaze of glory than kicking some Klingon ass (I think the Russian cold war theories/allegories can be laid to rest now). Of course by the end everyone is supposedly friends and at peace (or on the way towards that) which is a bit wussy but I can see what they were aiming for. The plot is really a very simple murder mystery basically, no frills and no silly whales or God-like entities, this is a political...errmmm...action thriller.
Talking of Klingon's, who'd of thought Chris Plummer would make a brilliant Klingon huh? Some righteous casting there my friends, a sterling choice. Plummer is a Klingon badass in this despite the fact he actually does nothing other than spout Shakespeare...in Klingon. The mark of a great actor there, he merely struts around and throws out the bards work in his pitch perfect speaking voice yet at the same time he looks imposing, threatening and powerful...absolute badass! I loved the little touch with his eyepatch being bolted onto his face, literately bolted into his Klingon skull (badass).
There really wasn't a foot put wrong here in my opinion, lets not forget about Warner as the Klingon chancellor Gorkon. The man wasn't involved for very long but again he made his presence felt with a great Klingon character performance. Just like Plummer as Chang he looked every bit the complete warrior with his tusk cane and weathered facial hair, he also looked pretty tough and imposing too. Clearly both characters are remembered due to the actors that made them, both really gave the film a proper epic vibe.
This final outing really had it all, great space battles, quirky jokes and even a good old fashioned alien filled prison on a snow planet, every sci-fi needs a good Mos Eisley cantina type moment. I loved that whole idea and seeing all the odd aliens (who wouldn't), just a shame it didn't look quite as good as it should of but there are some glorious location shots later on which really sell it. Easily a classic original TV series homage with that whole segment, its corny but charming, bordering on B-movie territory.
Very much in tone with the first new prequel/reboot if you ask me, in fact that movie borrowed the snow planet idea briefly methinks. An extremely fun film to watch which has all the hallmarks of an epic space opera, the typical good humour we all know and love plus bright vivid visuals that really heighten your enjoyment and add an almost comicbook feel to the proceedings.
To mark the very end a stirring send off with all the team inscribing their signatures across the screen whilst a beautifully re-rendered version of the classic Star Trek theme plays in the background. It was a beautiful way to go seeing the casts names emblazoned across a space panorama, it almost brings a tear to your eye...OK it did bring a tear to my eye. The final film, the best film and the perfect finale.
The regular cast are fine (or more than fine) as always, but it is really obvious that they're all getting really old. After all, this film came out the year that the series celebrated its 25th anniversary. The cast new to the movie are also pretty good, especially a gleefully scenery chewing Christopher Plummer who has a nailed in eye patch and quotes tons of Shakespeare.
Like The Voyage Home, there is a pretty good dose of humor, and this is a highly entertaining film, but it's not quite as funny as TVH. Also, I think this may just be the darkest of all of the Trek films. The humor and serious stuff actually blend fairly well, but still, this is a very dark and serious film. Besides having a connection to history, it's also a good murder mystery yarn with some neat and interesting twsits, turns, and developments. I like how it all unfolds.
I liked the ending to this one, and thought it was very poignant and well done. One can't help but get a little misty eyed or feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia during the sign off right before the credits. I think my favorite part though might be all of the chunks of purple Klingon blood floating around in zero-gravity, which would look really cool in 3-D. Anyway, I highly recommend this one. It's an overall satisfying film, and one of my favorites of the series.
This has to be one of the best of the original star trek crew films. It's just excellent and so so underated. Everything that a Trek fan like me wants in a a Trek film; decent plot, script up-to scratch and just an all round excellent film. What's so great is brining back to Klingons, Kirk's bitter revials, really sets out for some excellent scenes with the crew of the Enterprise. You can really see the tension between the two camps which makes for a perfect film. I find it difficult to critically rate a Trek film as you might find out from reading reviews of star trek films that I've done.
One of my favourite Trek films.
We seen it before - characters who will not accept their world leaning toward peace. The movie is OK. Nice to see some new faces - Kim Cattrell, Christopher Plummer.
Star Trek VI is much better than Shatner's vanity project that was part five. The plot is more cohesive, there's better acting (Christopher Plummer plays the main bad Klingon for Christ Sakes!), and the return of Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) as director. The film plays like a mystery, sort of like a weird episode of Matlock with a wrongly accused man on trial and the people trying to figure out whodunnit. The acting is above average for a Star trek film, mainly because Plummer is in this and he is awesome (I also have to point out to Sex and the City fans that the old whore from that show plays a Klingon in this).
The thing about Star Trek VI and all of the superior films of this series is that when the threat is low key the film is much better. When it's something huge, such as in I, IV, V it tends to water down the film into a massive pile of goop. The series was designed as social commentary (to a point) and when the films try to pull away from that an compete with Star Wars they tend to fail. The Undiscovered Country is a fitting farewell to the series.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" is the final film with the entire original cast. This is also one of the best of the series because we see the Enterprise crew, past their prime, save the universe one more time.
As the film opens, we are witness to an ecological disaster. As the starship Excelsior, now under the command of Capt. Sulu (George Takei)is on a survey, they witness the aftermath of the explosion of the Klingon moon called Praxis. Even though Sulu is ready to offer assistance, The Klingons want no help from them.
Later, the Enterprise crew is called into a top secret meeting and is apprised of the situation,which is dire (Think Chernoble). Because of the devastation (Which will destroy their ozone within 50 years), the Klingons offer to extend an olive branch with the Federation. In other words, The Klingons and The Federation want a peace treaty.
Considering that the Klingon Empire and the Federation have been at each others throats for ages, this doesn't sit well with the parties involved, especially Captain Kirk (William Shatner), who wants nothing to do with the process considering that it was the Klingons who had killed his son (See "Star Trek III: The Search For Spock"). In fact, when Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who has been working with the Klingons for the treaty, tells them that they are dying, Kirk viciously says "Let them die!" Ouch. However, he has to follow orders.
Soon the crew of the Enterprise meets with Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner), his officer General Chang (Christopher Plummer) and his daughter Azetbur (Rosanna DeSoto). During a dinner in which pretty much everyone is intoxicated with Romulan Ale, there is some negativity among both sides, clearly indicating that the road to peace is going to be a bumpy one.
And it is.
Later, the Klingon ship is fired upon, seemingly by The Enterprise, and the Chancellor is assassinated, despite the attempts of Kirk and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to save him. Both Kirk and McCoy are arrested and put on trial. Found guilty, both are sentenced to the ice planet known as Rura Penthe. How bad is it? Judging from Uhura's (Nichelle Nichols) and Scotty's(James Doohan)reaction, it would have been better for Kirk and McCoy to have been executed on the spot.
Spock knows that a conspiracy is present. And so, while he is trying to find out the facts, Kirk and McCoy try to stay alive on the penal planet.
With time running out before the peace conference starts, the crew of the Enterprise must not also save Kirk and McCoy, but to race to the site of the conference to stop another assassination from taking place, which will destroy any chance of peace. This proves even more difficult when they discover that there is a Klingon Bird of Prey that can fire when cloaked. And that those involved in the conspiracy work on both sides of the coin.
What is interesting about the film is that it mirrors the general feelings between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. Once considered enemies, each side works together for peace, even if both sides are skeptical. We also see the flaws of the crew of the Enterprise: everyone is prejudiced. Chekov (Walter Koenig), during dinner, mentions "unalienable human rights," and is chastised by Azetbur for his "racist" comments. Even Mr. Spock is prejudiced: he's so blinded by the accomplishments of his Vulcan protégé Valeris (Kim Catrall), that he doesn't see how much of a threat she is (He admits this to Kirk later on) until it is almost too late.
It is nice to see the crew back in action one last time, and you can't help but get a bit misty eyed (Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek died before it's release, and this film is dedicated to him). A nice way to end the series, but it's hard to say goodbye.
The original series of 'Star Trek' was known for tackling the contemporary issues of the day through a science fiction filter. While 'The Voyage Home' had addressed environmental issues, it did so in a blatant manner rather than an allegorical one. For the sixth film, Leonard Nimoy suggested a plot-line which would mirror the ending of the cold war, as the Berlin wall had just come down in 1989. The relationship between the Federation and the Klingons had always been a thinly veiled allegory of that of the U.S and U.S.S.R so it made sense to now bring the onscreen cold war to an end.
With the preceding three movies directed by Nimoy and Shatner, the director of the series' best installment, 'Wrath of Khan', Nicholas Meyer, was brought back. As a result, this movie has a level of class that had been absent from Nimoy and Shatner's work. Despite working with the same level of budget, Meyer's film looks like a much larger scale movie, utilizing the relatively modest sets (many of which were borrowed from 'The Next Generation') to great effect. It's a shame Meyer never went on to bigger things as few of today's Hollywood directors have either his talent or integrity. Should you ever get the chance to listen to one of his DVD commentaries, I thoroughly recommend it, as he provides some great insights into the story-telling process.
This was the final film to feature the original crew in its entirety and, although he would return in a reduced role in the next installment, Shatner really milks his screen time here, putting in a tour de force like only he can. Kirk had fought himself in the original series and does so again here, thanks to the shape-shifting alien played by Iman. The dialogue here references the actor's notorious ego as Kirk exclaims "I can't believe I kissed you", only for his adversary to reply "Must have been your life's ambition!". The legendary Plummer is fantastic as the Klingon, Chang, replete with an eyepatch nailed into his skull. Cattrall, relatively unknown at this point, is perfectly cast as a deceitful Vulcan.
Youthful composer, Cliff Eidelman, took over soundtrack duties, providing one of the series' best. The opening credits theme is a rousing riff on Gustav Holst's 'The Planets', at Meyer's suggestion. There's little reference to previous Trek themes as Meyer wanted the score to feel like a "fresh start".
This is the sort of Hollywood movie that's all too rare now, fun without being dumb, involving without being convoluted. It's a shame the cast found themselves at an age too advanced to be taken seriously any longer as, under Meyer's guidance, this film feels like a new beginning, with Trek just hitting its stride as a big-screen franchise. Although 'Generations' ends the story-line of Kirk, it's 'The Undiscovered Country' which really acts as a farewell to the original crew. A fitting farewell.
The Klingons had represented the Russians since the original series in the 60's and the relationship between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire was a metaphor for the cold war. In this story we have parallels to what was happening to the Russian government in the mid to late 1980's. There is an informative special feature on the Special Collector's Edition DVD called The Perils of Peacemaking that spells out how elements of "The Undiscovered Country" plot mirror history.
It is good to see George Takei as Sulu as the captain of his own ship. David Warner plays a Klingon chancellor this time who dreams of "The Undiscovered Country," or a peace time between the Federation and the Klingons. Kim Cattrall as the Vulcan Valeris takes Sulu's seat on the Enterprise bridge and plays her part admirably. Christopher Plummer as the Shakespeare spouting, only occasionally Klingon speaking General Chang is a unique creation and Plummer chews the scenes ravenously. The main Enterprise crew is looking to their retirement again when peace talks are suggested between the Federation and the Klingons. Kirk and the Enterprise are assigned as escort and a small rift forms between Kirk and Spock. After the assassination of the Klingon chancellor, Spock must lead the crew in an effort to solve a little mystery about who did it, while Kirk and McCoy are brought before a Klingon court (defended by Michael Dorn as Worf's own grandfather). With the crew digging for clues and delaying replying to the Federation with a bit of assistance from Sulu, Kirk and McCoy must survive in a penal colony. They make a break for it with a very cool character who turns out to be a shape shifter and just like in a couple of the original show's episodes Kirk comes face to face with himself. The crew suspects that a Klingon bird of prey now has the ability to fire its weapons while cloaked. Can they stop this secret weapon and put the clues together in time to stop another assassination attempt? The action, suspense, drama, bit of humor, and special effects are all at the height of what a Star Trek film is meant to be.
Underdevelopment has been a sporadic issue within this film series, because we all know this mythology, and many of these films, counting on that, put little effort into fleshing out recognizable characters and story elements in the context of a particular venture for the crew of the Enterprise, with this film unfortunately being among the undercooked installments within the "Star Trek" film series, offering only so much expository depth to obscure natural shortcomings. Now, there's a lot more meat to this film than I expected, and considering how rewarding something like "The Wrath of Khan" is, these films don't exactly boat a low standard in compelling story concepts, but there are still plenty of thin areas in this film's promising conflict, and they go emphasized by the undercooking, as well as conventional spots. The film isn't quite trite, as it feels inspired enough for you to forgive many of the formulaic aspects, but the formulaic aspects still stand, and often firmly, because even when you take the familiarity of the "Star Trek" mythology out of account, certain elements to the sci-fi theme to this film are particularly conventional, though not as conventional as a relatively basic "framed by murderous opposers of peace" type of plot concept, which is nothing short of pretty predictable. It's easy to see where this film is going, and it gets to that point with only so much development and only so much kick, yet you can say just that about "The Wrath of Khan", which was also formulaic, with natural shortcomings and, in certain areas, even less meat, but still came out rewarding, so for all extents and purposes, director Nicholas Meyer should deliver on yet another relatively upstanding "Star Trek" film. However, what really undercuts this film and sends it into underwhelmingness is its simply being just too darn slow, because even though "Khan" wasn't exactly moving at a thrilling clip, there's something kind of cold about this film, whose quietness and often overly subtle attention to sparse storytelling dry things up to a rather bland point which challenges your investment, and is too recurring to disregard. Rises and falls in this film's intensity are here, but they're few and far between, going bridged by storytelling that still could have easily been rewarding, but end up being too tainted by dry spells, thin areas, conventionalism and undercooking for the film to stand as truly rewarding on the whole. That being said, the film comes about as close to rewarding as it can, being ultimately held back by more than a few undeniable shortcomings, but not so far that you don't get glimpses of thorough compellingness to break up a consistent degree of engagement value, reinforced by anything from highlights in storytelling to highlights in musicality.
This franchise's musical aspects may be iconic, but they've never been especially unique, and this film's score is no exception, offering only so many refreshing elements, and even being kind of unevenly used, yet for the "Star Trek" series' musical tradition, Cliff Eidelman's efforts here are genuinely distinguished, with a bit of a heavy, maybe even darker soul that was pretty new for this series at the time and is very much lovely on a musical level, as well as complimentary to the heavier tone of this particular film, much like nifty visuals. The film gets around to more environments than your usual "Star Trek" film, and it makes the dynamic tastes in setting really count by delivering on lavish locations, brought to life by sharp cinematography by Hiro Narita, whose stylish tastes in tight framing and warm tastes in lighting and coloring prove to be pretty eye-catching and complimentary to the immersive locations, as well as certain other aspects to art direction. Yeah, yeah, we can go on about how well-produced the film is, like just about every other "Star Trek" film, but production designer Herman F. Zimmerman makes good and sure that a then-pretty respectable budget of $27 million doesn't go to waste, bringing the distinctive world of the 23rd century to life about as well as any other production designer for a "Star Trek" opus, while throwing in some refreshing touches that are additionally fun to behold, especially when accompanied by visual effects that have gotten to be rather dated, but are still pretty dazzlingly well-conceived, with relatively convincing moments that really flavor things up. The film, at least at the time, was about as sharp as any "Star Trek" film on a stylish and technical level, and is still pretty impressive, yet what really brings the final product to the brink of rewarding is the very aspect that is too tainted for the film to be truly secured as rewarding. Like I said, this film's substance is tainted, being formulaic and somewhat thin in concept, and undercooked and draggy in execution, but there's still quite a bit of potential to it that writers Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn really do give justice more often than not, delivering on decent dialogue and even enough intelligence to evade much of the fluffiness that corned up previous "Star Trek" films, while taking some unexpected audacious approaches to rather weighty subject matter that go anchored by engaging performances, but are truly brought to life by inspired direction. Nicholas Meyer is one of the better directors the "Star Trek" film series has every had, but where Meyer was able to nudge "The Wrath of Khan" to rewarding, his atmospheric coldness nudges this film short of rewarding, a status that is still almost achieved mainly because of what Meyer does so well, gracing atmosphere with a subtle intensity that is often to subtle, but almost just as often keeps intrigue alive, generally to the point of keeping entertainment value from slipping too much, and sometimes to the point of bringing pretty solid effectiveness to moments of tension which stand on a level that was not seen by the series up to this point, and gives you some mighty flavorful glimpses into what could have been. Meyer's atmospheric steadiness distances you just enough to notice the other shortcomings in storytelling and leave the final product to fall short of its potential, yet such potential wouldn't be so easy to detect if it wasn't for what Meyer does right, because even though I seriously wish that this film was more, it offers just enough to get you by as at least borderline rewarding, and therefore quite engaging.
Overall, underdevelopment emphasizes natural shortcomings and conventionalism reinforces predictability, thus making for a somewhat thin thriller that comes close to rewarding, but is ultimately just barely driven into underwhelmingness by bland atmospheric dry spells, though not so deeply that fine score work, cinematography, production value and visual effects, and meaty story concept areas - brought to life by some clever writing, decent acting and often effectively inspired direction - don't bring "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" to come close enough to a rewarding point to stand as a pretty enjoyable conclusion to the original "Star Trek" film saga.
2.75/5 - Decent