Coming off the high of The Voyage Home, I had high hopes for Star Trek V – The Final Frontier. The previews made it sound interesting. I liked the main characters. What could go wrong?
A group of rebels take over the capital of Nimbus III, a planet within the Neutral Zone which is meant to be a place to foster dialog and cooperation between the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Empire. The Enterprise is dispatched to see what happened, cutting short their shore leave. They discover the leader of the rebels is Spock’s half-brother, Sybok, a Vulcan who rejected logic and embraced passion.
Over the years, a lot of negative things have been said about The Final Frontier. Some boil it down to an attempt to show that God doesn’t exist. Others state that it shouldn’t have had a main plot point of trying to find God. Some of the points raised are legitimate, but I think others didn’t pay close enough attention to the film.
Sybok was seeking for meaning in his life, and decided the best place to find it was the mythical Sha Ka Ree, the planet where—according to ancient Vulcan mythology and legend—was where all of creation began. What I took away from Sybok’s experience once they reached Sha Ka Ree was that blindly following someone generally doesn’t get you where you want to go. In the end, even Sybok understood that, and he made some good choices at that point.
As far as the plot of the film, it was pretty weak. There were a number of good elements in The Final Frontier, and a decent number of enjoyable scenes, but the execution of the story was a pretty bumpy ride. For example, while it was pretty obvious that Sybok was using a mind meld to gain his fanatical followers, the normal method of the mind meld was not generally used, and (except for in this film) it has never been established anywhere that I have seen that a mind meld can basically hypnotize someone into doing something.
Oddly, even though the plot didn’t really support the characters very well, a number of them were quite good. Sybok was played by Laurence Luckinbill, and he did a really good job. He was personable, charismatic, and made Sybok come to life. Captain Klaa (Todd Bryant) and Vixis (Spice Williams-Crosby) worked well together as the main Klingon antagonists. I also thought Charles Cooper did a great job as the Klingon Ambassador Korrd on Nimbus III (even though he didn’t get a lot of screen time).
The rest of the cast, including the regulars, seemed to wander aimlessly in The Final Frontier. Outside of a brief scene where McCoy (DeForest Kelley) faces a tough decision he made years before, there was very little to keep me interested. Uhura’s moonlit desert dance scene really wasted Nichelle Nichols‘ talents and was one of the most implausible parts in the entire film, even moreso than the story’s climactic scene. It felt on the same level as a Beavis and Butt-Head sketch.
While the positives outweighed the negatives in this film, it was only barely so. Poorly-conceived humor combined with a weak story and ho-hum acting by most of the cast created a film which didn’t come close to matching the brilliance and enjoyability of the previous three films. For the original cast films, The Final Frontier is the weakest link. Only the efforts of a few of the cast, as well as excellent music from Jerry Goldsmith, were able to bring this film just above average.
Release Date: June 9, 1989 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking)
Language: 1 (occasional, minor)
Sexuality: 1 (cat dancer in the bar, Uhura’s moonlit desert dance)
Violence: 2 (skirmishes, some death, peril)