Generally regarded as one of the weakest installments in the franchise, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was released in 1989. It saw directorial responsibilities shift from Leonard Nimoy to William Shatner and commercially it was one of the poorest performers taking a mere $63m from a budget of $30m.
On the planet Nimbus III, a Vulcan called Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) is converting people to his religious cause. After some success, he realises that he needs a spaceship to complete his mission and sets a trap to lure the crew of the USS Enterprise to him. Kirk (Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Bones (Deforest Kelley) are taking shoreleave at Yosemite National Park when they’re dragged away to deal with a ˜crisis.’ Arriving at Nimbus III they lose control of the Enterprise to Sybok and find themselves flying towards ˜The Great Barrier’ and whatever, or whomever may be behind it.
To say that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a mess would be an insult to mess as a concept. After a pointless, and seemingly endless first act, the plot (so much as you can call the loose assembly of events as a plot) finally gets going as the crew head toward Nimbus III. Before this, there’s the visibly older crew partaking in team bonding and getting more ˜physical’ than they ever have before. This would be fine if the conclusion somehow involved a physical showdown, but we are instead treated to a metaphysical discussion about the existence of God. I’m getting ahead of myself there, because I’ve happily skipped over the single worst moment in the history of Star Trek.
While the Holy Trinity of Bones (passion), Spock (logic) and Kirk (the blend of the two) camp together (in more ways than one) they decide to break out a rendition of the perennial campfire favourite ˜Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’ The Next Generation crew flirted with songs in various guises throughout its tenure, some good, some bad. The Original Series crew rarely did so themselves and on this evidence its not hard to see why. It’s not that its bad, it’s that it’s so bad that it makes you hope for a Klingon to transport next to them and execute them all with a bat’leth.
Ostensibly, the title and main dramatic thrust of The Final Frontier revolves around the search for God and the home of all creation. This is the sort of area where Star Trek would excel, discussing as it regularly does, the meaning of life, humanity and theology. Having sat through the impossibly dull film, there are moments, while the Enterprise heads toward the Great Barrier, where there is actual dramatic tension. As an audience you really have no idea what will be on the other side. Then all is revealed and we all collectively fall asleep. This is main problem, whenever there is something interesting, the payoff is a crushing disappointment.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier rightfully holds the position of ˜Worst Star Trek Film’ and it seems unlikely that it will ever lose it. The plot zips around mindlessly, the cast are underwhelming to the point of distraction and it’s packed with lines of dialogue like Maybe He’s not out there, maybe He’s in here, in our hearts. If you can survive the first hour or so without vomiting, there is 3 or 4 minutes of good drama, but then it drastically falls away to the weakest ending in the series’ long and illustrious tenure. Dreadful.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)… Coming Soon