Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Release Date: June 9th, 1989 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: William Shatner Actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Laurence Luckinbill, Charles Cooper, David Warner, Cynthia Gouw, Todd Bryant, Spice Williams
tar Trek V: The Final Frontier” is the first theatrical adventure to arrive after “Star Trek: The Next Generation” debuted, which means that Jerry Goldsmith’s spectacular theme music finally returns after a four-film absence. The opening scene itself isn’t terribly amusing, featuring Nimbus III in the Neutral Zone, a parched, desert world dubbed “The Planet of Galactic Peace,” on which the Vulcan mystic Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) recruits subjects for his quest – especially since it’s an unexciting introduction to a major villain. But the music certainly is rousing.
On Earth, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) free-scales a vertical peak in Yosemite, while Bones (DeForest Kelley) disapproves from a considerable distance. And when Spock (Leonard Nimoy) shows up, Kirk nearly falls to his death from the distraction. Meanwhile, back on Nimbus III, at a seedy establishment in Paradise City, which bears a cheap resemblance to Mos Eisley, Federation representative St. John Talbot (David Warner) meets with Romulan agent Caithlin Dar (Cynthia Gouw) and disgraced Klingon general Korrd (Charles Cooper). But before they can commiserate over their virtual imprisonment on the inhospitable wasteland, Sybok and his small army of followers arrive to capture them for use as hostages – and to acquire a Starfleet spaceship.
“The ship’s in pieces and we have less than a skeleton crew on board!” Once the Federation learns of their consul’s abduction, the newly built yet still buggy Enterprise (one of countless iterations of the iconic vessel) is sent to Nimbus III for a rescue mission. A Klingon warship is also alerted, giving blood-lusting Captain Klaa (Todd Bryant) an opportunity to engage in battle with one of Starfleet’s most decorated war heroes.
Character development isn’t really necessary, since this fifth entry in the series isn’t likely to appeal to anyone unfamiliar with the cast, but the writers feel they must include some bland scenes nonetheless. As such, Kirk, Spock, and Bones roast marshmallows and sing songs by campfire during their shore leave – a humorless, failed attempt at comedy. More appropriately, Scotty (James Doohan) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) trade frustrations over the Enterprise’s numerous defective systems. But the concepts quickly get weirder. Thanks to the inoperable transporters, the rescue is initiated on horseback across stretches of sand dunes.
And then there’s the human/feline hybrid stripteaser and Uhura’s seductive dance distraction. An uncomfortable sexuality persists in the designs of “Star Trek: The Final Frontier,” which doesn’t fit with the universe – or, rather, it’s just very poorly executed here. It’s not sexy enough to be effective, yet it’s conducted too sincerely to be purely comedic. Strangely, plenty of other sequences of comic relief exist, as if the majority of the picture is so serious that it needs breaks in the severity. With William Shatner in the director’s chair, taking over for Nimoy, the tongue-in-cheek vibe has grown far greater, matching his character – which gives the entire project an unsuitable flavor. It’s slow, unfunny, unexciting, and somewhat unfamiliar, as if created by people who aren’t fans of the show and who have no idea what fans wish to see. The sci-fi themes may still be rather significant (the ideas, not their implementation), but they’re exhibited with the same degree of levity and silliness – all the way to the very end, at which point a campfire and singing make a displeasing return.
– Mike Massie