Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Release Date: December 6th, 1991 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Nicholas Meyer Actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Kim Cattrall, Mark Lenard, Brock Peters, Kurtwood Smith, Christopher Plummer, Rosana DeSoto, David Warner
his sixth theatrical outing doesn’t begin with a cold open. Instead, it starts with the title and credits, presided over by darker, more menacing music, this time by composer Cliff Eidelman – his first work for the series. It’s indicative of a more serious picture, which is, by itself, a huge improvement over the last film.
Sulu (George Takei) now captains the Excelsior, which has just completed an exhaustive survey of a previously uncharted sector. As the vessel plots a course home, an enormous energy surge rumbles across the stern. Its origination is a Klingon moon, their main power production site, which has been over-mined to the point that its partial destruction leaves the Klingon empire with only about 50 years left before the entire population perishes from depleted oxygen.
Meanwhile, Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) arrive at Starfleet Headquarters for what they think is a retirement party. Instead, the U.S.S. Enterprise and crew have been volunteered – by Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) – for a mission of peace to escort a Klingon High Council member, Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner), to negotiations back on Earth for a solution that might include cohabitation along Neutral Zone planets. But Klingons have a shaky track record for trustworthiness, which makes everyone aboard the Enterprise anxious about looming predicaments.
There are still a few moments of comic relief, but they’re largely relegated to one-line asides – and not entire scenes. For the most part, tension is in the air. Plus, the violence has increased, though the special effects haven’t become good enough to match the ideas the filmmakers are aiming for. At least the earnestness makes up for the deficiencies in visuals. Rather than reinforcing jokey camaraderie, “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” focuses on assassination, solving a mystery, and courtroom drama. It may not be overly exciting, but at least it doesn’t poke fun at itself … too much.
A few new characters make an appearance, including Lieutenant Valeris (Kim Cattrall), oddly styled to conceal her attractiveness; prosecutor Chang (Christopher Plummer), giving an aggressive performance as a one-eyed warmonger who spouts Shakespeare instead of original dialogue; Kurtwood Smith as the Federation President, still recognizable under a heap of makeup; Michael Dorn as a Klingon defense attorney, though he’s clearly not Worf from “The Next Generation”; and even a bit part by Christian Slater. While the sabotage and conspiracy (and legerdemain) at the heart of the plot are a change of pace, many of the elements here are reminiscent of episodes from the ongoing television series, as if this is an expansion of existing material. And the sleuthing tends to carry on a bit long. Nevertheless, the outcome is entertaining, even if it gets progressively dopier as it nears the finale.
– Mike Massie