BQB Reviews Star Trek – Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier (1989)

Space! The Final Frontier!

Ha! They made a movie about the line, you know, from the show. Get it?

BQB here with a review.

Star Trek 5 has the dubious honor of being considered the worst of the 6 Shatner-centric OG Enterprise crew films. I haven’t seen this flick since I was a kid, but as I watched it, it’s funny how a lot of the scenes come back to me and I can remember where the movie is going.

Ultimately, I think it’s a good film that just got a bad rap for a few reasons:

#1 – It was the first film outside of the “find Spock and bring him home arc” that occupied 2, 3 and 4. Those 3 films all tie together so now the producers/writers/director had the difficult task of beginning a new tale.

#2 – It came out in 1989 and if we consider Star Wars of the late 1970s as bringing kick ass special effects to the forefront, the late 1980s and 1990s saw a whole slew of action films that brought the genre to the next level. The film came out in a summer filled with blockbusters and sequels. So many freaking sequels. Lethal Weapon 2. Ghostbusters 2. A few more I can’t think of. Also Batman. How do you compete against Batman 89? You can’t.

#3 – Because moviegoers were demanding action, I think it was a hard sell for a movie where the three main protagonists – Kirk, Bones and Spock, were getting up there. After rewatching it – on one hand, yeah I can’t think of another modern movie with so many oldsters running around fighting bad guys. On the other hand, they make so many movies today where we are expected to believe that 20 year olds are geniuses and super intelligent and know exactly what to do. I think Star Trek handles the age of their stars well, namely, that these are people who have been around the block, have seen some shit, and as they get closer to the end, they have less shits to give. How many times do Kirk and crew tell Starfleet to stick it as they go do their own thing? This isn’t something a young person can do easily but an old person? If you’ve got the skills and experience of a 50 something Capt Kirk, you too would probably find it easier to tell your boss to stick it in the name of doing what is right vs. what is politically expedient.

Alright. Now that we settled that hash.

Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), the black sheep of Spock’s family, rejects his Vulcan ways, embracing emotion and encouraging his followers to do the same. Vulcans once held emotions like any other species, but they developed a quasi-religion around logic itself, embracing only what is practical.

The mad vulcan kidnaps three ambassadors – a Klingon, a Romulan and a Terran (human), each representing their species on the desolate planet of Nimbus III. Said planet was supposed to be a profit sharing business as all three races were supposed to join forces in building up the world and reaping the rewards but alas, it sucked so bad no one bought in.

Capt. Kirk and crew charge in and save the day in a daring raid. Alas, they’ve fallen into Sybok’s trap. He wanted them to come so he could hijack the Enterprise (they really should put a lojack on that ship because someone is always stealing it) and fly it to Sha Ka Ree, the fabled planet where all life supposedly began and is said to be where God Almighty himself lives.

The humorous relationship between Kirk, Bones and Spock save the film. They are taken prisoner and must break free. As usual, Bones is a pain in the ass naysayer. Spock is a genius who points out options but rarely sees the the emotional toll those options will take on others, much to Bones’ ire. In the end, Kirk is Mr. Let’s Kick Ass, Take Names, and Think About What We Did Later.

As if this weren’t enough, Kirk is once again being hunted by rogue Klingons. Apparently, there isn’t a lot of order in the Klingon military. Klingon ship captains just hear that Kirk is milling about and decide it would be a fun opportunity to built their space street cred and blow him the heck up. There’s never any radioing in to HQ to ask if this would be cool or anything.

Long story short, there’s a lot of suspense as the Enterprise crosses a so-called forbidden barrier and the crew touches down on the planet. Critics argue the ending is a bit of a let down. I won’t spoil it by revealing what they find but I mean, come on. The premise of the film is that space travelers are trying to find God in space. If they do find God, do you think his greatness could be expressed well on film? If they don’t, isn’t that a let down? Then again, if they did, is that blasphemous? If God wanted to be found, he’d invite us all over for tea and cookies, after all.

There is a scene at the end that is often considered silly. The Enterprise crew, Klingons, and even Sybok’s dumb followers join together in peace in a cocktail party. I mean, yeah, that kind of sounds stupid but the message seems to be they were all thrown together by one idiot’s treachery and in the end they all figured out how they did wrong and made amends. If only enemies becomes friends like that in real life.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Ultimately, I think the Star Trek OG Crew just struggled to find a place in a newer era where action reigned supreme, blockbuster flicks demanded a younger cast, and Star Trek tends to be more of a thinking sci-fi fan’s choice, so it became harder to mix the philosophy with all of the ass kicking.

Sidenote: Spock’s rocket boots are cool.

Double sidenote: I doubt you’ll believe this story but I’ll tell you anyway. I was on a ST binge last week, culminating in me watching this movie last Sunday. There is a scene where Sybok’s dimwitted henchmen are lured into abandoning their posts when they spot a voluptuous hot babe doing a scantily clad song and dance routine on the horizon. The pervs run to the babe, only to find Uhura. As she removes her veil, Kirk and crew whip out their phasers and take the bad guys prisoner.

“I always wanted to play for a captive audience,” Uhura quips. She must have been in her 50s at that point but damn, if she still didn’t have all the right moves.

At any rate, I paused the film. I wondered if Nichelle Nichols was still alive. Then I started wondering who else was alive and who had shuffled off this mortal coil. I knew DeForest Kelley and James Doohan had passed. I knew Shatner and Takei are still alive. I knew Nimoy had passed.

I saw Koenig (Chekov) was alive and then I was pleased to see Nichols was still alive. For some reason, I thought she had passed so I was happy to see she was still here.

Then literally an hour later the news popped up on my phone that groundbreaking actress Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura had died.

I don’t know if there is any point to that story other than I got to be happy that Nichols was still alive but then my happiness only lasted an hour.

RIP Nichelle Nichols

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