Review – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier now continues our look back at Trek films past…


In the movie Little Big Man, the elderly Cheyenne medicine man called Old Lodge Skins decides it’s time for him to die. He goes to the top of the mountain, performs his rituals, reclines on the ground and closes his eyes. For a few moments nothing happens, except for some distant thunder. Then a raindrop falls on his face, startling him into opening his eyes. He stands up and prepares to go back home. “Sometimes the magic works,” he explains, “and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Every original cast Star Trek movie made missteps and experienced chaos on its way to the screen. Coming off their biggest success in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Star Trek movie team was confident. They’d successfully added humor to the mix, and it seemed they knew just how to make the magic, in spite of any obstacle. But this time it didn’t quite work.

In hindsight, it’s possible to see ways in which the stars did not align this time. Beginning serious work on the script and the filming was delayed, by among other things, something familiar from today: a Writers Guild strike. The delay would put the film in competition with several blockbusters, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dead Poets Society, Ghostbusters II, and Batman. These would become important to the moviemaking process as well as the box office, because they kept the usual visual effects houses busy—especially Industrial Light and Magic. Trek would have to look elsewhere, with near- disastrous results. A Teamsters strike also hampered location shooting.

Star Trek V’s June 9 release sandwiched between four top 10 movies

After initial rave reviews, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier came under critical fire and had less than stellar box office. Theatre owners in that very competitive summer of 1989 shortened the run to make way for the next blockbuster. Today among Trek fans this is the least popular of the original cast movies. When it was next in line for a special edition DVD, director William Shatner begged Paramount to fix visual effects problems with today’s CGI magic, especially in the last part of the film, even promising to foot half the bill himself. Paramount refused.

Everyone who has seen this movie (and some who haven’t) know what they don’t like about it. The visual effects are clearly a problem. Not only are they especially inadequate at a couple of key moments, but in some relatively routine scenes—the Enterprise shuttle in flight, for instance—the effects are obviously unfinished, lacking the subtle details and shading that makes them look dimensional and “real.” These are perhaps more damaging, because they take viewers out of the world of the movie, and can shake their confidence in the moviemakers.

Not the finest moment in Star Trek Movie effects

Then there’s the story: Sybok, a charismatic Vulcan renegade, captures the Enterprise to take him to the fabled planet beyond the Great Barrier at the center of the galaxy to meet God. In interviews and their books, the actors, producers etc. involved in this film attribute its problems to the movie’s premise. (Gene Roddenberry had tried a similar exploration in his first script for the first Star Trek movie, called “The God Thing,” but the studio rejected it.)

Almost alone, William Shatner (who came up with the story) disagrees: he believes the problem was that he compromised on his core ideas, and robbed the film of it’s dramatic energy. In various ways, they’re probably all right.

On the one hand, dealing with such a subject in any meaningful or even credible way in a big studio feature film would be very hard to do. Plus anything touching upon religious beliefs is going to offend some part of the audience. That was true then (when Shatner was inspired, or provoked, by the phenomenon of popular tele-evangelists then saturating TV screens) and it is even truer now, when Star Trek fans—especially on the Internet– seem split according to their political and religious loyalties and orientation, and any reference to religion brings charges of prejudice and worse.

On the other hand, going in search of God and finding the Devil is a repeated sci-fi premise but if done well, it is often relevant to contemporary times—especially, as in this case, when the seeker (Sybok) confident in his righteousness, ends up face to face with the devil in himself. But compromises and continued tweaking which left their residues in the final script probably did rob the movie of some internal coherence.

There are smaller issues that some find particularly irksome: the introduction of Sybok as Spock’s long-lost half brother, the humor at the apparent expense of some regular characters (especially Scotty) the suggestion of a Scotty-Uhura romance, etc. All these may be remnants of the original story that had the Enterprise crew, including Spock and McCoy, side with Sybok against Kirk— Shatner’s tone-deaf proposal, even if it was more dramatic. Both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley insisted their characters couldn’t betray Kirk, and so they didn’t.

The elements for a successful movie were there in “The Final Frontier”: action, visual sweep, drama, character moment, important issues of contemporary life, plus the humor that worked within the story of “The Voyage Home.” But due in part to various missteps and in part to the story development, it can be argued that in the first part of the movie, for all its flashiness and memorable scenes of action and camaraderie, and for all the provocative ideas given physical form, the narrative didn’t engage our emotions and involvement with a strong sense of why we should care about what happens.

STV went in search for God but found trouble


Viewing and Re-viewing

I saw this movie in a theatre when it opened, and I’ve seen it on TV, on tape and several times on DVD. A film’s flaws are acute at first because of disappointment that it isn’t better than it might have been. But after all this time, a movie on DVD is what it is, and its flaws become part of its nature. Most importantly, this is one of only six movies with the whole original cast, and there aren’t going to be any more. It’s worth honoring what’s good about it and what’s good in it.

Probably my biggest surprise on re-viewing it was noticing the visual sense director William Shatner brought to it. He used extreme outdoor settings to give some visual dimension in those pre-CGI days, but where he excells is in moving the camera inside the Enterprise and other enclosures, and especially in framing small groups of characters– the kind of elegant two and three shots that became the visual signature of the original series.

 Shatner had to overcome Dee Kelley’s resistance to doing the of McCoy at his father’s bedside, struggling with his duty as a doctor to preserve life against his duty as a son to end suffering and preserve his father’s dignity. But now this is perhaps Kelley’s most dramatic scene in any of the films.

William Shatner directs a scene in uniform on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

While some humorous scenes are questionable, others are classic moments that reveal the crew’s camaraderie. (The screenplay is by David Loughery, who Shatner credits with much of the humor.) They range from brief gags (Kirk saying wistfully that he misses his old command chair, followed by Spock’s tilting his head in sympathy; Scotty bursting through the brig wall shouting, “Dinna you know a jailbreak when you see one!”) to longer scenes, such as the brig scene itself. And while the early scene of Kirk, Spock and McCoy around the campfire has its awkwardness, it also has moments of convincing informality unmatched elsewhere in Star Trek. The reprise of this scene at the end is one of the most intimate moments involving the Trek trinity—and one of the great gifts we’ll always have from these movies.

Even some of the more eccentric elements (Kirk’s mountain climbing and Spock’s jet-pack, Uhura’s dance) are now unforgettable elements in the Trek legend.

There are other considerable virtues: the quality of the acting (especially Laurence Luckinbill’s brilliant performance as Sybok), and a film score that is considered one of Jerry Goldsmith’s best, for example. But I would also argue that the last part of the film—including the part that Shatner called “horrendous”—constitutes solid, meaningful and provocative storytelling in the best Trek movie tradition. To explain what I mean, we go back to the movie’s theme.

Luckinbill’s Sybok feels your pain

The God Thing

From one point of view, Sybok fails as a character in this film because he is not simple enough: he is not clearly a powerful, malevolent villain. But because he is complex and human, his character succeeds in other ways.

Sybok is on the one hand a religious zealot, certain God has spoken to him, and called him to pierce the Great Barrier at the center of the galaxy and find the fabled Sha Ka Ree. (You might wonder what combination of mystical words from various religions were chosen to name this heavenly planet. The answer is a little more Hollywood than holy: it’s a play on “Sean Con-ner-y,” the movie god that Shatner hoped would play Sybok.)

On the one hand, Sybok is a Vulcan renegade, convinced that the path to ultimate knowledge is through emotion, not logic—a perennial Star Trek tension that Spock himself has explored.

On the other hand, Sybok seems to have an inexplicable (and at times unbelievable) power over people, but on the other hand, his psychological skills are pretty sophisticated. After Sybok extracts McCoy’s agony over his father in a kind of psychic holodeck, Sybok urges him to release his pain over it. "You have taken the first step. The rest we will take together." Counselor Troi would recognize the basic approach of exploring a person’s pain, and after its initial release and revelation, going into it more deeply.

 When Spock says he has already acknowledged and dealt with the pain of his father’s rejection of his human side, he has attained the therapeutic goal, which is also the goal of other soul paths: self-knowledge.

Kirk provides yet another point of view. Sybok tells him that he’s seen essential elements of his close friends—“This is who they are. Didn’t you know that?” Kirk has to admit that he didn’t. But he refuses to go through the process to release his own pain. Sybok suggests he is afraid. “I’m afraid of nothing,” Kirk says (a line since repeated by Denny Crain.) Kirk wants to keep his pain, because its essential to who he is. As someone who has literally been split into the Good Kirk and Bad Kirk, he understands the mutual dependence of that duality within him. 

Kirk likes his pain

This scene, which takes place in the magnificent new observation lounge, ends as the Enterprise approaches the Great Barrier. Kirk warns Sybok that it’s never been breached. Sybok says that if we do it, will that convince you that my vision is true? It’s then he reveals it’s a vision from God “who waits for us on the other side.” “You’re mad!” Kirk exclaims. “Am I?” Sybok shows some doubt, and then recovers his sunny transcendence: “We’ll see.”

As a visual effect, The Great Barrier is pretty underwhelming. But immediately after it is breached, some of the best scenes in the movie begin. From the observation lounge, Kirk, Spock and McCoy see the planet Sha Ka Ree before them. “Are we dreaming?” McCoy asks. “If we are, then life IS a dream,” Kirk replies. The reference is to the campfire song they sang early in the movie (“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”) when Spock considered the lyrics and later announced, “Life is not a dream.”

Sybok returns control of the Enterprise to Kirk, knowing that he won’t leave without exploring the planet below. He accompanies the trinity aboard a shuttle. This sequence is the most magical in the movie: the dramatic quick cuts among the faces as they all wonder what they really will see, while bathed in the eerie violet light from the planet. They disembark in a strange landscape anxiously, sharp silhouettes against the alien haze. (All this was done with special effects at the site, rather than visual effects created in an effects house—a distinction I learned from a talk by Dan Curry.)

Kirk, Sybok, Spock and McCoy embark into the unknown

At first nothing happens. But soon some power builds walls of rock around them that might be a cathedral, or a prison. The power reveals itself as faces sacred to various religions, settling on one resembling familiar portraits of the Old Testament God. The voice flatters Sybok, but insists the Enterprise be brought closer, to transport him beyond the Barrier. Then Kirk utters his famous, very-Kirklike impudent question: “Excuse me, but what does God want with a starship?”

This is the very human challenge to those who claim higher authority: a question. This particular being answers by hurling a thunderbolt into Kirk’s chest, and then another into Spock when he repeats the question. Sybok is appalled, which is interesting, since the Old Testament God is often angry and smites wrongdoers. But it rattles Sybok’s faith, and he demands the being reveal itself. Which it does: with Sybok’s face, and its evil laugh.

Sybok immediately understands that he’s looking at his own shadow reflected by a powerful captive being—“my arrogance, my vanity,” and just as quickly, he sacrifices himself to save the others: his redemption.

Later, when McCoy and Spock are speculating on whether God could ever be found in the eternal reaches of outer space, Kirk replies: "Maybe he’s not out there. Maybe he’s in here—in the human heart." It’s a daring statement, though it comports with at least an aspect of many religions. And it is clearly a Star Trek statement.

 But the full statement is also that if God is within the human heart, so is the Devil. There is a famous Cherokee story that relates to this: an elder tells his grandchildren that there are two wolves fighting inside everyone, one good and one bad. “Which one wins?” the children ask. The grandfather replies, “the one you feed.” That’s Star Trek’s view of the future in a nutshell.

The last part of the movie was supposed to have spectacular effects as the evil force pursues Kirk. They aren’t here, to Shatner’s anguish, but I for one don’t miss them. Maybe we could have seen more of Sybok’s struggle with the captive power, but Kirk’s escape passes quickly without damaging the story, because of his surprise rescue.

Sybok takes on ‘god’

I haven’t even mentioned two other elements of the story: the Federation, Romulan and Klingon representatives on the Planet of Galactic Peace—another failed Paradise—who Sybok kidnapped to lure the Enterprise, and the young punk Klingons who pursued the Enterprise beyond the Barrier. But the final scenes tie all the elements together in the best Trek storytelling tradition, with Kirk on the planet expecting to be killed by the decloaking Bird of Prey, but instead is rescued by it. The Klingon representative actually commits an act of galactic peace, and at a joint party later, Scotty exclaims, “I never thought I’d be drinking with a Klingon”—an unnoticed and unplanned preview of events in Star Trek VI. (The cultural combination also figures in another classic joke, when Kirk is about to embrace Spock in thanks for rescuing him, and Spock demurs: “Please, Captain, not in front of the Klingons.”)

The final scene back at Yosemite around a campfire, in probably the oldest setting for human interaction, reinforces the power that binds these three men together—the ones often called the trinity—which is expressed in camaraderie, but can also be described as love. They sing together, and this time Spock joins in, because in enacting journeys of the imagination, life is but a dream.

Trek’s core ‘trinity’ get back to basics

“The Final Frontier” certainly has its problems as a movie. Leonard Nimoy directed Star Trek III under tight supervision, and with a storyline that had to follow from the movie before. With the unique experience of directing a major feature film, he then made his Star Trek statement in “The Voyage Home.” William Shatner was given one film to learn from and to make his statement. Combined with some poor production decisions, this may have contributed to those problems.

But this movie should not be discarded or dismissed. It has classic moments, and there’s a classic Star Trek message somewhere within it. As the Enterprise approaches the mysterious planet, the camera fixes on the plaque at the base of the antique ship’s steering wheel in the observation lounge: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” The search for a literal God outside becomes another exploration of dimensions of meaning and ultimate identity inside. In a different context, David Gerrold said it best: "Space is not the final frontier. The final frontier is the human soul."


Other Reviews In the series:

More on Star Trek IV at Soul of Star Trek.


Bill Kowinski (aka Captain Future, William S. Kowinski) is an author and freelance writer living in Arcata, CA.  Thanks to his Soul of Star Trek blog, he chaired a panel on that subject at the Trek 40th anniversary gala in Seattle last year.  He’s been published in the New York Times, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle and other international, national and regional publications, as well as Internet sites.


Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures, screencaps by 

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worst trek film ever….

Nah. Nemesis is worse.

Thanks for the well-written, very thoughtful article!

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

Yeah, I have to agree. Nemesis was way worse. I honestly didn’t think that TFF was ALL that bad… especially when you watch it with the Mike Nelson Rifftrax!

Although, it’s my least favorite it does have many good scenes.

Daren Doc what would you have done with the effects ???? Just curious?? Besides of course not making them awful as Bran Ferren did.

It has problems, but I love it. The campfire scenes at the beginning and end are some of my favourites from any Trek movie or episode.

I could never get past the scene where the enterprise goes into the great barrier by getting smaller and smaller and going in to the corner of the screen, always annoyed me as a kid….that and the fact that it was too easy to take over the ship…….and many other things…but mainly that…..

The film’s biggest problem is that Shatner the actor needs a far better person holding his reins than Shatner the director. His career is full of great moments and tremendous missteps–it is the great directors that have found a way to reel him in and get the kind of performance out of him that his talent offers. Superb control of his instrument is not chief among his virtues.

Shat fans–commence with the colorful metaphors.

Those that think this is bad Trek must really hate TOS. Or they just don’t get it.

TOS was never about effects…or continuity. It was about Kirk, Spock and McCoy and how they faced adversity and danger in the deep unexplored unknowns of space. Of all the movies, Trek 5 is, hands down, the closest in feel and spirit to the TV series. Contrary to what some might believe, that’s not a bad thing.

Great review.

Star Trek The Motion Picture (the theatrical release) and Star Trek The Final Frontier were about equal in BAD… Nemesis is a close second. However, by any standard they are still “good” or rather “not bad” movies… they just fall too short of the high standard that the fans who love the show place on them.

Well written review. Trek V is easy to hate on but I remember being surprised the last time I saw at all the little things it does right. Sometimes you can’t see the trees for the forest, and the golden nuggets offered by this movie are skillfully highlighted by the reviewer.

It’s a shame Paramount wouldn’t let Shatner “fix” the film. His interviews and candid opinions on the failures and successes of the movie were a revelation and actually made me respect the film more still.

This was not one of my favs. uhura and Scotty having a romance??A klingon Captain apologizing like some kid for misbehaving?? SuperSpock catching Kirk before he killed himself. Chekhov giving Scotty orders??In the elevator shaft scene, there are more than 90 decks?? The effects did not move me at all!! Even though the opener at El Capitan were nice, but c’mon! Digging into the God angle. Then exploring the Great Barrier, I thought that was interesting, but could have been probed a little further.

After the flop of this film, Nimoy said that Paramount was going to finish off TREK for good, but they made enough money to get St6 together. A side note. Notice when the 1st officers make movies ( Riker and Spock) they do well. So Far the Captains up until this point suck. Besides featuring a heavier Nimoy.

He’s right about the good points of the film.

Nice review, focusing on the good elements. I had completely missed the “expulsion from Paradise” motif :)

I want to thank Bill for his well thought out review of STV, not an easy film to review. There is always more to any Trek film than simple knee jerk reactions…like thos of the first poster who didn’t even bother to read the review.

Great article Bill…and reading it, I was struck with the depth of the storyline and some interesting thematic parallels contained within.

I applaud The Shat for at least trying something different with this one even if the execution left a lot to be desired.

This is still my least favorite film, but I can see where Shat was trying to go with this. It’s just too bad he didn’t succeed.

However, admittedly, the deck was stacked against him as soon as he put “God” into the mix.

I still wish this film could get a proper makeover with all new FX! This is one of only a few films I can think of that has an unfinished feel. The final confrontation on Sha Ka Ree deserves to be remade with CGI rockmen for example. As the sequence currently stands, it painfully shows that it was a patchwork ending produced in the editing room at the last minute.

Robert Wise got to complete TMP to his satisfaction and Richard Donner finally got to complete Superman II to his vision. It only seems natural that Shatner should be afforded the same opportunity.

It’s a very bad movie, but I’ll agree that McCoy’s scene at his father’s bedside features some fine acting from Dee Kelley. I thought the chair gag with Kirk was a bit much, and the variation better done in Generations (one of the few things that movie got right).

Of course, my biggest beef was always the fact that Starfleet would send out a broken ship with no crew on ANY mission. That, and the fact that an emo Vulcan and some wannabe Sand People managed to take over the Enterprise so easily.

In all fairness, Hey! I did love the music score I still love TOS, but it seems like after ST3 and 4, Nimoy said Ok Bill! You try it, now. Then paramount said Nimoy you get back in the chair for 6. I cant imagine a few klingon torpedoes taking out GOD??!!!

Good review. There are some good moments in the movie.
Overall, I’d rather watch this than Star Trek VI.

I said TFF was my least favorite — but I meant of the “classic Trek” films. Insurrection and Nemesis are FAR worse films, in my opinion.

I’ve only seen each of those ONCE…and in the theater.

At least TFF can be watched — in the same way I can watch Spock’s Brain or The Way to Eden and enjoy them too.

A good way to watch TFF and get some extra enjoyment out of it is to download MST3K’s Mike Nelson’s RIFFTRAK. It’s a hilarious commentary done in the MST3K vein. They also have one for STVI: TUC.

Oooooh! Second. Kirk is not dead, because in this film he says that he knows that McCoy and Spock are there when he does die. He said, “….I know…”
That’s canon. He knows whos present at his death, people keep forgetting that. IN addition some of you “fans” are just silly, “I don’t like that.” So you don’t go see it.(Nemesis) Star Trek is Star Trek is Star Trek Please.

This movie may not be the best Star Trek movie, but it has some of the best character scenes of any of the films…PERIOD!

William Shatner directed some very fine scenes between the characters..Well done Bill.

This is a ridiculous labor to apologize for the most abysmal of all the Trek cinematic outings. Worse than Nemsis? Nonsense. Utter nonsense.

In many ways, Trek V was the ultimate exposition of Shatner’s ego, ranging simultaneously from the pleasantly surprising to the morbidly embarassing. The writer is correct in that some flashes of great style were exhibited in Shatner’s directorial effort, but it is the pervasiveness of Shatner’s “my way or the highway” style that insinuates itself into the very fiber of this film.

That Trek could fall so mightily from the critical heights of Trek’s II, III, and IV down to the depths of V is a testament to the fragility of Trek’s story genetics, and sadly those weaknesses were exposed with a story that should never have seen the imprimatur of Paramount’s powers-that-be.


Strangely I liked the acting of Luckinbill, Sybok seemed very determined and arrogant. It was fascinating. Although, they made Sarek seem like a playa.. He got with a Vulcan priestess and then Sybok.

Excellent review. Made me look at the film in a different light. Going to re-watch it soon.

There may be only a handful of good moments in the movie — but /damn/ are they good.

Thanks for a review that actually focuses on them, instead of going for the obvious. :)

(That said, I crack up every time I see feet pushing the shuttlecraft in that one scene…)

#24, just where, in your opinion, specifically , did Shatner’s ego ruin a scene or have an impact on his directorial inmput? I’m very curious.

does anyone know about the fate of the fabled recut? i was tracking it for a while but lost the info. (i believe the same guy did a salvaging of the phantom menace as well.) the basic idea was to fix the fx, edit out the failed humor and tighten the story. i imagine a pretty good 70 minute film could be achieved.

nice review but nothing will ever counter total embarrassment i feel every time i watch it.

biggest cringe: SILENT warning of the approaching bird of prey.
favorite moment: the klingons blasting the voyager probe to pieces. i imagine they saved us from the return of v’ger with that one.

I am getting painsin my head just looking at those still photos from Star trek 5 who wants too reminice about this one , I don’t

Shatner’s not a director.
I get the impression he may have leveraged his way into the director’s chair as a condition to reprise his role as Kirk.Now ,that would be the real story of that movie.

The funniest thing about the STV is the sudden haircut Sybok has before they meet ‘god’.

oh and #22

Kirk says “I’ve always known…I’ll die alone.” ……. And he was right.

#31 jon C this film proves one thing, that Shatner should not be allowed to direct Traffic let alone movies.

I didn’t see any “rave reviews” for this one, initial or otherwise.

I’m sure some reviewer must have liked it. The writer for the Baltimore Sun left in the middle of the show to make phone calls.

Roger Ebert said:

“”Star Trek V” is pretty much of a mess – a movie that betrays all the signs of having gone into production at a point where the script doctoring should have begun in earnest. There is no clear line from the beginning of the movie to the end, not much danger, no characters to really care about, little suspense, uninteresting or incomprehensible villains, and a great deal of small talk and pointless dead ends. Of all of the “Star Trek” movies, this is the worst.”

Having recently been rewatching all of the ST movies, I will say this about STV: It’s always entertaining. But there’s no question it’s at the bottom of the pile, and I think arguements of Nemesis being worse is little more then pure blind hate for that movie, which I’ve never quite understood.

STV is entertaining, and the review pointed out some great stuff that it has going for it. And honestly the VFX never bothered me that much. What’s problematic is just the pure ridiculousness of it, whether it be something nitpicky like how buggy the Enterprise-A is to a grey-haired Uhura’s naked fan-dance. At times incoherent, the movie is pretty much impossible to take seriously from the moment you see Spock fly up in those rocket boots. And I think that’s it’s greatest problem, that from the start it just seems silly.

That being said, there’s good in everything, and I do adore the scene with DeKelley as mentioned in the review and others here.

“It’s me! It’s Sybok!” has got to be one of the worst lines in Trek film history. It just seemed so ridiculous that Spock had this half-brother of whom we had never heard. The notion of an emotional Vulcan seeking an alternative path to enlightenment wasn’t a bad one (indeed, it had been done in one of the Trek novels–I forget which one as I probably read it 25 years or more ago), but given Spock’s own struggles with emotion and his humanity and Sarek’s reactions thereto, it seemd rather odd that we had never heard of the emotional Sybok before Trek V.

And the God thing never made sense, nor did the way in which the crew fell for Sybok’s plans. And the Planet of Galactic peace never really made a whole lot of plot sense. It seemed awkwardly shoved into a tortured script.

To some up the redeeming qualities of the film: it was Star Trek and Kirk, Spock and McCoy were prominently featured. Beyond that, it wasn’t too swift.

I believe that the great German Director Uwe Boll to be a disiple of the Willian Shatner School of film Directing. If you look carefully at the editing and direction of the actors without getting a brain hemorage, you can note the same fine film technique demonstratedd in such soon to be classic Boll films as Alone in the Dark and Bloodrayne. And if you study the technique Shatner used in the battle scences on Nimbus 3 are almost a perfect match for many of the fine battle scences in Boll eoic and incredible film Dungeonseige In the name of the King . If you look at how Shatner directed the actors themselves again Boll copied closely this technique. Also Boll copied Shatners editing technique and shot selection approach very closely in his films.

Was it the best TOS movie ever? No. But it is definitely a TOS film worth watching and personally (and I am not afraid to say it), it is one of my favorite TOS movies. What I love so much about Trek is the characters and I really thought that in many scenes the characters were spot on. Granted the special effects weren’t the best, but I can easily look past that. I like the movie and always will, and while it is not perfect it should not be overlooked. It is a TOS movie and there are parts in it that are most definitely TOS moments that should never be forgotten.

note: i recall that roddenberry was adamant in the original star trek guide for TOS that there were never to be any spockian siblings. he felt that it would weaken spock’s character and dilute his backstory. talk about canon rape. sarek was a bit of a slut, i guess.

remember this quote regarding TMP from old harlan?
“it’s roddenberry’s standard plot; the enterprise finds god. and it’s either a child, a computer, or both.”

Wow, what a great review….I can tell a lot of time and thought went into it. It is easy to just say that the movie sucked, but to watch with the intent of finding positive things to say, despite its shortcomings took critical talent. Yes, there were lame scenes (Spock saving Kirk a the last second via his jetshoes for one), but there were good ones, too. And the general message of the movie was thought-provoking.
I understand that there were many obstacles dealt to Shatner, financially and with the strikes, etc. Several scenes were cut, and the FX were substandard even by 1989 standards.

I’ll give it that it had SOME moments, but all-in-all, it was a nice disasterous failure. COMPLETELY. I’m a Christian, but the whole “God” thing was just stupid. This film, along with Nemesis, should be thrown into the “non-canon” pile. At least that way we keep Data and get rid of Spock’s bastard brother. And of course, we never see Nimbus 3 again, for a good reason.

2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 ,9 were all good. 1, 5, and 10 could be left out. Albeit, 1 did give us a sexy new Enterprise. And 10 gave Trek seatbelts, an important factor at Warp speeds.

If any of you believe in the theory of Parallel Universes there is probably one in which Shatner actually is a good director and Star trek 5 an acadamy award winning film. i know probabilities are stacked against this one.

The ‘God’ Sybok found was actually his own demonic puppetmaster.

Well done, Bill. ST V remains at the bottom of my list, but there are definitely some precious gems in it, and I think you tagged them all. Many thanks for your effort.

Re: 1 & 2 – I still think “Insurrection” is the worst Star Trek movie so far.

I think Insurrection is the most boring Trek film. I’ve always said it would have been a so-so TV episode.

STV would have been better with the rock monsters. That was the whole problem.

A? okay inpenetrable energy barrier, need starship to cross barier to get to god let me think well it begs the question why does god need a starship? answers so god can spead wisdom to his children. which comes back to the question if you are god, all knowing and all powerful. Why cant you cross the barrier youself . Conclusion Hey! your not God! your an evil imposter imprisioned. I mean after examining that the who premise of this move goes up in smoke. Whch begs the question of who wrote this crud and how could said auther be deluded into believing that this was actually a good story.

Great review. Shatner ain’t a bad director. The script’s the thing…wherein we’ll find the conscience of the king.
Too bad Parmamount didn’t ante up and fix the special effects.

This movie had so much wrong with it…Why couldn’t Kirk have just set the ship’s phasers on stun and taken care of the problem with the situation on the Nimbus III planet? I guess they forgot such a demonstration in “A Piece of the Action” ? And Spock’s boots — were they supposed to be rocket-powered or anti-gravity-powered? I don’t think they knew which…And the shuttle bay — what was it, about a mile long? Uhhhh…I’d better stop now…

Good read, great review. Star Trek V is or was certainly near the bottom when compared to the other trek films. It wasn’t so much a bad movie, but certainly not a good one either. IMO better than Nemesis and Insurrectoin.

Also no need to repeat why IV succeeded and V did not. It has been mentioned above. I wonder though, and this is just supposition and or coincidence, the person at the center of IV is involved in Star Trek 2009 and the person at the center of V is not. Food for thought.