Awfully Good: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Before Kirk & Co. ventured INTO DARKNESS, they took a short trip into badness in...

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Director: William Shatner
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

The crew of the Starship Enterprise goes looking for God and finds out the dude is a total dick.

This is what happens when you let William Shatner direct a movie. Clearly envious that Leonard Nimoy got to helm STAR TREK III and IV, The Shat insisted that Paramount let him take the reigns for the fifth movie, both with the story and behind the camera. Shatner went so far as to say, "STAR TREK V is the epitome of my career, my experiences, my hopes and dreams. It is the quintessential me." And it totally sucks.

The first film to be presented in patent-pending Crotch-O-Vision!

I don't want to call this a vanity project for the aging actor, though it does open with Kirk mountain climbing Yosemite National Park's famous El Capitan (get it?) like a badass just "because it's there." No, this is a film about Shatner growing old and coming to terms with his God and his mortality. Or more accurately: Shatner rejecting the fact that he's growing old and should come to terms with his mortality. It's clear the actor-director wanted to make this a more action-oriented movie, despite the fact that the original crew are all in their late 50s and 60s. I honestly kept waiting for Scotty to say, "I'm getting to old for this shit, Captain."

Yes, the back does say "The rock is my penis."

Perhaps that's why THE FINAL FRONTIER completely sidelines all characters not named Kirk, Spock or McCoy. Scotty is relegated to eye-rolling fits of slapstick comedy. George Takei and Walter Koenig obviously only worked a couple days on set as Sulu and Chekov. And Uhura (played by 57 year old Nichelle Nichols) has only one purpose in this mission: to distract the bad guys by performing an erotic dance in the desert. Oh Shatner, you mad genius!

Sulu didn't know how to tell Chekov that wasn't what he meant when he said "blow it."

The majority of the movie is thus left up to the stalwart trio of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Bones to recreate BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and occasionally punch aliens. And I mean that literally: 25 minutes in to STAR TREK V and all we've seen our heroes do is sit around a campfire, talk about their feelings, eat beans ("Bourbon and beans… an explosive combination!") and sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." It could almost be ignored if there weren't so many scenes of them awkwardly hugging each other later on.

"Jim, are you sure it's National Hug-A-Vulcan Day?"

Anyways, once the actual plot kicks in, the Enterprise crew find themselves at odds with Sybok, Spock's renegade Vulcan brother who hijacks their starship in order to find God or "Sha Ka Ree" as the pointy-eared refer to him. (Also a phonetic nod to Sean Connery, who turned down the villain role.) Sybok is one of the lamer Trek villains, essentially a new-age televangelist cult leader who brainwashes people by "releasing" them from their pain. By the time the guy is hugging a crying Dr. McCoy, you're ready for the movie to be over. Eventually, the ship makes it to the center of the universe (who knew it only took a few hours?) and they encounter the Great Barrier, a scary cloud that separates Man from God's planet. As the Enterprise manages to pass through the Barrier unscathed and enters Heaven, arguably the film's most poignant moment, Kirk takes a moment to once again quote "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" ("Are we dreaming?" "If we are… life is…a dream.") This is the moment when you realize the movie's entire theological philosophy is based on a children's song.


Our heroes and Sybok land on Planet Heaven and discover it looks like Arizona. God finally presents himself as an old white guy in a blue fog (only one of the film's many, many horrible visual effects). As the primitive beings converse with their Maker, God finally asks if he can borrow their ship, prompting the classic Kirk line, "What does God need with a starship?" Eventually God gets pissed that they won't let him hitch a ride and starts shooting eye-lightning at everyone. The Enterprise then fires torpedoes at the Almighty and beams up Spock and McCoy…so William Shatner can fight God himself (or whatever ominipotent entity the film doesn't bother to explain).

Happy National Hug-A-Vulcan Day!

Clearly there's a lot wrong with this movie. There's unnecessary humor and random character revelations like McCoy killing his father, Uhura wanting to bang Scotty, and Spock's dad having boned some princess and giving him an evil half-brother. But by far the greatest sin is the wasted potential. There's so much you can say about human existence and God in the face of science fiction, yet STAR TREK V all but ignores it for a dumb actioner that ends with the heroes once again going camping and singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Some singing, Shatner overacting, Scotty stupidity and much more.

Awkward male bonding, awkward action and Uhura's awkward erotic dancing.

Try to contain yourself during 57 year old Uhura's erotic dance.

Like it when things boldly suck? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Spock floats
  • Scotty is angry or frustrated
  • Kirk fights awkwardly
  • Something homoerotic happens or is said
  • Spock gives a Vulcan nerve pinch to a horse
  • You spot a stunt wire
Double shot if:
  • "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is sang or referenced

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com



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