Sure, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (TFF) has it’s downsides. There’s plenty of cheesiness for the whole family to enjoy in this film. There’s way too many call backs to Captain Kirk’s mountain climbing from the beginning. And sure, they could have dug deeper into the public domain songs and found something better than “Row, row, row your boat.” That being said, I like this movie.
You can smell William Shatner’s “me too” attitude throughout the film. In The Voyage Home (TVH) Leonard Nimoy got to make a whole movie about saving the whales, which I’m sure is something he’s passionate about. So Billy Shats, in his turn as director, probably wanted to throw a passion of his into the mix. That passion, apparently, is rock climbing. Where TFF goes right though, is it soon leaves that behind and gets on with the show. And the show is exactly what I like about the movie. Is TFF the edge of your seat thriller that Wrath of Khan was? No. Is it the visual spectacle that The Motion Picture was? Nope. You know what it is though? Something that TVH never once felt like, a Star Trek movie!
For the first time in all of the Star Trek movies this is a film about what I loved about Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS). Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on an adventure. Whereas TVH felt like some other movie they just threw the Star Trek cast into, TFF actually feels like an updated, grown up version of the show. The jokes are indeed cheesy, but they’re at least Star Trek related! The jokes are based on the characters, their relationships, and the time they live in.
All around, the reason I enjoyed this movie is because of how much it reminded me of TOS. The villain, Sybok (portrayed by Laurence Luckinbill) isn’t exactly evil. He lives in the gray area of a man with a purpose whose motives so happen to conflict with Kirk’s. The whole movie remains playful, but is actually rather cerebral. It touches on philosophical points of view, and questions the foundations of religion, man, peace, regret, etc. Then towards its ending, just when you feel they’re about to go too far and ruin everything, there’s a nice little twist saving the film from further absurdity. It’s a movie of the mind, and of belief. I question if that’s really what “the final frontier” may be. It has a message, much like TVH had a message.
No, that message is not go rock climbing. It’s a message about personal growth and self betterment. That’s something we can all enjoy, and far better than space men from the future telling us to save the whales.
TFF, for the first time it feels, shows you some previously unseen back story on some of our dear cast. It really dives into the character of McCoy, Spock, and Kirk. It also gives a healthy amount of screen time to the rest of the gang, and keeps it well-balanced.
All in all, I’d have to call this the second best in the film series, though that’s not saying much. The Star Trek films, I feel, have been trying to find themselves, their style, and their voice. It seems Mr. Shatner found a piece of it with what they had at the beginning. What makes TFF work is what made TOS work to begin with.
And now, courtesy of YouTube, please enjoy this internet classic. William Shatner explains Star Trek V in his own words. Although it makes absolutely zero sense, it does make for a nice little song.