The Trek Trek, Part IX: The Undiscovered Country

Part IX: They’re Getting Too Old For This Ship

1991. Directed by Nicholas Meyer

        Perhaps I had settled in my previous post. Maybe I had been so put off by everything since The Wrath of Kahn (WOK) that I was dying for something to measure up. Maybe the familiarity of The Final Frontier (TFF) was enough for me to enjoy it. I don’t take anything from TFF, I do genuinely like the movie. But if WOK is a 10, TFF is at best a 5. Which would make Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (TUC) a pleasantly surprising 8. It seems calling it quits was what they all needed to make a great movie again. No more personal agendas, no silly puns, nothing over the top (except of course for that Shatner on Shatner scene). It’s a story that wraps up whats been happening to and for Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest. Also, TUC manages to make the crew of the Enterprise achieve their greatest accomplishment, and creates what propels Kirk and his crew to greatness, forever changing the federation as they know it.

I know it looks like we're about to put a chicken in this suit and send it out into space, but... we're not.

What’s nice in this movie is the respect they give to the series upon its fare well. They close each character’s arc, pay tribute to what each character has been, and still give them an unfolding, exciting adventure. A film both thoughtfully relevant to its time, and entirely engaging. Each actor’s signatures appear on screen at its ending as the cast of Star Trek quite literally signs off.

Kirk's final piece of ass. Not too shabby Captain.

So how do I feel here at the end of things? Star Trek is clearly an above average concept. Some goofs aside, it takes its genre seriously and is a very likely interpretation of our own future. The Original Series (TOS) absolutely stands out above other shows of that era. I have nothing against concept with this cast and series, my problem with it is content.

Mr. Forman got into Eric's weed again.

I walk away unsatisfied in some respects. Some things are thought out so carefully, and other bits make little sense. They have an opportunity to use these characters to really explore some fascinating ideas in regards to both the scientific: space travel, the future, etc… and the personal: human interaction, belief, etc… and they do occasionally, but for the most part they wasted my time with garbage like Abe Lincoln fistfights, and 80s punks playing music too loudly on busses. I just feel like the execution was lacking. I’m not sure if the cause is a clash of egos, studio interjection, or what. In the end it just didn’t come through as a completely amazing, if-you-don’t-watch-this-you-haven’t-really-lived sort of thing.

Do these freaking Earthlings ever get off their phones?

That isn’t to say I don’t like it, I do. I like the characters, the cast, and like I said, overall concept. I’m excited as ever for Next Generation, as I know what 20 years of thinking can do to a great idea. I do look back fondly on this series, it’s fun. I give it my highest recommendation, though not a perfect grade by any means.

From Left: Relieved he's done with Star Trek, Can't wait to get away from Shatner, Thinking about his chicken salad sandwich he's going to eat for lunch, Just had a few drinks, Thinking about how good Shatner looks today, Thinking about how good DeForest's chicken salad sandwich was, Just found out how much Shatner got paid for this movie. Family portrait provided by Sears.

 In the End:

Still a G after all these years.

Who’s my favorite?: If you read through these you might have picked up on the answer to this question. That answer, of course being Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Maybe I haven’t changed much since I was a kid and McCoy’s fellow wise ass Raphael was my favorite turtle. Who knows, but there’s something about the good doctor I can’t get enough of. Spock’s boundless wonder is endearing of course. Captain Kirk’s brash antics are all too engaging. There’s something about Bones though. The grumpy doctor with a heart of gold just speaks to me.

Lastly because everyone loves lists, my list of the Star Trek films in order from best to worst:

      1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

  1. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

  2. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

  3. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

    And here's Christian Slater for no reason what-so-ever.

  4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

  5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

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