Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Star Trek V: The Wrath Of Shatner And His Toupee


- Having watched in envy as his Star Trek costar directed the last two Star Trek films, William Shatner finally got a crack at the director's chair and subsequently gave us the worst Star Trek film ever in 1989: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. This film is similar to one of those horrible TV movies that you happen to catch on the Sci-Fi network when you are surfing channels on a Saturday afternoon. You stop and watch it for 20 seconds and then laugh out loud as you change the channel, shaking your head and wondering if the people involved with the "film" have anything resembling dignity. The Final Frontier is poorly written, poorly staged, poorly shot, and poorly acted out. Ouch.

While the Enterprise crew is away on shore leave (or is it planet leave? Whatever....), a hostage situation occurs on the planet of Nimbus III - also called "The Planet of Galactic Peace" - and the crew is wrestled away from their vacations to solve the matter. If you ask me, you are asking to be pushed around if you name your planet "The Planet of Galactic Peace." You do not ever hear about anyone messing with "The Planet of Galactic Badasses" now do you? The laughing Vulcan zealot Sybok is the one responsible for the crime, hoping to steal a ship and fly to the planet that God is supposedly staying at (apparently Heaven was not cozy enough).

Alright, so not every Star Trek plot has been 100% intelligent, but many have been able to be fun while being stupid at the same time. Well, not The Final Frontier. It is amazing how this film tries to be serious in some parts but then in other parts it tries to force farce down your throat. The problem is that neither the serious nor the humorous direction takes and we the audience gag and ultimately heave both the supposed drama" and "humor" back out in the form of eye rolling and sighs. I am sorry, but it is just not funny to see Kirk robed in flannel as he and Dr. McCoy try to teach Spock "Row Row Row Your Boat" on a camping trip. In the same way, it is not funny to see the newly-built Enterprise-A falling apart at supposedly comedic levels (what? even the hand-held gadgets are falling apart?), seeing the Scotty character reduced to a "bumbling fat Scottish dude" role instead of the usual "amusing miracle worker" - walking his big fat Celtic head right into a part of the ship, or any other unsuccessful attempt at humor in the film.

The low quality acting does not help convince the audience that they should go along with the different tones of the film. Shatner had a good run: three good performances in a row since portraying a parody of himself in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). But Shatner is back at it again here in The Final Frontier with plenty of humorous attempts to be serious and failed attempts to be humorous - for the love of all things, beam him out of the film Scotty! Most of the Enterprise cast members do a good job (with a few exceptions) but the rest of the film's supporting cast is beyond awful: specifically, Cynthia Gouw is just terrible in her Romulan role and Charles Cooper and Todd Bryant play two of the worst Klingons ever seen.

And then there is Laurence Luckinbill's character Sybok, the film's primary villain. But "villain" is not all he is: Sybok is also Spock's half brother. Wait, what? Spock has a half brother? His dad was dumb enough to cheat on Winona Ryder (that's a Star Trek (2009) joke)? And when exactly did Spock plan to drop that little tidbit of information to his best of friends of whom he has spent 30-some years of space travel with? Eh, it does not matter - forget Spock's part in all of this, Sybok is simply the pinnacle of Star Trek bad guy lameness. The character is dumb on paper but the ineffectiveness of the character is mostly due to Laurence Luckinbill's terrible performance. As Luckinbill's Sybok makes people "lose their pain" in the film, I was wishing I could release the pain I was feeling on account of his performance.

What a surprise, Shatner and his toupee never sat in the Star Trek director's chair again, though much of the film is not all Shatner's fault. While much of the film is poorly set up and executed by Shatner, the producers apparently whittled away Shatner's ideas, approved a terrible story, hired a handful of bad actors, and signed up a poor special effects team. Unfortunately nothing can change the fact that The Final Frontier still sits in its immortal cinematic state, forever existing to make future audiences cringe - perhaps even into the 23rd Century!

So yes, everything you have heard is true: The Final Frontier is the worst Star Trek film to date. This Star Trek movie is the film equivalent to a fish helplessly flopping around on a dock trying to get back into the water - only it cannot do so, and just flops around until it runs out of energy and dies because it cannot breathe. But hey, let's look on the bright side: at least Jerry Goldsmith came back to score the film!


Yeah, you know, that's really not doing it for me.

CBC Rating: 2/10

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