Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (part 13 of 13)
On the (now-crimson [?]) surface of the Planet Mauvejave, Kirk has fled the shuttle, which had begun to blow up, and is now climbing up some rocks. (I’m not sure where he is, because the shuttle was parked way out in the flats, but whatever.) The Angry Face of God pursues him, and I’m totally waiting for it to scream that the penis is evil. But all we get is inarticulate squealing, and lots of eye-bolts that totally fail to hit anywhere near Kirk. Finally, Kirk reveals his decades of tactical training by climbing to the top of the ridge, and presenting a perfectly exposed target against the night sky.
The God-being wails “Yoooouuuu!!” one more time, and gets ready to shoot eye-bolts at Kirk. But at the last second, the Klingon ship appears dramatically behind Kirk and blasts God to smithereens. Yay, the Klingons killed God! Wow, Nietzsche was way off on that one.
Kirk assumes he’s next, and the Klingons’ gun-turret actually turns on him (this will be really funny when we see who’s at the controls), but instead, he’s beamed aboard the Klingon ship.
Two nobody Klingons haul Kirk up to the bridge, where a newly regonadified Korrd makes Klaa apologize. Apparently, he was acting without orders from the Empire both times he attacked the Lemonprise. Then we get our second swivel-chair Pointless Reveal, when it turns out the Klingon gunner is actually Spock. So, why exactly did Spock point the gun-turret at Kirk, pray tell?
Kirk is astonished, for some reason. He walks right up into Spock’s personal space and says he thought he was going to die. Spock says this was not possible, because Kirk was never alone. Our Captain, overwhelmed, moves in for the Kirk Maneuver, but Spock admonishes him.
Okay, that seals it. I want to be Spock when I grow up.
Putting off their physical affection for later, Kirk and Spock return to the Lemonprise for the afterparty. The entire cast is gathered in the observation lounge, which for some reason seems larger than before.
Korrd is unsatisfied by whatever’s in his glass (Federation synthehol, I would guess), so Scotty pours him some Scotch from a hip flask. Talbot (remember him?) has his arm around Romulan Star Search Chick, musing about how far they’ve come in such a short time. Boy, is she not very picky. But seriously, are things now so cool with the Klingons and Romulans that it’s perfectly okay for a Starfleet crew to mingle with their high-ranking officials over cocktails?
Klingon Bodybuilder Chick stalks into the hall, and Sulu and Chekov are two paces behind her, following her like puppies [?]. Chekov remarks about her “vonderful muscles,” but they hightail it out of there when she rejoins Klaa in a corner. So that’s Chekov’s type, then? Huh.
Incidentally, it turns out Walter Koenig improvised the line about “vonderful muscles”. Originally, the scene had them walking silently behind Klingon Bodybuilder Chick, which wasn’t working, so Shatner told Koenig to make up something off the top of his head. So between this and “the retlaw plant”, the guy is just full of ideas.
Klaa gives a fist-slapping-chest salute to Kirk, which Kirk casually returns, a little bemused that he’s made a new Klingon friend. Oh man, all this wrapping-up stuff is unbelievably saccharine. I’m actually thinking of bottling it and selling it as a coffee sweetener.
Kirk intrudes on Spock and (McCoy) speculating about whether God is “out there,” and Kirk opines that maybe God is “in here,” pointing to his own chest. No, Kirk, for the last time, you’re not God!
Spock is depressed that he lost a brother down on the planet. Kirk remarks that he lost a brother once, and was lucky enough to get him back. This is a nice reference to Kirk and Spock’s fraternal relationship, which survived even Spock’s death. Of course, it totally pisses on the memory of Kirk’s real brother, who died and didn’t come back to life, but it really wouldn’t be much consolation to Spock if Kirk had said, “I lost a brother once, and, yep, he sure stayed dead. What a drag.”
McCoy reminds Kirk of what he said back at the beginning of the movie, that people like them don’t have families, but Kirk says, “I was wrong.” Awww, it’s so sweet that Kirk thinks of Spock and (McCoy) as brothers. And of course, that makes things extra special for the Kirk/Spock slashfic writers, because if there’s anything hotter than forbidden gay love, it’s forbidden gay incest. (Don’t believe me? Go check out some of the fan fiction for Supernatural. Then promptly wash your eyeballs with hot water. I’ll wait.)
We cut to—oh God—a c-c-campfire. Please, make this quick. I’ve been good, I swear. Yes, they’re back in Yosemite, and Spock is idly plucking the Vulcan lute last seen, appropriately enough, in “The Way to Eden”. As if we needed to be reminded of that crummy episode again.
Kirk cajoles him into playing something, so Spock starts strumming “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. On a Vulcan lute. Kirk jumps in and starts singing (totally in the wrong place, forcing Spock to start over). Then Spock comes in (at the right place) to start a round, signifying that he’s Changed As A Person since the beginning of the movie. Before, he wouldn’t sing. Now, he’ll sing. And don’t miss the next movie, where he learns the spoons!
Kirk has to slap McCoy on the knee to get him to sing, too. There’s a long pull-out as the movie leaves us with this final encapsulation of what Star Trek is really all about: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in the middle of a forest, singing. Singing very badly. And no, this is not on the soundtrack CD, thank God-being.
The credits start to roll, and (deep breath) wow, it’s over. As the credits scroll by, I notice there’s “special thanks” to Reebok, who I guess made Spock’s boots? And sure enough, there’s a credit for “marshmallows and dispenser by Kraft”. And—best of all—there’s a special thanks to Jack Daniels. Hey, whatever it takes to get through making a movie like this.
Man, that was epic. I actually had hoped to have this recap done in time to coincide with the release of the new movie in May, but it took me forever to wade through this one. That was 107 minutes that felt like a 38-year journey to the center of the galaxy. Believe me when I say, Jar breeze! That was one sucky movie!
It wasn’t a box-office failure—it made back twice its $28 million budget in domestic gross, unlike (say) Star Trek: Nemesis, which lost money domestically. But the fact that Star Trek V did only half as well as Star Trek IV (still the #2 grossing Star Trek film, after the new one) certainly annoyed Paramount. However, what really caused the most damage was the critical and fan backlash against the movie, which killed any momentum the franchise had. It was only the approach of Star Trek’s 25th anniversary in 1991 that made it possible for anyone to even consider making another movie.
Why did this movie suck so hard? Shatner and Bennett, among others, will tell you that this movie’s problems are with its budget, and the fact that it was rushed into production by the studio after the success of Star Trek IV, compounded by delays caused by the 1988 writer’s strike, and the strained resources of the Trek production team (most of whom were working on this movie alongside The Next Generation). And it’s true, part of what makes this movie so awful is how cheap it looks, from the set design and location shooting to the execrable special effects.
But ultimately, that’s a cop-out, because what’s really wrong with Star Trek V is that it’s a bad idea, executed worse. It slaps its audience in the face, not just with sucky continuity, but by giving us a defective Enterprise, with a mutinous crew, who get a little psychotherapy and decide to serve a naive, self-deluding guru who’s surprised to find his vision of paradise a total sham. In fact, we get not one, but two planets based around the idea of universal peace and love, which both turn out to be hellholes populated by criminals out to screw everybody over. How Star Trek is that?
Star Trek is supposed to make you believe in stuff, but after watching this, the only thing I look forward to about the future is possibly being able to extrude all the marshmallows I want. And maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.