Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (part 5 of 13)

Meanwhile, out in space somewhere, a Klingon ship decloaks. Since (spoiler alert!) Not-Connery isn’t really our villain, they needed to toss in a cartoon bad guy for Kirk to vanquish. So say hello to Captain Klaa, our latest unwashed Klingon. Just to demonstrate Klaa’s bad-guyness, Klaa brings his ship around for target practice on an old Earth probe. And it turns out to be Pioneer 10, launched in 1972 to go look at Jupiter or something. I can tell by the pornographic plaque.

Klaa wings it with his first shot, causing it to spin away and scream [?] like E.T. And I’m not even kidding here. The sound guys dubbed in a high pitched cartoon scream when the spacecraft gets hit. I guess, in space, someone can hear you scream, after all. Klaa fires again, destroying the spacecraft with an even louder scream. The fiend! Now Aldeberan will never hear about Earth in 2 million years!

Klaa is played by prolific stunt guy Todd Bryant, who’s still at it—in fact, he was Hellboy’s stunt double, which gets him some seriousness coolness points. Also, he did stunts for Batman & Robin, which yanks them right back. More recently, he was Will Ferrell’s stunt double in Step Brothers, which means he’s in a movie I would never see if I were on fire and they were handing out free fire extinguishers at the theater, but hey, good for you, Todd.

Next to Klaa is Vixis, an impressively muscular Klingon woman who acts as Klaa’s second-in-command (hereinafter referred to as Klingon Bodybuilder Chick). She’s played by another stunt performer, Spice Williams-Crosby, who’s married to Gregory Crosby, the grandson of Bing Crosby and half-brother of Tasha Yar actress Denise Crosby. Spice is still going strong these days, doing stunts for action movies and countless TV shows from Angel to Scrubs to Hannah Montana. Okay, Hannah Montana? Scrubs? Does everything have stunts now? Geez, next thing you know we’ll be seeing Katie Couric vaulting into her chair for the CBS Evening News.

Caption contributed by scootermark

”Vixis! Did you forget to towel down the machine after your set?” “I deeply regret the dishonor I have caused our gym, my lord.”

So these jokers are apparently at a loose end, with nothing better to do than tool around shooting up old Earth probes that have somehow developed the capacity to scream like little space aliens, because they get a call about the shenanigans going on at Nimbus III and immediately decide to go check it out. Wow, they have even less to do than the people on Captain Archer’s Enterprise.

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Back at Yosemite, a bright spotlight and loud engine noises descend on our three heroes in their sleeping bags. I briefly hoped this was a ghetto bird, and that this movie had suddenly transmuted into an episode of Cops, and that the guys were about to be hauled off in cuffs for crimes against science fiction. But those hopes are dashed by the appearance of Uhura emerging from a klieg light. I mean, a shuttlecraft. Or so we’re meant to assume, since it’s conveniently invisible behind the klieg light. Except, later on we see that there’s clearly no floodlight in the shuttlecraft’s aft section, where the gangway is. Personally, I think the only explanation is that Uhura stole one of the flying motorcycles from Galactica 1980. I so wanted one of those. And they turned invisible, too! Which—oh, right, this movie.

Caption contributed by Albert

I’m guessing Uhura went out looking for Arya, too.

Uhura apologizes for not beaming them up, but the transporter’s on the fritz again. And it turns out that Kirk—and presumably, Spock and McCoy?—”forgot” to bring their communicators, so Uhura couldn’t contact them about the supposedly important mission for which they’re vitally needed. It’s almost like Kirk knew how pathetic this adventure is going to be, and wanted to hide in the forest for as long as possible until they finally came and physically dragged him back to the Enterprise. Well, that’s what I would do.

In space aboard the shuttle, Kirk gets his requisite opportunity to stare dreamily at the Enterprise, which this time is framed beautifully against the moon. It’s really funny that they put one of these Kirk/Enterprise scenes in every movie, just to remind us that the ship is Kirk’s one true love.

On the other hand, the original prototype of this scene—Kirk staring dreamily at the Enterprise aboard the shuttle with Scotty early on in Star Trek I—took up about a quarter of the total running time of that movie, so I’m surprised they didn’t think they’d already nailed this idea down. And yet, here they are still doing it. Heck, even Chris Pine gets a shot at the Enterprise Stare, sitting on his motorcycle as he ponders enlisting in Starfleet. (Though I suspect he was probably wondering, “Why are they building a starship in Iowa?”)

Caption contributed by scootermark

Wait! Enterprise! Don’t leave us trapped in this shitty movie! Take us with you!

Kirk is in the mood to quote poetry, so he launches into the bit about a tall ship and a star to steer her by, which Spock identifies as being from John Masefield. McCoy thinks it’s Melville, but Spock assures him he’s “well versed in the classics.” So McCoy zings him about not knowing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. In response, Spock, along with the audience, merely sighs heavily and waits for the scene to end. Yeah, Spock, I hear ya.

They make a big deal about Enterprise taking control of the shuttle, leading to a really fake-looking model landing in the shuttlebay. And surprisingly, we actually need to be paying attention here, because the controlled-landing thing becomes glancingly relevant later on. The gang deshuttles and trades TrekBanter with Mr. Scott, and then they all get on a turbolift to the bridge.

During the ride, they all do the stare-at-nothing elevator thing, which I guess people still do in the 23rd century, so that’s useful to know. To kill some time, Kirk observes he could use a shower, and Spock confirms that this is indeed the case.

I promise, the plot should be starting any minute now.

The turbolift gets to the bridge, but the doors only open partway, really instilling us all with a great sense of confidence about this mission. Hey, maybe they should take the first half-hour of the movie and send it ahead to Not-Connery, and he won’t bother trying to hijack the Starship Lemonprise after all. Problem solved!

On the bridge, a bunch of inept Starfleet greenhorns are frantically trying to fix things, accompanied by “fixing things” sound effects (buzz saws, welding torches, etc.). So Kirk can’t hear the admiral on the big viewscreen expressing amazement at how Kirk is dressed. It seems that under his red velvet Starfleet smoking jacket, Kirk is wearing a sweatshirt that reads, “Go climb a rock” (hey, same to you, buddy!). I’m really starting to think this whole mess was filmed in William Shatner’s garage, with the help of a bunch of kids from the community college and a scrappy little dog named Rowf.

Caption contributed by Albert

”Hey, at least I changed out of the shirt that said ‘Free Moustache Rides’.”

Oh, and for an extra added in-joke, the admiral, whom Kirk calls “Bob”, is played by Trek writer/producer Harve Bennett. A million years ago, he helped pioneer hip, youth-oriented TV, and now here he is in Shatner’s garage, pretending to make a Star Trek movie. Comedowns are a bitch, eh, Harve?

Essentially, Admiral “Bob” says they’re sending a broken Enterprise with an inexperienced, skeleton crew into a “dangerous” situation on Nimbus III (Kirk: “The ‘Planet of Galactic Peace’?”) because they specifically want Kirk for the mission. Wow, two decades in and they still haven’t learned their lesson about not stroking Kirk’s ego.

Actually, the way this comes out is really funny:

Admiral “Bob”: I need Jim Kirk.
Kirk: Oh, please.

Now consider that Admiral “Bob” helped write this preposterous and contrived situation, and Kirk’s derisive reply becomes a delicious meta-comment on the whole movie. Which, yeah, he directed. It’s a meta-meta-meta comment!

Caption contributed by scootermark

”So, Bill, do you think it’s too late to knock together a script for this mother?”

Kirk gets his orders to safely rescue the hostages, and rather than telling Admiral “Bob” that this mission is an outstandingly stupid idea, he acquiesces and orders a course plotted to Nimbus III. McCoy smilingly warns Kirk they’re “bound to run into the Klingons,” who if you recall also have an ambassador being held hostage, “and they don’t exactly like you.”

Kirk snaps back, “Feeling’s mutual.” Boy, I’m sure glad Star Trek evolved from those simpleminded days of having Klingons as an all-purpose, two-dimensional evil race constantly sending out deranged commanders for the Federation to take down, into our current sophisticated era where we have… well, exactly the same thing, only now we call them Romulans. We’ve… come a long way, baby?

Kirk trades yet more TrekBanter over the comm with Scotty, and then sits down in his $79 Office Max captain’s chair and pulls a sad face. He rocks in the chair, causing it to squeak like a rubber duckie, thus making it look even cheaper. McCoy asks what’s wrong. Kirk looks up disconsolately and says, “I miss my old chair.” Listen, Kirk—again, I hear ya, but dude, the chair is the least of the things wrong with this ship (or this movie).

Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

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  • Blurayisrubbish

    It’s a masterpiece that was one of many in (1989) to have used extensive use of dialogue panning in DOLBY STEREO SR 70mm six-t rack discrete and Todd-AO / THX presentation in selected THX screens that use the original THX 3417/crossover system.

    STAR TREK V gets 10 out of 10 markings all across the board!

    • I can’t tell if you’re oddly autistic or just trolling. well done

  • Monoceros4

    Paradoxically, this of all the classic Star Trek movies is the one that feels the most like a old “Star Trek” episode. Maybe that’s the problem. There’s nothing truly ambitious about this movie; it’s all reheated stuff from old episodes, as noted throughout the recap; in one case, “This Side of Paradise”, the original material far surpasses the recycled version.

    All the same, I can’t bring myself to call this the worst ever Star Trek movie. There’s a kind of earnestness to it. Its ineptitude is almost endearing. It’s almost like one of those wretched fan-made Star Trek shows based on a hopelessly derivative Trekkie fanfic and “starring” some secondary member of the original cast, only somehow the fans were able to rope in the entire Star Trek troupe. I can’t say that I’m in a hurry to watch Star Trek V ever again but it’d be a damn sight more entertaining than those bloodless, soulless TNG movies.

    • Ed

      I can’t really call it the worst either. If nothing else, it’s lively. I have to give it that.

  • Dep1701

    When I first saw this film I was sick to my stomach before going in ( how prescient was that? ). After leaving the movie I felt sick all over… because of the movie. As the years have gone by, I’ve mellowed a bit on it ( since we did get the redemption of Trek VI to take some o the sting away ), but it still sucks…hard.

    The one thing I will say in defense of it is that I do like Goldsmith’s score, especially the theme he wrote for “the Mountain” which was reused during the first campfire scene when Kirk is musing about dying alone, and during the “Cosmic Thoughts” scene at the end. But, oh the price we had to pay for some lovely music.

  • Arch9enius

    Like Alien Resurrection, I think this film is underrated, it’s no
    classic sure, but I liked seeing a bit of the Sanctimonious Federation
    of Planets from ‘underneath’, I’m sure it has one. Hell, I rate it
    higher than the comedy one with the Whales, Humor in Star Trek has never
    been it’s strongest point (Scotty walking into a pole proved that). Outside of Trek it did suffer from being up against two awesome films in 1989, one with russians featuring a cool ship and one with a man in a rubber suit in a real crapsack world, and that’s what everyone, even the Trekkies are probbly weighing it up against.

    ‘Proper’ Science Fiction is about big stuff, and what’s bigger than
    meeting God? Star Trek (in movie form) had to go there eventually, pity
    ‘God’ turned out to be him from Time Bandits, but Silak trying to
    mind-meld with him was one of the bits of awesome that rescues this
    film. And
    I never noticed the shonky special effects the first time round, the
    only fault I can pick out is maybe the model shots aren’t filmed at the
    best speed (The people behind Republic’s serials had this worked out in
    the ’30’s…), The same firm did a better job on Aliens and Batman
    Returns so I don’t know what went wrong there…

    About the Photon Torpedoes… I’m pretty sure the amount of energy (antimatter, or whatever) in them could be modified to suit the target… But yeah, we’ve seen phasers do everything from stun everyone on a city block (including the bus drivers? O.O;) to melt a planet’s crust, so probably the wrong weapon for the job there.
    Oh, and ponn far isn’t about finding Mrs Right, it’s about finding Mrs. Right, who’s nearest?… Marriage may be for entire other reasons, diplomatic or maybe Spock’s mom’s folks had one of thoses energy shotguns from Enterprise’s first ep.
    As for Uhura’s fan dance… maybe people are into mature women in the 22nd century, after all they live longer… Hollywood pushed sex symbols in their 30s and 40s back in the day but wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole now…. Uhura used to flirt with Spock & random redshirts back in TOS but it was weird to see her fixating on Scott like that. And what happenned in the Abrams film was REALLY weird, everyone in the transporter room thought so..
    And yeah, it was common practice for men to arrive on a colony first, It was done in Jamestown, Done in Australia, and right now down the road from me immigrants arrive from Pakistan or wherever, then if things work out they bring the wife & kids over, then the rest of the family. Maybe the reason Nimbus III is going down the tubes IS the lack of women… (They had to ship boatloads of… ladies of.. negotiable virtue out to Australia)

    Not up there With The Wrath of Khan, but way better than the last two TNG films, with their suddenly Caucasion Federation and made up particles and stuff.. Now if Abram’s next Trek effort could be about a prototype Klingon D-9 with stealth runners that suddenly makes a bee-line for sector 0 and only Spock seems to have worked out that the captain’s intentions are peaceful.. And if he could figure out Star Fleet is a SCIENTIFIC, EXPLORATORY, DIPLOMATIC, humanitarian and peacekeeping armada…

  • Muzer

    The sad thing is? When I read the joke about Scotty thinking he’s Santa Claus, it took me several, long seconds to think back to the film, before I realised it was actually a joke. This is the level of humour in the film, where I actually take seriously a few seconds the notion that Scotty thinks he’s Santa Claus…

  • I can’t believe you also missed perhaps the worst mistake in the movie: McCoy describes his secret ingredient as “Tennessee whiskey” which Spock proceeds to call BOURBON. And McCoy says nothing. Listen you pointy-eared menace, NAFTA may call Tennessee Whiskey “bourbon” but no southern man on the planet — even if he then travels to other planets — would let some Lincoln County product be passed off as bourbon.

  • Someone

    The only good thing this movie gave us was the book Sarek. But to be fair, the novelization was better than the movie.

  • Thiago de Andrade

    “And for the big finish, the movie ends by exposing ‘God’ as a hoax, making a mockery of the faith and hope that brought Sybok and his followers halfway across the galaxy in search of truth.”

    I confess I don’t get your point. They were seeking Truth, and truth is they were wrong. It was a denunciation of misguided faith and false hope. The moral of the story is, if you are going to hijack a starship, at least, have a good reason to do so.

  • I think the problems with this movie are almost all in the story, and it makes me sick that Shatner wrote this piece of crap. I love the original series TV show, and Shatner’s story shows just what he thinks of it all. Either Shatner is incredibly freaking stupid (a serious possibility), or he actually hates Star Trek (this movie makes that seem all too probable), or … I’m having trouble thinking of a third possibility.

    Compare Nimoy’s Star Trek movies to Shatner’s, and it’s clear which of them is a thoughtful man with heart. 🙂 Kind of funny that it’s the man who plays Spock who’s the guy with heart, but then, I guess Spock is a Tin Man for our time — a guy reputed to be heartless who’s shown to have the softest heart of all. 🙂

  • Graeme Cree

    “Shatner even admitted later that Trek creator Gene Roddenberry told him
    point blank not to do a movie about God. Roddenberry had tried in vain
    to write his own script about the crew of the Enterprise meeting “God”, which didn’t work and ultimately went nowhere.”

    His own script? Maybe his own dozen scripts. Roddenberry’s favorite, perhaps his only idea was “The Enterprise meets God in space, and finds that he’s either crazy, a child, or both.” I even remember Kelly on some talk show in the 70’s talking about how this was Gene’s idea for a Trek movie, and the interviewer seeming awed, as though he didn’t realize that the show had already done the idea to death.

  • Graeme Cree

    “a planet set aside for the fostering of
    cooperation between three hostile races”

    Going by the dates in the movie, it was set up at a time when the Feds had had no contact with the Romulans for over a century. Neat trick.

    “And for the big
    finish, the movie ends by exposing “God” as a hoax, making a mockery of
    the faith and hope that brought Sybok and his followers halfway across
    the galaxy in search of truth.”

    And that’s a mystery in itself. The being at the center of the galaxy (not God) didn’t know they were coming. Didn’t call them there. Seemed surprised that they would mistake him for God. So, how exactly did Sybok know he was there at all?

    Besides, didn’t the Enterprise visit the Center of the Galaxy in an animated episode and find something completely different there? I guess they couldn’t have, then or now, because it would take the Enterprise centuries to get there.

    • Sutherland Robin

      I figure there was a standing invitation in case the Romulans decided to take it up. The Romulan had only just got there In the opening scenes. ‘UUUURRRRRRPPPP!!!!!’ Is Klingon for ‘You’re LATE!’

  • Graeme Cree

    “Kirk “happens to know for a fact” Spock doesn’t have a brother, because it was firmly established in ”Journey to Babel””

    Actually, it wasn’t. Although one might very reasonably assume it from all of the Spock/Sarek banter (Why would Sarek be so peeved at Spock if he had another son who had embarrassed him even more?) it’s never explicitly stated that Spock has no brother in that episode or any other. That’s not to say it isn’t really dopey, but it’s not a flat out retcon.

    Someone had once commented that the best ending for the movie would be to pull a Bobby Ewing moment. Have Spock at the campfire scene at the end, saying “An excellent story, Captain, but with one minor flaw: I have no brother.” (Of course, he’d also be lying to say it was an excellent story, so maybe this doesn’t fix much.)

  • Kid Charlemagne

    Haruhi damn it, Wilson! I just snorted Coca-Cola out my nose! ^_^

  • Ryan Ann

    I don’t know why you always saying negative things about Deforest Kelley’s acting in this movie. He was awesome and very funny and was actually the best thing about Star Trek V. His acting when Sybok brainwashed him was very powerful and quite moving. I can’t believe he recieved a Razzie nomination for this. William Shatner actually acted the worst in this and James Doohan was very annoying, which is sad because he was so very funny in ” The Voyage Home.” I especially liked the scenes with De Kelley and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock at the campfire and sing-along and that was actually my favorite scene in the entire film because we got to know more about Kirk’s, Spock’s and McCoy’s friendship and Deforest Kelley was very funny in every scene he was in and I liked that we got to see the three of them together in mostly every scene in this movie. It’s too bad that it took them until part V to get them together more and use Deforest Kelley’s incredible acting skills. Star Trek 6 also used them too, especially in the trial scenes with Kirk and McCoy. McCoy is actually my second favorite character in Star Trek (after Spock). Also I never found McCoy annoying at all or like a whiny annoying aunt. He wore those scarfs because that was what men in westerns did and he cared about Kirk and wanted to make sure he was safe up on that mountain. He was the gruff, but kind and caring doctor who wanted to help his friends and would do anything for them. Dr. McCoy was the silent hero in Star Trek and Deforest Kelley seemed (just like Leonard Nimoy with Mr. Spock) to mirror Dr. McCoy as a kind hearted and humble person who liked to help people. I really miss Deforest Kelley (RIP) and Leonard Nimoy ( I still have a hard time believing Nimoy is no longer with us, RIP).