Apr 18, 2018
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.
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.
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?”)
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.
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.
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!
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).