← Back to Reviews

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Director: William Shatner
Writers: William Shatner
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, David Warner, Laurence Luckinbill
Genre: Sci Fi

Had it not been for bad luck ST V: The Final Frontier might have been the best of the original cast Star Trek movies. First time feature film director William Shatner had grand visions for his movie but a 'starship load' of misfortune followed him.

For starters there was a writer's strike that curtailed the planned big ending for the film, and the special effects budget was reduced so that the entire big finale was cut down to a mere whisper of it's planned opulence. If that was enough to thwart Shatner's grand film ideas the studio demanded his film be edited down by some 20 minutes from the original 2 hour movie he had shot. Despite the fact Shatner insisted all the material was necessary to the movie, the film was heavily edited. And that's why the 5th film in the original ST franchise is considered the weakest of the bunch.

The story premise is a good one: Spock's long estranged half brother Sybok reappears as a renegade Vulcan who's embraced emotions as a way of discovering a profound metaphysical truth. The most interesting aspect is the way Sybok delves into people's minds revealing their inner fears, so that they can conquer and be free of their inner pain, thus achieving a higher state of inner peace. Now that's a cool concept! Laurence Luckinbill as the messianic Sybok is both engaging and likable...that's important because he's a big part of the film and for the audience to accept him, as does most of the Enterprise crew, he has to seem both amicable and wise.

I wonder just how more fleshed out the film would have been with the missing 20 minutes restored to it. As it is some of the scenes seem abbreviated and don't fully achieve the emotional resonance that leaves the viewer in awe. There were several key scenes where I had an innate sense that an extra line was needed to bring the scene to it's emotional peak.

I hated this Star Wars bar room scene rip off. Actually I thought the same scene in Star Wars was kitschy stupid too, so no reason to copy it. It felt like it didn't belong and they had already done a similar scene in ST III The Search for Spock.

I liked David Warner's character as a Federation envoy. But whoever decided to make this human smoke cigarettes in the 23rd century doesn't understand Star Trek canon. Gene Rodenberry had resisted all attempts by commercial interest to have cast members smoke on the original TV series, as he felt no one in the 23rd century would be smoking. Not a deal breaker but disappointing for a ST fan. The actress who played the Romulan woman in the above photo, is pretty alright but made one of the worst Romulans I've seen.

Had the film's budget not been drastically cut, had there been no writer's strike, had the studio allowed Shatner's full 2 hour version of the movie...then The Final Frontier with it's unique themes might have gone down in ST history as one of the great films...but as it is I rate it a respectable: