When it comes to science fiction cinema there are two great franchises that everyone knows – Star Wars and Star Trek. For those who don’t align with Han, Luke, Chewy, or even Bea Arthur (see the Star Wars Holiday Special for that last one) they align with Kirk, Spock, or McCoy. The original cast of Star Trek made six movies together before they headed off into the sunset, before the reboot of Star Trek 11. However this is not about reboots, remakes, or even old vs new, this about a movie that has been the undeserved punching bag of the series for close to 25 years, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
When talking about this film the usual arguments are “It almost killed the franchise” or “I blame everything on William Shatner’s directing” or “Does that even count as canon in the over all series?” Sure its easy to beat up a film over and over using those three arguments but, let us break down the film and go beyond the stock smack downs everyone screams, it is high time this movie is taken up a peg for once.
The first thing to understand is when comparing Star Trek V to the original 1960’s television series, this movie is by far the one that got the closest to recreating that TV show feel. Now yes you can argue “Well why don’t I just go watch a two-part episode of the original series” and while yes you could do that remember Star Trek only had just one two part episode “The Menagerie.” Had the series lasted beyond three seasons there may have been more, in fact Star Trek V could be seen as the way original series finally got another good two-part episode.
Other issues are about the story over all and how it does not fit with the previous four movies. While its clear Star Trek II, Star Trek III, and Star Trek IV are more or less a three part story like the Star Wars series, most people over look that Star Trek : The Motion Picture, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Insurrection are all stand alone stories. In fact Star Trek V actually references Star Trek II not once but twice, there is nothing wrong with a stand alone story, especially if the movies are suppose to be episodic. One must remember if they keep building on story that was started in Star Trek II by the time they did the fifth movie what would have been left to talk about, this is the same reason why Star Trek VI itself is also a stand alone story.
When it comes to the story, Star Trek V is also unique as for first time in the series up to that point the engines on the ship work perfectly the whole movie. Yes having the transporter out could be slighted as a cheap writers dodge to advance the plot, but think back to the TV series, they went down to planets and explored them for whole episodes, not beam down and beam back in five minutes. Now as for the setting of the story Star Trek V actually had new locations on a ship that haven’t been seen on the big screen before, such as the shuttle craft bay, the jefferies tubes, and observation deck. It should also be noted Star Trek V was the only movie in the original crew series that had a full touch screen interface for controls, which thanks to the iOS and Android devices touch interface still keeps the design of ship looking fresh. Going back to the plot yes the Klingons were a bit stock bad guy, but again comparing to the TV series most of the time the Klingons were like that, since Star Trek itself was Wagon Train to the stars that meant its based on westerns, and in that genre you had a hero and a villain, and the bad guy didn’t need a back story that character was just accept as it.
Now for the thorn in most people’s side over this movie, everyone blaming director William Shatner on the film. Shatner is a fine director and the movie is well directed, the light humor throughout works very well, DeForrest Kelly as Dr. McCoy without a doubt nails every single little sarcastic comment perfectly. What most people don’t know about the movie is that like everything in Hollywood there are budgets, time constraints, and other factors. During the production of Star Trek V there was a writers strike, there were budget issues, there was a June 1989 release window for a movie that started production in late 1988. When one takes all those factors into the equation for the hand that was dealt Star Trek V is a watchable flick, in fact compared to the bulk of films that were released in the science-fiction genre after it, the film is a far superior masterpiece. Bottom line is the the best Star Trek film ever released? No its not, but it is still a good film that had a interesting plot and had all the original characters on the Enterprise one last time. So after 25 years let it go, Star Trek V doesn’t deserve the treatment its always gets, its an underrated story that should have one viewing as everyone loves to blast off to the stars with original crew of the starship Enterprise.
On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 5.1 out of 5.9