Palmer’s Trek: the final frontier. These are the voyages of Agent Palmer. On his continuing mission: to explore star trek. To seek out television series and movies. To boldly go where many fans have gone before!
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a curious film. As someone who has been shotgunning this franchise from the beginning, it’s easy to state that this is a comedy: essentially four original series episodes blended into the chaos of one film that still somehow keeps most of the franchise blueprints in tact. Despite all of the chaos and blended plots, this movie is enjoyable and very watchable.
However, it is coming in on the heels of the Genesis trilogy of films. It’s hard to say it’s better than those, but it’s not bad and still light years ahead of The Motion Picture.
Let’s discuss the many episodes blended together to make this film to understand this all as simply as possible.
- It’s an episode about discovering Spock’s long lost half brother.
- It’s an episode about searching for god and or heaven.
- It’s an episode about starting an interstellar incident by kidnapping a Terran, a Romulan, and a Klingon.
- It’s an episode about destabilizing Nimbus III the Peace Planet.
All of these alone would be great, but together it’s just too much. It can’t decide which it wants to be, which makes the film feel a little like, “Hey, we have all these leftover ideas, so let’s just do them all.”
The thing is this does work as a comedy despite all of the different things it’s trying to do, which could be because it has such a high ratio of jokes per minute. It’s just too busy, though. Had the events in this film occurred over a five- or six-episode arc during the original series run it would have been an epic run of the show, but here it’s just too much.
Because this film, like the last, doesn’t end with a message about the adventure continuing, and I haven’t done the research on this, perhaps, they actually thought this would be the end of the original series. Still, it doesn’t make any sense to dump these ideas out into one thing because by the time this film releases in 1989 The Next Generation has already been airing since 1987, and those Trek ideas can easily be adapted.
However, at its heart this movie is still much closer to the original series than to something outside of the franchise. The heart of Star Trek remains in this with some beautiful scenes with McCoy, Spock, and Kirk. The philosophy is back as well, not only because they boldly went where no man had gone before but because Captain Kirk gets to ask, “What does God need with a starship?”
There are some Trek anomalies in this film. The first Captain’s Log is about one-third of the way through the film but the mechanism malfunctions and we don’t get another Captain’s log for the rest of the film. Perhaps it is a commentary on Captain’s Logs, because they just served as large info dumps for the viewer. The large info dumps in this film happen in other places, mainly in the form of Sybok who has a few long spotlight speeches.
The communicators are back to normal, or at least back to the way they were before Star Trek IV: The Search for Spock’s oddball communicators. Another Voyager spacecraft makes it onto the screen, reminiscent of The Motion Picture, but it promptly gets blown up by the Klingons. I like to view that as a commentary on The Motion Picture, but it could just be Klingons blowing up anything in the sky that doesn’t already belong to them.
Honestly, it’s a fun film with a lot going, making it probably the best make-some-popcorn-and-enjoy-the-chaos-on-the-screen movie so far. It’s not nearly as tight as any of the previous three films, and where The Motion Picture doesn’t appear to have enough going on, this boldly goes too far too quickly.
So, with one film left at this point I have no idea what to expect. I’m aware based on dates that Star Trek: The Next Generation is in its second season when this movie releases. Today’s media has made me almost certain that there will be something there for fans watching that series.
Of course, I’m interested in The Next Generation, but I’m not so keen on saying goodbye to this original cast which I’m pretty sure has turned me into a Star Trek fan. So I’ll enjoy the one movie I have left, before I’m introduced to what’s Next.