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Why Star Trek V Isn’t The Worst Trek Movie

Aaron Phillips



Star Trek V Spock image
Paramount Pictures

There is a joke amongst Trek fans that all the odd-numbered Star Trek movies are inferior to their even-numbered counterparts. Yes, some of the movies are better than others, but it’s not an exact science. What often comes up though, is that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the worst of the Trek films. I think that’s a rather harsh label that’s been slapped on the film. To try it and lift from the intergalactic mire, I’m going to tell you why it’s definitely NOT the worst.

What’s it all about?

The film takes place shortly after the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The plot revolves around a renegade Vulcan called Sybok, who is searching for God in the centre of the galaxy. Ok, so the premise doesn’t sound that exciting but bear with me.

Sybok is actually Spock’s half-brother. In a ruse to get his hands on a starship, he takes human, Klingon and Romulan diplomats’ hostage on a planet called Nimbus III. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are sent there to rescue them, but Sybok has the ability to relieve innermost pain through a mind-meld. The process then renders the hostages and crew submissive. Apart from Spock and Kirk. They end up doing a deal and taking Sybok to the mysterious planet, but it turns out that God isn’t there. It’s just an entity that tries to prevent them from leaving the planet. They are also being followed by a Klingon ship, which inevitably saves the day.

Shaken, but not stirred

You may be thinking that it all sounds a bit over-the-top. I think that is partly true. A lot of that has to do with the fact that William Shatner both wrote the original idea and directed the film. After the success of the previous two films – that Leonard Nimoy directed – I suspect that Bill had a point to prove. And it’s not as if Mr Shatner has ever over-done anything, has it? A-hem.

Anyway, looking past the suspect plot, the cast is pretty solid. It features the entire Enterprise crew from the previous films, along with legendary actor, David Warner. Sean Connery was initially contacted for the role of Sybok but was busy with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Instead, lesser-known actor Lawrence Luckinbill got the job. Still, they named the mysterious planet Sha Ka Ree in his honour, which is cool. Let’s look at what makes this film good.

First off, the bond and chemistry between the characters are superb. Although they’ve had twenty-five years to get it right, Shatner managed to pull off fine moments. Particularly brilliant is the jailbreak scene between McCoy; Shatner and Spock on Nimbus III. Just the right amount of humour combined with some great lines hits the spot. The final scene between the three of them by the fire is also magical. If ever there should have been a final franchise send-off for the three of them, that should have been it. The scene where Sybok tries to brainwash Kirk; McCoy and Spock are also brilliantly done. The atmosphere of the scene is done to perfection, as is the acting. Huge credit to Shatner for acting and directing a truly spellbinding piece of cinema.

The raw human emotion and ethical philosophy that is core to Star Trek ooze out of the screen. These moments are what makes this film special. There is plenty of them peppered throughout the film. This is something that has sadly been lost on the most recent Trek films, more on that later. Lawrence Luckinbill’s acting also deserves a lot of credit. He delivers the villain role with presence and precision but brings an air of calm collectiveness that makes it more sinister than it should be.

William Shatner’s inspiration for the story was Christian TV evangelists and how they end up getting rich from people’s fears. That’s what makes Sybok such an interesting character. He believes he is on a noble cause, which inevitably makes him do some evil things. But he soon comes to the realisation that he himself has been duped into believing something that isn’t what he thinks it is. It’s an interesting concept to explore, but perhaps a little too deep for a movie that needs to appeal to the wider public as well as core Trek fans. Part of the films commercial failure was that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was such a success, that this had to blow it out the water, and it didn’t.

Why it’s worth a watch

It’s unfair to blame the story or direction. There were many factors in play that blighted the film from the very start. Firstly, budgets and time schedules overran. There was also a writer’s guild and drivers’ strike and probably most damming was Industrial Light and Magic’s unavailability. The special effects firm had handled the previous three Trek movies but were too busy making Ghostbusters to help. This left the production team scrambling around for alternatives.

When the studio demanded budget cuts the end result was, well, pretty poor in comparison. Some scenes look ok, but the ‘God’ scene at the climax of the movie is pretty laughable. But we can’t hold that against them as a lot of that stuff was out of their control. Because of this, I think a lot of the film’s critics need to take a step back, ignore the questionable special effects, and look at the story. Look at the character interactions. And look at the social and philosophical points the film is trying to make. If they want to point a finger at bad Trek films, take a look at the three J.J Abrams Kelvin timeline films. They are all terrible, and all equally so. But more on that another time.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is worth another watch. Yes, it has some dodgy effects and less action, but it’s pure Star Trek. And ultimately, that’s what we want from a Star Trek movie.

Thanks for reading our article on why Star Trek V: The Final Frontier isn’t the worst Star Trek movie. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.

More of our Star Trek articles HERE.

Read IMDB information on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier HERE.

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Movie News

The 9 Greatest Spoof Movies Ever

Aaron Phillips



This is Spinal Tap image
Embassy Pictures

There have been so many great spoof movies over the past four decades. So, sit back and buckle up as we countdown the nine greatest spoof movies of all time. And “don’t call me Shirley”.

9. Team America: World Police

Ok, so it’s all-puppet action as opposed to real-life actors, but it’s still up there. Written by the guys behind South Park, it parodies an American counter-terrorism force as they take on global terrorists. As you would expect, there are some cracking scenes throughout the movie. Kim Jong-il singing about being “so roney, so roney” is a highlight that isn’t easily forgotten. You also have to feel sorry for poor old Matt Damon. Although he’s had a glittering film career it’s still hard not to say “Matt Damon” in that monotone way every time you see him on screen. According to writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Damon’s puppet looked so vacant that they decided to make his character only able to say his name. Poor Matt. Add in some fantastic one-liners, over-the-top violence and sex scenes with puppets, you have a great film that will make you laugh, and cringe.

8. Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks is the king of spoof and parody. He’s directed and written many a great spoof over the years, but Blazing Saddles was only his third movie in the director’s chair. This 1974 offering takes the proverbial from all the great western movies from the 40s and 50s. The film throws joke after joke at you, along with anachronisms aplenty. Lead actors Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little also deliver comedic gold performances that help make this film great. Brooks also does a clever job of dealing with racism throughout the movie; something that hadn’t really been done before. One of those moments is where Wilder and Little confront two Klan characters, before stealing their white gowns. Clever, and poignant. It’s also interesting to note that execs wanted to pull the plug before release, but soon realised they got it wrong. It was a financial success and has firmly sealed its place in history as an iconic piece of filmmaking. Not only that, but it’s also still rated very highly on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb today. Just goes to show that a classic stands the test of time.

7. Spaceballs

Yep, our old friend Mel Brooks features again in the director’s chair. This time he delves into the world of sci-fi; more specifically, Star Wars. Although it only made a small profit at the time, it’s gone on to become a cult classic and holds a fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The key to its success is it’s genuinely funny. The jokes are good enough to make you belly laugh. And the characters are so close to those on Star Wars, it’s amazing George Lucas gave his blessing for it to be made at all. He even went a step further and sent Mel Brooks a note to say he almost fell apart laughing through it. Praise indeed. Brooks’ other golden touch was casting Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet. I think you’ll struggle to find a funnier bad guy. There are also rumours of a sequel, predicted in the film itself as ‘The search for more Money’, although nothing has been greenlit at the moment. We live in hope.

6. Scary Movie

Ok, so there have been five films in the Scary Movie franchise but the first one from 2000 makes our list of spoof movies. Written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans and directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans, it’s definitely a family affair. Although later films parody a wide range of films, this one heavily relies on Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. This works in the film’s favour as you don’t spend the entire movie wondering what film they’re parodying for each joke. You know that Ghostface from Scream is going to feature a lot. And he does. The scene where he gets stoned with a bunch of guys and prank calls people is still funny today. The later films just feel like a collection of forced jokes as they ran out of horror movies to parody. Although it received mixed reviews, it made a monumental profit at the box office.

5. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

No spoof movies list would be complete without at least one that features the brilliant Leslie Nielson. The Naked Gun, released in 1988, was based on the short-lived TV series from 1982. Created by the legend of deadpan comedy David Zucker, it follows Lt Frank Drebin on his escapades. The original Police Squad series was a spoof of 60s police dramas; particularly M Squad, and The Naked Gun follows the same theme. Plus, it ends with one of the best death scenes in film history with Nielson waving his arms and calmly addressing the crowd with “nothing to see here”. With superb writing and acting, The Naked Gun was released to critical acclaim. It also made a healthy profit at the box office and is often listed as one the greatest comedy films ever made.

4. Hot Shots!

Released in 1991 and directed by Jim Abrahams, Hot Shots! keeps things simple by purely being a spoof of Top Gun. And a very good one it is too. Not only is the writing funny and sharp, but it also has a fantastic cast. Playing the lead roles are Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes as the two feuding pilots. Both actors are masters of comedic timing and they deliver their lines with razorlike sharpness. The plot revolves around a mission to Iraq, with the added love triangle involving Sheen and Elwes’ characters and a female therapist. This sub-plot lends itself to some genuinely hilarious scenes between the two actors. Credit also has to go to the fantastic Lloyd Bridges. He plays a commander who seems to have had every part of his body replaced due to it being blown off in various battles. His lines in the movie are comedy gold. A great film that hits all its spoof targets with absolute aplomb.

3. Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Written and performed by legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python, Life of Brian had a controversial start. Being a satire of Jesus’ life was always going to cause some angst among some religious communities. In fact, some countries including Ireland and Norway banned it from being shown on release. In some cases that ban the latest decades. Life of Brian is often quoted as one of the greatest comedy films ever made. The writing is as good as you would expect from the Monty Python crew, and the jokes keep coming all the way through. Who can forget the immortal line, “he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”. It made a modest box office profit at release but has gone on to earn iconic status. Rotten Tomatoes have it as a 95% certified fresh rating and it’s still raved about today.

2. This is Spinal Tap

This is the film that kicked off a new genre of filmmaking – the mockumentary. Parodying band biopics from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, it follows fictional band Spinal Tap on their debut American tour. If you’ve ever played in a band – as I do – so much of what’s in this film is true. I can personally attest to getting lost in venues and playing shows where no one turns up. Director Rob Reiner was sending up the pretensions of rock and roll bands and he nailed it. What’s also interesting is the majority of the dialogue throughout the film is improvised. Credit to the actors for pulling off some truly iconic lines. Whether it’s the Stonehenge scene or the legendary amp up to eleven scene, this film has embedded itself in our culture forever. It was only a modest success when it was first released, but its impact has left a lasting impression.

1. Airplane!

Well, we’ve flown; shot and rode our way to number one on our list of spoof movies. Once again, we arrive at a film directed by the dream team of the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams. Loosely based on air disaster movies of the 50s and 60s, it follows a plane whose crew are taken out with a sickness bug. Cue disgraced former pilot Ted Striker to save the day. Released in 1980, this was the film that set Leslie Nielson on the path of spoof comedy. He only has a fairly minor role as the doctor, but he delivers some of the best lines in the movie. ‘I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley’, is iconic. Lloyd Bridges also features as the man on the ground at air traffic control and turns in a chaotic but brilliant performance. Upon release, it made a whopping $168 million dollars at the box office and received critical acclaim. It’s also certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, along with ranking as one of the best on IMDb. It’s one of those films that make you cry with laughter thanks to clever writing and some fantastic performances. A timeless classic.

That’s our list of the nine greatest spoof movies. Did we miss any? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

Read about movie remakes that should never have happened HERE.

Read IMDb information about Airplane! HERE.

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