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.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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