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Why Star Trek V Isn’t The Worst Trek Movie

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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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No Time To Die – Review

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James Bond No Time To Die image
Metro Goldwyn Mayer

No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Delays

Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.

I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.

A step up?

This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.

That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.

Screen time

The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.

Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.

There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.

Score

Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.

Duration

The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.

Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.

It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.

Wrapping up

I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.

Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.

It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10


Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.

Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.

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