Sunday, June 9, 2013

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier


  I can say for certain this is the weakest link of the original movies. Though nowhere near as bad as people say it is, at least The Final Frontier reaches out for something. All but The Motion Picture itself were inert films. Not to say they were bad, but there was no sense of exploration, no wonder of the unknown. They were contained and borderline claustrophobic in scope. Yet, it's truly sad that when Star Trek finally reaches out to the unknown... with big philosophical questions... it stumbles so badly.  I think lots blame this on director and star William Shatner, and I can see why, yet I believe it is not entirely his fault. The budget seems obviously reduced, and it doesn't feel like anyone had a good bead on the story to begin with. Thus, Paramount offers up this rushed and haphazard adventure into the far reaches of space, where for once... the crew actually goes... where no man has gone before.

  It's not a terrible movie. It starts off very well. It captured my attention immediately, it had a great opening. Even the crew's shore leave scenes weren't awful. Kirk climbing a mountain and so on. Yet, despite how promising the first parts are, you get a sense that something is off. The humor is where I lay my blame. Some of it seems shoehorned in. Some scenes are outright laughably bad. This is not a comedy. The Voyage Home pulled it off because it's story, setting, and dynamic all were able to embrace a comedic tone. Even then it was more tongue in cheek than anything. The humor seems jammed in every five minutes or so, and it's pretty unnatural when it is. Not to say the casts chemistry isn't here, it just seems tampered with.  Sulu and Chekov are largely wasted, not to say they ever got the lions share of the best lines or scenes, but they seriously feel short changed here. A relationship is inferred between Uhura and Scotty, which feels weird... and uncomfortable. The list goes on...

  The plot itself is easily summed up, but hard to follow. A mysterious Vulcan named Sybok, on a planet where apparently, no starships have been to in ages, rallies together some desert soldiers to help him take some dignitaries hostage so that spaceships will come to rescue them. Upon which they will hijack a starship so they can fly it to the middle of the galaxy and find god. Well... I take back what I said about easy. The back of the DVD case made it look easy. Alas, this makes no sense. Why does he need these soldiers? Why not just commander a ship? Or buy one? It's never explained why he mind controls people, or how exactly. Sulu and Uhura fall prey to it so easily, yet Bones and Spock are able to resist? Sybok is a weak character, who's made out to be (spoilers?) Spock's half brother. Which... was lazy writing. Nothing comes of this to be honest, and nothing comes from him even being Vulcan. His plan makes zero sense, and he acts like a prophet to the stars. Oh I don't understand this shit. It makes no sense once you look at it too hard.

  You'd be surprised how hard "too hard" really is. Here's a tip: not hard at all. If you just go along for the ride, I suppose it's okay. Bad guy hijacks a starship to take it to a mysterious planet where supposedly a god resides. The part with that planet isn't awful actually. It's one of the highlights of the movie. It'd be even better if the effects weren't so horrible and cheesy looking. The movie has a sense of gravitas. Yet one that's undercut by the hundreds of plot holes, and the odd slapstick humor. I don't it... I just don't.

  "I know this ship better than the back of my hand!" Proclaims Scotty, right before he walks into a bulkhead and knocks himself out cold. This is one of the movie's cringe worthy moments, yet on the flipside, there are some great moments too. Kirk's rescue from "God" at the end. How that ties into a scene much earlier on. There are little things in here that are fantastic. Little bits of dialog, little scenes. Great stuff. Unfortunately they're laid out amongst a mess of lazy writing, plot holes, horrible humor, and a story that zig zags so much, it succeeds only in confusing you. Or boring you. Yet I can't bring myself to absolutely trash it. There are glimpses of greatness, of serious potential. There was an inspired concept under all this, and some scenes really show that.  Unfortunately, strong ambitious concepts can't carry a movie by themself, nor can the odd chemistry of the crew this time around.

  The cast seems tired, with phoned in performances, the only moments where they truly shine is when the story isn't wrestling their dialog away from them and using it as an exposition device or as a slapstick tool.  At it's best, The Final Frontier feels like a bunch of old war buddies getting back together for one last kick, unfortunately, we caught them all on a bad day. Maybe next time guys. This wasn't your best. I will say though, it's not my least favorite Trek movie ever. However, we'll get to that later on. Much later on. There's about four more movies between this one, and that one.

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