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Summer of ’89: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

June 11, 2009

Each Thursday this summer we’ll hop in the time machine and jump back twenty years to see what was new and exciting at the neighborhood moviehouse this week in…The Summer of ’89!

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Release Date: June 9, 1989

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Laurence Luckinbill, David Warner

The Buzz: The original crew of the Enterprise is back again, this time with Captain Kirk behind the camera.

Keywords: Vulcan, Futuristic, Climbing, Bodiless Entity, Stripper, Third Breast

The Plot: While the Enterprise is in dry-dock for repairs, ol’ buddies Kirk, Spock and McCoy enjoy shore leave together in Yosemite Park. Sadly, Kirk and McCoy are unable to finish teaching Spock to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” around the campfire, as another deep space threat is quickly developing. On the planet of galactic peace, a strangely emotional Vulcan named Sybok takes the representatives of the Federation, Klingon and Romulan empires hostage. Naturally, the Enterprise is the only ship in the immediate area, so Kirk and company must race to the rescue. It turns out that Sybok is Spock’s half-brother, and that his kidnapping of the three ambassadors was but a ruse to lure a starship, which he needs to cross the Great Barrier, behind which he believes God is waiting.

The Test of Time: With the possible exception of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier is most reviled of the Star Trek films featuring the original cast, and two decades have done little to burnish its reputation. The shore leave scenes at the beginning have a kind of home-movie charm, and there’s a promising Mad Max-ian quality to Paradise City on the planet of galactic peace. Once the plot kicks into gear, however, things go downhill quickly. It’s a little late in the game for Spock to find a long-lost brother, and when Sybok uses his unique empathetic powers to relieve Bones and Spock of their inner pain, lo and behold, it turns out they’re both suffering from unresolved feelings about their fathers. Not only is that the father of all cliches, but it’s a little uncomfortable watching the septuagenarian DeForest Kelley struggling with his daddy issues. The appearance of a would-be God is another Star Trek chestnut – in fact, the idea of God lurking behind a supposedly impenetrable galactic barrier sounds a lot like the pitch Harlan Ellison came up with for the first Trek movie. (That the notoriously litigious Ellison never sued over this suggests that he wouldn’t want to be saddled with any credit for this particular movie.) And it’s funny that the special effects in the Trek movies were thought to be so much better than the ones on the original series. Twenty years later, they look about the same. One more thing: Uhura doing a fan dance. Not a good idea, Shat Man.

Quotable Quote: “Perhaps ‘because it is there’ is not sufficient reason for climbing a mountain.”

2009 Equivalent: This one ain’t rocket science, Scotty. It’s Star Trek.

Previously on Summer of ’89: Miracle Mile

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