Sunday, May 30, 2021

Regret Watch: Star Trek V - The Final Frontier (1989)

Watched:  05/29/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Shatner

I always like me some Trek, but the last time I watched this movie was in 1989, and it was the last time I saw it for a reason.  

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a weird mess of a film, with no coherent plot or threat, or goal.  Coming off the Star Trek II - IV trilogy, which had run the gamut from revenge-driven space battle to whale wrangling comedy, coming up with what was next for our crew as they now had The Next Generation nipping at their heels was going to be a tall order. And, over and over again, the movie just fails to deliver as an adventure, a sci-fi premise, a philosophical exploration or a comedy.  

Maybe the one good bit about the film is that it does bring back the notion that there are forces in space that are a bit unknown and unknowable - but it also does nothing to explain (a) how or why Sybok has received a message/ vision - or if he ever did, (b) what the thing on the planet was, what it wanted, what it means that the central location of religion on three planets is a barren dirtball with a hostile presence.  

It's not enough that we find out Spock always secretly had a brother he never talked about, he sees fit to hide the fact that Sybok is his brother for absolutely no reason.  Anyway - it is funny that the new Star Trek content pretty much retcons Sybok out of existence.  

Clearly Sybok is a charismatic cult leader, and it's a bit unnerving to see the entire bridge crew just jump onboard with his cult because of a little mind-melding.  It's convenient narratively, but you'd think after meeting multiple entities claiming diety status, the cult of Khan, etc... they'd be made of sterner stuff.  The movie also never really wants to say Sybok is actually bad, which is a hell of a thing.  He's just mistaken in his belief that he's about to meet God.  What a goof!

And, man, the fan dance...  Look, Nichelle Nichols was a big TV crush for me as a kid, so if you could make me think - as a 14 year old 80's kid "well, this is dumb, tasteless and kind of gross..." - you really accomplished something.  And I very specifically remember knowing in that moment, way back when, "well, so this movie is just going to suck".  

And suck it does.  From the attempt to make the lyrics to "Row Your Boat" into a philosophical treatise (that goes absolutely nowhere), to the attempts to point out that the bridge crew of the Enterprise may see each other as family, to a late-blooming and never-again-discussed romance between Scotty and Uhura...  sigh.  There's so much going on here, and none of it's good.  

If I liked anything, it's that the costume design for our Klingons and Romulans remembers that there was a TV show as well as the movies, and we get some hair and styling references to the show.  

But, yeah.  This movie is just wacky.  I really don't know what happened here.

I'll figure it out when I watch it again in another 32 years.

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