I will again state that i watched this film many times as a child. I thought it was funny, and interesting enough to hold my attention. But just like Attack of the Clones, that opinion has indeed changed, quite dramatically i might add…
Yes, there are indeed good things to say about Star Trek V. Things like how the films indeed progressively got better looking as they went on is vindicated once again here. The SFX and overall cinematography is great here; although admittedly the contrasting Hot Pinks and Blues may not be to everyone’s tastes. The desolate opening shots of Nimbus III, and the reveal of Sha Ka Ree show how far the series has come in just its aesthetics when compared to the disaster of The Motion Picture.
Sybok, also i will go on record to say is an interesting villain. The opening segment certainly piques my curiosity about who he is, and his gift of giving personal insights to those who chose to accept them gives his followers a suitable motivation, and makes him a bit more than a card board cut out bad guy. His ability to offer these visions leads to what i find to be a very interesting scene later in the film; Spock’s initial rejection by his father, and Bone’s failure in saving his, is to me at least very insightful and are nice little character moments for each of them.
And that’s about all i can really say about what makes this one worth watching…
Where to start really?
In hindsight this film really truly feels like it is a vanity piece for Shatner. The credit sequence of him free climbing sheer rock cliffs with seemingly very little effort on his part strikes me as momentous self-gratification. Kirk is the only captain in Starfleet who has enough experience to deal with the hostage situation on Nimbus III, Kirk is the only person to refuse Sybok’s gift, and Kirk is the only person who would speak up and question God himself. Give me a break.
The tone is all off too. In trying to copy the breezy atmosphere of IV all we get is segments of bad comedy, and contrivances. Spock doesn’t get the meaning of Row Row Row Your Boat? How funny! Chekov and Sulu somehow manage to get lost in the woods in the 23rd century? How funny! The Enterprise’s doors don’t work? How funny is that guys!? Its desperate, flailing is an embarrassment to watch. That grasping for anything extends to numerous other parts of the production. We get a baffling Nichelle Nichols fan service scene that is 20 years too late, and Klingons that want to kill Kirk are thrown in for good measure to give him a chance to gloat at someone for winning.
Worst of all, the whole affair is superfluous. All of the plot threads that were opened in the previous film were tied up. Apart from a nice scene of self-reflection that ultimately doesn’t amount to anything, nothing is done with these characters. They are in the same state of being they were when they started the movie singing Row Row Row Your Boat to when they close out the film by picking up where they left off.
This is indeed the weakest of the original crew’s theatrical outings and indeed a low point for the story. But i feel it can serve as a fascinating view of what Star Trek is as seen through William Shatner’s eyes. In his vision, Kirk can indeed do no wrong, and is the best thing going for Starfleet.
While that interpretation may indeed be a valid one, as Kirk is the central character in The Original Series and at least 3 of the previous films. It doesn’t stop this film from being a rather poor outing for all involved, and is my pick for worst of the series.
* 1/2 OUT OF FIVE