Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), directed by William Shatner.

Interrupting shore leave at Yosemite Park (North America, Earth) our crew take the not-quite-ready Enterprise NCC-1701A on a mission to rescue diplomats kidnapped by a charismatic Vulcan madman. It turns out to be a quest to the center of the galaxy to find one of those Trek super-beings pretending to be deities.

Most importantly: Uhura lets her hair go gray and reveals a surprise crush on Scotty.

This is the least-liked of the original crew movies, the only one directed by Shatner. The budget constraints are obvious and they steal shamelessly from the desert and cantina scenes of Star Wars (1977). From the commentary tracks we learn of severe time pressure, a pace that Shatner said made TV production schedules look like vacation. That the crew is so easily seduced by some mesmeric force -- and so quickly revived -- is hard to take. The humor tries too hard. We've had excess super-beings and Rodenberry's disdain for religion is a broken record.

And yet... the bond between Kirk, Spock and McCoy is real and true to the vision. Nimoy, especially, has worked out Spock in a way that gives him great poise and a type of peace. He is no longer warring between his Vulcan and human halves, but accepts both. We may not notice this remarkable interpretation because it just seems natural.

I have a strange sensation when watching this, as if we have crossed some boundary and returned to a TV-series reality. No one episode is very important because it will never end. It's as if they've died and gone to mythology Valhalla. Or maybe these are Kirk's dreams inside the energy ribbon of Star Trek: Generations (1994). They mention more than once: "life is but a dream".

Kirk's best line: "I miss my old chair".

One of Shatner's daughters has a small part as a Yeoman.

Jerry Goldsmith returns with his hearty, adventurous seafaring score.

Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks. The first is a light treatment by Shatner and another daughter who wrote a making-of book. They don't criticize the picture except for low budget and time constraints.

The second is by four Trek pros who know many production details. Of the original crew movies they think this is closest in tone to the original series, and that the characterization and chemistry of the three leads is good.