Hello and welcome to truth or Myth, a Star Trek web series that takes a look at canon information, or the truth, to dispel all the myths surrounding any given topic in Star trek. In today’s episode, we’re going to take a look at “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” in an attempt to see if this movie is really as bad as the reputation it’s received says it is. I hope you enjoy.
Considered among the worst of the Original Series Movies, “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” would become a symbol for Star Trek fan everywhere on how not to make a Star Trek movie, but the question is, is it really that bad?
So let us start off with the 2 main points used to defend this movie made by people who love it. And that is, of course, the budget, and the writers strike.
The budget for this film was 27.8 million US Dollars. Now that may not sound like a lot, but you have to remember, the previous films like “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan“, which is considered one of the best of Star Trek films, had a budget of only around 12 million Dollars “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” had a budget of around 16 million dollars while “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” came in at approximately 21 million Dollars.
So a budget of almost 28 million was a healthy increase for this film to be made. And as previously stated, we know that a Star Trek film doesn’t have to have a huge budget to be a good movie, but what it does need is a good story and clever use of ITS budget to make it successful.
So those fans that say well had this movie had a bigger budget it would have great, I merely point them to “The Wrath of Khan” in order to debunk this argument altogether.
In today’s society, we tend to think the solution to anything bad is to simply throw more money at the problem and all those problems will simply go away. of course, that’s not true at all. if a film has a weak or horrible story then no amount of money can save it.
And that brings me to the second point used to defend this film and that is, there was a writers strike going on at the time. This is actually a very good point, even though the majority of Star Trek fans tend to dismiss it out of hand.
During the 1988 Writer’s Guild of America strike, the film’s pre-production and shooting schedule were severely trimmed. And that, of course, could and probably did affect the movie in a negative capacity.
However, it’s really the story in general that has a lot of problems. first it was sort of a rewrite of the same type of thing we’d all seen before. You know the “god” like creature who claims to be a god of humanity himself, only to be revealed as a fake god in the end.
The TOS episode “Who Mourns for Adonais” is the same basic story in a nutshell, with the exception of Appollo actually being the god of the ancient Greek stories, although in reality, he was just an alien being posing as a god to the primitive human society.
Episodes like “Where No Man Has Gone Before“, “Charlie X“, “The Squire of Gothos“, “Arena“, “The Return of the Archons“, “The Changeling“, “The Apple“, “The Paradise Syndrome“, “Plato’s Stepchildren” and “The Savage Curtain“, just to name a few, were all episodes that dealt with overpowered people, creatures or tech, and the god complex that usually accompanies that status.
So Star Trek V was really nothing new in those regards. And while rewatching the movie for this video, I can’t help but feel the feeling of, “Haven’t I seen this before?”
One the biggest mistakes, I feel with the film, was the inclusion of Sybok as Spock’s half brother and how the movie dealt with it. up to this point we as fans had no idea Spock even had a brother at all. it was something never discussed in TOS yet suddenly here he was.
And a lot of Fans took exception to that and I don’t really blame them. But for me, that part really wasn’t the problem. the problem for me stemmed from the fact that supposedly Spock never told Kirk about this half brother in all the years they’ve served together. This just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Kirk and Spock were the best of friends, so close they considered each other family, yet this never came up? you see if they had simply revealed that it was Sybok and Kirk turned and said, Sybok? Your half brother, I would have more readily accepted him into Star Trek lore or if Sybok was said, Spocks Cousin, then I could accept Kirk not knowing about him, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I rarely bring up my cousins even to my close friends.
But alas they chose to make everyone clueless about Sybok, except Spock of course, and the movie continued on. And it really hurt the Spock Kirk relationship, because all of sudden these characters weren’t as close as we were always lead to believe.
William Shatner’s original Story for the movie would have seen a deeper divide between the characters. In a much darker version then what we see, Spock and McCoy would have actively betrayed Kirk leaving him alone to deal with Pretend god, but this was changed, thank god, after both Deforest Kelley and Leonard Nimoy outright refused to be in the movie if that was how their characters would be portrayed. Shatner would eventually concede to their demands realizing that if someone had written his character that way, he too would have had a problem with that and would also refuse to part in the film.
Shatner has made his feelings on the film clear, he loved it and thought he had made something special, with the exception of it’s ending. He’ll often tell the story of how the ending would have HUGE rock monsters fighting Kirk and company and had that been allowed to happen by the studio the film may have been the best of Trek franchise to have been made. And with this, I also completely disagree.
Again I refer to Wrath of Khan. Made on a shoestring budget this movie is amazing. And it’s not amazing simply because of it’s ending, but because of the whole package. The movie from Start to Finish is virtually a masterpiece and that’s why it’s universally chosen by the Fan Base as one of Star Treks best. So are we really to believe that had everything but the last 15 minutes of the Wrath of Khan been horrible that the fan base would still hail it as a Star Trek masterpiece? Of course not, that simply doesn’t make sense. And no amount of Rock monsters can change the rest of the film to make it great.
The tight filming schedule for this movie would also contribute to its downfall in my opinion. As setting up shots up for filming would often take hours to do, but in this movie, the time allotted for setting up new shots was only minutes. that meant that the shots tending to bland and uninspired as no time existed for many complex shots to take place.
While watching this film again, however, I find that it did get something very right, and this point definitely takes it out of the completely unwatchable category for me, and that’s the interactions between the Command Crew of the Enterprise-A.
The beginning scenes especially make them all seem a little more real and seems to closely capture the feeling of the original series. the Kirk, Spock, McCoy scenes are a wonderful example of this, and I think the film deserves to be acknowledged for that accomplishment. That being said, however, the treatment of the Enterprise as a site gag factory, seems very unusual and very disrespectful. I mean, if you ask most fans of Star Trek they’ll tell you that the Enterprise is like a main character in the show and movies. And for me, it’s the same way.
Really she’s the hero of Every Star Trek episode or movie she’s in. So to play her for comedic possibilities was a really weird thing to do, and kind of unbelievable. I mean is Starfleet really that bad at building starships these days? Everything from the doors, to the main computer to the red alert, signals don’t work properly. And then to add insult to injury, even a separate device, the Captains logbook doesn’t work. What the heck is going on with Starfleet command here? It just belies credulity as do simple things like in the middle of a desert planet suddenly Uhura gets naked and has palm fronds readily available to dance for the masses! or the Enterprise having over 70 decks, or the fact the Enterprise can suddenly reach the centre of the Galaxy in less the day. The list really does go on and on…
The effects in this movie really aren’t anything to write home about either. Industrial Light & Magic Or ILM was not contracted to do the effects for the film, as with previous films, due to the unavailability of the company. And so the job of all the special effects went to a lesser-known company, Associates and Ferren. And the result was poor quality, and in some cases, obviously unfinished special effects shots.
Personally special effects are not the end-all and be-all of a film for me, and I hope I’m not alone in this. if I’m presented with a great story and excellent acting, I can overlook sub parr effects shots. but since in this case, the story was really lacking, the obviously bad effects became a bigger slap in the face from the movie for me.
“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” grossed only 52 Million in North American Box office sales and a dismal 17 Million Overseas. Compare that to say, The Voyage home which grossed almost 110 Million in North America alone and you can see immediately that the fan base in its majority simply didn’t like the film at all.
Many of the Star Trek V supporters often cite the competition that Star trek V had to come up against in the box office in the summer of 89. Huge Blockbusters like Tim Burtons Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, Ghostbusters 2 and even Indiana Jones and the last crusade. And that argument has merit, however, had the film good, no amount of summer blockbusters would have kept the Trek fandom away, and they would have indeed seen it multiple times and would have declared to the world that the movie was brilliant. Instead, though the fans that saw it rarely went back for a second helping and would tell all their friends about how horrible the movie was.
Add to this the fact that Trek fans were generally displeased with the course that Star Trek as a franchise was taking. Star Trek the Next Generation had finished it’s lacklustre 2nd season by this point and no one was super impressed with that. this was of course before season 3 began to blow us all away after Roddenberry had stepped back out of the way of the TNG machine. Fans were hurt by what Roddenberry had offered them as their weekly Trek offering. It had seemed that Roddenberry had bought into his own propaganda he had created over the years and it had blinded him to what Star trek really was and should be. opting to lecture the Trek audience about a subject rather than allow them to reach a conclusion on their own through clever storytelling and conflict within the story.
So Fans of Trek weren’t really excited or interested in seeing what Star Trek V had to offer in the first place. So when the fans that did see it began to spill their long list of complaints about the film, well, it’s fate was sealed.
The film was even the “winner” of the 1990 Razzie awards for “Worst Picture,” “Worst Actor” (William Shatner), and “Worst Director” (Again William Shatner). It also received nominations for “Worst Picture of the Decade,” “Worst Supporting Actor” (Deforest Kelley), and “Worst Screenplay.” Bandai working for Nintendo Entertainment Systems was actually slated to create a Star Trek V action game to be released in 1989 along with the movie. The game was cancelled following the failure of the film at the box office. A prototype version though has surfaced online in more recent years and is notable for its many basic spelling errors, such as at one point Scotty is named “Scotto” and it’s lack of any end, most likely due to it being scrapped before completion.
Star Trek V: The Final frontier was simply one of those films that suffered from the weight of the story it was attempting to tell and the position of the fan base on Star trek at the time. It was considered so bad by the Critics and even the studio itself that it almost ended the TOS Movie Franchise for good. But as always Star Trek would be reborn from its ashes and live again given the TOS crew a proper send-off from the man who saved the franchise once before, Nicholas Myer.
the movie itself isn’t all bad though, In fact, I am probably in the camp that says, well if it was an episode it would have been good. it just doesn’t have the scope and vision of what a feature Star Trek film should be.
So to answer this question, was it really that bad? yes, yes it was. it had a few redeeming qualities to it, but that redemption was lost behind bad and convoluted plot elements and horrible special effects that can make even the most hardened Star trek cringe in agony…
Thank you for watching today’s episode of Truth or Myth. how do you feel about Star Trek V? Why do you love or hate the movie? Well let me know down in comments section below, and don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to channel hitting that little bell icon so you won’t miss a single video we release.
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Thanks again for watching, live long and prosper…
Watch episode 96