Because sure, two interviews posted in as many days isn’t annoying. At all.
To be fair, this really isn’t an interview so much as it is three fans sitting around, yakking about Star Trek. In this instance, it’s me joining Trek Geeks hosts Bill Smith and Dan Davidson to talk about – and even to defend to a certain degree – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
“Wait….what?” I can hear some overeager Star Trek fan starting to utter. I can hear the frothing and even the drawing of lines in the sand as they stand ready to die on the hill that is proclaiming this film as the worst Star Trek movie EVER. To those folks, I say, “Yo, simmer down a minute.”
To be fair, Star Trek V holds a not undeserved reputation as being very flawed, and there are those who most definitely consider it the worst of the Star Trek feature films. I tend to dismiss such easy, kneejerk criticisms the same way I give sideeye whenever somebody bellows, “‘Spock’s Brain‘ is the worst episode of Star Trek!” It’s low-hanging fruit. It’s the one non-fans and casual passersby can point to because it has that rep and let’s them get in on the action. Meanwhile, those of us over here in the fan circle know things like “And the Children Shall Lead” and “Code of Honor” exist and they suck the sort of donkey balls “Spock’s Brain” couldn’t find with two hands, a flashlight, and Siri guiding them in from the interstate.
With all of that said, I’m actually not here to tell the Star Trek V haters they’re wrong. First, I really don’t care that much, and second……there is no second. I simply don’t care. Like what you like, don’t like what you don’t like, we all shake hands (or bump elbows in the world of COVID-19…or offer matching Vulcan salutes) and move on with our lives. In the case of Star Trek V, I acknowledge its flaws but at the same time I’m not one to dwell on discussions about things I hate. With that in mind, what I came to do with Bill and Dan is talk about what there is to like about this flick.
Why? Because you’re not hard core unless you live hard core, which is why I still have that Star Trek V tumbler pictured above. Go big or go home, amirite?
Turns out, there’s plenty to like about this movie while still agreeing it’s got its share of problems. Yes, the special effects are a marked step down from previous installments. Bill, Dan, and I came down on similar spots with respect to how the story treats the characters of Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov. While they were “merely” supporting characters portrayed by contract day players during the time of the original Star Trek series, with the feature films they were elevated in stature at least to a degree and deserved more time in front of the camera.
To be fair, each of the films struggles with this problem but it’s very obvious here, coming as it does after the events in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where everyone gets their moment to shine a bit. Here, the focus is more on “the Big 3” of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and while there are certain scenes that might make a fan wince, I will say without hesitation this film contains some of my very favorite moments between these three characters.
On the visual side of things, Industrial Light & Magic’s absence is keenly felt throughout the film. However, director William Shatner Shatner does some pretty slick things with the camera in this film, particularly during tha action sequences on Nimbus III that bring a sense of freshness to what we saw in the previous films. The ending is hampered by budget issues and perhaps Shatner’s being a bit too ambitious and failing to account for all the difficulties that hampered him realizing his big climax the way it was originally envisioned. That said, I’m never gonna fault a guy for swinging for the fences.
Another aspect of the film I will absolutely defend is Jerry Goldsmith’s score. The music he wrote for Star Trek V revisits some motifs which had become familar by the time this movie was released. The main theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture – later modified for use as the title theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation – gets a few new bells and whistles, and cements what will become a staple of Goldsmith’s future Star Trek film scores: wrapping this signature theme around music unique to each movie for its respective end titles sequence. He would do this three more times – Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis – but the end title theme for Star Trek V is my favorite variation on this particular theme. Another fan-favorite cue is the “Klingon theme,” which Goldsmith also created for The Motion Picture and gets its own new take here, as well. The new material he wrote for this outing is some of my favorite Star Trek music, across the board.
We get into all of this and so much more during a chat that runs something like 98 minutes in length, but it goes pretty fast as the three of us found ourselves getting caught up in the spirit of things. No, our “fresh assessment” isn’t going to make Star Trek V: The Final Frontier a better film and maybe it won’t change anyone’s rankings when they list their favorite (and not so favorite) Star Trek films, but if we can convince even one person to appraise the movie and find something to like they may have dismissed the first (or tenth) time around, then it was worth the effort. Even if we don’t get that kind of response, I still had fun. Check out the results of our nerdfest right here:
Many thanks to Bill and Dan for having me back on the show. As always, I had a blast hanging with them and I’m sure I’ll find a reason to wander back over to their sandbox somewhere down the road.