Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan
Captain Kirk and his crew must deal with Mr. Spock's long-lost half-brother who hijacks the Enterprise for an obsessive search for God at the center of the galaxy.
Filled with dull action sequences and an underdeveloped storyline, this fifth Trek movie is probably the worst of the series.
  • Paramount Pictures Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 09 Jun 1989 Released:
  • 20 Apr 1999 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner Writer:
  • William Shatner Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:


This movie is aging well - worth a look for a 2nd look7/10
ABSOLUTELY NO SPOILERS -- There is no shortage of people complaining about this film, but ST5 is a charmer for one simple reason - it is best-ever rendering of the Kirk, Spock and McCoy partnership the series ever produced.

Trekkie's generally see the movie as the stepchild of the series, and even the Trek establishment writes it off as non-canonical. Many complain that the movie distorts the characters, or exploits them for humor. To them I'd say the movie offers some of the deepest moments in the relationships between Kirk, Spock and McCoy that the series ever had. THIS SHOULD BE STRESSED, in this chapter the three likely have more scenes together than they ever had anywhere else. Not every moment works, but together they grapple with betrayal, joy, doubt, loss. They do it with friendship, camaraderie, heroism and joy that justly makes them one of the most memorable pop-culture phenomena ever. (I do pity the rest of the original cast, most of whom have at least one unenviable scene.)

It's great to return to this film and see these guys doing what they do best - long after they retired from the roles. Shatner and Paramount may have bungled a few things here, but I forgive them, because the three leads hit all the right notes. Give it a fair shot and see for yourself.
Poor Story Redeemed by Character Moments5/10
Star Trek V ranks at or near the bottom of the Trek films for most fans and casual viewers. And upon viewing this on its special edition DVD, my opinion has not changed. This is a film that tries hard but ultimately fails due to poor plotting, sub-par special effects and poor character development. The movie opens with probably the best scene in the film, where you meet Sybok and learn a little about his quest. The visuals alone in the opening shots are very impressive. Then, slowly, scene by scene, the movie falls apart. Yes, there are a few peaks in there, which I will discuss later, but overall, the idea of a "God Like Being" in the center of our galaxy, it just so illogical.

The movie has a lot of embarrassing and just plan bad moments. The first of which is the meeting of three characters who represent the "Planet of Galactic Peace." However, their intro is rushed and these characters are not given any depth at all. Why introduce us to these "important" characters if they care not going to be used in any meaningful (maybe one of them at the end) plot point at all? The direction by William Shatner also seems very uneven. Take the scene with Scotty and Uhura on the bridge. There is a very awkward moment of silence after their main dialogue is over. And the mugging Shatner does when McCoy makes very awkward comments to Spock's story about Sybok is just out of place. And add to that a semi-naked Uhura and Scotty hitting his head for a "Three Stooges" laugh and you begin to sink in your chair. The Klingon plot seems tacked on just to add depth to the story. And by the time we see where the movie is going, we just feel very disappointed and underwhelmed.

That said, I can't help but enjoy the wealth of good character moments in the film. I for one liked the campfire scene and the attempts of deep philosophy about old age and death. I also liked exploring the "pain" of McCoy and Spock and Kirk's insistence that he "needs his pain." While most of the humor was forced and bad, the best had to be the "I could use a shower" scene, which is one of the biggest laughs in all of the Trek films. There were many moments of good direction by Shatner, especially in McCoy's "pain scene." I do sympathize with Shatner a little, when listening to the commentary track, about how this was cut and that was cut but I still think on a whole, this movie was doomed to fail.

The DVD's picture is sharp and the sound is excellent. The extras are quite good but I would have liked more insight as to what went wrong with the film besides tight schedule and budget. Shatner's commentary with his daughter is good but has too many quiet moments. Check out the hidden and brief "comic reel."

At this point in time, I do rank Star Trek V above Nemesis, mainly due to that movie's bad continuity issues but just barely. Still, it is Star Trek and if you like the characters, just sit back, don't expect much and enjoy the show.
This film is not as bad as they say.5/10
I've never figured out why ST V gets so much criticism. It's really not that bad, if you're a true trekkie. First off, sure the effects are a little low-fi...but so were the TOS episodes. I don't know about you, but I care more about story than effects. The main reason that I like this film because it's very episodic in nature. If you are a fan of the original Star Trek series, sit down and watch this movie as if you were watching one of the original episodes and it will be much more enjoyable. For one, it starts out like an episode with a prologue before the opening credits start. Secondly, the theme music for the movie is similar to that of the original series. Third, there are some lines from the film that sound like they would be right out of one of the older episodes. Lastly, this movie is loosely based on the storyline of an original episode. Ironically, the episode that it's based on is one of the TOS worst episodes: The Way the Eden. If you've seen The Way to Eden, the actual plot of the episode is not bad, it's just the hippie stuff that makes it so awful. This film kildly leaves out the awful hippie music of the original episode and focuses solely on the plot instead. I often wonder if Shatner wrote this film to make up for how bad The Way to Eden was. So, to sum up, watch this movie as you would watch an old episode and you'll enjoy it much more.
Everything you've heard is true - unfortunately4/10

I like underdogs. So, 12 years after having first seen Star Trek V, and thinking it was bizarrely bad, I gave it a second watch, hoping I would find some redeeming quality which I missed the first time around.

I didn't.

The writing is half-baked, and although at first the quality of the acting is stable enough to keep the movie on its feet (albeit shakily), the further we get into the plot the sillier it gets. The last quarter of the film is just plain ridiculous. What was even worse, from the original cast's POV, is that this was the first ST movie to be released AFTER the franchise returned to television with Next Generation, and the average episode of Next Generation would put this to shame* - including the special effects! What an embarrassment.

The Final Frontier isn't thoroughly wretched - I gave it 4 out of 10 - but it's so far below the standard of its predecessors (yes, including the first one) that the only reason I can think of to watch it is because you'll appreciate the other movies more.

* unless it's an episode with Troi's mother in it.
Seems a lot better now than when it was released5/10
*** Minor spoilers ahead ***

When I saw this movie for the first time, I thought that the plot was hokey, the special effects were ugly, and that the movie had a somewhat abrupt ending. And turning Kirk into a free climbing enthusiast fit neither Kirk's character as depicted in the original series nor Shatner's rotund physique. A lot of people called this the worst Star Trek movie of them all and I was ready to believe them at the time.

Having watched this again a few hours ago, I have to say this is a lot more enjoyable than I remembered, even if my original criticisms about the movie are still valid. But the film does contain a few scenes that are visually imaginative (such as the assault on Paradise City, Spock's jet boots, or the sequence around McCoy's inner pain), does feature some great acting (whatever happened to Larry Luckinbill after this?), and that it does capture that spirit of genuine excitement about going to new places and facing the unknown that used to be such an important motive in Star Trek and that is so painfully lacking from some of the later movies.

As for the slapstick humor, which was not so well received originally (to say the least), I can only observe that between 1989 and now some of the Next Generation installments like "Star Trek: Nemesis" have shown what really embarrassing humor in Star Trek movies looks like, so the moments of comic relief in "The Final Frontier" seem positively uproarious in comparison. Most of the jokes are character-based here, and even if some of the characters come off as a little stupid (Chekov and Sulu getting lost, Scotty bumping his head on a beam, etc.) the humor is never as unfunny as the Data jokes from the NG movies. This movie must have lost its claim to "worst Star Trek movie ever" a long time ago, but apparently no one took notice.

But most importantly, this movie is not really so much about Sybok's quest for Sha-Ka-Ree, as it is about the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship and the way it is challenged by the presence of an outsider (Sybok). And that is what really makes this movie compelling, if not exactly great. Never in the original series nor in the other movies has their relationship been studied as closely and with as much heart.

So it is probably a good idea not to pay too much attention to the contrived action elements of the movie like the Klingon ship and instead watch this more like a romance. All things considered, this movie, while it may not be a classic, is one of the worthier additions to the Star Trek universe.