Action / Adventure, All Reviews, Science Fiction

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Why are they putting seatbelts in theaters this summer?

It’s almost as hard being a Trekker as it is being a Buffalo Bills fan; it always seems to be a mixed bag, with the fan focusing on the positives, and people who are non-fans focusing on the negatives. And in the Star Trek films (as in the Bills rosters) there are plenty of both.

Consider “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”, the film that may arguably be the lowest point in the series’ 40 year history (and, perhaps not so coincidentally, William Shatner’s first and only time helming a feature film). Shatner, in his book “Star Trek Movie Memories”, blames the failure of “The Final Frontier” on natural disasters, a too-small budget, unavailable cast members, shoddy special effects – the list goes on and on. What he doesn’t blame it on is a poor script and director.

Actually, he does state that the script shot is not the script he initially envisioned; he had originally planned for the Enterprise crew to actually find God. What remains is the journey as Spock’s half brother hijacks the ship to find a creator who speaks to him. Either way, it’s a bad idea.

The film is a mess of half baked ideas and undercooked moments. After 2 decades (at the time of the film’s release) of Star Trek, Spock suddenly has a half brother? I didn’t buy it then, and I was apparently not the only one. Added to the mix is forced slapstick humor (usually at Scotty’s expense and probably because of the success of the previous film’s natural humor), a plump, 56 year old Nichelle Nichols performing a belly dance, a cantina scene that seems less of an homage to “Star Wars” and more of a rip off… the list goes on and on.

There is one redeeming scene in the middle of the film in which each of the main triumvirate must visit a painful part of his past: McCoy coming to terms with a decision about his father’s death, and Spock viewing his birth – along with his parents’ reaction to their halfblood newborn. It’s beautiful, subtle, eloquent, and absolutely out of synch with the rest of this picture.

Back in 1989, after months of begging, I finally got my wife to agree to see a “Star Trek” film with me but unfortunately it was this one…and she’s never watched another since. Why did they put seatbelts in theatres that summer? So the audience couldn’t leave. “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” is strictly for the fans.

Pros: The aforementioned flashback scene.
Cons: Everything else.
Review Rating: 1.5 out of 5 nights a week I cry myself to sleep over the fact that Nimoy didn’t direct this.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” (1989)
107 Minutes; USA
Rated PG for sci-fi action violence and mild language.

William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Captain Spock)
DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy)
James Doohan (Captain Montgomery “Scotty” Scott)
Walter Koenig (Commander Pavel Chekov)
Nichelle Nichols (Commander Uhura)

Directed by: William Shatner
Written by: David Loughery, based on a story by William Shatner, Harve Bennett, and David Loughery.
Viewing Format: VHS


About John Daily

John is a freelance writer, columnist and critic. His work has appeared in print, as well as on sites such as ScifiWatch and HorrorWatch (where he wrote under the complete meaningless moniker “Bloody Taco”). An archive of his film-related material is available at Currently, he can be found spouting his special brand of sarcastic nonsense at or Twitter (JohnNDaily).


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