Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, 1989,
Many Star Trek fans may not be enamored with the fifth installment in the film franchise, but those who enjoy it will want to scoop up this new 4K release, which also includes the film on Blu-ray, along with a code for a digital copy. The extras from past editions were ported over too.
It’s hard to imagine anything good coming of a Star Trek film sub-titled The Final Frontier. I’m continuously fascinated by what could exist out there in the cosmos, but there’s a high likelihood that there are things we can’t even imagine. And don’t get me started on the idea of where the universe came from and where it’s headed. (For the record: I very much believe in science; I just have a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that there could have been nothing before The Big Bang.)
Revisiting the movie for the first time in many years, I found that Star Trek V starts off as a decent installment in the Trek franchise. Sure, the singing around the campfire bit at the beginning is pretty cringey (and, yes, ending the film with it is even worse), but overall, there’s some nice tension as the new character Sybok is introduced and we begin to learn why he’s so interested in hijacking the Enterprise and its crew.
The story goes off the rails in the third act, though, and concludes with a “What the heck was that?” finale that doesn’t come close to reaching the promise of the Final Frontier sub-title. Combined with non-ILM special effects that weren’t quite on par with what fans were used to, this is a film that could have very well killed the series.
If you’re a completist, though, you will probably want to snatch this one up. And I have seen a few people online say they love this movie, to which I say “More power to you.” Both groups will likely really appreciate the 4K remaster that Paramount gave the film. It looks beautiful, with plenty of fine detail. I never had this one on Blu-ray (or DVD, for that matter), but my understanding is that the image quality was underwhelming in high-def, so this version is a big improvement.
Unfortunately, 4K also means that the limitations in the effects work are on full display. You may even inadvertently laugh when Captain Kirk is climbing El Capitan at the beginning of the movie and the close-ups of him reveal that William Shatner is clearly on a fake cliff. Yes, of course you wouldn’t expect the actor to be hanging from the actual mountain, but it would have been nice if the difference between the long shots and close-ups wasn’t so stark.
This edition features 4K and Blu-ray platters, each of which contains the movie and its bonus features, all of which are legacy extras ported over from previous releases. There’s also a code for a digital copy of the film. Here’s a rundown of the extras:
• Commentary track with William Shatner and his daughter Liz: Shatner has always seemed to bristle at criticisms of this film, which he directed, and this commentary track seems like an extended “Yeah, but…” session that allows him to air all the constraints he had to work under. While it’s true there were limitations with the budget and other things, the story could have still been better. The cost for a great script is pretty small compared to the overall budget of most movies.
• Commentary track with Star Trek historians Denise and Michael Okuda, writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and visual effects supervisor Daren Dochterman: This discussion is more of a “warts and all” affair, with the participants being more willing to critique the film’s shortcomings than Shatner and his daughter were. That said, this is far from a grievance track: the group gives credit and blame where they feel it’s due, and they refrain from simply bashing anyone. This could have turned into the commentary version of an online message board, and I’m glad it didn’t. I also would have been very surprised if it did, given who’s involved here.
• Library Computer: This is an option that lets you watch the film with the ability to pull up various bits of trivia. You can also access all of the information without sitting through the film again. (I honestly didn’t intend that last sentence to be snarky, but I’ll leave it there anyway.)
• Harve Bennett’s Pitch to Sales Team (1.75 minutes): This is an interesting video that producer Harve Bennett filmed to get the sales folks pumped up about the movie. I’ve seen archival videos that were meant to sell movies to theater owners way back when, but I don’t think I’ve seen one like this before. Maybe Bennett was worried that he had a stinker on his hands and wanted to get it onto as many screens as possible before poor reviews and lousy word-of-mouth tarnished the box office results.
• The Journey: A Behind-The-Scenes Documentary (29 minutes): The main members of the cast and crew discuss the movie from its earliest days to its box office debut. Shatner in particular remains defensive about the film.
• Makeup tests (10 minutes): This is silent footage of the makeup tests done for Sybok and other new characters, including the main villain.
• Pre-visualization models (1.75 minutes): This is a glimpse of the old school methods used to plan the visual effects shots.
• Rockman in the Raw (5.5 minutes): Many Trek fans are aware of the creature that was originally supposed to appear in The Final Frontier, and this featurette shows us the plans for it. I’m not sure the film would have been any better, nor any worse, if this vision had been realized.
• Star Trek V Press Conference (13.75 minutes): Shot as the film wrapped principal photography, this is an interesting glimpse into how Bennett and the cast felt about the film before moviegoers could weigh in. Spoiler alert: they were pretty happy-go-lucky about it.
• Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute (19 minutes): The long-time Star Trek production designer gets his due.
• Original interview: William Shatner (14.5 minutes): This was shot as principal photography got underway in Yosemite National Park, showing the director and star eager to make a movie that he seemed to honestly think would be a Trek classic.
• Cosmic Thoughts (13 minutes): A variety of science- and religion-minded folks, along with people like sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury and Eugene Roddenberry (Gene’s son), weigh in on how religion is handled in Star Trek.
• That Klingon Couple (13 minutes): Todd Bryant, who played the Klingon captain brought to heel way too easily, and Spice Williams, who took on the role of his lieutenant, chat about the movie and their involvement in it. While the interview is on the fluffy side, it’s a nice break from hearing from the usual suspects.
• A Green Future? (9.5 minutes): Environmental messages are wonderful, but this one seems out of place in the bonus features for a Trek film that doesn’t have much in the way of environmental messaging. Maybe it would have been better on the Star Trek IV disc.
• Star Trek Honors NASA (10 minutes): Roddenberry sought to base Star Trek’s technology on real science as much as he could, and this quick featurette is an examination of that idea.
• Hollywood Walk of Fame: James Doohan (3 minutes): It’s nice to see the actor get a star on the Walk of Fame. This featurette also serves as a sober reminder of how many members of the original cast are gone.
• Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 005: Nimbus III (3 minutes): This is a fun little dossier on the planet that plays a central role in acts one and two of the story.
Four deleted scenes, a production gallery, a gag reel, storyboards, trailers, and TV spots round out the platter.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★