Sunday, July 13, 2014
Star Trek V: The Underrated Frontier
In recent months, I have begun to heavily get into Star Trek thanks to its availability on Netflix. I've always liked Star Trek, but it was always one of those series that I'd just watch on occasion when I'd happen to catch it. But now, actually watching "The Original Series" consistently and in order really has gotten both myself and my wife heavily invested in the stories and the characters. The next step we took was purchasing the Blu-ray set of the 6 "Original Series" Movies. One thing that a good friend and a plethora of internet archives prepared us for was what they all interpreted as a poorly done movie in, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, citing Shatner's directing and a poor plot as the biggest downfalls of the flick. But I seem to have a far different interpretation and feeling as to what I saw.
One of the themes in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was aging, namely in conjuncture with Captain Kirk. By the end of that film, Kirk learns to accept his age and realizes that his age should not hold him back from "feeling young." With Star Trek V, I feel that many of those elements are revisited and we now see how Kirk and his closest friends (But mostly Kirk) deal with age in a much better fashion than in the first two films. What the movie opens up with is Captain Kirk climbing a mountain. Despite William Shatner's explanation for this scene being famously poked fun at due to some of the ridiculous things he says, the core of what Shatner is attempting to say really rings true as an extension of the ending to Star Trek II. Kirk has no concept of age to hold him back and continues to seek new challenges in his life. The ending of that scene even touches upon mortality and how Kirk doesn't really fear death and trusts his friends so much that he knows he can never die when they're around. This is a huge step forward and great character development from the way the character was interpreted for the majority of the first two movies.
Additionally, the camping scenes in the beginning and the end of the film are probably some of the best scenes that show the bond between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The way that the three of them act together in what is such a normal setting comparing to the typical Star Trek situations is really a breath of fresh air. Just watching these three guys being..."guys," all the meanwhile Spock still being Spock. Not only are these scenes funnier than many of the gags in Star Trek IV, but they are genuinely touching.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I find the plot in this film to be heavily underrated. What I felt when watching Star Trek V was not a poorly directed story, but rather a very classic Star Trek tale. It really felt like a Feature Length version of a TV Series episode, which is something that I don't think any of the prior 4 Movies accomplished (At least not as well as "The Final Frontier"). The concept of a "god" or what at first appears to be a "god" is something that the Original Series visited a few times. But on this grander scale, it really has a lot more boom to it than something like Season 2's episode, "Who Mourns for Adonais?" But despite that added "boom," there's still this sense of mystery and wonderment as to what exactly is going on and who exactly this "god" is. Even in the end, we never truly know what it was that Kirk and co. fought. It's left up to pure speculation and I think that it was done brilliantly. The ending to the film is somewhat open-book in that sense without being an obnoxious and pretentious open-book ending. Was that another alien playing god? Or did Captain Kirk really kill god? Is there a god or is there no god? Who knows?
In closing, I honestly think that Star Trek V is one of the better "Trek" films and far superior to the beloved Star Trek IV simply due to "Trek IV" having what I believe to be a lame and heavy-handed plot. But that's a discussion for another time.