{2jtab: Movie Review}

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Blu-ray Review


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2 stars

I’ll be blunt. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, both as a film and a Star Trek entry, is not very good.  It isn’t completely without joy (it’s the few chuckles that save this from being a complete downer) but the older the film gets the harder it becomes to defend its “marshmelon” nonsense.  The film is William Shatner’s vanity project only and, with just a few moments of real Star Trek lore sprinkled in, is unflinchingly dopey.  The jokes about the film are endless and so are the scathing reviews.  While I don’t completely hate the film, I do agree that Shatner’s direction – completely without flare – does little to save a weak script.

Originally released in 1989, Star Trek V introduces a mystic renegade Vulcan, Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), who is in need of a starship.  He is on a quest toward the planet Sha-ka-ri to a meet and greet with God.  Yes, God.  Stuck on Nimbus III, the planet of galactic peace, Sybok and his minions stage a hostage situation which gets the attention of Starfleet Command and they are quick to respond by sending Kirk and his crew to the rescue.

Of course, the new Enterprise (introduced in the final moments of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) is an interstellar lemon and the crew must be creative in how they handle the situation.  They fail and Sybok – revealed to be Spock’s half-brother - takes over the Enterprise and somehow hurtles the crippled ship toward the Great Barrier located in the middle of the galaxy.  Even a renegade group of Klingons get a chance at capturing Kirk and turning in him into a trophy.  (How anybody gets to the center of the galaxy is the real question, though.)

Not even a pair of super fly rocket boots can save this film.  And the presence of “God” certainly doesn’t bless David Loughery’s script.  The story idea is all Shatner and Harve Bennett.  Blame them, I guess for a story that has Shatner asking "What does God need with a starship?" before getting smacked down by a giant floating head that is more Cowardly Lion-looking than it ought to be.  That being said, the irreverence and the parody of Kirk (Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Bones (DeForest Kelley) in the face of all the Star Trek lore (communication devices, shuttles) around them is, at times, funny.  Like I said, it’s the joy that rescues this ill-fated mission…even if it’s through complete ham-fisted caricature.

While Luckinbill's charismatic performance has all the makings of an interesting anti-hero, Loughery’s amateurish and B-westernized script completely neuters him with an anti-climatic wrestling match with… himself.  David Warner makes an appearance but, literally, has nothing to do.  Series regulars – slightly a bit more cranky this time - all appear as carbon copy cut-outs of themselves; it was a paycheck to them.

You know there’s trouble when the low-rent special effects do more to remind you of the TV show than of the effects from the previous film.  Blame the studio for that.  They certainly did not rally around this film as it was being made.  Maybe they thought the concept of “Kirk vs God. Kirk wins” was too sacrilegious for them or something.  I do know Paramount slashed Shatner’s budget and he had to make do with a lot less money and, yes, it absolutely shows.  To this day, he threatens to make a Director’s Cut version – if Paramount allows – and, to this day, most of the universe hopes it never happens. I am curious to see what effects-heavy climax Shatner intended.  I know he wanted more philosophy and more of a Star Trek: The Motion Picture vibe spliced with lasers and bombs and exciting things like that.  I also know that Paramount lost faith in the project and asked for more and more comedy and less and less thoughtfulness and so I give Shatner the benefit of the doubt here.

Released during the summer of 1989, one of the most competitive blockbuster seasons of all time, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was easily swallowed by Burton’s Batman, Speilberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Donner’s Lethal Weapon 2.  Thankfully, it made some money and survived with its head slightly above water.  The point is, due to Paramount’s slashing of Shatner’s, fans should thank their lucky stars that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier wasn’t the final frontier of this beloved series.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: PG.
107 mins.
: William Shatner
: William Shatner
Cast: William Shatner; Leonard Nimoy; DeForest Kelley; George Takei
: Sci-fi | Fantasy
The Enterprise is back. This time, have they gone too far?
Memorable Movie Quote: "What is this power you have to control the minds of my crew?"
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: June 9, 1989
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 30, 2013

Synopsis: Captain Kirk and his crew must deal with Mr. Spock's half brother who hijacks the Enterprise for an obsessive search for God.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

2 stars

Blu-ray Experience
2 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 30, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English Subtitles; English SDH; French Subtitles; Spanish Subtitles
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround; French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 Surround
Discs: Blu-ray; BD-50 Dual Layer Disc; BD-Live (Profile 2.0)
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer is problematic as the transfer reveals even more of the film’s shortcomings.  Some of the images are too soft and ringed with flecks and other noticeable damages.  Already, a proper restoration needs to be commissioned because of the many blue-screen composition shots.  The contrast is good but uneven throughout the transfer.  The colors waver from bold to just okay.  It’s this kind of balancing act that happens far too often with this release.  The detail has improved but really nothing else.  Again, Paramount loads the disc with a blasting lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack.  Dialogue is a bit weak but Jerry Goldsmith’s score is loud, clear and dynamic.



  • There are two for this release.  The first is Shatner’s disappointing commentary.  Here’s his chance to explain his vision and discuss what went wrong and he doesn’t.  He’s forgetful and totally blind to the film’s shortcomings.  The commentary is actually pretty funny.  Also included is a second commentary by Trek experts Michael & Denise Okuda, authors Judith & Garfield Reese-Stevens, and visual effects artist Daren Dochterman.  This is much, much better than Shatner’s recorded recollection.

Special Features:

Porting over everything that was on the Special Edition DVD release, the special features offer an honest look at the weaknesses of the film.  From Harve Bennett’s sales pitch (he doesn’t believe a word of what he’s saying) to some sketches of what Shatner originally intended, the supplemental material satisfies more than the commentaries do.  There’s a good 30 minute making-of that shows Shatner’s overconfidence behind the camera and first round of budget cuts.  The press conference that is included is great as it shows just how bad Shatner’s memory is – he can’t even remember cast member’s names.  There’s also a tribute to Herman Zimmerman and his production designs.

  • Harve Bennett's Pitch to Sales Team (2 min)
  • The Journey: A Behind-the-Scenes Documentary (29 min)
  • Makeup Tests (10 min)
  • Pre-Visualization Models (2 min)
  • Rockman in the Raw (6 min)
  • Star Trek V Press Conference (14 min)
  • Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute (20 min)
  • Original Interview: William Shatner (15 min)
  • Library Computer
  • Star Trek Honors NASA (10 min)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame: James Doohan (3 min)
  • Starfleet Academy Brief: Nimbus III (3 min)
  • Cosmic Thoughts (13 min)
  • That Klingon Couple (13 min)
  • A Green Future? (9 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (4 min)
  • Production Gallery (4 min)
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailers (5 min)
  • TV Spots (3 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}