Release Date: June 9, 1989
Lady Archon's Blog, -305574.319298833: "So this shit-tastic movie started out last week with a guy forming some kind of cult on a backwoods planet in BFE, Space. The dude is a Vulcan named Sybok, and according to Spock, he rejects Vulcan logic and goes with emotion. He kidnaps a Terran, a Klingon, and the world's peppiest Romulan, all so he can get a starship to the planet to take them away. This dude gets people on his side by telling them he knows of their secret pain, like everyone in the galaxy is an emo teenager. The Enterprise crew were on leave in Yosemite while Scotty fixed up their new ship (cuz remember? They blew up the old Enterprise in movie 3 and then stole a Klingon cruiser to hang out in in movie 4). They're called away from shore leave to go get the hostages, but it's a fucking coup, and the hostages all have Stockholm Syndrome, and they take the E crew hostage. Also some Klingon d-bag wants to kill Kirk for funsies. Also also, Spock has fucking hover boots.
We left off at the part where Sulu has flown the shuttle back to the E with his crewmates and some cult members, Spock has refused to kill Sybok, and Sybok has the Golden Trio tossed in the brig, while saving out Uhura and Sulu for his own purposes. The only one on board the E who realizes what is going is Scotty, because he was spying on all of the shit going on in the shuttle bay when it arrived full of cult leaders."
Kirk is irate as he, Bones and Spock get tossed in the brig.
"WTF is wrong with you?" he demands. "I told you to kill Sybok. He was standing there with the barrel in his chest, and you responded by doing nothing!"
"I couldn't kill my brother," says Spock simply.
"Dude, screw Vulcan brotherhood!" rages Kirk.
"Naw, you don't get it," explains Spock. "Sybok is literally my brother from another mother. Like, we got the same Daddy."
"You fucking liar," snaps Kirk.
"Wait, really?" asks Bones, who seems oddly Team Spock.
"Yeah, his mother was a Vulcan princess," Spock tells Bones. "When she died, we were raised together."
"Bullshit," growls Kirk.
"STFU," says Bones. "Spock could no more kill you than Sybok." Sassy Bones: "I mean, what are you gonna do? Throw him in the brig?"
Kirk makes an "ICWYDT but I'm still annoyed" face.
"Bigger fish to fry," says Bones. "How the fuck do we get out of here?"
(Side note: seriously? Vulcans have a monarchy? Are you fucking kidding me? Sounds like bullshit.)
Uhura and Sulu enter the bridge, but there are others with them.
"WTH?" demands Chekov.
"It's okay," says a blissed-out Uhura. "Sybok will explain everything."
Sulu plots out a new course, and Chekov demands to know what he's doing, but then Sybok comes in and starts whispering those sweet "share your pain with me" nothings in Chekov's ear.
We go back to the brig, where Kirk is standing on Spock's shoulders, removing ceiling panels and tinkering around. Each time he reaches for something, Spock advises him that that particular action will not end well. Tired of hearing "no" Kirk finally grabs something that shocks the shit out of him and does a controlled roll to the floor.
"Could've warned me," he complains.
"He did, asshat," says Bones.
"This new brig is escape-proof," Spock tells him.
Then he explains that, for some unknown reason and at some point in the past, the designers of this new brig invited him to break out of it, and he wasn't able to do so.
That makes no fucking sense, but whatever. Moving on.
The new course is laid in, and the E is well on her way... somewhere. Sybok decides to broadcast to the entire ship where they're going and why. So he climbs on the PA, and the audio is piped into the corridors while the video plays on all of the screens. Kirk, Spock and Bones watch the video just outside of their brig cell.
"So hey. I hijacked this ship because we were chosen, and now, so are you. My Vulcan ancestors believed in emotions and a religion, but modern people say it's bunk. I say it isn't, which is why we're going to Sha'Ka'Ree at the center of the galaxy, beyond the Great Barrier."
"Whoa, shit," says Spock. "Sybok got kicked off of Vulcan for looking for Sha'Ka'Ree. Everybody thinks it's a myth. Maybe he found it."
"Dude, who gives a shit?" asks Kirk. "Let's focus on getting out of here, and putting Sybok IN here, then you guys can talk about whether or not Sha'Ka'Ree is real." He pauses. "What's that noise?"
They all go to the opposite wall.
"Morse code," says Spock.
They can hear someone or something banging out morse code on the metal walls, and guess correctly at the letters.
"Stand Back?" asks Kirk. "What the hell does that mean?"
A big hole gets ripped in the wall via explosives and Scotty sticks his head through. "It means stand the fuck back!" he yells.
Sybok enters the brig, confidently telling Sulu how he intends to break up the Golden Trio to get them on his side, then he sees the gaping hole in the back of the cell. Oops.
Scotty takes the trio through some wide, horizontal Jeffries tubes. They need to send a distress signal, but it's way up near the bridge.
"You can take turbo shaft 3," says Scotty. "Closed for repairs. But the climb sucks, and it's dangerous."
Sassy Bones (about Kirk): "Some of us get off on that sort of thing."
Scotty points them in the direction of the shaft. As they're running away, Kirk yells back, "You're amazing!"
Cheap laugh time:
"Nothing amazing about it," says Scotty. "I know this ship like the back of my hand."
He then promptly walks into a beam and knocks himself out cold.
They reach the turbo lift and look up. It's a cool shot.
However, it's also a long climb. Kirk and Bones begin climbing diligently. Spock turns and heads out the door.
Scenes here are interspersed with shots of army members running through the corridors looking for the trio.
One, along with Baldy and Sulu, come across Scotty, who has a bleeding head wound. Sulu directs them to take him to sick bay.
Long about the time that Kirk passes the Level 12 turbo lift doors, they realize that Spock is not with them.
FUCK YOU, MOVIE.
They start to sink.
"Too many marsh melons," says Kirk.
They drop down near the floor as Sulu rushes in with Baldy.
"Rocket boosters!" yells Kirk.
"That will shoot us to the top with no brakes," points out Spock.
"Fucking rocket boosters!" screams Kirk.
So Spock hits the rocket boosters, and they're launched to the top of the shaft, somehow managing to stop inches before the ceiling, though I have no idea how, because if they simply turned off the boosters then they'd start sinking again. Anyway, Spock drops them down just far enough that they get to the level where they need to go, and end up in some small, dark room, which turns out to be the Obs Lounge.
Kirk goes to a radio and calls for help. No answer at first, then a woman comes on the line and says she's with Starfleet Headquarters. He gives her the coordinates and tells her to send help to them, because some d-bag has taken over their ship and intends to fly it into the Great Barrier.
Turns out it was Vixis on the line, and for some reason, she has a perfect Terran accent. She gives the coordinates to Klaa, who says they will go where Kirk goes.
What follows is the bullshittiest, most gaslight-y scene from any Star Trek film ever.
Sybok, Baldy, and two armed army members have tracked down Kirk & Co. Looks like he's gonna play Little Emo Vulcan Boy again. He starts spouting off some crappola about how humans once thought certain things to be impossible, but then those things were proved to be possible.
"Some people used to think the world was flat!"
Some people still think that now.
"But then Columbus changed all that."
Columbus was a giant dick, and you're not making any friends here, Sybok.
He then goes on to say that the fear behind the unknown is what keeps people from going through the Great Barrier.
Nope, pretty sure it's cuz it's a barrier, moron.
He says he wants Kirk's understanding and respect.
Okay. *pinches bridge of noses and closes eyes* You don't get that through kidnapping and hijacking. Actions speak louder than words, and your actions say, "I'm an intergalactic con man." Like, haven't we done this before? Isn't this a longer version of "Whom Gods Destroy"?
There's a quick cut over to sick bay, where Scotty wakes up and demands to know where he is.
"You hit your head," soothes Uhura. "but you're okay now."
In this scene, as in the scene where we first see them, she strokes his cheek tenderly, and I keep wondering if we're supposed to be shipping them together. It's weird.
"I had a terrible dream, that the ship was being taken over by a madman," he insists.
"He's not a madman," she replies. "Come see him, he'll tell you all about it."
Scotty realizes that she's hypnotized or Stockholmed, or something, and he fakes his condition.
"Ohh, nooes, can't do it. Not in my condition."
We dash back over to Sybok and the boys. Sybok says that Sha'Ka'Ree is Heaven, or Eden, and describes it in terms of other alien cultures who also have a place of paradise, and when Kirk asks how he's controlling the minds of his crew.
"By helping them confront their deepest pain, and drawing strength from it."
This guy wants you to believe that he's some kind of drive-thru therapist, but he's full of shit.
"Sounds like brainwashing," says Bones.
Sybok descends upon him, saying that Bones' pain is deepest of all, and we hear a voice calling "Leonard..." faintly, and a city skyline appears behind Bones, as seen through some high-rise windows.
"No!" shouts Bones, recognizing the scene.
.We have no idea if Bones' friends can see this or not. My guess is no. How could Sybok create holograms from nothing like that? Also, we never saw any of the other experiences that the others see when he works his flim-flam man magic.
Anyway, Bones' deepest pain is derived from his father dying slowly and painfully from some disease. He struggles with it, trying to make the older man comfortable, but in the end, his father is begging for death, and Bones, not wanting to see him suffer needlessly, pushes a button that leads to that outcome.
Bones is stuck reliving the whole thing, and is obviously traumatized by the memories of it. Sybok keeps pouring salt on the wounds, telling Bones that the medical support system will keep his father alive, and when Bones presses the button to help his father die, Sybok asks why he did it. But Bones seems satisfied that he did the right thing, even though he agonized over it, so Sybok steers him away from the scene and says, "But that wasn't the worst of it, though, was it?"
"No! Shortly after, they found a cure!"
"This is your deepest pain! Hug me!" And Sybok forces a hug on Bones, who is distraught that his father might have lived if he hadn't helped him die.
This is straight-up mental abuse. And forcing a hug on a person to convince them that you are right is sociopathic.
This next part is extra shitty.
Now having turned Bones, Sybok approaches Spock.
"Bring it," says Spock. "I got nothin' you want."
"Fine," says Sybok.
But then I guess everybody can see these illusions, because Kirk and Spock walk into a scene where Amanda Greyson is giving birth while being watched by a Vulcan high priestess. And Amanda is creaming because she just gave birth to a three-month old baby. The priestess takes the baby to a younger Sarek, how takes a look and says, "So human."
Spock walks away to stare at the wall.
"WTF did you do to my friends?" Kirk demands of Sybok.
"Nothing. I unleashed their greatest pain so that they wouldn't have to carry it around anymore."
Um, no. Spock was unaware of that little scene you just put together. You conjured that shit (who knows how) to make him feel bad, so you could convince him that you and only you, know how to kiss it and make it better.
"Just go along with it," Bones urges Kirk.
"Fuck that," says Kirk. "I know that I've made mistakes in my life, and I know that I have regrets. But that kind of thing shapes who we are, and who we become. And you can't just hug me and make it disappear."
"Cool," says Synok casually. "You can stay here while Spock and Dr McCoy and I leave to go to the bridge."
"Noop," replies Spock. "You think I'm still that little outcast kid? Like, that sucked, but I'm not torn up about it. Go fuck yourself, brother."
"Yeah, I'm out, too," says Bones.
Sybok smiles. "Okay, that's cool, But when we get beyond the Great Barrier, you'll see my vision was right."
"TF are you talking about?" demands Kirk.
"I'm on a mission from God," he says, but it's not in the laid-back way that you get from The Blues Brothers. "He's waiting for us on the other side."
Like, this sorry bitch either believes this crap, or he's perfected how to say it so others think he believes it. Either way, dude is nuts.
"You're bat-shit crazy," says Kirk quietly.
And Sybok actually appears to be taking stock of his own mental capabilities. "Maybe." But then he fucking smiles again, and they leave.
So Sybok goes back to the bridge, and they start moving beyond the Great Barrier, and you guys, it's like the first terrible film, where they get past one kind of mist, only to find another kind of special effects mist. And each one looks like a different form of dropping-colored-water-into-vegetable-oil. We get shots of the E going through these mists, shots of the bridge crew and the army on the bridge, watching the ship move through these mists, and shots of our boys in the Obs Lounge, also watching the ship move through the mists. Chekov reports that none of the instruments are working, and he's getting no info.
Now Chekov reports that the instruments are back online, and also that the planet has it's own energy force.
"Whoa," says Kirk in the Obs Lounge, touching a brass plate on the front of the wooden steering wheel.
Cheesy, Movie. Very cheesy.
The people on the bridge are all ogling the planet when the trio exits the lift,
"Ship needs a captain," says Kirk.
"All yours," says Sybok. "I won't interfere."
"I could turn it around and leave right now," says Kirk.
"But you won't," replies Sybok.
Dude, this is too easy. Really? Sybok is just going to give up the ship, just like that?
"Okay, cool. Away team. Chekov has the conn, and I'm taking Bones, Spock, and Sybok." The others start forward, and he's all, "No. None of the rest of you bitches are going anywhere, until we figure out what the hell is down there."
The shuttle goes down. More special effects mists. Then like, mountain ranges.
Spock looks up at Kirk. "I'm not working the controls on the ship anymore. We;re being guided in."
Sybok seems charmed.
They land, and Kirk opens a drawer of weapons, but Sybok places a hand on his shoulder and gives him this look like, "You know better, little boy."
"Fine," says Kirk. "Unarmed."
They leave the shuttle to stand outside, and they line up so that we get a shot of their profiles. This was obviously important to Shatner, so here it is: the trio with some forgettable character from an awful film.
"It's so beautiful," says Sybok.
They're all marveling. Wanna see what they're staring at?
It's the fucking desert. It's nice for like, five seconds, then you run out of things to look at.
Everyone on the bridge steps closer to see the planet, and I have no idea where the camera is that's supposedly catching this footage.
Anyway, everyone is super-amazed by some view you can easily Google.
We get a bunch more gratuitous landscape shots when Kirk & Co and also Sybok climb some rocks, just kind of meandering around. there's like, "wondrous" music playing like, "isn't this amazing?"
No, mofos. They're wandering around outside. The people on the bridge are still transfixed, presumably because they're being made to watch this rotten movie on the viewscreen, and pretend that it's not weird that there's no way they could get those shots.
Uhura tells Scotty that he needs to check out these magical things that are happening, but Scotty is taking the opportunity of not being brainwashed to fix the damn transporter. Also, because nobody is watching any of the equipment, nobody has noticed that the Klingons seem to have passed the Barrier as well.
They come out the other side of the mountains, and there's like, nothing. Not The Nothing from The Neverending Story because that would have been interesting, but nothing as in... dirt. Some rocks. Sybok looks disappointed.
"Here we are," he announces to the dirt and rocks. "We came by starship."
Spock gives him a pitying look. Kirk opens his communicator to call the ship, but doesn't know what to report. Bones shrugs at him.
Then there's an earthquake and the sun goes out. (Why is there a sun here? I saw no sun when they pulled into orbit. Just the glowing planet.)
(Also, didn't have Sybok have long hair pulled into a ponytail? Now his hair is short. WTH?)
So the earthquake is because the planet is making it's own little Stonehenge, popping curved rocks out of the ground to make a circle.
The baffled-looking away team steps inside.
Some more swirly blue mist appears on the ground, and some voices whisper.
"Are you God?" asks Bones.
"Totes magotes," answers a deep voice. It shows them some faces carved from rock (sadly, none of them Monty Python's God), then settles on one that looks like Zeus, because... you know why. "Is this face good?"
"Hooray!" says Sybok. "I traveled a long way to find you, and I brought a starship..."
"Can the starship be used to carry my wisdom beyond the barrier?" asks Mist Beardo.
"It could!" says Sybok excitedly.
"Rad! A starship!" says Mist Beardo.
And now, a kind of funny part:
The trio exchange glances, and Kirk puts his finger up, stepping forward politely.
"Excuse me. I'd like to ask a question."
Sybok and Mist Beardo look at him like he's interrupted their plans for a Second Reckoning.
"What does God want with a starship?" asks Kirk.
Mist Beardo ignores Kirk and tells Sybok to bring the ship in closer.
Kirk is not to be deterred, and asks louder.
Bones: "Kirk, WTF are you doing?"
"Asking a question," says Kirk simply.
Mist Beardo gets mad and demands to know who Kirk is.
"Don't you know? Aren't you God?"
Sybok tries to cover the misstep. "He has some doubts."
"Let's see some fuckin' proof that you're God," says Kirk.
Bones: "Jim, what are you doing? You don't ask the Almighty for his ID."
"I got yer ID right here," says Mist Beardo, and he shoots frickin' lasers out of his eyes like an ill-tempered sea bass.
They hit Kirk, and he goes flying.
Then, because apparently, everyone on the bridge can see what's happening, they all jump in surprise and concern because God struck down Kirk.
Sybok is confused, "Why have you done this to my friend?"
Friend? Seriously? You a crazy bitch, Sybok.
"He doubts me," growls Mist Beardo.
"Dude, where's the answer?" asks Spock. "Why does God need a starship?"
Mist Beardo strikes him down, too. Then he's all like, "What about you? Do you doubt me?" to Bones.
And Bones says that he doubts any God that inflicts pain for their own pleasure.
Sybok looks like he's coming around to the idea that he's getting cheated here. "The God of Sha'Ka'Ree wouldn't act like this!"
"Sha'Ka'Ree? Bitch, you made that up. I've been imprisoned her for eternity. Now give me your fucking ship."
Spock gets up and tells Sybok what he already knows: Mist Beardo is not THE God, or any God, he's just a Beardo made of mist, and who is probably stuck behind the Great Barrier for a good fucking reason.
"Reveal yourself to me!" says Sybok in one last attempt to prove that Mist Beardo is not also a con man.
And Mist Beardo turns into Evil Mist Sybok, who yells at the emotive Vulcan to bring him the fucking ship already.
Kirk quietly calls the E on his communicator.
Sybok runs to Spock. "OMG, I fucked up!" Then: "You guys need to save yourselves."
Spock spends half a second trying to convince Sybok not to sacrifice himself, then they do this like, Vulcan high-five with the ta'al.
"I noticed you have some deep pain," Sybok tells Mist Sybok. "Share it with me, bitch!" And he lunges into the mist at his non-corporeal doppleganger. They fight like season one's "The Alternative Factor."
Kirk opens his comm. "Now, now, fucking now!"
"Firing torpedo!" Sulu answers.
The trio ducks behind some rocks, the torpedo lands, and it blows up all the shit.
When they look back, the blue mist is gone, but is replaced by red mist, and some wailing.
"Let's GTFO," suggests Kirk.
|Spock whispers "Sybok?" but you know he's gone. Red mist = redshirted.|
They make a run for the shuttle.
I have no idea how long it took them to walk from the shuttle to wherever Mist Beardo's Stonehenge was, but apparently, it only takes them a few minutes to get back to the shuttle. And they realize that Mist Beardo guided them in, and that the shuttle no longer works properly, for whatever reason.
The shuttle rocks, and they can still hear the wailing.
Kirk flips open his comm. "Scotty, transporters ready?"
"Kinda?" replies Scotty. "Like, I can take two right now."
"Cool, take Bones and Spock," says Kirk.
"Wait - what?" demands Bones as he and Spock disappear.
They reappear on the transporter pads, and Spock orders Scotty to beam up Kirk.
Remember that Klaa is inside the Barrier also, and no one noticed?
The Klingons fire on the E, sending sparks flying from the transporter.
Kirk is chased from the shuttle when the red light enters and starts sparking up the craft's control panels.
Spock enters the bridge, with Bones at his heels, saying they can't just leave Kirk on the planet, and how many times has this scene played out over the years? It's like there's a Star Trek formula that includes certain story elements, and there's a quota you have to meet.
[x] Kirk gets kidnapped
[ ] Kirk seduces a girl as a plot device
[x] Bones and/or Kirk makes a racist remark about Vulcans
[x] Spock takes said racist comment as a compliment
[x] Kirk is abandoned somewhere, Spock assumes authority, Bones bitches at him for seemingly leaving the captain behind
[x] Scotty pulls a miracle out of his ass
[x] The day is saved with one second left until doom and/or death
Uhura tells Spock that Klaa is on the line, and wants to tell him the terms for surrendering. He agrees to talk to Klaa.
"Give me Kirk, or I'm blowing up your ship!" announces Klaa. He also speaks perfect Terran, though it's accented in some way that I can't quite pinpoint. Russian? Eastern European?
"He's not here," said Spock casually.
"You're lying!" rages Klaa.
"Bitch, did I stutter? Check the ears. I'm a Vulcan. I'm not capable of lying. He's on the planet."
"Give me his coordinates! I'll beam him directly to me!"
Spock pauses, then turns to Korrd. "Need your help here. You outrank this little shitstain."
Korrd tries to protest, because he's a fucking traitor to the Empire, even though nobody knows that outside of the E.
For some reason, Kirk ran back to the mountains. I don't know why he thought that was would be the wisest course of action, but here we are. Mist Beardo keeps wailing at him, and trying to shoot him with the frickin' laser beams.
Then hello, what's this? The Cruiser comes up over the back of the mountain, and blows away Mist Beardo. Kirk turns to face the Cruiser.
"You want me, you Klingon bastards?" he yells, forgetting that a split-second ago, they blew away the thing he was running from, but reminding us of the previous "shittiest Star Trek film of all time," The Search for Spock, where Christopher Lloyd Klingon killed David, the son Kirk had just met.
Nope. The Cruiser beams him aboard.
Uniformed Klingons wrestle Kirk off the transporter pad and haul him up to the bridge.
He's surprised to see Korrd.
"This little shitstain has something he wants to say," Korrd tells Kirk.
Klaa looks at his sneakers and shuffles his feet in the dirt. "Sorry I tried to kill you. I wasn't authorized by my government to do that."
"Also, check out the new gunner," says Korrd.
And the gunner chair swivels around, and it's Spock.
Why the fuck it's Spock, I have no idea.
Korrd could have given the order to fire on Mist Beardo, and it would have been done. It's completely unnecessary to have Spock as gunner on a Klingon Cruiser, just as it was weird and unnecessary to have Spock road-test the new brig.
But you know why they did it, besides the "fun" reveal?
So we could get these lines:
Kirk: "I thought I was gonna die!"
Spock: "You could not have died there. You were not alone."
Later, there's a reception in the Obs Lounge for the E and the Cruiser. Korrd downs some Romulan ale, and it appears to be not to his liking. Scotty offers his Scotch from a flask, then fangirls to Uhura that he never thought he might drink with a Klingon (which is interesting, because he kind of was drinking with Klingons in "The Trouble with Tribbles." I mean, he started a bar fight right after, but prior to that, they were kind of drinking together. Sorta).
Korrd wanders over to St John and Peppy Cheerleader Romulan. What the hell was her name again? Oh, yeah. Caithlin Dar. Anyway, they're all cozy, and I guess we're supposed to ship that. There were a few scenes on the bridge where they could be seen comforting one another, and St John doesn't look quite so slumlord as he did when they first met, so I guess maybe they actually like each other.
Vixis enters the Lounge, followed closely Chekov and Sulu, who are scoping her ass in a non-subtle way. Chekov remarks on how wonderful her muscles are. But her method for shaking guys at the club is to stand next to Klaa, and our boys immediately turn and walk away. Klaa salutes Kirk, who gives a half-assed salute back.
Wait, why is that army member serving drinks?
Kirk goes to Spock and Bones, who are standing next to the wooden wheel, staring out the window.
"Wassup?" asks Kirk.
"We're talking about if there really is a God out there," says Bones.
"Maybe not out there," says Kirk, gesturing over his shoulder. "But maybe there's one in here, in the human heart."
Spock looks sad...ish. Kirk asks what's wrong.
"Sybok," says Spock. "I've lost a brother."
Ugh, we checked off another box: create new character, making some main character care about them, then kill them off for audience feels. The thing is, I never gave a shit about Sybok, so these feels were never there. Like, I don't even buy that Spock is all that torn up.
"Ah, yes," replies Kirk. "I lost a brother once. But I was lucky enough to get him back."
The boys look at him quizzically. They know that he's talking about Spock, but they're probably also remembering that Kirk had a biological brother Sam, who died at the end of season one when he was attacked by killer flying vomit piles. Guess Kirk forgot.
In a brief scene before the credits, our boys are back in the woods, sitting around a campfire. The philistine who wrote the closed captioning for this film identifies a plucking instrument noise as a mandolin, but as the camera pulls away from the fire pit, we see that Spock has dragged his Vulcan lyre along this time.
"You gonna pluck at that thing all night, or play something?" Kirk asks.
Without a word, Spock sarcastically plays "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
Kirk begins singing (sometimes substituting notes that don't belong there), and Spock joins in. Eventually, Bones does too. And the camera pulls away to show the whole campground, and then the rest of Yosemite is used as a background for credits.
Ugh, this movie. This fucking movie.
So this one tops my list of worst precisely because #10 involves an original plot, and this one goes back to the same tired, "the crew of the E meets God" premise that Gene loved so much. (While this is, for the most part, the last of the scripts that deals directly with that notion, there's at least one more TNG episode that deals with it indirectly.)
But here's the thing: Gene didn't write this film. Shatner did. In fact, Gene had not been involved with any Star Trek production since the first film, when the studio told him to take a backseat. Bill Shatner actually based this film on Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, a couple of televangelists. He was incensed that these two idiots were claiming that they, and they alone, had a direct line to God, and how arrogant that notion really was. So he wrote a screenplay about a dude who seemingly has this direct line to God, and the E gets pulled into his crap. He takes the screenplay to Gene to see if the big guy approves. He figured Gene would like it because Gene had pitched the idea so many ways over the years, and also, the arrogance of one person speaking for God would probably appeal to the atheist in him. However, Gene Rod was not pleased. Seems for years, he had been working on a project called "The God Thing" which he had told The Shat about, and now here comes Bill with a plot that's really, really similar. ("The God Thing" later became "In Thy Image," which later became the basis for the the first film.) It didn't help any that Gene's secretary kept walking around afterward talking about how Bill was a bastard, and had stolen Gene's ideas. Bill later admits that Gene probably did talk about that project with him, and that parts of it may have subconsciously slipped into his screenplay. So there we go: a bunch of Gene's ideas, as filtered through Bill Shatner. The same old, tired ideas, too. Gene would always consider this movie to be non-canonical, and because it was awful, many fans do as well.
And a movie about someone who meets God is tricky. If you build it up as a big thing (like they did here), then you're always going to get a disappointed audience when your version of God doesn't meet theirs. It's like the movie Contact, where they built up the fact that Jodie Foster was going to get to meet these aliens, and when she finally does, the alien chooses to take the form of her dead father, to put her at ease. But people wanted to see the actual alien, and not her father. Here, they use a "traditional" God (ie, one who is white and looks like Zeus), but he turns out to be a frickin' alien.
Then our flim-flam man is twelve kinds of wrong. First, he turns out to be related to a beloved character, and his very existence denies a favorite ship, that of Amanda and Sarek. (The wiki says that Sarek was never married to Sybok's mother, but it seems that Sybok came first? I dunno.) The idea of a non-logical Vulcan is intriguing, but it wasn't done well. Sybok is not likable, and he dances the line between villain, and anti-hero. I guess when he sacrifices himself, he's supposed to be sympathetic, and you're supposed to feel for Spock, but neither of those things occurred, so I failed to care either way. I was never really certain if Sybok ever believed his own bullshit about taking other people's pain away, and that ambivalence left me luke-warm. I neither loved nor hated him, and that's sort of needed here. It's okay to have a hated character who has some sympathetic traits so that you're a bit confused as to how to feel about them, and to also have some understanding as to why they do what they do (ie, Kahn's wife died, making him a bigger dick), but none of that was present with Sybok. What's more, none of that mystery is solved: what connection was there between Mist Beardo and Sybok? Somehow, Sybok knew where to look, how to get through the Great Barrier, and that he would need to bring a starship with him. We also have no idea how he produced those hologram-things of people's past regrets. He came, he saw, he recruited people, he did mysterious shit, then he died without explaining anything. Dissatisfying.
Those fucking hover-boots.
I get it: the studio wanted a lighter-hearted film like four, because four did well. They seem to have ignored the fact that two also did well, and was not a comedy. Here's a tip to studios that make franchise movies that are one-shots, but loosely connected: if one kind of film does well, do not make every film in the franchise just like it, hoping for repeat success. That will not work. Each installment must be treated like it's own film, or you're going to have films that flounder. (I am looking at you, Marvel. You cannot make every film like Deadpool.)
Still, when the studio said "go lighter on your film about meeting God," they didn't mean "add the stupidest fucking piece of tech, ever."
Then they wrote two ridiculous scenes in which to feature said stupidest fucking piece of tech ever.
So this film fails a lot. Movie ten and Reboot two also fail pretty hard, but this one seems to fail on all levels and not just a few, which is why this one gets my pick for Shittiest Trek Movie EVAR.
Congrats, Star Trek V. You suck the most.
Fuck this movie. Fuck this movie and the blue unicorn it rode in on.
- Baldy's name is J'onn, but no one ever calls him that onscreen, so I figured Baldy would work just as well.
- Paramount's president is a religious man, but he liked the story when Shatner pitched it to him, so he green-lighted it.
- William Shatner claimed that one of the reasons why this film did not do well was budgetary. He wanted more money to spend on stuff, but didn't get all the cash he asked for. This film was done for $30 mil. Two was done for $12 mil, three was done for $16 mil, and four was under-budget at $21 mil. But Executive Producer Ralph Winter felt like the budget wasn't the correct place to lay blame. He didn't think more money would have made the film any better.
- Weird continuity and plot holes "fixed" by the novelization of this film: Sybok shows the crew of the E how to pass through the Great Barrier by adjusting their deflector shields. The Klingon Cruiser scans their ship and learns this information as well. Also, the trip to the center of the universe should have taken decades, but instead takes hours. Sybok messing with equipment on the E makes this possible, though it doesn't say how it makes it possible for the Klingon Cruiser to follow them at that same rate. The novelization also included some talk between Bones and Spock about how the Great Barrier may have been created to keep Mist Beardo in, rather than keeping others out.
- The chase scene between Kirk and Mist Beardo was supposed to be longer and more complicated, but was cut down drastically because the special effects sucked.
- Here, we have another example of Star Trek picking someone to play a part, and then naming something after that person, only to have that person not appear in that role. In this case, Sha'Ka'Ree was named after Sean Connery, who was asked to play Sybok. But Connery was busy elsewhere, namely, filming Indiana Jones.
- There were supposed to be rock creatures that emerge during the Mist Beardo-Kirk chase scene, and they were supposed to attack Kirk. But again, those special effects sucked so badly that the rock creatures were cut out of the film completely. However, the idea was used in the Star Trek parody "Galaxy Quest."
- The comic book adaptation of this movie corrects Kirk's assertion that he lost a brother but got him back. In the comic, it is corrected to "I lost two brothers, but got one back."
- In the turbo lift scene, not only do the trio pass several levels that are labeled with the same numbers (they pass Deck 52 twice), but they're also counting the wrong way, as the numbers go up when they should pass the decks, when they should be counting down. (The bridge is on Deck One.) What's more, there are too many decks listed. There are only 23 decks on that ship, but they pass Deck 78.
|Buried Uhura in a pile of nip-filled cat toys. |
She seems pleased.