johnlink ranks STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991)

At long last, the last of the original STAR TREK films hits this blog. I know, I know… the anticipation has been endless and painful. But it’s done, unless you want to be silly and consider STAR TREK GENERATIONS a pseudo-member of the originals, since many of them appear. It seems fitting, with some of the grandiose ideas this series has insisted on trumpeting (reincarnation, save the humpbacks, God lives on a hidden planet), that they would choose to go out by subtitling the final movie as a reference to one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches.

I watched STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991) on 11.9.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

To its credit, this is the first of the original STAR TREK films to feel modern. With STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION already having success as a television series in 1991, this last film in the Kirk and crew odyssey notches up some of the art direction and set design to give the whole thing a facelift. The fifth film, made just two years prior, looks like a decades old film. The sixth film comes closer to feeling timeless (unless a computer screen is being shown).

The movie returns to director Nicholas Meyer, who had great success with the second film. By choosing a real director (no offense to Shatner or Nimoy), the film looks like a modern movie should, and it is paced like a modern movie is. You can give credit to Nimoy, especially, for making an unconventional film with number four; but it isn’t about to be studied in a Bordwell and Thompson textbook.

Not that THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY will either. I suppose it isn’t high praise to launch an article by saying the film feels modern. The movie has issues. Namely, a Klingon villain who continuously quotes Shakespeare. I don’t mind a reference here and there. In fact, I’d love a reference here or there. But the entire climactic scene is written as though they thumbed through a few Shakespearian Cliff Notes and pulled some tangentially relevant lines. It’s absurd, and it cheapens the drama (of this movie, I don’t think STAR TREK VI is lofty enough to cheapen Shakespeare).

But this is a movie which wants to embrace the future. Everyone is older, they are getting ready to retire. The fifth film was a mess, so they wanted to give it one last go, and to do it right. And they do it right, for the most part. They give Michael Dorn (TNG’s Worf) a role as a descendant of his television character. The last beats of the film really do soak in the history and leave the audience feeling like a satisfactory conclusion was reached. Sure, having the actors literally sign off over the closing credits is a little silly, but then this entire series is a little silly.

Speaking of silly, there are some spaceship-sized plot holes in this entire film. Why would they risk bringing Kirk and McCoy outside of the barrier if they just planned to kill them trying to escape, for example? How is a futuristic starship not able to triangulate the original location of a laser beam, for another? But, then, this is a series which considers English the first language of most every alien race, so you sort of can’t complain about logic gaps if you are going to put the thing in. And, really, the plot of the film is almost incidental. Kirk and crew are having to escort a Klingon ambassador who is trying to make peace after it is learned that the Klingons are soon to expire. An assassination happens, and Kirk has to rethink all his prejudices about the race. It’s another big idea concept, this metaphor for race relations, but it is less obtuse than some of the other social-issue films in this series.

This was a fairly decent movie, which continued the trend of even-numbered STAR TREK films being worthwhile. While it would certainly be third in the hierarchy, it stays on the positive side of the spectrum. The series was certainly ready to be done, it was absolutely time to go. But, in doing so, they at least managed to squeeze one last entertaining voyage out of the crew.

SCORES

FILM: 4; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 5; WRITING: 5

4+8+5+5+0=22

FINAL SCORE: 5.5

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~ by johnlink00 on November 11, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991)”

  1. […] ST 6 link here […]

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