How bad is Star Trek V? Where are the good parts?

trek9Okay, so Star Trek V is a bad movie.  We know that already.  It’s got stupid and corny acting and the effects stink, but are there any good parts?  So begins The Search for Something Good.  It’s a challenge, let me tell you.

Scene by scene:

  1.  The movie opens with an introduction to a mysterious man, we later learn is Spock’s brother Sybok.   He’s got strange powers different from Spock, including psychic powers and a God complex.  He uses them on this poor man in the first scene, but the dialogue is terrible.  Sybok starts laughing like an evil supervillain at the end of the scene.  Whatever.  
  2. The second scene is the Yosemite scene where Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are vacationing.  It’s definitely worse than the first scene and we get our first set of bad special effects, as Spock uses jet boots to save Kirk.  I think the comedy adds to the overall stupidness of this scene.
  3. The third scene David Warner gets to overact, but that’s his usual schitck.  He meets up with his evil pals, a disgraced Klingon and a shady Romulan lady, who delivers her dialogue badly too. Sybok captures them and alludes to his plan.  It’s just exposition.  Nothing has happened yet.
  4. Next we zoom in on the Enterprise, but the opening reuses footage from Star Trek IV.  Pretty lazy.  I never noticed that before.  Uhuru gets word from Starfleet and recalls the bridge crew.  This part isn’t too bad actually, because Uhuru finally gets something to do in one of these films.  The comedy is terrible, as Chekov pretends he’s a blizzard.  Dumb.trek8
  5. The next scene is a fireside scene with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.  The themes of loneliness are good, but the movie’s theme is interrupted by more stupid comedy.  
  6. In the next scene, the klingon Captain Klaa blows up an Earth probe that looks suspiciously like Voyager.  Is this an attack on the first Star Trek movie?  If so, it’s pretty funny.  That’s the only part of this scene that works.   
  7. There’s about 10 minutes of exposition while the Enterprise travels to Nimbus III, and not much has happened.  Uhuru does her stupid dance and Kirk, McCoy and Spock take some horses.  This scene is really silly, not just because Uhuru is sixty something.
  8. Kirk and friends fly back to the Enterprise and there’s a bit of tension as the Klingons try to attack.  The dumbest part of this extended scene is where Kirk and Sybok fight hand to hand.  There’s too much comedy.
  9. After Kirk and pals are thrown in the brig, something finally happens.  Sybok orders this ship to the center of the galaxy.  Kirk escapes the brig with Scotty’s help, which works but the pace still lags  even though things are happening.trek5
  10. The flashback scenes of McCoy, Spock, and Kirk’s pain are effective.  They don’t really do anything for the plot but are nice character moments.  The ship flies into the Great Barrier.   At least that’s something.
  11. The pace is really unbearable at this point.  They go down to Paradise Planet and see the land with through a different camera lens.  Some moody music plays while people stare at the planet.  Yawn.
  12. The reveal of “God” is not the best, but it at least is a payoff that works for the movie.  The dialogue is cheesy.  The Enterprise blows him up with a torpedo but the movie doesn’t end.  Too bad.
  13. Spock shoots God but the movie still doesn’t end.  David Warner gets more lines for some reason.  Kirk and Spock and McCoy return to camping.  More comedy.  It finally ends.

Overall, there are 2 things I liked out of the 11 I noted.  Laurence Luckinbill is decent as Sybok and his best work is at the end.  Also, I liked the scene of Sybok showing Spock and McCoy their pain, but we never learn anything about Kirk, which is a shame.  There could have been a real struggle there, as Kirk PROVES that he is not able to be overcome by his pain, instead of just reiterating the same thing later on.  He needs his pain, he wants his pain, but the movie never shows it.  Kirk just gives a speech about it and that’s it, so even in the good things there are fundamental storytelling flaws.  The bad comedy also interrupts thematic elements that could have made this movie much better, given the time to explore them and flesh them out.  The movie is just treated too lightly and haphazardly, thrown together like an action comedy with sprinkles of sci-fi, instead of the opposite.

I don’t know why I had the compulsion to watch Star Trek 5, but hopefully this will satisfy me for many, many years.  Sybok should have helped me with MY pain.

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