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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

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#1 of 145 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 07 2003 - 05:08 AM

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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1989

Rated: PG

Length: 106 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, anamorphic

Audio: DD 5.1

Subtitles: English
Release Date: October 14, 2003

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is widely regarded as the weakest entry in the original Star Trek film franchise. The film suffered from a weak script, a low budget, mediocre direction and poor special effects.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around Sybok, a Vulcan half-brother to Spock, who commandeers the Enterprise on a quest to discover the God of Shakari.

The script is lacking, in part, because there is no strong nemesis. I never bought into Laurence Luckinbill as a Vulcan, but even if I did, he was not so much evil nemesis as misguided spiritualist. Additionally, Sybok appears to have telepathic powers we’ve never before seen in a Vulcan. The real “nemesis” (and I use the term loosely) doesn’t even appear until the final moments of the film.

The film shoots for humor, and like a poor marksman, keeps missing the target. The camping scenes, complete with sing-along, were simply painful. And, I never understood the humor in the expert engineer, intimately familiar with his starship, knocking himself out by walking into a beam.

There is a kernel of a good story, here... a real adventure into the unknown, but we are so hurried in getting there, and so distracted by mystical trickery, that we can’t enjoy the ride.

Well, we all know what this movie is (and isn’t), so - on with what it looks like, sounds like, and a peek at the extras...

The Video:
Star Trek V is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I was immediately concerned with the quality while viewing the Paramount intro and opening scene. Dirt is very apparent on the Paramount logo, getting somewhat better for the opening on Nimbus III. Aside from dirt and dust in the Nimbus III opening, there is a darkened spot near the middle of the screen that comes and goes with the changing of camera angles - so it must have been on the original camera negative. Things get considerably better by the time the title sequence begins, however - with only occasional dust and other artifacts on the film elements marring the picture.

Once it gets going, the picture is reasonably sharp with a hint of grain. I did not notice any edge enhancement. Black levels varied. Shadow detail varied from fair to good, depending on overall scene lighting. Contrast was good, for the most part - but at times, black levels seemed a bit high. This is especially noticeable in the opening scenes in Yosemite, and in some of the effects shots. Colors are accurate and well-saturated.

The Audio:
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a very active mix, with excellent use of the surrounds, and a strong LFE presence. Music fills the front soundstage and nicely bleeds into the rears. Sounds are accurately placed and reproduced about the room, while dialog is usually firmly anchored to the center channel. This is a nice mix with warm, full sound and full-ranged frequency response.

Special Features:
Commentary by actor / director William Shatner and Liz Shatner
(author of a ‘Making Of’ book about the film). The commentary starts out fairly well, with a fair bit of enthusiasm - but peters out before long. There are long stretches of silence by the midway point of the film, and it seems that they are struggling to find pertinent things to say.

Text Commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda. This is the usual Okuda commentary, providing bits of trivia about the making of the film, and various sets and set-pieces. It’s fairly interesting, but Okuda’s commentaries on the previous Trek films has been more robust.

The Star Trek Universe Featurettes
Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute
Production Designer Zimmerman discusses his role in Star Trek over the years. Includes comments from other Trek luminaries, including Harve Bennett, John Eaves, etc. This is a nice piece.
Original Interview: William Shatner (14:37)
Shot on location in Yosemite during early filming of Star Trek V. Shatner is animated and enthused in this interview, giving his thoughts on the shoot to this early point in production. The interview focuses on the Yosemite climbing sequence.
Cosmic Thoughts (13:03)
Interviews with notable astronomers, physicists, theologians and authors include comments on the cosmos, and how we, and Star Trek, fit into the universe as we know it.
That Klingon Couple (13:05)
Interview with Todd Bryant and Spice Williams, who played Klingons on ST V. They discuss how they landed the roles, how it affected their lives and careers, and gave insights on their characters.
A Green Future? (9:23)
Lots of Green Fluffy Goodness, here... interviews with environmentalists, and how Trek’s Future relates to green idealism.

Production Featurettes
Harve Bennett’s Pitch to the Sales Team
A truly bizarre pitch by Harve Bennett for Star Trek V.
The Journey: A Behind-the-scenes Documentary (Approx. 29:00)
Interviews with William Shatner, Harve Bennett, Leonard Nimoy, Ralph Winter , Herman Zimmerman and others shed some light on the production of Star Trek V. We begin with disagreements over the story that put Shatner up against the studio, as well as cast member against cast member - necessitating a rewrite of the script. There is discussion of set design and location shooting by Zimmerman and cinematographer Andrew Laszlo, and others. Issues of politics and budget are spoken of, but we just know there’s more to the story than they are telling us. The company responsible for special effects took on a project bigger than they could handle, resulting in substandard effects delivered behind schedule. The original ending would have cost about $4 million - in those days, quite a chunk of change. The “Rockmen” sequence at the end was excised.
Makeup tests (9:49)
Screen tests for God, Sybok, General Korrd, Caithlin Dar and assorted aliens...
Pre-Visualization Models (1:41)
Model test shots
Rock Man in the Raw (5:37)
Surviving sketches and footage of the “Rockman.”
Star Trek V Press Conference (13:42)
This one is rather self-explanatory.

Deleted Scenes
Mount Rushmore:
a few second pan across a badly rendered scene of what Mount Rushmore might look like in the future
Insults: a scene between the Klingon, Terran and Romulan ambassadors where they trade insults
Behold Paradise: a pointless few seconds, panning the “desert paradise”
Spock’s Pain: A few second excerpt from Spock’s encounter with Sybok’s mind probe.

None of these scenes add anything of interest to the film.

Two Theatrical Trailers, non-anamorphic, widescreen
Seven TV Spots, fullscreen

Production Gallery
A 4 minute video of stills from the production, with theme music.
Two browseable storyboards: The Face of God, and Escape

Final Thoughts

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the Star Trek film that even Star Trek fans love to hate. For completists who need to have this in their collection, Paramount does this Trek outing right, with a decent picture, good sound, and a boatload of extras.

#2 of 145 OFFLINE   Edward Schatz

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Posted October 07 2003 - 05:24 AM

Thanks for sparing me the screen shots. I am a huge completist but even I will skip this.

#3 of 145 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted October 07 2003 - 06:14 AM

I have a Place in my Heart for TrekV, sure it's weak in spots, but the Excellent Goldsmith Score, and the cameraderie between the 3 stars has never been better. The scenes around the campfire, from the "I'll Die Alone" admission from Kirk, to Spock's Rescuing of Kirk from the clutches of the Klingons, is excellent. I happen to also like the scene where Sybok examines the trio's Hidden Pain. I always thought De Kelley did an excellent job with this scene. Trek V would be my Trek Guilty Pleasure,
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#4 of 145 OFFLINE   Ricky Hustle

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Posted October 07 2003 - 06:29 AM

Trek V - the worst of the Trek films. It's still better than 75% of the other crap churned out by Hollywood. I will buy it proudly.

#5 of 145 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted October 07 2003 - 07:17 AM

I'm buying, but not proudly. More out of a sense of obligation. Thanks for yet another well-done Star Trek-based review, Scott.

#6 of 145 OFFLINE   Andy_G


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Posted October 07 2003 - 07:21 AM

Good Star Trek II reference!

#7 of 145 OFFLINE   paul_austin


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Posted October 07 2003 - 07:38 AM

although there is plenty to complain about in ST:V, for me this film best captured the camaraderie between kirk, spock and mccoy. I was very dissapointed that Paramount didnt allow Shatner to redo the end he envisioned, especially considerring the tons of money Paramount has made off of star trek over the years. I hate revisionist film making (ala George Lucas) but its well known that Shatner got a lousy budget and didnt get to make the film he wanted.
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#8 of 145 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 07 2003 - 08:02 AM

Paul, As much as I love what Paramount does, I do agree with you that they should have given Shatner the money to revamp this film. I think the studio would have sold a ton more copies of this film to fans that would have bought it out of sheer curiosity to see the new cut.


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#9 of 145 OFFLINE   Ron-P



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Posted October 07 2003 - 08:41 AM

Nice review Scott. I will pick this up, why? I am a completist and it is still more enjoyable than any of the other Star Trek TNG, DS9 and Voyager junk that has graced the screen (be it silver or glass).

I do enjoy some TNG movies, but the original crew's movies (and TV shows), including ST:5 wins hands down.

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#10 of 145 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted October 07 2003 - 08:54 AM

Paul and Ronald,

I could not agree with you more. Bill Shatner went on record at IGNFilmForce.com (sp?) and said that if Paramount had given him another $200,000-$400,000, he could have properly completed and restored the film for this DVD (a la Robert Wise's work in completing Star Trek: TMP for its DVD release a couple of years ago).

It's an issue of fairness and equality that Paramount should have shown toward Bill Shatner the way they showed it to both Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer. We got two solid Director's Editions of I and II on DVD, so why did Paramount not exhibit the same courtesy?

Bill Shatner is one of the most recognizable personas ever connected with the Star Trek saga, alongside Leonard Nimoy and Gene Roddenberry. Consider this question: if Leonard Nimoy had asked for the extra money to properly complete and finish off Star Trek III or IV for a Director's Edition DVD, would Paramount have given it to him? If so, then by definition of their reciprocity clause they would have had to give it to Shatner as well. Besides, as much money as the Star Trek cash cow has brought in to Paramount, it's made the company billions over the years, so what's $400,000 to them? A drop in the bucket.

It's a slap in the face to both Bill Shatner and to the loyal Star Trek fan base not to give him the opportunity to properly complete the film, and it only frees up fans to want to take the reins. I know of at least one fan attempt to bring a properly completed and restored Star Trek V to light, closer to Bill Shatner's original vision. Out of respect for that project and for the guidelines of this board, I won't reveal that information.

But there is a way to allow your voice to be heard. Contact Paramount's Home Entertainment division directly. Write letters. Send postcards. There is even an online petition designed to gather signatures and comments to send to Paramount that has garnered over 3,300 signatures to date.

Paramount knows better than this to release a partly slipshod product to the public. They need to do it right, and they need to treat its fans with the respect that they have given to the company and the franchise over the years. They need to quit slapping fans in their faces, slapping the Star Trek name on products and saying, "If you make it, they will come." Not necessarily.

"I have in my heart what it takes to run with the big dogs in this life, and nobody can say otherwise."

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#11 of 145 OFFLINE   MarcusUdeh


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Posted October 07 2003 - 09:35 AM

I saw this film originally during its first weekend theatrical run, at the time I thought this film to be quite boring. However being a film fan, with a taste for the melow-dramatic I can say I love this Trek film and can't see why so many have issues with it's Trek, not Jonathan Demme's Beloved-(I love Oprah). Also I truly believe that part 3 is the most emotional movie in the franchise.

#12 of 145 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:07 AM

Bill, I signed the petition. You can also bet the entire kitty that Paramount is reading this thread. My prediction? Could happen. I'm sure Paramount would love to make more money off of a 3rd release of this title. Meanwhile, looking forward to the current DVD even though its the worst film of the franchise.


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#13 of 145 OFFLINE   Adam_WM



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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:23 AM

Well, I'm not going to pick this one up for me, but I'll pick it up for my Dad. He likes all the Trek movies... even the bad ones. Posted Image


#14 of 145 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:30 AM

I agree with previous posters, its not one of the best Treks, but its still better than most of the shit out there, and quite frankly I prefer it to the yawnworthy Nemesis. Goldsmith's score was great, and I really like the camaraderie of the old gang, thats just about the only thing going for it though. "Row row row your boat, gently down the stream..."

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.

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#15 of 145 OFFLINE   Sergio Martorel

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:34 AM

[quote] I hate revisionist film making (ala George Lucas) but its well known that Shatner got a lousy budget and didnt get to make the film he wanted. [quote]

I really don´t think that Shatner is a talented director to begin with. Did you saw Groom Lake? So there.

In fact, sometimes I even think that he hired a phantom-director to do all the work for him, just like he did with all his books... Posted Image

#16 of 145 OFFLINE   Jack Shappa

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:37 AM

I can understand why people have a problem with this film. The "commeraderie" among the stars sometimes borders on homoerotic, and that Uhura desert dance is enough to send me running for BattleStar Galactica... BUT I still enjoy this film and think it gets viewed more harshly than it deserves. I don't think its any worse than Star Trek 3, 7, or 9 (more odd numbers). And to me it has the distinction of being the most "pure" Trek film that closely resembles the original series, with our heroes in command of the Enterprise out in the galaxy on a stand alone adventure. - Cryo

#17 of 145 OFFLINE   Britton


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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:39 AM

I think this film along with all the ones that followed it are victims of trying to force humor into the film, even if it doesn't work. Star Trek IV was so popular with the general public that I would be the Paramount execs became convinced they could repeat its success by injecting as much humor as they could. Of course, Trek V suffered to most as it was the next film and even Trek VI has a cringe worthy moment or two. Anyway, I think I might pick this up since the extras are interesting enough and I love that Goldsmith score as well as the strong relationship between the three lead characters.

#18 of 145 OFFLINE   Sergio Martorel

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:43 AM

Hey, how about a screengrab of bikini Uhura? I don´t remember the scene correctly cause, at this exact time, my mind always shut down and renders me blind for some moments, but I´m almost sure that the body is NOT Nichelle´s.

#19 of 145 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:52 AM

This review has a couple of screen captures of Uhura. I had miraculously supressed most of the worst memories from this film. Reading the referenced review reminded me again just why I've never viewed this film since the opening theatrical weekend.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#20 of 145 OFFLINE   Sergio Martorel

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Posted October 07 2003 - 10:57 AM

[quote] This review has a couple of screen captures of Uhura. [quote]

Jabootu. How fitting.Posted Image

Pity the screen captures aren´t that good.

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