Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Length: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, anamorphic
Audio: DD 5.1
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...
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 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.
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 (19:08)
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.
Harve Bennett’s Pitch to the Sales Team (1:42)
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.
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
A 4 minute video of stills from the production, with theme music.
Two browseable storyboards: The Face of God, and Escape
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.