My childhood conversations with God mostly amounted to me asking Him, in my head, to move something if He was real. Surely nothing ever moved, but that didn’t stop my continued instance that He reveal Himself to me though some willfully telling act.
I guess this seemed pretty simple then. The younger you are, the less complicated life seems.
Now, I know life is much more complicated and what I was really asking for, all those years ago, was proof of things I heard about (almost) every Sunday. I was absent of the faith that is essential to spirituality.
I shutter to think, now, how I would have felt if my search for truth would have been answered by some object mysteriously moving. The search for God can be trifling to even the most versed theologians. Perhaps it shouldn’t be undertaken by little boys, or strangely, the writers of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
I saw my first Star Trek film (or television show) at the drive-in in 2009. The relaunch of the series seemed as good of a entry point as any. I was pleasantly surprised, Star Trek (’09) was smart, action-packed and interesting. Surely, that universe is much more vast than a single film, but it at least opened me up to the possibility of watching more Star Trek films.
I had no idea, at the time, that my next foray into that universe would be Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. This is not a good thing.
It is always a fearful experience watching a sequel before seeing the original. I knew that either I’d be hopelessly lost or that I wouldn’t need to see any of the prior movies to pick up what was going on. Luckily, it was the latter, which was one of the few merits of the film.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier begins amidst a dust storm in a desert. A man who looks like
Voldermort He Who Must Not Be Named is wandering aimlessly when a enigmatic stranger shows up, hugs him, and, we’ll find out later, takes his anguish away. Since we don’t know much about this character, we must assume that anguish has something to do with living in a desolate environment, or something.
The enigmatic, bearded stranger talks about his desire to meet God, presumably to learn more about his healing abilities.
Anyways, after this opening, we get the title sequence and then we join Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Spock and several other crew members on a respite camping trip at Yosemite. Kirk is free climbing a mountain for sport.
Spock joins him, floating with the use of some special rocket shoes. Spock mindlessly talks to Kirk, distracting him so much that falls hundreds of feet, only to be rescued by Spock’s telekinetic powers inches from the ground.
Meanwhile, in Paradise City (well, the Star Trek universe’s version of Paradise City, at least: I assure you here neither is the grass green, nor are the girls pretty), three ambassadors of different races are being held hostage by the stranger, whose name is Sybok.
The crew is contacted at Yosemite and told to head to Paradise City to determine the cause of this hostage crisis. It must be said that the scenes and denizens of Paradise City look ridiculously like the Cantina in Star Wars.
Also in space, a bad guy named Klaa decides he’d like to fight Kirk for honor and turns his ship towards a showdown in Paradise City.
Kirk and Co. ride into town pretending to be raiders. When they arrive at the place the ambassadors are being held, they learn the dastardly fact that it was all a set up. You see, Sybok, who happens to be Spock’s half brother, wants to steal the Enterprise to go to a distant planet, Sha Ka, Ree, where he believes he’ll find God.
Sybok has no ill will towards the crew of the Enterprise and even hugs some of them to take their pain away. Although, Kirk refuses the magical hug, believing that his pain is what gives him his power. Deep.
Since Klaa was too late to Paradise City, he follows the Enterprise toward Sha Ka Ree.
The final barrier between the planet and the crew is a asteroid belt, Kirk cautions Sybok of the dangers of this obstacle, but Sybok is unfazed and confident in Kirk’s abilities.
Unsurprisingly, they make it through the barrier with Klaa hot on their tails. Kirk, Sybok and Co. land on the planet and four of them see the day turn to night and giant pillars rise from the planet.
Soon, they are surrounded and a mysterious voice begins to speak to them.
The voice says a bunch of spiritual things, but then it asks for Kirk to bring it the Enterprise. Everyone is fazed by this, but Sybok.
Spock sensibly asks, “What does God need with a starship?”
Then, everyone starts getting stunned by lasers that this God is vengefully shooting at the doubters. Turns out, it isn’t God at all.
Everyone manages to get away but Sybok, who apologizes to Kirk and is killed by the being. Meanwhile, Klaa and the bad guys arrive on the Enterprise and they are pissed Kirk isn’t there. They tell Klaa that Kirk is on Sha Ra Kee and he heads there.
The being is about to attack Kirk when Klaa shoots the being, saving Kirk for himself. Here’s the thing though, one of those ambassadors that Kirk saved happens to be one of Klaa’s superiors. Boom!
So, when Kirk and Klaa rejoin the rest of the crew on the Enterprise, instead of killing Kirk, Klaa is forced to apologize to him. Funny how politics can get in the way of revenge.
Kirk, Spock, Klaa and everyone enjoys a little mixer. Meanwhile, Spock asks Kirk, “Is God out there?” Kirk turns, gives a stoic look and then says, “Maybe he’s right here,” pointing to his heart.
As if this isn’t enough, they discuss how they are a family, and then we see several of them camping once again, singing together until the credits roll.
Amidst this trainwreck of a film, the last moment captures an the truth about faith: that the search for God outside of ourselves is ultimately futile, as Kirk so absentmindedly riffs. Maybe we aren’t meant to search for God the way I did as a child, maybe we aren’t meant to venture to far off planets to try to find Him.
Faith comes from within.
That all said, this wasn’t a good movie, and it wasn’t a terrible movie. The film grossed $63 million, which, for a Star Trek film, means it underperformed. Also, most critics correctly panned it as a boring, perfunctory exercise. But if you are going to watch any of these films, having seen only two, I can assure you that this isn’t the one. It takes on issues that are too big for it to deal with, and deals with them in strangely grand statements that end up underwhelming.
Just like my childish, meandering search for God, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was an ultimately useless exercise.
As if there, wasn’t enough Star Trek on Direct Geek…
Verdict: KEEP IN THE HEAP
A Film to watch instead: For a better film about the search for spirituality, watch 1982′s Gandhi.
Best Picture goes to: Driving Miss Daisy ’89- Friendship between Morgan Freeman & a woman he’s employed to drive grows and endures her Alzheimer’s. Pretty okay… @NicholasOfMKE
Next time in the Hollywood Trash Heap: 1990′s The Adventures of Ford Fairlane*
*Two films won Worst Picture in 1990, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Ghosts Can’t Do It. For the sake of this series, I’m reviewing them in alphabetical order.