If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Yes Kurtwood Smith Is In This ... DUMBASS!
The fifth sequel to 1979's original Star Trek motion picture is a rather odd, yet oddly compelling all at once, political-come-conspiracy thriller featuring insiders; assassination attempts; betrayals; jailbreaks; peace treaties and a whole bunch of unease born out of an array of superpowers begrudgingly coming together as one, at a designated place, to try and thrash things out – oh, and there's some space travel stuff featuring those whom we all know and love on what appears to be their final voyage. It isn't that the sixth Star Trek film isn't any good, on the contrary; it's moderately involving and makes fairly good use of what its biting off, but there is a clammy sense of emotional disassociation to proceedings; an episodic sense of people going through motions rather than undertaking an adventure and shipping off to exotic, creative, previously unseen locales to do battle with that which lies ahead. The Undiscovered Country is Star Trek by way of Tom Clancy; this is Alistair MacLean does spaceships, and yet in spite of this, it remains a difficult film to truly dislike out of its inherent ability to have us as involved as we are in this procession of injustice and races against time.
The film will open with an instrumental score accompanying the opening titles, beginning somewhat quietly compared to the levels it will reach, before building and building into something rather sinister that appears to 'clash' with that of a more rousing; more triumphant element to the music wedged in there amongst proceedings. They clash for supremacy, and perhaps fittingly, the film will go on to document something rather rousing or triumphant, in the form of a peace process between rival inter-galactic species, that eventually comes under threat from a disturbing element of sabotage by certain other folk. After a huge explosion at an off-radar Klingon locale, which is eventually revealed as their chief energy source for life, the oft overly hostile aforementioned beings are forced into retiring their usual demeanour of aggression so as to forge some kind of bond with the more peaceful; more liberal United Federation of Planets, their long-standing enemy.
Such news eventually reaches that of William Shatner's Starfleet Captain James Kirk; whom, along with most of his crew, are drafted into a top secret meeting prior to which faithful engineer Montgomerie Scott (Doohan) establishes some retirement plans he and the team had in mind. Disaster, in that regard, strikes; Kirk and co. are charged with heading out into space once more to rendez-vous with a chief Kligon ship so as to escort them back to Earth as it's revealed to him they're gunning for peace. Kirk is unamused; I suppose you would be if your mortal enemy for the duration of your career decided to run up the white flag on the eve of your permanent quitting time. Kirk, as it happens, despises the Klingon's and cannot care as to whether their kind is under threat from extinction; the film, we feel, missing a trick in putting Kirk through the wringer he goes through without allowing his opinions to change on such a stance when misestimation turns out to play a key role in the film.
The film has some fun with the Enterprise's coming into contact with the Klingon crew, led by Christopher Plummer's wonderful General Chang: a smirking; snarling villain with war scars all over his body, whom enjoys sizing himself up against Kirk. As warriors of space, he of the physicality of warfare, Kirk's prowess lying with that brilliant mind of his and their primary clashing is good value. The initial alienation between the crews are evident in Uhura's (Nichols) comment of "Guess who's coming to dinner", a line that, with McCoy's (Kelley) take on Klingon's as ".....all look(ing) alike to me" imbues proceedings with a certain sense of racial tension. After that proverbial dinner, an uneasy coming together prior to the trip to the meeting, disaster strikes and the Enterprise appears to fire on the Klingon vessel; causing mass damage and, to rub salt into the wounds, allowing someone to anonymously beam aboard armed to the teeth able to execute each of the Klingon council.Fingers, or whatever it is certain species possess within the Star Trek universe that constitutes towards digits on the ends of hands, are immediately pointed towards both Kirk and McCoy thus allowing for their arrest, trial and consequent imprisonment on a sub-zero penal planet.
The film sprouts out into varying directions from thereon, that wily stalwart Spock taking control of the ship and instigating a detective strand to try and discover what actually happened as Kirk and McCoy try to escape from a jailed existence, that ought to have been more Hellish than it is and arrives with a certain amount of humour, as the peace process gently looms over everything. Essentially, the film is one of the "one last job" ilk; an often enjoyable framework that here sees Kirk once more brave the hostilities of the known galaxy when he really ought to be somewhere very different with his feet up writing memoirs. One wonders as to where one retires within the domains of the Star Trek universe; some specialist planet close enough to a respective sun keeping it constantly warm, perhaps - populated only by whitewashed villas and large lakes rife with never-ending supplies of Marlins. We enjoy the balance between strands Nicholas Meyer applies to proceedings, the film peppered with bits and pieces here and there that total up a good time. There is the gradual uncovering of the truth surrounding the situation; there is Somali-born model Iman's brief, slinky performance as the inmate whose presence on the prison planet we scoff at before being put in our place as well as the usual space battles and the rooting for the familiar faces to thwart the villains resulting in a differing, although sporadically wholesome, entry.