Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and the Secret Pain Disillusionment

< Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Finding Your Better Self | Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country >

You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves.


I freely admit, I’ve been dreading this one. If you’re expecting my usual thousand-plus word exploration of the themes of this film, please keep your expectations in check — that’s what the next film is for. As far as Final Frontier is concerned, I’m jumping in, gathering the few tiny pearls of wisdom within, and moving on. The key to writing is to never let obstacles grow so large they seem insurmountable, and despite its best efforts, I refuse to let this film stand in the way of the goodness beyond.

This is where I’d give my usual spoiler warning, but honestly there is nothing to spoil. This film has no real implications beyond it’s mere existence.

Let’s go ahead an get the scathing negativity out of the way. This is an optimist blog, and I’m not a proper film reviewer, so it’s best to swallow this whole with a glass of cold water. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, directed and written by William Shatner, is a bad film. The flaws of the film have been covered extensively, including by Shatner himself in Star Trek Movie Memories, which is a particularly compelling read. Therefore I will attempt to minimize my critiques.

Simply put, I wish this particular entry in the franchise didn’t exist. Because of the beautiful, ethereal quality of the first four Star Trek films, I can’t help but feel regretful when I sit down to watch this, for lack of a better word, spin-off movie. This is Star Trek in name only — no, worse than that, it systematically assassinates every character we’ve grown to love over the course of the previous four films. Additionally, call me spoiled, but I’m used to stunning visual effects in my Star Trek films… especially considering just how good they looked in the films prior. In 1989, there is no justification whatsoever for the pitiful excuse for VFX in Star Trek V.

All that said, at least it’s got the best soundtrack of all of the TOS films. Jerry Goldsmith, I’ve missed you so much, especially after the less than stellar Voyage Home soundtrack.

Going back to review the movie, I expected to like it. I’ve trended towards enjoying films that critics don’t much care for lately, looking beyond minor nitpicks in favor of merely enjoying the experience. Films almost always have deeper meanings I can latch onto. This one does not. I think at this point all I can do is eject it from my personal head-cannon until situations like this where I’m confronted by it.

Because for a film originally pitched by William Shatner as “the search for deeper meaning,” this movie sure does lack any cohesive form of, well, deeper meaning. At least with Nemesis, five films from now, the themes are there and I have a good idea of the concepts I want to discuss. With Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, I am at a loss.

The film bashes you over the head with one concept: everyone has a secret pain, and if that pain is taken away, they will be ever-indebted to the one who took it away. In this case, that person is Spock’s alleged half-brother Sybok, who has the power to telepathically relive people from their heartache. Let’s forget the science fiction nonsense of the plot and focus on the first part of the hypothesis: everyone has a secret pain. That is not a very solid foundation to base a film.

Pain may be a universal constant, but I have issues believing that a secret pain bears the same status. I’m no stranger to heartache of the soul, and I have no doubt that some keep intense emotional pain internalized. However, I feel like if you keep your anguish secret, you’re setting yourself up for depression and destruction of your mental well-being. Sure, maybe the ailing wanderer, unable or unwilling to put down roots with family and friends, is in a situation where he or she is unable to properly deal with pain. However, the mast majority of us have ties to family, friends, community groups, peers, church organizations, or any professional help needed to confront even the darkest of emotional states.


We don’t need a Sybok-like figure in our lives to take away our pain. That is an outdated philosophy which, I feel, detracts from the value of the love from people around us. The Enterprise crew, at this point, has proven themselves to be closer than family, going through life and death together. If any group of people should be bearing each others burdens together with their entire strength of will, it would be them. I refuse to believe that the “real” Enterprise crew would acquiesce to Sybok’s influence so easily. It has to be mind control forcing their servitude — I don’t care if the movie insists otherwise.

Take me back to badly singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” around a campfire. That’s where the real heart and soul of this film lies.

I’d really like to know if you derived more enjoyment from this film than I did upon rewatch. Did you like this movie, or are we rowing the same boat? Tell me if you see some hidden themes I missed — I’m serious, this is a Star Trek film that I really want to appreciate in some capacity.

Next time I will be thankfully looking at one of my favorite films in the franchise, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County. Stay tuned!

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  1. Yeah, I heard and have seen evidence that this is quite a stinker. I find it interesting how, for the longest time, the odd-numbered installments were inferior to the even-numbered ones. It’s rare you see a debut film fall flat only for its sequel to be considered a classic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hehe! The Final Frontier is, as you say, dreadful, although I’ve always found the whole ‘going to meet god thing’ really funny, although I’m not sure why! I actually don’t like VI either mind you, but I can see that it’s objectively a better film, I’ll be interested to see what you say about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pix! VI is like right up there with II for me. Lol.

      See, I remember that part being funny as well, but this time I watched it and was like, “this is so dumb.”
      Even Kirk’s famous line, “what does God need with a starship,” fell strangely flat for me.
      Anyway, I hope that I can, perhaps, sway your opinion when my Undiscovered Country retrospective comes out in like four years. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol! It’s good to have things to look forward to in the long term 😆 Maybe it’s time I gave it another chance anyway, it’s been a while. I’m very much in the iv and viii (if it’s even called that) camp.


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