The 25th anniversary of Star Trek was fast approaching, the cast of the original series was starting to show it's age and the studio wanted the cast to go out with a bang, and not the whimper that would have been had Star Trek V had in fact been The Final Frontier.
What follows is a tale of conspiracies, murder, double crosses, politics, prejudice, overcoming racial hate and more. This one is packed.
Gene Roddenberry reportedly was not amused though with the treatment of his characters at times making Starfleet villainous and having his heroes prejudiced. Can't say I blame him but if the ball was still in his court we would have had a time travel story where Spock pulls the trigger on JFK. No joke. I think I'll stick with this movie.
Star Trek VI does however still take it's cue from Roddenberry's book and is taking it's cue that that the original show had always done with it's parallels to real world events, a Chernobyl of sorts occurs in space: The Klingons key energy producer, a moon named Praxis has exploded and has contaminated the Klingon home world. They're oxygen supply is going to run out in the next 50 years and they're military machine is too large to spare resources to combat the accident. Therefore the Klingons are finally ready to open negotiations for peace and Captain Kirk is informed that he is to be the diplomatic escort for the Klingon Chancellor. Kirk rebuffs this being a staunch believer that the Klingons are nothing but killers (they murdered his son) and can't be trusted. Spock reminds Kirk of an old Vulcan proverb, "Only Nixon can go to China" with the belief that Kirk can properly deal with the Klingons and not be a patsy bending over backwards for them. Kirk begrudgingly accepts what will likely be his final mission as the crew is near retirement.
The Klingons are invited aboard the Enterprise for dinner and things do not go well at all. Shortly afterword, the Klingon ship comes under fire and the Enterprise is held to blame. When Kirk and McCoy go aboard to investigate, they cannot help the Chancellor and are arrested for murder. It's up to Spock to find the culprits behind the crime and help prevent a war from breaking out.
This movie is meaty with it's story as well as production. Nick Meyer the director of Wrath of Khan comes back aboard with his "nautical but nice" attitude making the Enterprise look like a steely battleship at sea with it's tight corridors, naval trappings and beautiful bridge with metal hull panels. The devil is in the details as almost everything has instructions on it, directional signs and more. It's probably the best the Enterprise ever looked and made me reminisce about the Nostromo from Alien with it's detailed doorways that are littered with nondescript information about that ship. It really makes you feel that this world exists.
None of the original cast really stands out here and thats the only real low. Sulu moves on to get his own command and provides some crucial help to unsolve the mystery, it does limit his screen time a bit though, not that he ever had much. Newcomers Kim Cattrall as Valeris a new Vulcan character gets plenty of screen time though as Spocks protégé and plays an integral part in the story. Christopher Plummer is General Chang a Klingon who carefully conceals his moves as to where his loyalties lie and flamboyant with his Shakespeare and captain of his own ship, you can find him irritating with his quotes but to say his end is poetic justice would do the Bard proud.
Star Trek has been a little light on action in the past but the final climax at the end is terrific. I can't give it away without spoiling anything but when Sulu and Kirk both lock onto the enemy ship and finish it off once and for all, it still raises my spirits.
I don't often get into DVD features but I will here. First off, Nick Meyer and his assistant Denny Martin Flynn who helped write the story have commentary. I can listen to Nick Meyer all day long on almost any subject. This man really should have done more directing work in his career. Denny sadly comes off as a brown noser though. It does deserve a listen. The best extra is "The Perils of Peacemaking" in which the conflict of the movie and making peace is looked at in real world events. It's very interesting. Theres a lot of other features on the disc and deserve a look, expecially if you're a Trek fan. (There is no easter egg for Kim Cattrall's aborted photo shoot so don't bother looking. Pervys.) The musical score is also unique with a very brooding dark musical score unlike the soaring numbers that opened most of the other Trek movies. The rest of the soundtrack is equally unique.
In the end I really couldn't find anything wrong with this movie. As far as I'm concerned, Star Trek VI is top notch and if your having a tough decision one night as to which Trek movie to watch, you won't go wrong here. I hope when I retire one of these days, I go out as great as these guys did.
What did you think of this review?
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is the sixth feature film in the Star Trek science fiction franchise and is the last of the Star Trek films to include the entire main cast of the 1960s Star Trek television series. It was released in 1991 by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Nicholas Meyer and written by Meyer with Denny Martin Flinn. After an ecological disaster leads to two longstanding enemies—the Federation and the Klingon Empire—brokering a tenuous truce, the crew of the USS Enterprise-A must prevent war from breaking out on the eve of universal peace.
The Undiscovered Country was initially planned as a prequel to the original series, with younger actors portraying the crew of the Enterprise while attending Starfleet Academy, but the idea was discarded because of negative reaction from the cast and the fans. Faced with producing a new film in time for Star Trek's 25th anniversary, Flinn and Meyer, the director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, wrote a script based on a suggestion from Leonard Nimoy about what would happen if "the wall came down in space", touching on the contemporary events of the Cold War.