Continuing my very first trek into the films of Star Trek...
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
I was only 20 minutes into The Undiscovered Country
when I realized how happy I was that the Star Trek filmmakers once again had their head on their shoulders. It is almost inconceivable how improved the sixth Star Trek installment is over its immediate predecessor. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to find Star Trek VI
to be one of the stronger Trek films.
While The Final Frontier
suffered from a frustratingly lazy and lame script, The Undiscovered Country
gives us a very interesting storyline involving murder, politics and mystery. I was worried that the parallel to the Berlin Wall was to come across as dated, but I was relieved to see that the story still is nearly just as relevant as it likely was in 1991. The return of The Wrath of Khan
's Nicholas Meyer as the film's director is also a welcome addition to the film, as The Undiscovered Country
is (like Khan
) tightly paced.
The newcomers to the cast are all welcome additions. I thought Valeris served very well as the film's Benedict Arnold and was certainly an improvement over Robin Curtis's wooden interpretation of Saavik. Also, Spock's mind meld with Valeris makes for one hell of a scene. Christopher Plummer's sniveling, Shakespeare quoting character of General Chang is the second best Trek villain to Montalban's Khan for me. The Klingon trial scene is certainly a stand out not only for Plummer but also for the film.
I was relieved to see that the visual effects were once again under the control of ILM, and were much improved over the cheap looking effects of The Final Frontier
. Cliff Eidelman's haunting score fits perfectly with the film's generally darker tone and Hiro Narita's cinematography is (thus far) the best in the entire series. From a technical aspect, The Undiscovered Country
gets just about the highest marks I can give it.
However, if I had to give one main gripe to film, it would be its occasional inappropriate silliness. For the most part, The Undiscovered Country
is a more serious affair than The Voyage Home
and The Final Frontier
yet, there were occasions when TUC had some jarring tonal shifts. For example, Kirk's confrontation with the shape shifter is a little too wacky. Particularly Shatner's suddenly silly delivery of, "I can't believe I kissed you!" I understand where they were coming from, but I think the script (and Shatner) should have showed a little more restraint. Another example would be the entire bridge crew trying to translate Klingon. Wouldn't Uhura, being the ship's communication officer, be able to translate the language of the Federation's biggest threat? Finally, that scene with Valeris disintegrating the pot in the kitchen is such a mess (from a plot and tone perspective). I was almost worried that the film would lose it at that point, but I was happily proven wrong.
The final scene of the film hit all the right buttons for me. Spock's final line, while a little out of left field, is pretty great and the crew's final moments are effectively captured within the small final instant of The Undiscovered Country
. It was a fulfilling ending to an occasionally flawed, yet very satisfying Star Trek entry, and very satisfying film series.
I feel I am going to miss the original series crew when I begin The Next Generation films. I have grown to love the camaraderie between the original crew of the Enterprise and it always shocks me to know that many of the actors never got along with one another in real life. Regardless, it has been a great adventure with the original members of the USS Enterprise with these six films (yes, even the lousy one).
But like all things in Hollywood, the show must (and will) go on.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Edition) (1982) - 8.5/10
2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director's Edition) (1979) - 7.5/10
3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) - 7.5/10
4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) - 7/10
5. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) - 6/10
6. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) - 4/10
Star Trek: Generations