star trek vParamount Pictures
1989
PG

“Jim, you don’t ask the Almighty for His ID.”

We start off in Yosemite National Park of the future, where Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the Enterprise crew are on R&R while the new Enterprise is in space dock for some troubleshooting repairs. All that is cut short when the peace summit on Nimbus III is taken hostage by none other than…Spock’s half brother. After arriving on the so-called peaceful planet, the crew finds out the hard way that the inhabitants there have pledged their devotion to this charismatic Vulcan (now there’s a paradox for you), including the three delegates to the peace summit. After taking control of the Enterprise, Sybok (the half-brother in question) unveils the reason for his subterfuge: He’s on a literal quest to find God. Existential postulations and overacting ensue…

Wow, this was a mess. William Shatner’s first (and thankfully, only) directorial contribution to the Star Trek movie series is a disjointed hodgepodge of both religious and humanistic philosophies told in a somewhat lackluster sci-fi action setting. Actually, the action itself is relatively low-key, the majority of the time spent on exploring the deeper relationships between the cast members and their personal demons (for lack of a better word). The revelation that Spock had a half-brother was a bit of a surprise…kinda came out of left field, really. The humor seems a bit forced, as the original script was a bit darker, but at the insistence of Paramount, there were last-minute changes of dialogue to inject some of that wiz-bang humor that worked so very well for the last movie. Unfortunately, it falls flat. And what was up with that supposed romance between Scotty and Uhura? Mind you, Uhura is still quite the foxy lady there, but still…don’t see it. Not buying it either. To say nothing of the fact that, as per usual, “God” turns out to be some kind of megalomaniac madman. Go figure…

For a Star Trek movie, this one is one of the weakest of the entries. So much so that Gene Roddenbury himself considered the movie non-cannon as far as Star Trek goes. Ouch…