Picks and Pans Review: Star Trek V: the Final Frontier

updated 06/26/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/26/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner

Set your phasers on déjà vu. But familiarity in this case should breed contentment, at least for fans of Star Trek the TV series, Star Trek the movie sequels or Star Trek the subculture.

It's true that there's not much new under the suns as the new Enterprise warps around the universe chasing Spock's half brother, a messianic outcast who thinks he knows where to find God. The brother, played with an odd, overearnest grin by Laurence (Cocktail) Luckinbill, is not the most original of characters. The looking-for-the-Ultimate plot raises echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Forbidden Planet as well as the first Star Trek movie.

The camaraderie of the Enterprise's crew, however, still seems refreshing. Shatner, who directed a screenplay by David (Dreamscape) Loughery, downplays the medium-tech special effects in favor of the interplay among his own character, Capt. James Kirk, Spock (Nimoy), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and the other familiar faces. In the opening sequence Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley are on a camping trip in Yosemite National Park and end up around a campfire, with Kelley wondering why they're off by themselves: "Other people have families." Kirk replies, "Other people, Bones, not us." The moment is as close to poignant as this kind of thing ever gets.

Shatner's curly-top hairdo is still hard to take, and at times Nimoy acts as if he can barely muster the enthusiasm to keep his eyeliner from smearing. Kelley, on the other hand, seems more of an enjoyable curmudgeon than ever. Spice (Stranded) Williams, as the Klingonette who is an officer on the ship that inevitably stalks the Enterprise, gives a lively performance under lots of makeup and the burden of speaking in a language that sounds like a cross between Arabic and pig latin. (Shatner's daughter Melanie has a small role as an Enterprise crewperson.)

Considering that the ending has to dispose of Luckinbill, the Klingons, a defective transporter room and the always knotty Supreme Being question, it works out pretty smoothly. Anyone who doesn't come to the film with at least a working knowledge of the Star Trek characters might wonder what all the fuss is about, but those who can tell the difference between Chekov and Sulu should go home entertained. (PG)

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