Movie Review – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

1991 Paramount Pictures

Three and Half Star
After the two previous movies failed to thrill me I was in dire need of a good Trek movie. For Star Trek VI Nicholas Myer was brought back to direct the final voyage of the original crew. Based on then current (1991) real world events this movie used the relationship between the USA and Soviet Union as a template for the tension between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets.

As the film begins Captain Sulu is aboard the USS Excelsior finishing a three-year mission studying planetary gaseous anomalies (exciting stuff). Suddenly a massive shock wave slams into the ship and away we go. It turns out the Klingon’s have been over-mining one of their moons and accidentally blew most of it to oblivion which in turn damages the atmosphere of the Klingon home world Qo’noS.

No longer able to afford their warlike ways this leads finally to an attempt at ending hostilities between the Federation and the Empire. Our intrepid crew, on the cusp of retirement, sets off on a peace mission headed by Captain Kirk.
Of course this whole process is sabotaged by unknown forces who don’t want peace. Damn it people give peace a chance, listen to John Lennon!

So how does all this measure up to the preceding movies? Well in my opinion it’s better then 1, 3, 4, and 5 but not as good as 2. The Undiscovered Country suffers from some budget problems (as usual for a Trek movie) and a few silly scenes.
For the most part though this is a well-made film. The cast is good as usual, the story is entertaining, the music is appropriately somber, dramatic, and heroic, and the special effects are well done. There’s some great dialogue especially in a scene where Kirk and Spock discuss their attitudes and the changing of the times. The much copied space battle at the end is great and all in all this is a fitting send off to a cast that has given us years of fine entertainment.

The good:

The opening scene on board the Excelsior is very well done.

Praxis is looking pretty fine.

Great dialogue.

Good somber gloom and doom music score by Cliff Eidelman.

The not so good:

The scene in the galley with the phaser alarm is preposterous. I find it highly unlikely an officer would fire a phaser and vaporize a cooking pot just to remind someone of the phaser alarm. Chekov was the head of security at one point so I don’t think he would have forgotten that the alarm exists in any case. More artificially created humor at the expense of the characters. Blah!

The scene where the crew tries to speak in Klingon by looking through a stack of books. They may not be able to use the Universal Translator but why not use the computer to translate the words? Well because it’s far funnier to see the crew looking through books and mispronouncing the words. This is the same kind of artificially created humor that made me cringe while watching Star Trek IV.

I didn’t care for some of the Klingon makeup; it looks like some of them had their heads sanded down. Consistency would be nice people!

The end is a bit corny when Shatner gives his speech and everyone applauds.

How manly.

Amazing movie sequences #3: Star Trek: Idiocy in space

Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Chekov are casually walking down the corridor.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy. and Chekov are casually walking down a corridor.

...they suddenly come to a closed door. This is the first time I have ever seen a door randomly placed in a corridor in any of the original series or movies...

They suddenly come to a closed door. Please note this is the first time I have ever seen a door randomly placed in a corridor in any of the original series or movies.

...just as Scotty joins them the door opens the crewmen who belong to the uniforms Scotty just barely discovered...

Just as Scotty joins them the door opens to reveal the crewmen who belong to the missing suits Scotty just barely discovered.

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Both are dead. Victims of a phaser blast to the head. Set on stun of course so as not to trip the…snicker, snicker…phaser alarm. Please note the corridor continuing on around the corner. Why was this door here and why was it closed? So it could open and dramatically reveal the bodies of course. How stupid.

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A ship wide announcement is made that statements will be taken from the two crewmen. Why this would be announced to the whole crew makes no sense. I realize it’s a ploy but it’s incredibly stupid.

The doors in sickbay slowly open, please note the dark man shaped shadow on the inside? Who the hell is this?

The doors in sickbay slowly open, please note the dark man shaped shadow on the inside? Who the hell is this and why wouldn’t the person entering see a person backlit by the light? Why is sickbay so dark in the first place? We have never seen the sickbay dark like this. Again purely for dramatic purposes. Dumb dumb dumb.

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A dark figure with a phaser approaches the two apparently unguarded crewmen in bed. These men are allegedly involved in the murder of several Klingon’s and they are just left unguarded?

Spock turns on the lights to reveal Valeris, the biggest idiot in the history of Vulcan.

Spock turns on the lights to reveal Valeris, the biggest idiot in the history of Vulcan.
“I thought I would just walk into a normally busy part of the ship and phaser them in the head again!”

To top it all off they set up a chair and interrogate Valeris on the bridge surrounded by random crew members.  Yeah right, sounds very plausible.

To top it all off they interrogate Valeris on the bridge surrounded by random crew members. Yeah right, sounds very plausible.

Random thoughts and observations:

So now the Klingon’s quote Shakespeare? The Klingon’s have changed so many times since the original series, the lack of continuity is kind of ridiculous. They’re like the Swiss Army Knife of villains.

Sulu states in his opening log that the Excelsior has finished their mission and is heading back home from the Beta quadrant at full impulse. I guess they’re not in any hurry to get home.

Why does the interior of the Enterprise look smaller? Stop messing with the scale of the ship (I’m looking at you Mr. Myer.)

Looks great from this angle.

Looks like a bloated whale from this angle.

Same set, big difference. Big improvement for Trek VI.

Nice effect. Maybe we should use it in the next movie too! Great idea!

The Next Generation set never saw as much excitement in seven seasons.

This guy saves the president but Kirk gets all the glory. Figures.

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