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Stardate 2013 - The Final Frontier (1989)

The Enterprise is hijacked by a Vulcan who plans to use the ship to find 'God'.

Directed by: William Shatner
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Laurence Luckinbill, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, David Warner

Spock's half-brother, Sybok (Luckinbill), shunned by the Vulcan race for his embracing of emotion, has taken hostages on the planet Nimbus III. Kirk (Shatner), McCoy (Kelley) and Spock (Nimoy) have their shore leave interrupted as they are ordered to take the newly rebuilt Enterprise to the planet. Once there, they are overpowered by Sybok and his followers, who he controls through a form of "mind meld". It becomes apparent that Sybok used the hostage-taking as a ruse to acquire a starship. His plan is to take the Enterprise to find the mythical 'Sha Ka Ree', the place where, according to Vulcan lore, the universe began.
With Nimoy directing the previous two installments, Shatner insisted on being allowed to direct 'The Final Frontier', having come up with the film's original concept. After the high-concept, commercially appealing story-line of 'The Voyage Home', Shatner wanted to pursue a more heady plot-line, one which essentially boiled down to the crew of the Enterprise setting out to find God. In concept, it was closer in theme to the first movie, but the lighter tone of parts two, three and four continued here. In fact, this is by far the funniest installment of the series.
At the time of its release, 'The Final Frontier' was slated by critics, chiefly for its ambitious but simultaneously weak plot. It's this lightness of plot that makes the film enjoyable though, as we get to spend time with the central trio. The opening and closing campfire scenes are some of the best seen throughout the franchise. The relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy is Trek's greatest asset and it's a joy to just hang out with these characters. Personally, if the entire film had just followed the trio on their camping trip for two hours I would have been quite happy.
The plot is indeed nonsense but Luckinbill, an actor Shatner discovered playing President LBJ in a one-man show, gives a great performance which really sells the idea. When we do finally meet 'God', it's an anti-climax, but how could it ever not be?
The sound of 'The Final Frontier' is notable, reprising the bells and whistles so familiar to fans of the original TV series, yet largely absent from the previous four films. Thanks to the return of composer Jerry Goldsmith, we get the best score since 'The Wrath of Khan', erasing the memory of Leonard Rosenman's horrible work on 'The Voyage Home'. Goldsmith reprises the march he wrote for 'The Motion Picture'. At the time, younger fans mistook it for a borrowing of the 'Next Generation' theme, which was, of course, the very same theme.
If you're looking for a gripping story, this wouldn't be your first choice among the Trek series but, if you just want to hang out with three of pop culture's great icons for a couple of hours, 'The Final Frontier' is thoroughly enjoyable.
7/10