Release Date(s)1989 (September 6, 2022)
Studio(s)Paramount Pictures (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B
After taking the newly-commissioned Enterprise-A out on its shakedown cruise, Captain James T. Kirk and his crew have discovered that their new Starship is something of a lemon. So while Scotty and his team set about making things right in Earth orbit, Kirk uses the time to enjoy a little rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, accompanied by Spock and McCoy. But both their shore leave and the ship’s repairs are cut short when an intergalactic incident causes Starfleet to send them back to action. It seems that a mysterious “prophet” has taken the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan ambassadors hostage on Nimbus III, the so-called Planet of Galactic Peace, and Enterprise is tasked with freeing them.
Upon arriving on Nimbus III however, Kirk and company discover that this prophet is actually a renegade Vulcan named Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), who took the hostages for the sole purpose of luring a Starship that he hopes can cross the Great Barrier to reach the mythical planet of Sha Ka Ree. To ensure the compliance of Kirk’s crew, Sybok forces them to face their deepest traumas which he then “heals” somehow, making the journey personal for each of them. But neither Sybok nor Sha Ka Ree is quite what they appear to be, and another force stands against them too—an ambitious Klingon named Klaa who hopes to test his mettle in battle against a Federation Starship and its captain.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is... well, like Enterprise in this film, a bit of a lemon. Directed by William Shatner, Star Trek V is easily the worst Original Series film. It’s a shame too, because there are some nice character moments here. You can definitely see that there were flashes of something better in the script. Its spirituality is oddly refreshing, allowing interesting insights into what makes classic Trek’s “Big Three” tick. And the Jerry Goldsmith score is lovely. Unfortunately, most of the dialogue is terrible, some of the acting is awful (“Gentlemen, I’m Caithlin Dar!”), and the film’s painfully-forced attempt at humor only works about once in every five attempts. There’s a campfire scene early in the film that strays dangerously close to Blazing Saddles territory. Combine all of this with bargain bin visual effects (Industrial Light and Magic was deemed too “costly” for this outing) and the result is a clunker of galactic proportions.
The Final Frontier was shot by cinematographer Andrew Laszlo (The Warriors, First Blood) on 35 mm photochemical film using Panavision cameras and anamorphic lenses. Some of the visual effects work was also completed using VistaVision cameras (particularly the reused shots created by ILM for the previous installments), and the film was ultimately finished photochemically at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for theaters (as well as 2.20:1 for 70 mm blow-up prints). For its debut on Ultra HD, Paramount has completed a new 4K scan of the original camera negative and master interpositive elements to produce a new 4K Digital Intermediate, complete with color grading for High Dynamic Range (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available). Other than the opening title sequence and optically-produced transitions, which exhibit the usual interpositive softness, the uptick in detail from the 2009 Blu-ray presentation is dramatic indeed. Gone is the edge enhancement that plagued that release, not to mention the blotchy compression, and most importantly the heavy Digital Noise Reduction that smeared every face into a putty-like texture. The establishing matte painting of Yosemite is gorgeous, revealed in more detail that ever before. You can now see the thick wool texturing of McCoy’s jacket collar. Amusingly, it’s more obvious than ever that the “rock” Kirk is climbing is actually made of shiny Fiberglass skins. You can even see the harness that’s suspending him during his “fall” from El Capitan. But no matter! The colors are bolder, not to mention more nuanced and natural than ever before, and the wider gamut of HDR allows for deeply-dark blacks and bold highlights. Shadow detail is abundant too, and you’ll appreciate that right in the opening scene on Nimbus III—Sybok and his new convert are strongly backlit, but you can still see plenty of detail in their faces. Of course, the film’s visual effects don’t improve in 4K, but you can’t have everything. At least now you can see them in full detail. And behold, the photochemical grain! At long last, Trek V looks like an actual film at home.
As was the case with the earlier sequels, primary audio on both the 4K UHD and remastered Blu-ray is included in English 7.1 surround in lossless Dolby TrueHD format, essentially tthe same mix found on the original 2009 Blu-ray. A new Atmos mix would have been nice, but the TrueHD was and remains a fine sonic experience. And it should be noted that—for whatever reason—this film’s surround mix is particularly good, with a big wide soundstage, and immersive use of the rear channels for music and ambient effects. Panning is smooth, bass is rich and abundant. Uhura’s siren song has lovely clarity, while the Goldsmith score is presented with a pleasing tonal quality. Dialogue is remains clean and easily discernable. The crossing of the Great Barrier stands out in particular, as do the film’s brief space combat sequences. Additional audio options include German 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (German 5.1 Dolby Digital on the Blu-ray) and Spanish, French, and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles on both the Blu-ray and 4K are available in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish. There are even subtitles for the commentary tracks in English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese.
Paramount’s new Ultra HD release is a 2-disc set that includes the film in both 4K on UHD and fully-remastered HD on Blu-ray. Each disc offers a simple menu interface featuring the Bob Peak poster artwork. Both include the following special features:
- Audio Commentary by William Shatner and Liz Shatner
- Audio Commentary by Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman
To this, the Blu-ray adds the following legacy extras:
- Library Computer (HD)
- Harve Bennett’s Pitch to Sales Team (SD – 1:42)
- The Journey: A Behind-The-Scenes Documentary (SD – 28:55)
- Makeup Tests (SD – 9:50)
- Pre-Visualization Models (SD – 1:41)
- Rockman in the Raw (SD – 5:37)
- Star Trek V Press Conference (SD – 13:42)
- The Star Trek Universe
- Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute (SD – 19:09)
- Original Interview: William Shatner (SD – 14:37)
- Cosmic Thoughts (SD – 13:05)
- That Klingon Couple (SD – 13:05)
- A Green Future? (SD – 9:24)
- Star Trek Honors NASA (HD – 9:57)
- Hollywood Walk of Fame: James Doohan (SD – 3:07)
- Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 005: Nimbus III (HD – 3:02)
- Deleted Scenes
- Mount Rushmore (SD – :18)
- Insults (SD – 2:03)
- Behold Paradise (SD – :52)
- Spock’s Pain (SD – 1:02)
- Production Gallery (SD – 4:04)
- Storyboards (HD)
- Sha Ka Ree
- The Face of God
- Theatrical Trailer 1 (HD – 2:42)
- Theatrical Trailer 2 (HD – 1:34)
- TV Spots
- Vacation Is Over (SD – :32)
- Renegade (SD – :32)
- Challenge of Rebellion (SD – :31)
- Brothers (SD – :32)
- Beyond (SD – :32)
- Adventure (SD – :16)
- Warp Speed Now (SD – :17)
- The Gag Reel (SD – 1:08)
None of this content is new, but it’s still good. Essentially, it’s a complete archive of all the features that have been created for this film on previous DVD and Blu-ray editions (save for the Okuda text commentary from the 2003 Special Collector’s Edition DVD). The audio commentaries are definitely the highlight. The Shatner commentary is interesting for both his personality and insights, while the Okudas are always a delight to listen to and the Reeves-Stevens and Inglorious Trekspert Daren Dochterman add much to the proceedings—this second track in particular offers a wealth of detail, history, and trivia. The behind-the-scenes material is worth checking out too, especially if you haven’t seen it before. There’s a nice tribute to production designer Herman Zimmerman, who was largely responsible for the look of Star Trek from The Next Generation to Enterprise, including most of the classic feature films. The Journey takes you behind the scenes on the production and while there isn’t quite full honesty, you can tell that everyone involved was well aware of how disappointing the film ultimately was. The Rockman in the Raw featurette is a gem. Shatner originally wanted the ending of the film to feature an attack by ten “Rockmen,” but the budget only allowed them to build a single costume that ended up looking like something out of a classic Godzilla film. (Does anyone else think that Taika Waititi’s Korg from Thor: Ragnarok was inspired by the Rockman? The resemblance is uncanny.) It’s also worth noting that the original Easter egg featurette—The Gag Reel—is included here as well. And of course, the package includes the usual Digital copy code on a paper insert.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier isn’t exactly a fan-favorite. In fact, coming off the success of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it’s amazing that this sequel didn’t kill the big screen franchise outright. But it’s worth noting that the experience of viewing Star Trek V certainly improves now that it looks like an actual film instead of an edgy, blotchy, digital video smear. And while it’s hard to imagine this installment growing in appreciation, it wouldn’t be too surprising if at least a few fans consider giving it a second chance in 4K Ultra HD. And that is definitely some kind of miracle.
- Bill Hunt