Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Dir: Nicholas Meyer
It’s taken me a while to get around to watching the last of the Star Trek franchise films that I hadn’t fully seen. To put it simply, after the last one I needed a break, it left such a bad taste in my mouth. Thankfully this is a vast improvement!
When the Klingons are faced with their race and culture being wiped out, they look to broker a long-elusive peace with the federation, but not everyone is in agreement with the peace treaty, assainating a Klingon High Chancellor and framing Kirk (William Shatner) and McCoy (DeForest Kelley), leading them to be imprisoned on an inhospitable prison planet.
Interestingly, this film was released just 2 months after the death of creator Gene Roddenberry, and I hope he got to see some of it before he died just to know that things were back on form. Returning control to Nicholas Meyer the director of ‘Wrath of Khan’ and writer of ‘The Voyage Home’, and with Leonard Nimoy producing rather than Shatner, this is back in familiar and effective territory for the crew of the Starship Enterprise.
Right from the simple, clear, somewhat explosive start it’s easy to see the difference from the ambiguous opening of the last film, it was such an instant relief to see things returned to scenarios much more like the original series and earlier films. There is the long tension with the Klingons, some space jeopardy, alien planet antics (including Kirk kissing an alien), escape from a perilous situation, you could almost tick these elements off a list of things a trekker would want to see.
This was released four years after the hugely popular series ‘The Next Generation’ first began airing, and the original Enterprise crew know that their time is almost up. They refer in the film to it being their last mission together, and I got the feeling that they wanted to go out in fine form. The inclusion of the Klingons is key, they’re an ideal foe to have, especially as their delegation includes one Shakespeare-quoting delegate played in by Christopher Plummer. There’s also Kim Cattrall as a Vulcan Starfleet officer, and a brief appearance from a young Christian Slater, so it’s a great outing for a bit of nostalgic remembering these actors before they were household names.
The one bit that I didn’t much like was some truly rubbish looking zero gravity blood, true I’m no expert on what Klingon blood should look like when it’s floating but it really annoyed me, though that’s just nitpicking.
It was nice to see the original Enterprise crew together for a well-suited mission that felt right. It’s so much of a fitting ending for their last solo film that they even put their own signatures on the end credits, it’s a cheesy but nice touch, Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Nichols, Takei and others essentially “signing off”.