Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
April 15, 2013
Life is but a dream... if only the movie this comic is based on was one, too.
Linkara: (wearing a Starfleet uniform) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, it's time once again to review a Star Trek movie comic, and this time, it's a movie that's pretty universally reviled.
(Footage of that movie, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Although, I've got to admit, this movie is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It's a train wreck, to be sure, but one that I kind of enjoy in a bad movie kind of way. It aspires to greatness, but is full of plot holes, characterization issues, bad jokes, and weak villains. You know that Mystery Science Theater 3000 clip I'll play from The She-Creature?
(Cut to a clip of that episode)
Mike Nelson: Space is warped, and time is bendable.
(Cut back to the Star Trek movie)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, that's the one. Star Trek V's a movie so bad that Euclidian geometry collapses so that someone can not only go past the number of floors on the ship, but past the same floor twice while going up. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was incredibly boring, but it's got its defenders as a slow cerebral story. Star Trek V, though? The only cerebral thing you get out of this movie is the headache that results from some of the bad comedy and dollar store psychology. It is the movie that almost killed the Star Trek film franchise.
Linkara: Mind you, plenty of problems with the film were a result of the production getting screwed over again and again by bad luck, but in the end, some people are capable of making a great film, even with a bad production. (smiles smugly) William Shatner is not one of those men.
Linkara (v/o): The earliest draft of the film, by Shatner himself, would have had Kirk literally fighting Satan and trying to rescue his crewmates from being taken to Hell.
Linkara: (looking up in thought) I've gotta admit, though, after "One More Day", the idea of Captain Kirk fighting Satan? (gives a thumbs-up) Nice!
Linkara (v/o): I won't go into the film's troubled production much in this review, since it's actually pretty well documented, except to say that the effects in the finished movie were... yeah, not very good, to put it kindly. However, that just makes me more curious about this comic as an adaptation, since one of the great things about comic books is that there is no special effects budget to worry about. If an artist can conceive it and draw it, it'll be done. Plus, the condensed format of a comic book one-shot means that some of the stupider or superfluous bits might end up getting cut. By that same token, however, as we saw last time with Star Trek IV, lots of good stuff might end up getting trimmed.
Linkara: So let's dig into Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and see if the comic is better or worse than the movie it spawned from.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and title card has music from Star Trek V playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is... blecch! It's a nice rendition of the Enterprise and Kirk, Spock and McCoy, but as a cover that's meant to evoke the epic nature of the story or even as a movie poster or the like, it's just dull: three heads and the Enterprise. Oh, but at least we have that filmstrip logo coming across the top and informing us that this is a "DC Movie Special".
Linkara: As opposed to those movie comics that are not special.
Linkara (v/o): We open on the planet Nimbus III, "the planet of galactic peace", where some guy in a robe [Sybok] has found a bald guy [J'Onn] in the middle of the desert and is touching his forehead. (as Sybok) Does this bug you? I'm not touching you.
Sybok: Each man hides a secret pain.
Linkara: Yyyyeah, no, they don't. I know I don't, at least, unless you count the time I tried to eat the spicy chicken nuggets at Wendy's instead of the regular ones? Those things are nasty! (raises index finger) Stick to the regular nuggets, my friends.
J'Onn: Where did you get this power?
Sybok: The power was within you.
Linkara: (as Sybok) In other words, (holds up fist) the power is yours!
Sybok: Join my quest. I seek what you seek...
Linkara: (as Sybok) Rogaine.
Sybok: What all men have sought, since time began...
Linkara: (as Sybok) Affordable car insurance.
Sybok: ...the ultimate knowledge. But to find it... we'll need a starship.
Linkara: (as Sybok) Now, you might be wondering how the hell I got to a different planet without a spaceship, but don't worry, I move by the power of plot convenience.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Yosemite National Park in the mountain El Capitan. We finally get a movie comic without a big poster as the title page, instead letting Star Trek V: The Final Frontier be written along the side of the mountain, while Kirk Free Solos it.
Narrator: The time: Stardate 8454.1.
Linkara: (as narrator) Do you know where your children are?
Narrator: The situation: self-explanatory.
Linkara: (holds up index finger) Ah, so Kirk was fighting against the lizard monster and is clinging to the side of the mountain because he was knocked over. (beat) What? You said it was self-explanatory. There are a number of reasons why this could be happening.
Spock: I regret to inform you, Captain, that the record time for free-climbing is in no danger of being broken.
Captain James T. Kirk: I'm doing this because I enjoy it Spock, not for (unhh) records.
Linkara: You may be wondering just grunted like that. (holds up index finger) Don't worry, William Shatner can explain that.
(Cut to a clip of the Star Trek V movie)
Kirk (Shatner): He wants to envelop that mountain within his body. He wants to make love to the mountain.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, and judging by this face he's making, I think Kirk is definitely doing his best to screw the mountain. Anyway, he loses his footing and starts falling, and strangely enough, we get a thought balloon that Kirk is thinking...
Kirk: (thinking) Sam...
Linkara (v/o): ...probably in reference to his dead brother.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Star Trek, showing said death)
Linkara (v/o): The one who was killed by plastic vomit creatures. Weird.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Spock catches him by the leg, which should naturally snap his leg off, considering how fast he was falling, but as we see here with Spock at a horizontal angle, he's wearing magic boots.
Spock: Perhaps "because it is there" is not a sufficient reason for wanting to climb a mountain.
Kirk: I'm hardly in a position to disagree.
Linkara (v/o): And again, the wisdom of Shatner shines through.
(Cut to another clip of Star Trek V)
Kirk: But the mountain is climbed... because I think the climber wants to hug the mountain.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Back on Nimbus III, some narration explains what the planet's deal is.
Narrator: Twenty years earlier, the governments of the Romulans, Klingons, and Federation had agreed to develop the planet together, believing a new age was dawning. The new age died quickly. The Great Drought turned it to dust.
Linkara: (as narrator) And instead of figuring out a different, better planet and settling there, the project was farmed out to a few private companies and, well, lowest bidder and all that.
Narrator: When weapons were forbidden, they fashioned their own. When entertainment was needed... they found that, too.
Linkara: Cat girls, the universal form of entertainment!
Linkara (v/o): And of course, because this is a DC comic, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out a cameo here. The dude with the fishbowl on his head?
(Cut to a shot of a comic called "The Space Ranger")
Linkara (v/o): That's actually Rick Star, AKA Space Ranger, a DC sci-fi hero from the '50s and '60s who has had occasional appearances since then in the DCU.
(Cut back to the Star Trek comic)
Linkara (v/o): And of course, the bar with the dancing cat girl is also the Ambassadorial Suite, since in the back of the bar are the three respective ambassadors from the Federation, Klingon Empire and the Romulan Empire all bickering with one another.
(Cut to footage of the concurrent scene in the movie)
Linkara (v/o): The Federation Ambassador in the movie was played by David Warner, completely wasted in his role to the point where I wonder if the ambassadors were supposed to play a larger part in the story, but ended up getting cut.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the guy from before and his forces storm the bar, and subsequently, the town the bar is located in, and quickly takes the ambassadors prisoner – and only in three panels, no less. We then cut to the Enterprise in space dock. If you'll recall, at the end of Star Trek IV, the crew took command of the Enterprise A and warped off to new adventures and stuff, full of excitement and wonder! But I guess someone got drunk and spilled their beer on the controls, since now, at the beginning of this one, the ship is in crappy shape. However, unlike the movie, the unnecessary and out-of-nowhere subplot of Scotty and Uhura developing a relationship has been completely excised. Starfleet orders the Enterprise to be the one to rescue the hostages. They're told to recall personnel on shore leave, and we even skip the useless and kind of dumb scene with Chekov and Sulu lost in the forest. Speaking of skipped scenes, it's time for the campfire scene with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and in another wise cut, we no longer have the part of it with bourbon and beans, and instead just skip to the good part of it. McCoy says that Kirk needs to stop risking his life in pointlessly futile macho gestures, like Free Soloing El Capitan.
McCoy: ...when you fell off that mountain, you should've been killed.
Kirk: It crossed my mind, but even as I fell, I knew I wouldn't die... because the two of you were with me.
Linkara: Well, Spock was with you. McCoy was watching with binoculars and laughing at the thought of you getting impaled on a tree. McCoy's kind of sadistic like that.
Kirk: I've always known I'll die alone.
Linkara: (as Kirk) I had a premonition of my own death. This film is actually a sequel to Final Destination and not Star Trek.
McCoy: All that time in space, getting on each other's nerves, and what do we do when shore leave comes along? We spend it together! Other people have families!
Kirk: Other people, Bones. Not us.
Linkara: (as Spock) Actually, both my father and my mother are still alive. (as McCoy) Aw, shut up, Spock! (as Spock) Also, you still owe me ten bucks.
Linkara (v/o): Spock, having studied up on camping, has prepared some camping food.
Spock: I am preparing to toast a marsh melon.
Linkara: Ah, marsh melons. Those will go great inside that other traditional camping food, s'morlins.
Linkara (v/o): They try to have a sing-along of "Row Row Row Your Boat", which is thankfully only one panel in this version. Uhura suddenly shows up to inform them of the orders from Starfleet, since the captain left his communicator back on the ship and the transporters aren't working. They take the shuttle back up to the Enterprise, and we cut to a Klingon Bird of Prey, where Captain Klaa is attacking some random satellite.
(Cut to the matching scene in the movie)
Linkara (v/o): In the movie, it was the real-life Pioneer-10, which is incredibly laughable since that would mean that Klaa was attacking something right on our doorstep.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Klaa is pissed off about shooting space garbage when his fellow officer– (stops abruptly when he sees the officer, a female named Vixis, wearing a swimsuit-like armor, with her legs out) YOWZA! The uniform is a bit leggy for a Klingon, isn't it? Erm, anyway, they're informed of the hostage situation, and he figures the Federation will be sending their own rescue ship, which means he can shoot at a moving target. Ah, the warrior spirit; provoking interplanetary incidents because you're bored. Anyway, Kirk and company arrive on the Enterprise, where even the doors are barely working. They're given a full briefing about the situation, and Kirk suggests that other ships might be better to use for this than the Enterprise.
Bob: Other ships, no experienced commander. Captain, I need Jim Kirk.
Linkara: And this is one of the really huge plot holes of the movie, even worse than the cliche of "They're the only ship in the area." Have them pick him up and be a commander on one of those ships! Or hell, the Enterprise is at least space-worthy. Have the two ships rendezvous and drop off Kirk! This is not difficult!
Linkara (v/o): McCoy further points out how stupid this is, since the Klingons are bound to send someone, too, and they're still pissed off about Genesis, Kruge and that stolen Klingon vessel that Kirk crashed into San Francisco Bay.
Kirk: Damn. I miss my old chair.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Rescue missions are boring. I want a Lay-Z-Boy.
Linkara (v/o): They watch the hostage tape and recognize the Klingon ambassador: General Korrd, a military genius who has fallen out of favor with the Klingon High Command. However, Spock recognizes the hostage-taker himself. They quickly arrive at Nimbus III...
(Cut to another clip of the movie which Linkara describes...)
Linkara (v/o): ...skipping actually a decent scene in the movie, where Spock explains about the hostage-taker, that he's a Vulcan named Sybok. Sybok had thought that emotion, not logic, was the way to wisdom and naturally was exiled from Vulcan for his beliefs and teachings. Gotta love the highly-logical and tolerant-of-different-ideas Vulcans.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the transporters are still down and the Klingons will be there in just under two hours, so they need to take a shuttle just outside of their sensor range. Chekov keeps Sybok distracted over the communications channel, while Kirk, Spock and a bunch of security officers plan their move. It'd take too long to reach the city by foot, but fortunately, they spot a group of Sybok's followers just camped outside the place for absolutely no reason. And thus, we get to one of the most infamous scenes of the movie: the fan dance; a naked Uhura with a pair of palm fronds dancing under the glare of two moons to distract the men so Kirk and company can steal their horses.
Linkara: I am going to go against the popular opinion of those who find the scene disgusting because it features a 57-year-old woman trying to be seductive and alluring. (points to camera) That is ageist and distracts from the real problem of this scene.
Linkara (v/o): No, my objection to the fan dance is that Plan A was for them to go, "Okay, dedicated female communications officer of the Federation, I want you to strip naked, sing and dance around with some palm fronds to distract a group of horny guys who have been living in the desert for years without any female companionship." I mean, what the hell would the plan have been if it turned out Sybok's cult was made up of gay guys or their species was all male or something? Would Kirk have insisted that Spock strip down and sing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"? So anyway, they steal the horses and some shrouds to hide their appearances and get inside the city. Uhura flies the shuttle to strafe them – with her clothes back on – while the Enterprise officers attack, Kirk and Spock even managing to get to the hostages... who then pull guns on them. Somehow, Sybok has also forced the shuttle to land and he recognizes Spock, saying that he now has a second chance to join him. Spock refuses, of course, and Sybok says they'll be taking the ship.
Kirk: You staged this to get your hands on my ship?
Linkara: (as Sybok) Well, not your ship specifically. I mean– (as Kirk) My God! You will never get your hands on my ship, whom I love like a woman. (as Sybok) Uh, what the hell is he doing? (as Kirk) My love for the Enterprise is like no other. You will... never take it from me. (as Sybok) Uh, look, normally, I would offer to free you from your pain, but right now, I really don't want to see what's going on inside your head.
(Cut to Linkara, who now wears his regular attire)
Linkara: Hello, my friends. (the AT4W logo appears in the corner) We'll be right back after these commercials with... a commercial.
(The screen cuts to black as we go to a commercial. Upon return, Linkara is seen again)
Linkara: And now, (the AT4W logo appears in the corner) back to our show.
(The review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): The Klingons have arrived and they cloak. Chekov raises the shields and warns the shuttle to find cover, but Sybok refuses to turn back. Kirk hails the ship and tells them to get ready to let them pilot the shuttle in manually since it's their only chance of getting onto the ship without the Klingons attacking. They get on board with the shuttle crashing and burning hard in the shuttle bay, the Enterprise warping away before the Klingons can hit them. After the crash, Kirk and Sybok are struggling and Spock gets a hold of a gun. He orders Sybok to surrender, but he refuses.
Sybok: Spock, you can't stun me with that weapon. And I've always been stronger than you. I'm afraid you'll have to kill me.
(Linkara, acting on Spock's behalf, fires a gun offscreen)
Offscreen voice: (presumably Sybok's) OH, GOD, MY LEG!!
Linkara: (as Spock) Or, logically, I could shoot you in a place that is not fatal.
Linkara (v/o): But no, despite Kirk ordering him to shoot, Spock can't bring himself to do so, and Sybok's followers are quickly able to take the ship, with only Scotty seeing that something's going down. In the brig, Kirk is naturally pissed off about not killing Sybok, and Spock explains that Sybok is in fact his half-brother!
(A dramatic sting plays in response)
Linkara (v/o): Sybok's mother was a Vulcan princess because, being a society dedicated to logic, they still have arranged marriages and a monarchy, apparently. Sybok and Spock were raised together after said princess died. And naturally, this has never been brought up before ever. It's here where we get Sybok's backstory, but I still say it would have made more sense to do it after Spock recognized him from before, even if he admitted the part about being his brother. Up on the bridge, Sulu and Uhura have gotten the whole psycho pain removal thing from Sybok and are now his willing servants. I guess Chekov never bothered to send any security personnel down to check up on things. Sybok makes a ship-wide announcement...
Sybok: Consider the questions of existence. "Who am I? Why am I here? Does God exist?"
(Cut to a clip of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Narrator: Why do they spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?
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