There is something to be said for a film that lists among its technical credits a Klingon dialogue consultant. But much as it grieves a serious Trekkie to say it, The Final Frontier is the biggest disappointment since Spock blew his cool with that awful woman in The Cloudminders episode. Following the unusual critical approbation of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and no doubt envying Leonard Nimoy his successful transition to directing, William Shatner took over directorial duty for The Final Frontier. In that respect he has not embarrassed himself. In originating the story, however, he has.
The voyage is a Search for God, a quest foruhoh! Ultimate Knowledge. And for one terrible moment at the end of this Trek to the centre of the universe we are led to believe that Heaven is a purple desert and the big G looks like the Wizard of Oz. It is one of the scripts few mercies that it is only someone pretendingo be God.
In attempting to entertain and amuse, Shatner and his co-writers have, presumably unintentionally, crossed the frontier into self- parody when what every lover of the Star Trek ethos wants is sci-fi peril, a few thrills and a few chuckles met with honour, comradeship, courage and straight faces. The gentle satirical in-jokes of The Voyage Home were humorous; the broad japes laid on thick in The Final Frontier are not. The serious bits are equally ill-judged, particularly a risible scene in which the three senior officers share their pain in what resembles a spoof encounter group.
Even more alarming is the condition of the crew members. While the new Enterprise is recognisable, nice and shiny with lots more flashing panels, real Trekkies will feel genuine concern for the denizens of the bridge. Scotty and Uhura are now so grey and tubby, Bones and Sulu so wasted, there is every reason to fear someone will peg out before they reach the next Federation starbase.
On the plus side: well, the scenery looks fine. Spock clings to some dignity despite the awful buddy-buddy buffoonery he is roped into and the family secrets he has suddenly to reveal at this rather late stage of the game. Guest star David Warner has too little to do to mortify himself severely, and there are a few nice moments (Excuse me, but if youre God what do you need my ship for?). But a lot of fans will, sadly, echo McCoys complaint: You really piss me off, Jim.