Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) / Sci Fi-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and mild language
Running Time: 113 min.
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Christopher Plummer, Rosanna DeSoto, Kim Cattrall, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, David Warner, Iman, Mark Lenard, Grace Lee Whitney, Brock Peters, Leon Russom, Kurtwood Smith, John Schuck, Michael Dorn, Rene Auberjonois, Christian Slater (cameo)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Screenplay: Nicholas Meyer, Denny Martin Flinn
Review published April 15, 2005
The Star Trek franchise bounces back from Star Trek V with a solid effort and a fitting conclusion to the Original Series film arc. To make sure mistakes weren't made again, the producers recruited the services of Nicholas Meyer, the director of arguably the best film in the series, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a well-plotted and efficiently developed entry in the series, very reminiscent in the feel of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", which would be directly taking over the franchise in films after this one concluded.
Star Trek VI draws many parallels to the end of the Cold War between the United States (represented here by the Federation) and the Soviet Union (the big bad Klingons). An explosion occurs on the Klingon moon known as Praxis (an allusion to the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl), which makes the Klingon race face possible extinction, as their way of life crumbles, rendering them a superpower no longer (akin to the breakup of the USSR). The crew of the Enterprise is called upon to be an escort for Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (Gorbachev wannabe) to a crucial assembly on Earth.
It's hard for Kirk and co. to trust the Klingons after so many years of fighting them, so when two photon torpedoes are shot into the Klingon ship and two men in Federation gear assassinate many on board, all fingers point to the only logical culprits, the Enterprise crew. Kirk and McCoy (who tried in vain to save Gorkon) are put on trial for the disaster, leaving the remaining crew with little time to coordinate an effort to clear their names and secure their release before whatever faction responsible commits more assassinations in response to the peace process.
Although the script does get a bit too cute at times in the humor department, there is very little that the makers of Star Trek VI do wrong. Meyer brings in strong character development, tie-ins with previous Star Trek films, gripping action, in-jokes, well-crafted sets and special effects, and a complex story that brings intelligence to the forefront. Meyer seems to have a knack for drawing out a great performance from William Shatner, who had started becoming far too jovial to take seriously in the last two films. Here he is commanding and resourceful once again, giving Kirk the stature and respect he should have to be believable as one of the great warriors of his time.
Although this is clearly the last film in the original series, Meyer very smartly never decides to go for the sentimentality that would mar the previous "last" film, Star Trek V. Despite never tugging at our heartstrings, the film still does end with respect for the fans as well as the actors, and the sadness that comes with a final adventure comes from within us as viewers, rather than any artificial manipulations onscreen. It's good to see the crew in top form once again, and at the same time, it's sad to see them go.
Kirk, Scotty and Chekov would return one more time in Star Trek Generations, the first of the "Next Generation" Star Trek movies.
©2005 Vince Leo