While fans may debate the merits of “Star Trek Into Darkness,” that film’s criticism pales in comparison to the critical drubbing several of the pre J.J. Abrams-era “Star Trek” films received – most notably the much vilified “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”.
Coming off the popular Leonard Nimoy-directed “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” which was both profitable and one of the better received critical entries, Captain Kirk himself William Shatner opted to direct the project which had a decent logline – a renegade Vulcan hijacks the Enterprise in search of God whom he believes lies at the center of the galaxy behind a massive energy barrier.
The film was heavily compromised before it began – multiple script revisions, severe budget cuts and a writers strike crippled the film from the get-go. Problems plagued the production, Shatner reportedly had a bit of a breakdown whilst filming, and visual effects weren’t given to ILM as usual but rather farmed out to a small FX house which struggled. The result was a film that “nearly killed the franchise” according to a producer.
Shatner is now releasing a memoir titled “Live Long and… What I Might Have Learned Along the Way” due next week and seems to regret choosing to direct the film after series creator Gene Roddenberry thought Shatner’s original story idea was objectionable. Roddenberry reportedly didn’t like the idea of a western religion-esque God being part of a “Star Trek” film and so the two compromised:
“I had a choice. I could accept the compromise or refuse to direct the movie. I made a mistake; I accepted the compromise, which doomed the picture from the beginning. [The decision was] consistent with who I was at the time.”
Costing $33 million, the movie made $63 million all up – thanks mostly to a strong opening. Time has not seen the film receive a critical re-evaluation, though some of the smaller individual scenes have risen in estimation such as Kirk’s famous “I need my pain” monologue and the famed line “what does God need with a starship?”.