When it comes to long-running, semi-serialised genre television ranging from “Doctor Who” to “Star Trek” to “Buffy” to “The X-Files” to “Stargate” and so forth, there’s a real range of quality – some episodes are plain bad, some are OK to good and some are superb with the quality often changing week to week and often heavily dependent upon the writing.
“Star Trek” was one of the few which carried the rule over into its movies – resulting in the infamous ‘odd numbered curse’ which held until the tenth film ‘Nemesis’ broke the trend. That curse? The even numbered films of the series were good or great, the odd numbered ones were flawed or terrible.
Sandwiched between the popular fourth and the very well-regarded sixth films lies “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” – the one that’s often considered the nadir of a series in many lists. Even after such not so well received titles like “Star Trek Insurrection” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” that fifth film remains an eyesore in many eyes.
Directed by William Shatner and famously suffering from having its budget severely curtailed, the movie follows the Enterprise which has been hijacked by Spock’s half-brother Sybok who sets out to find God on a planet at the center of the galaxy that lies behind a giant energy barrier.
Shatner spoke with EW recently and as part of the magazine’s ‘apology’ column in which actors say their sorries for a previous project that didn’t go right. Shatner used his opportunity to offer one for the film – or rather a non-apology apology as it were:
“I got the chance to direct a several-million-dollar movie, Star Trek V, and I did not get the help I needed in allocating my budget, so when it came to shooting the ending — needing a good villain and lots of computer graphics — I had run out of money. Sorry about that. I had to use footage that I had already shot — and spit on it a lot. I wanted to give [the audience] earth-breaking granite monsters spewing rocks and fire. Instead, I had a few pebbles in my hand that I threw at the camera.”
Even before the ending though, the film famously had its problems according to reviews which castigate it for its over reliance on slapstick, its long campfire songs, Uhura’s weird feather dance scene, and the whole ego-centric nature of the film. Yet, with time, some elements are looked back on favorably such as the ‘tour of pain’ scene below which is pure character building and leads to Shatner’s famous “I need my pain” speech.