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'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier' (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 09, 1989

Stardate 8454.130: The Cocoon Years. The crew of the Starship Enterprise is so creaky, it's time to replace their dilithium crystals with prunes. In "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," you keep expecting Wilford Brimley to take over the bridge.

But William Shatner sits tight in his Broyhill space chair, in command both on the set, as Captain Kirk, and behind the camera, as a freshman director. In the first case, he retains the swaybacked aura of the galaxy gallivanter of yore; in the second, he should "Na-dev-Vo yi-GhoSh," which is Klingon for "Go away!"

"Star Trek V" is a shambles, a space plodessy, a snoozola of astronomic proportions. The story is uneventful, the effects warmed over from "Star Wars." In this episode, the stalwarts encounter a renegade Vulcan, a desert faith healer whose fanatical followers scheme to take over the Enterprise. Objective: To pass through an impenetrable (Ha!) swirl of what appears to be cosmic Windex, beyond which is the planet Shockara, home of God, or perhaps California shot through a purple filter.

As expected, Bones (DeForest Kelley), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Kirk enjoy a crusty, rusty camaraderie, though the wry self-mockery of the Nimoy-directed "Star Trek IV" has mellowed into mawkish platitudes suitable for kitchen samplers. "All that time in space, when shore leave comes we spend it together," says Bones (now so emaciated the moniker seems all too appropriate). Go figure. They even sit around a campfire and sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," eating beans and toasting marshmallows.

Shore leave ends when the Vulcan Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) takes a Federation representative hostage on the planet of peace, Nimbus III. Though newly refurbished, the Enterprise is as eccentric as ever -- the computer stutters, the shields won't lower, the photon torpedoes get stuck -- but it's nothing the sputtering engineer, Scotty (James Doohan), can't fix. Now about the size of the planet Neptune, Scotty needs impulse power just to get his pants up.

The matronly Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) develops a thing for the old Scotch-guzzler, often brushing past him with an "Is that a fazer in your pocket" look in her eyes. Blessedly, she is distracted by the charismatic Sybok, as are the inseparable Sulu (George Takei) and Chekhov (Walter Koenig) . "Let me feel your pain," says Sybok, who proves irresistible to all but Kirk. "I want to keep my pain," says the captain, as we knew he would.

Borrowing freely from George Lucas lore and delving deeply into "Star Trek's" own vast stores, the movie is neither camp nor mythology resurrected. These old familiars go where they've gone before.

Copyright The Washington Post

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