I like this Star Trek movie a lot, because it contains all sorts of
different themes, including the fate of the Federation, some humor,
character reflections, and action. It does all of these things well,
which is one of the problems I have always had with the Next Generations
movies (which I've lamented on before...).
One of the things that this movie overdoes, however, is the humor.
Although the production is awesome, outdoing
Voyage Home in every aspect, the humor here is much more forced, at
least in many of the scenes. A lot of the Shakespeare could have been
excised without damage to the script. Some of it was useful, but not to
have the villain spouting it every time we see him. I see no evidence
that Shakespeare is Kirk's favorite author, as Chang accuses, but he is
certainly Chang's! (How does a Klingon General turn into a lawyer,
Aside from Shakespeare, there was a little too much of people
claiming possession of somebody else's work, like the Klingons saying
Shakespeare was theirs, Spock claiming Nixon was Vulcan, and so on. The
only one that works is Chekov saying Cinderella was Russian, because he
was often doing that in the past. Individually, they would be fine, but
to pack them into a single movie was too much.
I also wondered what the Enterprise crew was doing with a bunch of
Klingon dictionaries on board, and why they were books instead of a
searchable database, especially when Chang seemed to think that Kirk
knew how to speak Klingon in the courtroom scene. Fortunately, scenes
like that didn't diminish the terrific quality of the rest of the movie.
The movie works well in terms of story and the characters who inhabit
it. Spock and Kirk actually have a run-in, because Kirk is getting old,
and Spock is still in the prime of his life, despite his claim of being
too old. Kirk has prejudice, especially against the Klingons, not only
because of them murdering his son, but also because he has hated them
all his life, and fought them all through the series and the movies.
Spock, on the other hand, fought them because they were the enemies of
the Federation. When their prime energy supply is destroyed, he sees a
unique opportunity to make peace. While the reaction of the other
Starfleet officers was understandable, to let the Klingons die, and even
help them along, the Vulcan doctrine of diversity is what Spock lives
I found the opening scene, in the council chamber, to be incredible,
in terms of set, atmosphere, and especially the characters. The
introduction to all of them was extremely well done, giving them each a
close-up, reiterating that they are close to retirement, and wondering
where Spock is. The trip to the rendezvous with the Klingon ship was
uneventful, but still wonderfully done, however, I really enjoyed the
dinner, especially afterwards, when Kirk asks if there was any other way
they could screw the evening up... somebody found a way.
The investigation of the sabotage, the firing of the two missiles
that disabled the Klingon ship, and to find the saboteur, was a little
too easy, but was well played, nonetheless. With only one new character
in the bridge crew, perhaps the saboteur was a little too obvious, but
the writers kept Valeris as a logical and sympathetic character, too. It
was logical for her to help in the investigation, even though she was
partly responsible. I never thought much of the scene where Spock finds
the names of the saboteurs from her mind until I read another on-line
review that described it as mind-rape. I guess they really didn't need
the information that she gave them, as even though they were arrested,
other officers must certainly have continued where these ones left off
in trying to sabotage the peace, even if the talks were saved.
Kirk and McCoy's trip to the trial and then to the prison planet was
enjoyable, from a character standpoint. I didn't appreciate Marta's
cigar (how would it keep Kirk warm, after one puff?), but worse, Kirk
doesn't even cough after inhaling. The fight with the big alien was fun,
especially McCoy's comments about "what if he is holding a
grudge?", though I've always wondered why the thug had his genitals
hanging out in the open, anyway...
I think one of the best things about this movie is the growth of
Kirk's character. I like the way he takes a hard line against the
concept of trustworthy Klingons at the beginning, and then follows
diplomatic protocols almost against his will, trying very hard to be
kind and courteous, and failing, because he doesn't reign in his crew.
Probably the most surprising part of the movie is his surrender of the
ship. Instead of getting into a firefight, one that he could probably
win (notwithstanding the cloaked warbird), he doesn't even raise his
shields. As his character continues to grow, he actively fights for
peace. That is something that resonates, because it is good character.
I enjoyed the thoughts that Kirk expresses to McCoy in this part of
the movie. McCoy always tries to do his best, no matter what the
species, Klingon, or even thug! I was surprised that nobody tried to
take the "fluff" off of Kirk's uniform, though, through all of what they
went through -and what was Spock doing with it on the bridge, anyway? He
couldn't have known that Kirk was going to beam over to Gorkon's ship.
On the other hand, many of the crewmembers who got lots to do in
Voyage Home, for example, didn't get a lot of work here, but that's
okay, because they still played their parts well, and very much in
Finally, the battle scene was terrific, by far the best battle seen
on Star Trek movies. It had incredible suspense, roaring torpedoes
smashing through the ship, and a grand climax where the Enterprise and
Excelcior pummel the Klingon ship to pieces! Which brings me to Sulu -I
love seeing him in command, both when he's helping Kirk, telling his
crewman to ignore Starfleet's orders, and saying goodbye, and his shock
at the beginning of the movie -the first cast member we see in this
The production of this movie is the best of the classic movies, and
perhaps better, even, than the Next Generation movies, because those
ones look very fresh and computer generated. Here, the sets were tight
and dark, which made the Enterprise, Starfleet meeting room, and
especially the Klingon places, look very good on camera. There were no
matte lines visible anywhere, and, of course, we even got a shapeshifter.
As opposed to the music that I disliked on
Voyage Home, the music this time was grand, chilling, rousing, and
exciting, where it needed to be. The climactic battle, followed by the
beam-down to save the peace conference, were particularly noteworthy.
The special features on disc 2 of the DVD are again by far the best
of all the Star Trek DVDs that I've seen. The "stories from Star Trek
IV" were interesting and informative, and have better interviews than
I've seen before. The "Star Trek universe" featurettes were mostly
interesting, especially the conversation with the director, the
discussion about Klingons, and the list of actors that played in other
The trailers actually made me want to see the movie again, which is a
first for these ones, and the production archive was not just a bunch of
pictures, but video shots from behind the scenes! The vintage interviews
were so much better than anything on the other movies, that I was
totally amazed, especially with Shatner, who seemed to be in a good
mood. The others had a lot of good things to say, as well, though the
interviewer needed to find some original questions.
Finally, "The Perils of Peacemaking", comparing the movie to the end
of the Cold War, was simply terrific. The US negotiator managed to speak
about foreign affairs without mentioning Star Trek, but everything he
said related to the movie amazingly well, and is still relevant today.
He was interspersed with Nimoy and the director, who did mention Star
Trek, and showed us directly the parallels with history. The quality of
that feature was also great, not just interviews, but with footage from
the movie to let us know what they were talking about. The only thing
missing was a little behind-the-scenes work.
So with this DVD, we not only get a great movie, in widescreen and
its full glory, but also some features that are worth watching more than