STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
Nicholas Meyer had made the last worthwhile Trek film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), and returns to the captains chair here. After three films Treks III-V where self-indulgence, self-parody and a refusal of the lead cast/creative personnel to venture beyond a cosy conservatism had become the name of the game, it is a surprise to see a worthwhile Star Trek film again. Nicholas Meyer gives us a Star Trek film that succeeds in balancing drama, character evolution, humour that doesnt come at the expense of the characters and a boldly going where no man ... once again. Meyer recognised the fact that his characters were in their middle-age in Star Trek II something that the team increasingly tried to ignore with laughably obviousness once they became the creative driving force. Returning to the series, Meyer welcomely adresses the issue of its casts age again. Thus at long last Sulu gets the captaincy of his own ship (at the age of 51, the point when many people are starting to look forward to retirement). The end wherein the cast are placed into long overdue retirement and the reigns handed over to the future crews of The Enterprise with each actor signing off as the end credits roll brings the twenty-five year journey to a moving end.
There are some huge plot holes in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country one fails to believe an empire would prefer military expenditure at the cost of oxygen; and there is a silly scene trying to use a Klingon dictionary to hoodwink a border post, especially in light of the fact that the use of translators is established several times elsewhere throughout the film. However, this is relatively unimportant against having a Star Trek film that maintains a dramatic and exciting plot. Some scenes have a joy the imposing arrival of the Klingons on board the Enterprise and the baited dinner scenes, Spocks Holmesian work in trying to puzzle out the traitor, the trial. Like old Star Trek, The Undiscovered Country also has a political subtext in the 1960s, the Klingons were a veiled stand-in for the Russians and the Cold War. Now the series finally catches up where Star Trek: The Next Generation had travelled a number of years before and accordingly fashions its plot as a trendy headline-grabbed re-enactment of Glasnost, the Gorbachev coup and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union.
On the films down side, there was an indulgent side to Nicholas Meyer in Star Trek II that becomes apparent here. In The Wrath of Khan, Ricardo Montalbans quoting of Melville and Dickens had its amusements, but Meyers similarly having Christopher Plummer quoting Shakespeare at 45 rpm at the climax here becomes incredibly silly, disrupting what should be a tense and exciting finale. Kim Cattralls primly sexy Vulcan is a fine addition to the series that one wishes the plot had not arbitrarily thrown away.
The title, by the way, is a phrase that comes from Shakespeares Hamlet (1602), being a euphemism for death. The Undiscovered Country was, in a trivia note, the original pre-production title for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There is also a line in the film where Christopher Plummer suggests that Kirk should read Hamlet in the original Klingon. In 1999, a fan group known as The Klingon Language Academy published a copy of Hamlet translated into Klingon. Christian Slater makes a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo as one of Sulus officers hes the one that wakes Sulu up. Michael Dorn, who played the regular character of Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation, plays a Klingon trial lawyer also known as Worf, which the production notes tell us is supposed to be one of Worfs ancestors. Flashback (1996), an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, intriguingly recreates and sets another entire story in and around the events of The Undiscovered Country, while Rura Penthe was revisited in the Star Trek: Voyager episode Judgment (2003).
The other Star Trek films are: Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), The Voyage Home: Star Trek IV (1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989). Star Trek was revived in four new series in the 1980s and 1990s Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1992-99), Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), Enterprise (2001-5) and the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery (2017 ). Star Trek: Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) are film spinoffs from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek: Beyond (2016) were reboots of the classic series, which recast the classic roles with new faces.