Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Post  BoG on Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:26 pm



STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
starring WILLIAM SHATNER * LEONARD NIMOY * DeFOREST KELLEY
and CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER as Chang * KIM CATTRALL as Valeris
also starring MARK LENARD * KURTWOOD SMITH * DAVID WARNER as Chancellor Gorkon
co-starring JAMES DOOHAN * WALTER KOENIG *  NICHELLE NICHOLS * and GEORGE TAKEI
BROCK PETERS * ROSANNA DeSOTO * IMAN * JOHN SCHUCK * MICHAEL DORN * ROBERT EASTON
and with GRACE LEE WHITNEY * LEON RUSSOM * RENE AUBERJONOIS and CHRISTIAN SLATER
Directed by NICHOLAS MEYER


Join us now... for the final adventure of the complete original crew of the starship Enterprise...
...the final grouping of the TOS cast...  the later trailer:
The music for the beginning credits is noticeably different from the other Trek films, with an ominous quality, as if heading for an uncertain future - and that's the theme of the story. The film proper begins with a bang, as many of the better films do: the destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis. We learn that Sulu (Takei) finally has his own command, on the starship Excelsior (seen in previous Star Trek films).

We then learn that the Klingon Empire is on the verge of collapse, predicted to have 50 years of life left to it. Of course, the story carries blatant parallels to political events of our 20th century, namely the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990-91, the year before this film was released. Captain Kirk and his crew are ready to stand down in three months (retire? - we think - for real, this time?) but Starfleet & Federation hierarchy have selected them to escort the Klingon ruler, Gorkon, to new negotiations.
Spock, seeming to step into his father's (Sarek, still played by Mark Lenard) diplomatic shoes, has played a big role in bringing all this about, much to the annoyance of the rest of the Enterprise crew. There follows an uncomfortable dinner scene (not as tremendous as it could have been, but still engaging), followed by betrayal and murder. The film has scope, depicting a moment in time which will determine the course of history in this galactic quadrant for the next century; it actually serves as a prequel to the TNG series (which was already running for a few years), in many respects. On a more immediate note, Kirk & McCoy are sentenced to life imprisonment on a Klingon prison colony, on some snow-covered planet. These scenes reminded me of that other sci-fi saga, the Star Wars films; it had a similar tone to those.



Something to this film's advantage, right off the bat, is that the story is about an important pivotal moment in Star Trek history, rather than just another mission, such as the previous The Final Frontier. It also helps to have the director of The Wrath of Khan back in the chair. This film isn't as fast paced as Meyer's previous Star Trek outing, but remains a classy, respectful closing chapter with the original Trek crew.

Nowhere is this better apparent than in the memorable, electrifying scene with Kirk when he blurts out his preference to let the Klingons die. I remember an audible gasp emanate from most of the audience in the theater when I watched this scene back in 1991. This was real, a real moment - a sudden vocal admission by a character based on years of recorded adventures, from the 3rd Star Trek film and many years beforehand, dating back to the original series. It wasn't something out of left field. And it reminded us of something about real (or realistic) heroes - that they aren't gods, flawless; no, usually they're damaged, angry men, with years of hubris and pent-up rage - that they're, well, a lot like the rest of us, really. It's rare to see a real moment such as this captured on film, especially in a supposed science fiction adventure.
One thing I've noticed in Meyer's approach to the Trek universe is that he follows some traditional aspects of our current times too closely, ignoring obvious technological advances established on the original series. He ignores, for example, the food synthesizers of the original show, showing a typical kitchen/galley on the Enterprise, as if someone reverted to traditional methods of cooking food. He ignores the fact that 300 years have passed since the late 20th century.

These are details, but it's more disturbing when viewing the racism on display here; it's shown to make a point - that it's not a simplistic 'Klingons bad/Terrans good' universe we have here.  But, in Roddenberry's conception, it would take an alien force, such as in the episode Day of the Dove, to actually bring such primitive attitudes to the surface. It's almost as if Trek culture had taken a step back in the films, compared to the original episodes, reverting to typical 20th-century attitudes. But, maybe these are still just details - there was at least one racist on the original episode Balance of Terror, so maybe we're just seeing an ugly side to the 23rd century not delved into before.

This is a strong finish for most of the original crew, a fine exploration of Star Trek's recurrent theme of improving ourselves and not basing our actions on fear. Kirk, Scotty and Chekov would return one more time in the next one, Generations (1994), but, for the rest, it was a genuine sign-off to the series (well, Sulu did show up with Janice Rand in a Voyager episode later, Flashback). Oh, and, Chekov and Uhura did show up in the independent internet production Star Trek:Of Gods and Men (2007) much later. I guess some sci-fi concepts & characters die hard.

BoG's Score: 8.5 out of 10  


Last edited by BoG on Thu Jun 04, 2015 3:05 am; edited 3 times in total
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Siskel & Ebert review

Post  BoG on Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:01 pm



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