‘STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Future with Klingons
This is a triumphant swansong for Captain Kirk and the original Enterprise crew!
‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ is the sixth film made in the ‘Star Trek’ movie series and is the last to feature ‘The Original Series’ cast. This, for me, is probably the best, well-written ‘Star Trek’ movie ever made. It has ‘The Original Series’ arc end on a high with a good story about the Klingons.
This film was made in 1991 and was produced by Ralph Winter and Steven-Charles Jaffe. It was directed by Nicholas Meyer, who previously directed ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ and triumphantly returns. It’s good that Nick Meyer directs this, since he knows the original ‘Star Trek’ cast so well.
My Dad purchased ‘Star Trek VI’ on a 2-disc special edition DVD along with ‘Star Trek V’ sometime in early 2005. I’m pleased that my parents and I managed to reach this point where we’d see all the live-action appearances of ‘The Original Series’ stories of ‘Star Trek’. But it was sad it came to an end.
The 2-disc special edition DVD has the following contents. The movie is on Disc 1 with the bonus features on Disc 2. There is a lot to say about ‘Star Trek VI’ and what it represents, since it reflects on the current climate that was going on towards the end of the Cold War between America and Russia.
The film literally begins with a bang! An explosion in space! In the story, the Klingon moon called Praxis explodes in space and very soon the Klingon Empire is on the point of deterioration. After years of conflict, the Klingons summon the Federation for help and ask to make peace negotiations.
Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew are chosen for the mission to escort the Klingon ship to the peace negotiations on Earth. But Kirk is resentful of this mission, as he believes the Klingons to be ‘animals’. But a conspiracy soon occurs to disrupt the Federation and the Klingon Empire peace talks.
This movie had me engaged from beginning to end. The story is strongly-developed and has our heroic characters being put to the test. It also deals with the notion of Captain Kirk and his Enterprise team getting old as they’re on their way for retirement and about to be decommissioned.
Also this movie deals with something that’s at the core of the story. The future! The title ‘The Undiscovered Country’ essentially means the future and is also a line from a Shakespeare play called ‘Hamlet’ when spoken by Klingon Chancellor Gorkon. There are lots of Shakespeare references in this.
The Enterprise crew have to deal with something that they can never imagine would be possible. They have to live at peace with the Klingons. The Federation and the Klingons have been at each other’s throats for many years, so it’s a struggle for the Enterprise crew to come to terms with here.
There is also the theme of prejudice resounding throughout this movie. Sometimes I did find the ‘Star Trek’ characters out of character, as they tended to be bigoted and resentful of the Klingons in the first half. I’m pleased that some original lines of dialogue were cut from the final edit of the film.
It isn’t something that I find ideal about the 23rd century where everyone is still prejudiced towards other races not like them. Kirk seemed out of character and I wished that his reaction shot of him going ‘I didn’t mean it’ when he said to Spoke about the Klingons, “Let them die!” was in this movie.
But what I found appealing about this ‘Star Trek’ movie was that the characters go on a journey especially with Kirk, Spock and Bones on how they adapt to the changes in their future lives. They overcome their prejudices and ensure the peace between the Federation and Klingons is a success.
Director Nicholas Meyer delivers a triumphant entry into the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise. I enjoyed his blend of action and drama in this final instalment of the original ‘Star Trek’ film series. He pulls out the storms in making this a compelling movie and he does pretty well depicting the Klingons in this.
The ideas that Nicholas Meyers adds to this movie with the story, the concepts, the action-adventure, the outer-space sequences and battles and even Shakespeare are tremendous. This sixth movie of the original ‘Star Trek’ also helps to sets things up with future ‘Star Trek’ spin-off TV shows.
William Shatner delivers a superb performance as Captain Kirk in this movie. As I said before, Kirk is still resentful towards the Klingon and uncomfortable about making peace with him. He doesn’t trust them since they killed his son David in ‘Star Trek III’ and he states that he could never forgive them.
But Kirk gets to learn some harsh lessons on the way and has the biggest journey of all during this movie. He and Bones find themselves arrested after an assassination attempt on Chancellor Gorkon and are then on trial by the Klingon before they’re sent to the mines of the icy world of Rura Penthe.
Leonard Nimoy is equally superb as Spock in this movie. Spock is the prime mover of these negotiations between the Federation and the Klingons. He ‘personally vouches’ for Kirk’s involvement with escorting Chancellor Gorkon’s ship to Earth, something that Kirk is not happy with.
Spock is rather bemused by all the prejudice raised by his fellow crewmembers aboard the Enterprise. He soon takes command of the Enterprise in order to rescue Kirk and McCoy from their captivity and unveil the conspiracy. Spock too goes on a journey and realises the mistakes he made.
DeForest Kelley was a joy to watch as Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy in this movie. He’s not so prejudiced about the Federation and Klingons living together as others are, as he shows his compassion as a medical doctor in this. Bones shares the same fate as Kirk when they’re both arrested for suspected murder.
I enjoyed some Bones’ one-liners in this movie, especially when he and Kirk are on Rura Penthe together. The friendship between Bones and Kirk is clearly shown they share their captivity together. I liked that scene between them at night when they discuss about the future and being afraid of it.
James Doohan is great as Scotty in this movie. Scotty is very gobsmacked that none of the Enterprise missiles fired on the Klingon ship and that one of the computers is ‘lying’ saying that they did, twice. I liked his reaction about a cloaked Bird of Prey and him discovering two spacesuits with gravity boots.
Nichelle Nichols is very good as Uhura in the movie. It was interesting to see her reaction to the Klingon, especially during and after dinner with them aboard the Enterprise. Uhura gets to be resourceful in this movie with his communication skills and she even gets to speak some Klingonese.
Walter Keonig is equally good as Chekov in this movie. Chekov has similar reactions to the Klingons during and after dinner with them aboard the Enterprise. I also like it when he gets inquisitive about what’s going on with this conspiracy and he manages to find a clue for Spock to save Kirk and Bones.
George Takei rises in the ranks as Captain Sulu of the starship Excelsior in this movie. I was very pleased to see Sulu get his own command as captain of a starship in this movie, as he well deserves it. It was also interesting to see how he commands a starship compared to how Captain Kirk does it.
There is a new crewmember aboard the Enterprise. This is Kim Cattrall who guest stars as Valeris, the Enterprise’s new helmsman. Valeris is a young Vulcan who graduated from Starfleet Academy. I initially thought she was another Saavik from ‘Star Trek II’ to ‘IV’. But she wasn’t like that at all in this.
David Warner guest stars as Chancellor Gorkon of the Klingon High Council. This is David’s second appearance in the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise following ‘Star Trek V’. I enjoyed David’s performance as the peace-seeking Klingon Chancellor and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the man at conventions.
The movie’s main guest star is Christopher Plummer as General Chang. Christopher Plummer is well-known for his performance in ‘The Sound of Music’ with Julie Andrews. I enjoyed his performance as General Chang, a Klingon who is so distinctively different with his black eye patch and his bald head.
This leads me onto talking the Klingons and their love of Shakespeare. Chang quotes a lot of Shakespeare in this movie, especially when she speaks it in Klingonese. This is interesting and rather unusual. Despite the Klingon’s hatred of humans; they seem to love the works of Mr. Shakespeare?!
The guest cast also includes Mark Lenard who returns as Sarek, Spock’s father. There’s also Grace Lee Whitney as Lt. Commander Janice Rand. I was very pleased to see Janice in this movie and she has risen in the ranks as the communications officer aboard the starship Excelsoir with Captain Sulu.
There’s a special guest appearance of Michael Dorn as Colonel Worf, who defends Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy during the trail by the Klingons. I was pleased to see Michael Dorn in this, as he played Worf in ‘The Next Generation’ and ‘Deep Space Nine’, which links so nicely from ‘The Original Series’.
There’s Brock Peters as Admiral Cartwright, who first appeared in ‘Star Trek IV’. And there’s also John Schuck as the Klingon Ambassador, who also first appeared in ‘Star Trek IV’. There’s also Kurtwood Smith as the Federation President and Rosanna DeSoto as Azetbur, Chancellor Korkon’s daughter.
There’s W. Morgan Sheppard as the Klingon Commander on Rura Penthe; Jeremy Roberts as Dimitri Valtane, an officer aboard the Excelsior; Iman as the shape-shifter Martia; Darryl Henriques as Nanclus, the Romulan Ambassador and Rene Auberjonois (who’d play Odo in ‘DS9’) as Colonel West.
I found the climatic scenes between the Enterprise and the Excelsior against the cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey commanded by General Chang very spectacular. I also loved it when Kirk and his friends save the day by stopping the assassination attempt of the Federation President and revealing the traitors.
The musical score for ‘Star Trek VI’ is provided by Cliff Eidelman, who makes his first and only contribution to the ‘Star Trek’ film series. I enjoyed listening to Cliff Eidelman’s musical score in the background, especially with the brooding overture at the beginning and the triumphant end credits.
The DVD special features on the 2-disc special edition are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a commentary with director Nicholas Meyer and screenwriter Denny Martin Flinn. There’s also a text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, co-authors of ‘The Star Trek Enyclopedia’ to enjoy.
On Disc 2, there’s ‘The Perils of Peacemaking’ documentary. There’s also a ‘Stories From Star Trek VI’ section including the six making-of documentaries; ‘It Started With A Story’, ‘Prejudice’, ‘Director Nicholas Meyer’, ‘Shakespeare and General Chang’, ‘Bringing it to Life’ and ‘Farewell & Goodbye’.
There’s ‘The Star Trek Universe’ section containing ‘Conversations with Nicholas Meyer’, ‘Klingons: Conjuring the Legend’, ‘Federation Operatives’ that looks into the other ‘Star Trek’ roles of actors in ‘Star Trek VI’, ‘Penny’s Toy Box’ and ‘Together Again’ with William Shatner and Christopher Plummer.
There’s a ‘Farewell’ section containing the touching ‘DeForest Kelley: A Tribute’. There are also original interviews with the cast of ‘Star Trek VI’ including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig and Iman.
There’s also a ‘Promotion Material’ section that contains the teaser and theatrical trailers of ‘Star Trek VI’ and the ‘1991 Convention Presentation by Nicholas Meyer’. There’s also an ‘Archives’ section that contains a production gallery and storyboards of ‘Star Trek VI’.
The special features on the 2009 DVD of ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ are as follows. There’s a commentary by Larry Nemecek and Ira Steven Behr, ‘Tom Morga: Alien Stuntman’; ‘To Be Or Not To Be: Klingons and Shakespeare’ and ‘Starfleet Academy: Praxis’.
‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ is a triumphant movie in the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise! It’s one of the best and features a thrilling swansong for ‘The Original Series’ cast. It’s well-directed by Nicholas Meyer and it does end ‘The Original Series’ arc of ‘Star Trek’ on a resounding high at best.
But it wasn’t quite the end of ‘The Original Series’ story just yet. Oh no! Many of ‘The Original Series’ cast members made appearances in the spin-off shows set after ‘The Undiscovered Country’. Captain Kirk would also make an appearance in one of these ‘Star Trek’ incarnations in a film about ‘Generations’.
‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ rating – 10/10
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