It was a wonderful 12 years of new movies for the original cast. They have been through their share of ups & downs. The time has come for the entire original cast to step down from Star Trek, yet go out with a bang at the same time in what would be their final movie together. But sadly, one special man didn’t get to live long enough to see the completion of the final TOS film. That man was known as “The Great Bird of the Galaxy”, Gene Roddenberry. So the movie, which was coincidentally and appropriately called “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” was dedicated to the creator of “Star Trek.”
What makes this movie a favorite, baaaarely second only to ST II: TWOK, was it’s clever use of Shakespearean quotes to define key events in the movie. The title itself has double meaning. The term ‘The Undiscovered Country’ is derived from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1 as are several quotes used in the movie. The undiscovered country is the unknown. It represents change to a big degree. It also represents death and what awaits us beyond. Since there has been no 100% solid proof of life after death, we only have the word of the many who claim to have seen beyond their mortal coil in the spiritual realm. And take it from me, the aspects of life and death are something I have learned for many years so that’s why this movie is such a good one IMO.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the actual passage:
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is about change and the many who fear it. Kirk still harbors deep resentment towards the Klingons due to the senseless death of his son at the hands of one. And when it is learned that the Klingon Empire has roughly 50 years of life left to it due to the explosion of their moon, Praxis, Kirk says coldly, “Let them die!”. But in spite of Kirk’s personal grudge, the Federation and the Klingon Empire have begun negotiations to forge a peace between the two. But like Kirk, there are several others from both sides who also have reservations about these peace talks and would just as soon leave their relationship the way it is. And there’s enough resentment on both sides that a conspiracy was formed by select figures with the two societies to sabotage any hopes for peace by assassinating the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council, an assassination that was pinned on Kirk and McCoy, even after they beamed over to Chancellor Gorkon’s ship from the Enterprise to try and save him. But in spite of this, the peace talks remained intact. But with Kirk and McCoy sentenced to spend the rest of their lives on the penal asteroid of Rura Penthe, things seemed hopeless for peace. But thanks to Spock’s quick thinking, they manage to track Kirk via a viridium patch on his back and beam him and McCoy up after an escape attempt once they are outside the beaming shield.
After discovering who the conspirators are, the Enterprise hightails it to Khitomer only to be intercepted by Chang’s prototype Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked. A raging battle ensues. Even with the aid of the Excelsior with Captain Sulu in command, things seem bleak. But thanks to some innovative technology of their own, the Enterprise scores a hit and reveals the Klingon ship and the two Federation ships open fire, destroying it. With that out of the way, Kirk and crew beam down just in time to prevent the assassination of the Federation President and ensure the peace to come.
And I must say that this movie is a fitting end for the original cast. They did what Kirk eventually died for in Star Trek: Generations and that’s making a difference. If it weren’t for him, the Federation President would be dead and all hell would have broken loose. And to see Sulu finally get his command of the Excelsior was a nice treat as well. This movie is certainly an excellent rebound from ST V: TFF in terms of both drama and special effects. And with it being directed by Nicholas Meyer, you just know it’s gonna be good.
The ensemble cast features
Kurtwood Smith as the Federation President,
Christopher Plummer as General Chang, and none other than
Michael Dorn from ST: TNG as Colonel Worf. Returning favorites include Mark Lenard as Sarek, John Schuck as the Klingon Ambassador, Grace Lee Whitney as Commander Janice Rand, Brock Peters as Admiral Cartwright, and David Warner who this time takes on the role of Chancellor Gorkon.
The reason why the Trek films should’ve ended with this one, or at least a long time, is because Star Trek was a hit. And even with Star Trek: The Next Generation still airing new episodes at the time, many considered that to be a great series and should’ve just left it at that instead of taking the TNG crew into movies so soon. The original cast got to give a proper farewell with the signatures playing at the very end. To kill off Kirk in Generations was a bad idea and I’ll tell you why. There was no real reason to kill Kirk. He could’ve just stayed retired and then that way, he could be brought back much further down the road if the need ever came.
But because of Rick Berman’s piss poor job at carrying the legacy of Star Trek, Kirk is dead, there’s actually a website to this day demanding that Kirk be brought back. Four more Trek movies have been made in which none of them captured the essence of the original cast. And even though they connected with lots of Trek fans still, to me it just wasn’t the same as when it was with Kirk and crew. To see Kirk, Chekov, and Scotty in Generations seemed to serve only to dampen their importance and show them as old news and a grandpa checking out a new age version of something they once had. But alas, Rick never did truly get the picture and as a result, we wound up with Nemesis which is now the undisputed box office flop of the entire Trek movie series. And his attempt at multiple series ended up squeezing the life out of Star Trek, causing it to run out of gas. I can at least vouch for Deep Space Nine and to a degree, Star Trek: Voyager. But when he wanted to dip into the era of the original series and before and practically go where no one would never go before, that S-O-B crossed the line! We get Enterprise which is the bastard child of the original series. To not even have Star Trek in the title shows right there what Berman really thinks of Star Trek. And the ratings speak for themselves. There’s already talk of the show facing a possible cancellation. And in the words of Kirk from ST VI: TUC…”Let them die!”
Anyway, I don’t want to stray too far from ST VI: TUC so I’ll give you now, the stand-out scenes:
- The Excelsior encountering the shockwave of the explosion of Praxis
- Enterprise departs spacedock for their rendezvous with Kronos I
- Dinner aboard the Enterprise with Chancellor Gorkon and his crew
- The unexpected attack on Kronos I
- The Chancellor’s assassination
- The trial of Kirk and McCoy
- Kirk and McCoy’s arrival at Rura Penthe and Kirk’s encounter with Martia
- Kirk “gets the girl” and McCoy’s funny reaction
- The gravity boots being found on Crewman Dax’s locker and the crew’s subsequent surprise of how impossible that is when they see his feet
- Martia helps Kirk and McCoy escape and their trek across the icy cold surface to get outside of the beaming shield
- Uhura’s poor attempt at convincing the Klingon at the listening outpost that they are a freighter while saying it in Klingon with all the translation books scattered everywhere
- Kirk slugging Martia knowing full well it’s a trap to get them killed as escapees which would be more convincing that an “accident”
- This line of dialogue between Kirk and Martia morphed into Kirk. Kirk: “I can’t believe I kissed you!” Martia-Kirk: “Must’ve been your lifelong ambition”
- Lt. Valeris is exposed as one of the conspirators
- The final showdown between Enterprise and Chang’s prototype Bird of Prey
- Enterprise and Excelsior destroy the Bird of Prey and Chang
- Kirk barely saves the Federation President from being assassinated and saves the peace
- “If I were human, I believe my response would be…go to hell…if I were human.”
- The signoff of the cast at the end
Star Trek VI was a fitting end to the original series crew. And if Berman can somehow be dethroned and Star Trek be given a rest for a while, there may yet be the potential for Star Trek to return with an all new series and/or movie. But the reality is that Star Trek needs a vacation. There’s a world of series episodes and movies the fans can easily enjoy during that time. And perhaps just maybe…Star Trek can be saved.
Anyway, this concludes the Trek Tribute Series. I thank you for your patience as they were being made and expect some coverage on other movies new and old!