Fond Memories of 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Blockbuster cinema: summer of 1989

It was the summer of 1989, and I was ready for my break from high school. I had many fond memories of that summer. To say that I was a Star Trek fan is an understatement, and that was one of my favorite years as a devoted fan. Star Trek was my escape. After moving from home to home, with few certainties in life, I manage to latch onto the optimistic hope of the future in the form of this franchise. I looked forward to Star Trek V, hoping it would keep the hope alive.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was among my favorite movies at that time, alongside The Empire Strikes Back, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. For these reasons, I managed to scrape in enough money to buy several episodes of the original series on VHS, subscribe to Starlog Magazine and the Star Trek Fan Club, always eagerly awaiting the next issues to arrive in the mail.

My fond memories of Star Trek V came from reading the fan club magazines…not the internet.

Star Trek V competed during a cinematic blockbuster season with such films as Tim Burton’s Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and of course, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I watched the Last Crusade at the theatre five times!

Deep down, my yearning was for Star Trek V. I had read everything that I could about the movie, studying the pictures that had been published, and doing everything I could to learn more about what to expect. Remember, this is a time when there was no Internet. This, to me, was a break from the Genesis storyline, and offered a more episodic approach, and I wanted that. I also wanted to see what William Shatner would do with the movie as a director.

Star Trek V – underwhelming experience…at first

Many fans over the years have mentioned their lack of satisfaction with the movie, and understandably so. Speaking from my perspective, I remember going to the theater, excited, only to have the film music open with the Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek theme heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the theme music, but I remember frowning because I felt like the music by this time had been overused; however, when we transitioned to the mountain scene, I found myself immersed in both the music and the beautiful scenery, not to mention the comedic dialogue that followed.

I watched the movie, and though I found myself entertained, I also sat confused. The god entity at the end felt a little too much for me. There were glaring mistakes that I just couldn’t understand, such as the un-sequential numbering of decks. The ship also felt smaller to me, namely because the shuttle bay seemed to me to be a little cluttered. I left the movie, not jumping up and down, but deep in contemplation, mulling over what I saw on my long walk home at night. I decided I needed to see it again, so I did, and the results were the same.

I appreciated the cast of Star Trek V

I didn’t not like the movie. In fact, I think I liked it, or I wanted to like it, so I bought the comic adaptation of the movie and the official movie magazine. I flipped through the latter, taking the time to learn all about the new characters and those who performed those roles. In many ways, I became fans of the actors.

Todd Bryant and Spice Williams worked out to prepared their bodies for their roles, investing their time to make their depictions as warrior Klingons, convinced me that I would never want to fight them. Interesting note: Todd Bryant played a character standing next to Peter Preston in Star Trek II. Among others were Cynthia Gouw, Charles Cooper, Rex Holman (who also appeared in the original series episode, Spectre of the Gun), David Warner (who would go on to play in Star Trek VI), and the charismatic Laurence Luckinbill.

My love for Star Trek continued…and I got to meet George Takei

The Fan Club magazine filtered in about every other month, and then DC released a new series of the Star Trek comic into a new format with better print quality. I loved them and they followed the adventures of the Enterprise with Captain Kirk back in the chair, offering more exciting stories.

Star Trek V Comic and the new DC run of Star Trek comics.

More exciting was that Star Trek conventions were still thriving, and it was during that summer I got to attend one in Little Rock, Arkansas where I met George Takei. 25 years later, I ran into him again, and he remembered going to Little Rock that summer.

Star Trek V at home

Something interesting happened with VHS movies around that time, of which I believe Who Framed Roger Rabbit was among the first: they went on sale at affordable prices (that movie had a suggested retail price of $22.99). This was crazy because new releases at that time, if you could get them, were about $90 or more, therefore they made going to the VHS rental stores like Blockbuster, the highlight of the week.

However, several of the top movies of the summer of 1989 released at affordable prices, and with that trend, I couldn’t wait to get hold of my copy of Star Trek V. Unfortunately, Star Trek V did not release at that price, so I rented it until the price eventually dropped. In a way, this may me yearn to watch the movie more.

Star Trek V on VHS with the movie magazine

Every time Star Trek V appeared on television, like HBO, or was played on VHS, I found myself captivated, not really sure why, but always watching the movie until conclusion. It felt like an episode, and time flew by for me. I realized then that not only did I enjoy it, I also appreciated it. It gave us a glimpse of a period of time that said Kirk and crew are still adventuring on the Enterprise, albeit, 1701-A.

William Shatner

In 2016, my wife sent me to Dallas to a special evening the William Shatner where about 200 of us got to spend a couple of hours with William Shatner. He said something interesting to the effect that J.J. Abrams had it all figured out…give the audience a roller coaster ride and the movie will make a lot of money. However, Shatner cautioned, stating that it is the story that lives on, and that’s what the original Star Trek movies had: stories.

Fond memories posing with William Shatner in 2016
Posing with William Shatner in 2016.

I’m sure that many would debate that topic, but to me, maybe that’s why Star Trek V resonates with me…it was a story that took us into the Final Frontier. For this last reason, I think it is wonderful I got to see a movie depicted and directed by William Shatner, the man who brought Captain Kirk to life for me. That is what we try to do with all our books…tell the story. Explore Kantara here.

Learn more about Star Trek V here.

Live Long and Prosper

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