After the success Leonard Nimoy had with the Voyage Home, William Shatner had the desire to try his hand at directing a feature film (he had directed some episodes of the show T.J. Hooker a few years prior).
Opening with a stranger approaching a drifter on the plains of a remote planet Nimbus III, the stranger talks to the drifter of pain and releasing the pain. We then visit Kirk, Spock and McCoy on a camping trip where they enjoy roasting marshmallows and trying to get Spock to enjoy singing “Row Your Boat”.
The three are called to a newly built (and glitchy Enterprise) to face a new crisis occurring at Nimbus III. There they run into the mysterious Stranger, revealed to be the Vulcan Sybock. Sybock has cast away the Vulcan adherence to logic and embraced his emotions. He also seems to be able to convert people to his message quickly. They arrest Sybok, not realizing that this is what he wants. Once on board, he manages a mutiny by converting the crew, leaving Kirk, Spock and Bones on the run within the enterprise.
The Final Frontier is often ridiculed as terrible. Instead of a threat like a mysterious probe or a revenge seeker from the past, the movie pontificates on the nature of pain and whether God needs a starship.
But you know…this time around? I had some fun. This is a flawed film, but honestly, Sybok is an interesting character. And there is some fun moments throughout. There is a solid moment where Sybok is facing “God”…and he realizes the being simply took advantage of Sybok’s ego to find importance that is a real terrific performance moment by Laurence Luckenbill.
The film makes it it pretty clear that this is a trapped alien intelligence, not “God” and the resolution feels pretty uninspired. Really, this plot almost feels like it would have been more at home as an episode of the Original Series. And considering that by this time, the Q Continuum had been introduced, the idea almost feels repetitive. And since the Next Generation explored Q better, there is nothing that feels…meaty here. But I have to say, I don’t think the Final Frontier is so much outright bad as it just lacks any real impact for the characters, the franchise or the audience.