The beginning of Country felt rushed. It was obvious these actors were all well over the hill, looking like they aged 20 years since Frontier. I didn’t feel like I was actually watching a movie until the Klingons boarded the Enterprise. Despite me not caring much for Kirk’s son in previous movies I felt like he was a good tool for Kirk to eventually see past his prejudice of Klingons and learn to forgive.
Christopher Plummer as Chang provided a great rival to Kirk. Beneath layers of formality we could see his maniacal attributes. Unlike Valeris, his character isn’t as easily predictable. In fact, he may be my favorite villain of all the classic Star Trek movies.
Country felt like one giant CSI episode. The killing of the Klingons served as the shows intro and the rest of the movie turned the crew of the Enterprise into sleuths. Maybe the movie should have been called Star Trek VI: Sherlock in Space. None of this means I didn’t enjoy the mystery and Kirk and McCoy being sent to the underground Thunderdome-esque jail. It just felt so anticlimatic for it being the final film of the series. No one dies. There’s no huge character shifts. With Khan, we lose Spock along with Kirk’s innocence. With Spock, we regain Spock and lose the Enterprise. With Voyage, we regain Kirk and Spock’s friendship. Frontier and Country don’t have any large shifts. I don’t mind a happy ending, but if the happiness isn’t earned, it falls flat.
The plot takes over this film. We are pounded throughout with information and exposition that is heavy enough to take down the ship. I think a lot of that had to do with the need to explain very specific plot points. Like the cloaking bird of prey that could also shoot torpedos but was only in its beta phase. Or Uhura speaking Klingon because if they used their translator the Klingons would notice its them. Or the specifics of the peace treaty.
The highlights of the film for me were the scene where Spock mindmelded with Valeris, and when Kirk talks with Spock in Spock’s quarters about their prejudice and their age. I’m glad their age was finally brought up. At times I found it slightly embarrassing that all these characters were running around with grey hair. Why would Uhura need to beam down to stop the assassination? Were there not enough strapping young men that could get the job done?
This did not feel like a proper exit for any of these characters. I wish the series had ended with Voyage, although I think the ending to Khan was the strongest.
In the wise words of Spock referring to Starfleet, “Go to Hell.” Never was a fan of Starfleet and I was waiting the entire series for someone to say something to that extent.
As for the entire series, I feel like it was off and on as far as production value goes. Country most definitely looks cheap and I might have mistaken it for a TV movie. The lighting is flat, and the sets don’t realistic at all. There were times when the VFX looks good, but other times when it just outright seems outdated. Overall the series didn’t have the production value and engaging look that would have made these movies great. I still think the best looking movie is by far TMP. Robert Wise just simply knew how to frame shots. The quality of film surpassed the rest and the shots cut very nicely. The next closest in terms of quality would be Voyage. Nimoy does a good job for most of the film except for the end. Although I think some of the scripts were there, the lack of direction and lack of budget really made these Star Trek movies suffer.
Now that I’ve seen all six of the classic Star Trek movies I can look back and say that I’m happy I did it. My interest for further Star Trek adventures has increased but, as of right now, only materials that would further my knowledge of the movies. Maybe someday down the road I’ll dedicate more time for the original series or other series. Now that I’ve seen these films I do want to rewatch Star Trek (2009). I think I’ll be able to pick up on a lot more and realize how much they deviate from the original characters.