“What does God want with a starship?”–Captain Kirk, reading the audience’s minds.
The general consensus considering the classic Star Trek movies is that the even-numbered movies are great, but the odd-numbered movies are bad. I don’t completely agree with it because I happen to like Search For Spock, the third movie in the series. However, Star Trek V is a movie I cannot defend, and I’ve defended some stinkers.
This is a bad movie from start to finish. The budget couldn’t be met because Paramount was too busy investing it in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Leonard Nimoy almost wasn’t available because he was filming another movie. Sean Connery would’ve played Sybok, but he was busy with Last Crusade as well. Shatner had no directing experience and thought of this movie as a love letter to James T. Kirk, essentially himself. There was also a teamsters’ strike.
The movie introduces Sybok, a Vulcan who seems like he’d fit right in with those televangelists who ruin Christianity even today (like Oral Roberts or Jimmy Swaggart). He claims that he can remove pain and slowly wins over followers. He wants a spaceship to visit the fabled planet Sha Ka Ree, where he believes he will encounter God Himself. When they finally do encounter God, Kirk asks the question I quoted at the start of the article, angering “God.” (It’s actually not God)
I have many problems with the movie. I don’t mind the premise, but until Deep Space 9 was created, Star Trek wasn’t really the kind of franchise that should be doing these kind of stories (and even Deep Space 9 had its own problems). The humor seems forced at best, and was added because Paramount wanted to duplicate the success of The Voyage Home. There’s also the infamous editing mistake causing a floor in the Enterprise to actually appear twice in the same scene during a turbolift sequence. I cannot defend this movie. It almost killed the entire Star Trek franchise. Its failure is legendary, even among people who aren’t fans.
Star Trek V should be avoided. It is as bad as you’ve heard.