It was on December 6, 1991 that Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country debuted in movie theaters across the country. And, for all intents and purposes, it capped the TOS era and the big-screen adventures of the original Enterprise crew. It did so in style, of course – with a meaningful, often action-packed conspiracy/assassination story that allowed William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Walter Koenig take their final bows.
The plot, with its political intrigue involving the Vulcans, Federation and Klingons, mirrored the realities of the time, most specifically the Cold War, but also perestroika. Rura Penthe is unmistakably a gulag. Spock even invokes a Vulcan proverb: “Only Nixon could go to China.” Meanwhile, Kirk contemplates his own prejudices and the possibility of a universe without an enemy against which to wage war. Further, Nicholas Meyer, who’d helmed The Wrath of Khan, returned to the director’s chair, working from a script he co-wrote (with Denny Martin Flinn) based on an idea developed by Leonard Nimoy. And Meyer made the most of state-of-the-art technology, including the very-cool CGI that enabled Martia (Iman) to morph. At the time, the effect was only just starting to impress people who'd seen it put to use in the music video for Michael Jackson's song “Black or White” and in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Star Trek VI guest stars included Kim Cattrall as the duplicitous Lt. Valeris, David Warner as Klingon Chancellor Gorkon and Christopher Plummer as the Shakespeare-quoting General Chang. Memorable grace notes included the sight of George Takei as Captain Sulu racing to assist the Enterprise and Captain Kirk, and appearances by Michael Dorn (as Colonel Worf), Mark Lenard (as Sarek), John Schuck (reprising his Star Trek IV role as the Klingon Ambassador) and Brock Peters (reprising his Star Trek IV role as Admiral Cartwright).
Make no mistake, Star Trek VI is far from perfect. It’s a bit dated and a tad slow. Many of the costumes worn by the original cast seem worn out, as if they were simply pulled off a hanger and dry cleaned rather than remade for the latest production.
- There’s lots more to love and to debate. We'll start the ball rolling with the following:
- "If I were human I believe my response would be 'Go to hell.'... If I were human."
- Kirk against Kirk, mano a mano
- Uhura saves the day (“The thing must have a tailpipe.”) Great moment for Nichols and the Uhura character, but, really? A tailpipe on a starship?
- Montgomery Scott, action hero
- Fuschia blood... or hot pink or purple... or... what color is that, actually? (Whatever it was, it was a digital effect)
- Christian Slater’s cameo
- “I’d give real money if he’d shut up”
- References to not just Shakespeare, but Sherlock Holmes and Peter Pan
- “Must have been your lifelong ambition”
- Just how great was Cliff Eidelman's score?
- "Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?"
- "You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon."
- The cast’s farewell signatures during the end-credit sequence
OK, what's your opinion of Star Trek VI? How does it hold up? Where does it rank amongst the TOS fetaures? What are your favorite/least favorite aspects of the film?