Star Trek V: The Final Frontier opened on June 9, 1989 -- or 25 years ago today. The film, directed by William Shatner, remains as polarizing as ever all these years later. In it, Sybok, an emotional Vulcan, and his followers take hostages on Nimbus III, the so-called Planet of Galactic Peace. Sybok intends to locate God, and his plan is simple: take hostages on Nimbus III, lure a starship there and use it to fulfill his destiny. Of course, that ship is the Enteprise, and Kirk and especially Spock -- Sybok's half-brother -- have other ideas about Sybok's quest to breach the Great Barrier.
The Final Frontier is widely regarded as the least successful TOS feature. Despite a genuinely daring and thought-provoking premise -- searching for God -- the general perception was, is and will likely forever be that the film just doesn't work. Too much around the central premise doesn't play as intended. Nothing operational on the Enterprise? Scotty bumping into things? "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" sung around a campfire? Cringe-worthy lines like "On the contrary, gravity is the foremost thing on my mind" or "Please, captain, not in front of the Klingons," didn't help, nor did lackluster visual effects.
So, some questions to ponder, lines to remember and factoids to absorb...
-- First, what did YOU think of the infamous campfire scene?
-- Was the search for God too big an idea for even Star Trek to tackle?
-- The film, in our view, was almost redeemed by two memorable Kirk lines, "Excuse me. Excuse me... but what does God need with a starship?" and "Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you... God?"
-- Runner up: McCoy referring to Spock: "God, I liked him better before he died."
-- Another good one, from Sybok: "I don't control minds. I free them."
-- At one point, The Final Frontier and Star Trek: The Next Generation filmed next door to one another on the Paramount Pictures lot.
-- Pretty much everyone on the planet knows this, but first choice to play Sybok was... Sean Connery. The reference to Sha Ka Ree is a tip of the cap to the actor.
-- Laurence Luckinbill, who did play Sybok, was the son-in-law of Lucille Ball. It was Ball and her company, Desilu, that first green-lit The Original Series.
-- George Murdock, who co-starred as God, went on to play Admiral Hanson in the TNG two-parter, "The Best of Both Worlds." The actor passed away in 2012 at the age of 81.
-- The Final Frontier grossed a strong $17 million its opening weekend, but tallied only $52 million during its entire theatrical run.