First of all, I am aware I owe you a recap of both "Star Trek IV" and "Star Trek V". You will have them, but it won't be on this side of the message board, and first I need to recover from the suffering and gather enough negative adjectives. Meanwhile, you can read what i though of the latest instalment of the series (I've always considered TNG movies a different series altogether). Spock experiences the joys of alien sex in The Undiscovered Country.
After the debacle that supposed "Star Trek V - The Final Frontier", the guys at Paramount decided to take extreme measures. In a decision that probably caused its share of heated debates, Paramount decided to finish the series, and in order to do so in a high note, they hired the brains behind "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan", Nicholas Meyer.
The film, however, it's a mixed bag. On the bright side, the story cleverly incorparates the aging of the characters, their prejudices against the Klingons and their inability to change their views on their old enemies plays an important part on the plot. The action is also less far-fetched. Not much hand to hand combat or improbable stunts here, instead the aging Enterprisers get to play detectives and find out who murdered a Klingon leader who wanted peace with the Federation.
There's more to like here. The filmmaking is much better than in previous instalments (gotta love the assasination scene in zero-g), the production design is more spectacular (specially the Rura Penthe gulag), Cliff Eidelman's score is fantastic, even if its somber tones are very different from Jerry Goldsmith's Trek themes, and this is one of the few Star Trek movies to have a decent supporting cast, with Christopher Plummer as an evil Klingon general and Kim Cattrall as a sexy Vulcan officer. Even the usual suspects act better than in other instalments of the series, specially Shatner and Nimoy.
Then, what went wrong? In my opinion, Nicholas Meyer. He's way overrated, and although he does stuff the movie with lots of interesting themes (racism, the end of Cold War, the inmovilism of the military) and nods other genres (murder mistery, courtroom drama, prison flick, political thriller) none of them has anything to do with fantasy or sci-fi. Which, you know, it's what Star Trek is suppossed to be about. In its worst moments, "The Undiscobered Country" looks like a prison flick or a political thriller whose props happen to have been lifted from a Star Trek set. And if sometimes Meyer is good enough as a director to overcome this (the Klingon trial scenes or the investigation on the Enterprise), in others, such as the prison scenes in Rura Penthe or the ending at the peace conference, he is not as lucky.
And then there's the quotes. We all know Meyer is a bookworm, but for Christ sake, does he need to show old books or have the cast use pre XXth century literary quotes all the time? It becomes specially annoying with Christopher Plummer's character, but even Kirk gets to seem pedantic a few times, an occurrence that must be a first in the series.
So, all in all, "Star Trek VI" is a worthwile entry in the series, and a good ending, but it is also far from perfect. And sometimes, even far to look like Star Trek.Kirk battles his own ego with mixed results.