Synopsis: Spock’s half brother, Sybok, rejected the logical teachings of his race to embrace their more primal past. Now, Sybok is gathering a fanatical following to meet a being claiming to be God.
• The overall cast are clearly very comfortable in their roles.
• Sybok was a genuinely interesting character as both cautionary tale, and dark family secret. Indeed, Spock was never one to talk about his family.
• The godlike alien’s race was interesting enough for them to later appear in a TNG episode featuring some similar plot elements.
• The moment Spock and Sybok reconciled their familial bond in the last moment was genuinely touching.
• Like in TNG, the Klingons were given a greater degree of nuance than prior films.
• One of the weakest, if not weakest, entry of the whole franchise.
• Though partially masked by the comfort of the actors, the film was poorly directed and implemented.
• The attacks on televangelism, cult zealotry, family secrets, among others, were somehow lost amongst themselves.
• Easily some of the worst implemented action sequences the franchise has ever portrayed.
• The Enterprise-A having a variety of technical issues and malfunctions seemed odd, for lack of better words. The plot point seemed connected to something never discussed.
• The passage of time seemed poorly presented. While it was more than possible that Sybok’s link to the false God helped lead to a means of more quickly traveling to galactic center — or very nearly — as depicted in the TNG episode, there was no clarity on this. Indeed, it might have even been possible that remnants of the experimental trans-warp tech was aboard. The journey could have taken years, but that seemed unlikely as depicted. Simply, no clarity.
• Might have damaged the good will toward the new series, TNG, to a degree, with how the most significant references to the original cast not appearing for years after this.
“What does God need with a starship?”
Who cares. However, he probably needed a better script and director!
Just prior to the release of this film, the overall franchise was on a strong footing. The film series recently ended an overarching storyline on a strong note, which more than made up for any negativity toward The Motion Picture, as the TV series was already solidifying its status in the cannon. What could possibly go wrong with another installment featuring the original — and still popular — cast? Well, quite a lot, it would seem. The fact that the Enterprise-A manifested a variety of problems was, ironically, a true metaphor for the film: it made no sense that nothing worked, and almost made less sense when it did. Everything the film was building toward did seem to make a lot of sense by the end. Sybok was clearly being manipulated to free a crazy entity, who was imprisoned for ultimately obvious reasons. He was the fool, and knew it by the end. Even if he could have handled the freeing of his emotions in the long run, Sybok let himself emotionally fall pray to something he logically should not have. In his rage and humiliation, Sybok fought the very godlike being that destroyed everything he tried to prove. Spock, who sometimes found himself emotionally touched by the unclassifiable, certainly learned much from this incident. That was the emotional heart of the film, and it was a good one. It was unfortunate that heart was lost in such a poorly implemented film.
Star Trek Franchise
Rotten Tomatoes — 22%