Production: Paramount, 1992
Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
When the Klingon home world is threatened, Starfleet has a chance for lasting peace, but Kirk and crew must save the negotiations from violence. A Klingon moon explodes in an environmental disaster that could destroy the empire. Spock sees an opportunity to forge peace with the Federation's old enemy, but Kirk - who is still a wanted man among the Klingons - cannot forgive the aliens for the murder of his son. Still, when the Klingon chancellor agrees to meet with Starfleet representatives, Kirk agrees to serve as escort.
But an attack on the chancellor's ship results in Kirk's trial and incarceration by the Klingons, while the real assassin remains at large, preparing an attack at the peace conference. Spock, Sulu and the rest must rescue their captain, then try to save the galaxy one more time before turning their tasks over to a new generation of explorers.
Best For Ages:
6-8 - A slow-motion murder sequence makes this film scary for young children, but those familiar with other STAR TREK films might watch with parental supervision.
8-12 - All the quoting of Shakespeare and discussion of politics may prove boring to older children.
12 & up - For long-time fans, the original series cast's farewell is an emotional high point.
Educational Value: Science and technology provide the means for intercultural communication and galactic peace. Much quoting of Shakespeare ("in the original Klingon").
Entertainment Value: The film's sparse budget is reflected in the dim lighting and under-furnished sets. The effects sequences make impressive use of computer graphics.
Violence: Rebels assassinate a Klingon chancellor, whose blood floats around the ship in zero gravity. The rebels also attempt to shoot the Federation president. Prisoners rough one another up and are tortured by guards. Spock forces his protégée to engage in an unwilling mind-meld.
Frightening Situations: A Klingon moon explodes in an environmental disaster. Kirk and McCoy are taken prisoner and threatened with death. Assassins in environmental suits turn off the gravity on a Klingon ship.
Emotional Intensity: Recalling his son's death at the hands of a Klingon, Kirk wishes aloud for the extermination of the Klingon race. The daughter of the Klingon chancellor must decide whether to forgive her father's death at the hands of Federation citizens.
Questionable Behavior: Kirk, Sulu, and many of their crewmates disobey Starfleet orders for the greater good.
Mature Themes: The film parallels the end of the Cold War.
THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY has undeniable nostalgic value, but the characters don't quite ring true, and some of the events have been rendered non-canonical by subsequent episodes of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. Kirk looks old and tired, more so than in sequel GENERATIONS, while Spock engages in very non-Vulcan behavior. The beginning of the film plods, while the race to stop the assassin feels rushed.
In contrast to the previous Trek films, the lighting and sets fail to impress, and most of the supporting cast gets too little to do. Meanwhile Spock's protégée Valeris, whose illogical behavior hardly seems Vulcan, receives more screen time than she deserves. The prison scenes with a shapeshifting villain are intriguing but her role in the events never really makes sense.
Anyone feeling nostalgic for the original Trek crew would do better to watch STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME. Or, for a novel Trek reunion show, try the Antebellum-era Christmas story ROOTS: THE GIFT, which stars STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's LeVar Burton, DEEP SPACE NINE's Avery Brooks and STAR TREK VOYAGER's Kate Mulgrew.
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