The Hollywood Theatre is boldly going where few movie theaters would dare to go: into the world of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, a sequel so legendarily awful that it more or less killed William Shatner’s directing career before it had barely begun.
The theater has announced that as part of its Trek Nights series, The Final Frontier will screen at 7:30 pm on Thursday, Sept. 29. Revisiting so-bad-they’re-good Trek films is a tradition among fans (which the Hollywood embraced earlier this year by showing the notorious Star Trek Nemesis), but Shatner’s film commands a special level of awe among connoisseurs of monumentally ill-advised Hollywood films.
Released in June 1989, the film came about because of a “favored nations” clause in Leonard Nimoy and Shatner’s contacts, which was created to quell feuding between the actors when they first played, respectively, Spock and Kirk for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Neither star was supposed to have an advantage over the other, so after Nimoy directed two films in the series (1984′s The Search for Spock and 1986′s The Voyage Home), Shatner was given his own directing gig.
Over the objections of Roddenberry, Shatner, screenwriter David Loughery and producer Harve Bennett concocted a bizarre narrative about Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew of the starship Enterprise searching for God(!). They are aided, and hindered, by Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), Spock’s heretic half-brother (who had previously never been mentioned in the franchise).
After a turbulent production plagued by Shatner’s temper, stolen costumes and damaged film prints, the film premiered to dismal reviews and ticket sales (that summer, it was bested handily at the box office by Tim Burton’s Batman). Pretentious philosophizing, crude humor and tasteless nudity resulted in a uniquely wretched film, albeit a strangely entertaining one.
Perhaps the most iconic moment in the film is when Kirk, with epically Shatnerian seriousness, wonders, “What does God need...with a starship?!?” Given the film’s chaotic production, people behind the scenes probably wondered that as well (for the full, bizarre story of its creation, read the surprisingly frank book Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, written by Lisabeth Shatner, the actor-director’s daughter).
Tickets for The Final Frontier are available at hollywoodtheatre.org.