Oh boy. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. While it’s not the worst of the Trek movies, it’s decidedly the roughest ride we’ve had in quite a while. Eric tries to defend the movie a bit, and Richard tries to find some deep Buddhist resonances in the film, but overall it’s just a poorly put-together movie that either doesn’t understand Star Trek or refuses to understand Star Trek. Plus! Richard doesn’t know about Romulans or Klingons.
As director, Shatner is ultimately responsible for what this movie wound up being, but Paramount deserves its fair share of blame by misunderstanding the success of Star Trek IV. The suits thought that The Voyage Home‘s popularity was entirely due to the comedic elements, and they stressed this to Shatner. That Shatner chose to get laughs at the expense of the Enterprise crew is completely his fault, not to mention a terrible misinterpretation of the studio’s mandate.
There’s also the matter of a smaller budget to contend with. I’ll grant you that very few of Shatner’s ideas were worth throwing money at, but the cheapness of the SFX in particular is a sore spot. Tellingly, when Paramount was re-releasing the movies on deluxe DVDs, Shatner asked for — and was denied — money to improve the effects shots, a request that had been granted on the TMP special edition .
Not to mention the fact that WoK isn’t really comedic at all and it was the previous most successful Trek movie.