Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a 1989 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the fifth feature in the franchise and the penultimate to star the cast of the original Star Trek science fiction television series. Taking place shortly after the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the plot follows the crew of the USS Enterprise-A as they confront a renegade Vulcan, Sybok, who is searching for God at the center of the galaxy. The film was directed by cast member William Shatner, following two films directed by his co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Shatner also developed the initial storyline in which Sybok searches for God, but instead finds Satan. The original script was disliked by series creator Gene Roddenberry, while Nimoy and DeForest Kelley objected to the premise that their characters, Spock and Leonard McCoy, would betray Shatner's James T. Kirk. The script went through multiple revisions to please the cast and studio, including cuts in the effects-laden climax of the film. Despite a writers' guild strike cutting into the film's preproduction, Paramount commenced filming in October 1988. Many Star Trek veterans assisted in the production; art director Nilo Rodis developed the designs for many of the film's locales, shots and characters, while Herman Zimmerman served as production designer. Production problems plagued the film on set and during location shooting in Yosemite National Park and the Mojave Desert. As effects house Industrial Light & Magic's best crews were busy and too expensive, the production used Bran Ferren's company for the film's effects, which had to be revised several times to keep down costs. The film's ending was reworked because of poor test audience reaction and the failure of planned special effects. Jerry Goldsmith, composer for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, returned to score The Final Frontier. The Final Frontier was released in North America on June 9, 1989, amidst a summer box office crowded by sequels and blockbuster films. It had the highest opening gross of any film in the series at that point and was number one its first week at the box office, but its grosses quickly dropped in subsequent weeks. The film received generally mixed or poor reviews by critics on release, and according to its producer nearly killed the franchise. The next entry in the series, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, received a kinder reception.
The crew of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A) enjoys shore leave after the ship's shakedown cruise goes poorly. Captain James T. Kirk is camping with Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy at Yosemite National Park. Their leave is interrupted when Enterprise is ordered by Starfleet Command to rescue three ambassadors (a human, a Klingon and a Romulan) who are held as hostages on the planet Nimbus III. In space, the Klingon Captain Klaa is bored destroying space refuse and longs for a real battle; when he learns Enterprise is heading to Nimbus III he decides to fight Kirk for personal glory and sets his ship on an intercept course. On Nimbus III, the Enterprise crew discovers that a renegade Vulcan named Sybok, Spock's half-brother, is behind the hostage crisis. Sybok orchestrated the hostage situation to lure a starship to Nimbus III. He wants to use the ship to reach the mythical planet Sha Ka Ree, where creation supposedly began; the planet lies behind a seemingly impenetrable barrier near the center of the galaxy. Sybok has a mental ability to reveal and mend the innermost pain of a person, and uses it to gain the trust of the hostages and most of Enterprise's crew. While McCoy and Spock accept Sybok's help, Kirk refuses the Vulcan's offer, telling him that his pain is what makes him human. Sybok needs Kirk's experience to navigate Enterprise to Sha Ka Ree, so he stops pressing his offer. Enterprise successfully breaches the barrier, pursued by Klaa's vessel, and discovers a planet within. Sybok, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy journey to the surface, where Sybok calls out to his perceived vision of God. An entity appears, and when told of how Sybok breached the barrier, demands that the starship be brought closer to the planet. When a skeptical Kirk inquires, "What does God need with a starship?", the entity attacks him. The others doubt that a being who would inflict harm for pleasure could be God. Realizing that the creature might escape from the planet, Sybok sacrifices himself and uses his telepathic powers to combat the entity. Intent on stopping the being, Kirk orders Enterprise to fire a photon torpedo at the planet, wounding the creature. Spock and McCoy are beamed back to the ship, but Klaa's vessel attacks Enterprise before Kirk can be transported aboard; Spock and the Klingon hostage force Klaa to cease his attack. The vengeful entity reappears and tries to kill Kirk, but Klaa's vessel destroys it in a hail of fire. Kirk is beamed aboard the Klingon ship, and receives Klaa's apology. The Enterprise and Klingon crews celebrate détente, and Kirk, Spock and McCoy resume their vacation at Yosemite.