I remember when this film came out. It was 1991, two years after the cinematic disaster that was The Final Frontier, an embarrassment made even more painful for Trekkies to take because Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, had directed it. This film was released 25 years after the first episode of Star Trek had aired, and the cast was perhaps getting a little long in the tooth, and critics — having already given Shatner’s magnum opus the redshirt treatment in 1989 — were just about ready to pronounce The Undiscovered Country DOA.
But it was fucking awesome. Nicholas Meyer, who helmed The Wrath Of Khan, came back to direct and he directed the shit out of it. Leonard Nimoy helped dream up the storyline, an allegory inspired by the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. They gave us the Federation President, a Romluan saboteur, Klingons quoting Shakespeare, a prison planet, a morphing alien, a bully with testicles in his knees and a Bird-of-Prey that could fire while cloaked. We saw artificial gravity get knocked out and blood droplets floating around, racist Startfleet officers, Captain Sulu commanding the Excelsior, Uhura saving the day not once (by speaking to denizens of Qo’nos in Klingon, without a universal translator but relying on bound dictionaries instead) but twice (by suggesting a way to track the bad guys’ torpedoes) and Chekov doing his worst attempt at CSI: Federation. We got a political assassination and Worf’s ancestor and a Vulcan traitor and a great performance from Christopher Plummer hiding behind a bolted-in eyepatch in a courtroom scene to match anything Samuel T. Cogley ever wrought. And we even got McCoy making a Kobayashi Maru joke. A Kobayashi Maru joke.
Now that I think about it, Star Trek VI was a better movie, in some ways, than TWOK. In many ways. Perhaps I shouldn’t compare them at all, but damn, TUC had a lot more going on than Khan.
As to the part about the cast being too old, the movie ends with Starfleet ordering the Enterprise back to spacedock, to be decommissioned. To which Spock says “If I were human, I believe my response would be, ‘Go to Hell.’”
Damned skippity, Spock.