Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the narrative centers on an assassination, which, even though it involves ray-guns, spills a lot of (Klingon) blood and shows gore. There are assorted fistfights, a man quick-freezing to death, and spaceships battling. References to heavy drinking, smoking (apparently a marijuana-like drug) and, less obviously, how Captain Kirk manages to have sex with most every attractive alien girl who crosses his path. Unimpeachable military authority (Starfleet) is cast in doubtful light.
What's the story?
Made after the death of Gene Roddenberry (to whom it's dedicated), STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY is calculatingly engineered as a farewell adventure to the beloved Star Trek TV cast. The plot is a clear parallel to the off-screen thaw in U.S.-Soviet relations. When the dangerous, militaristic Klingon Empire suffers a potential doomsday disaster after their power-station moon explodes (think Chernobyl), the liberal Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (think Mikhail Gorbachev) accepts a historic Federation peace accord to allow an organized humanitarian cleanup. Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) volunteers the USS Enterprise and a shocked Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) for the diplomatic rendezvous, arguing, logically, that the negotiations will be more legitimate if the Klingon's greatest enemy is on board for it. But Gorkon is assassinated in a sneak attack seemingly originating from the Enterprise. Kirk does the unthinkable -- surrenders -- and faces a Klingon court, while Spock and the crew investigate and try to unravel the high-level conspiracy.
Is it any good?
The veteran cast appears to be having a fine time going through their paces -- they literally all sign their autographs over the end credits -- and Sulu (George Takei) is now a captain with his own starship. Thrilled yet? Then enjoy. It's fast-paced, the space-battle scenes are spectacular, and overall good feeling is such you usually don't mind the mystery plot is a klunky affair, filled with question marks (Shouldn't there be better security at the most important peace conference in Federation history? If Klingons had a shape-shifting alien spy, wouldn't she have been put to better use?).
The U.S.-U.S.S.R. parallel spoke at the time to fears that warriors in America and Russia had lived too long in ceaseless conflict to put down their weapons and face a changed world, and Kirk's ability to surmount his own anti-Klingonism is nicely rendered. Interesting to note that in Roddenberry's original TV show, Starfleet was (like the U.S. armed forces in golden-age Hollywood depictions) an upstanding military that could do no wrong. That sure changed by the time this was made.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the Cold War historical parallels (Gorkon -- Gorbachev, hmmmm...), and phrases such as "the end of history" surfacing in the dialog, that were prominent with the fall of the U.S.S.R. Gen. Chang's fondness for quoting Shakespeare -- it's practically half of everything he says -- could inspire some reading of the Bard. Also, can you spot Mr. Spock's reference to Sherlock Holmes?
|Theatrical release date:||December 6, 1991|
|DVD release date:||January 26, 1999|
|Cast:||David Warner, DeForest Kelley, Kim Cattrall, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, William Shatner|
|Topics:||Adventures, Space and aliens|
|Run time:||116 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||violence and language|