Star Trek V would have been awesome had the original idea been used
William Shatner had a much better idea for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier wasn’t the most favorite movie of the franchise, and though it earned decent numbers at the box office, it certainly didn’t come close to ranking as a high-performer. Though some may point the fingers at William Shatner and blame him for the lackluster movie (although some of us still enjoyed it), in reality, he had a much better idea for the film than was used.
In Shatner’s version, Sybok (then called Zar) would still have commandeered the Enterprise as he believed God was speaking to him and telling him to get as many followers as possible. But one main difference would have been Spock’s believe that Sybok was so brilliant, so advanced, that he could “genuinely be the Messiah.”
Kirk sets a trap for Sybok, but Spock warns Sybok of the danger. Spock, Kirk, and Bones still end up in the brig, but this time, there is no quick resolution. The three men are at odds with each other in a serious way. And Sybok manages to convince Spock and Bones to join his cause, leaving Kirk further on the outs.
When the Enterprise arrives at the planet, it’s a “fiery, uninhabitable, completely barren wasteland.” The idea was to have a godlike image appear surrounded by angels, but when that image was challenged by Kirk, the “God” transforms into something that is ultimately Satanic. The angels changed into gargoyles which were the Furies of Hell. Bones falls and breaks his leg and is taken away by the minions of Hell, and Spock and Kirk go into the river Styx together to fight off the horrific beings and save Bones’ life.
Shatner reasoned that “since we had come face-to-face with the devil, we could infer that God does indeed exist, most tangibly and understandably with the heart of man.” And while Paramount chairman Frank Mancuso, really liked the idea of Shatner’s story, producer Harve Bennett had issues with it and so did the studio eventually. They were concerned the subject matter was too heavy, especially after the humor of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Without Shatner’s knowledge, the script was rewritten to be more in tune with what was actually delivered onscreen. In truth, some of the original idea was rejected by Leonard Nimoy who made it clear that under no circumstances would Spock ever betray Captain Kirk, and DeForrest Kelly felt the same way. So there were changes that needed to be made, but too much was changed so that it no longer resembled Shatner’s idea.
In Star Trek Movie Memories, Shatner said “I think it would have been fascinating to watch Kirk, Spock, and Bones going at each other, enduring their first real falling-out in the history of Star Trek. However, in appeasing the studio, my co-stars, my producer, my screenwriter, and our all-powerful ledger sheets, I’d slowly but surely allowed any original story to become significantly diminished.”
The trio of friends facing down an immortal enemy, coming to grips with their different beliefs, and escaping Hell itself would have made for an awesome movie. While it might have been controversial and even a little heavy, it could have been an extremely powerful way to showcase the friendship between Kirk, Spock, and Bones and the extremes they would go through to save one another.
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