Nimbus III, the “Planet of Galactic Peace” in the Neutral Zone, has been jointly colonised by the United Federation of Planets, and the Klingon and Romulan empires. To this world comes Sybok, an openly emotional Vulcan who can eliminate anyone's deepest emotional pain, replacing it with an almost messianic devotion to the Vulcan and his cause. Sybok is searching for God, and for his quest he requires a starship.
Meanwhile, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are taking shore leave in Yosemite National Park. Rescued by Spock from a fall down a mountainside, Kirk tells his friends that he wasn't afraid of dying, because they were with him; he has always believed that he would die while he was alone. Back on Nimbus III, Sybok and his followers have captured the planet's capital, Paradise City, and three consuls. To free Sybok's captives – the UFP representative St. John Talbot, Romulan Caithlin Dar, and the famed retired Klingon general Korrd – Starfleet will send him the starship he needs.
The shore leaves of Kirk and his crew are abruptly ended by a priority call from Starfleet. Despite Kirk's protests that the Enterprise is not fully operational – even the transporters and turbolifts aren't functioning – he and his starship are ordered to Nimbus III. Arriving on Nimbus III, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and several others attempt a rescue, only to become Sybok's captives. Spock recognises Sybok as his half brother – Sarek's son by a Vulcan priestess – who had left home years before. After “treating” the officers of the Enterprise crew, Sybok takes command of the vessel.
Locked in the brig, Kirk, Spock and McCoylearn that Sybok is heading the Enterprise toward the Great Barrier at the centre of the galaxy – a wall that no starship has ever penetrated. With Scotty's aid, the three escape, reach an emergency transmitter, and contact Starfleet – or so they think . . . in reality, a pursuing Klingon ship has intercepted their message. On the Enterprise, Sybok recaptures the three, and makes each confront his greatest pain.
McCoy sees himself shutting off the machine that kept his terminally ill father alive and in agony. Sybok's powers relieve the doctor of his guilt. Spock witnesses his own birth, and Sarek's initial rejection of him. Only Kirk resists Sybok's efforts. “I don't want my pain taken away. I need my pain,” he exclaims, stating that it is part of the man he is. Hearing this, Spock and McCoy both reject Sybok, who safely guides the starship through the Great Barrier.
Still confined, Kirk and company watch the ship penetrate a black cloud, and approach the single planet hidden at the centre of the Galaxy. Is this really the world known as “Sha Ka Ree” to Vulcans, “Vorta Vor” to Romulans, “Quie'Tu” to Klingons and “Eden” to Terrans? Sybok voluntarily surrenders control of the Enterprise.
Kirk decides to explore the planet and, with Spock, McCoy and Sybok, travels there in the shuttlecraft Copernicus. Scotty continues to work on the ship's transporter. As the Enterprise bridge crew watches the explorer's journey on the main viewscreen, the unattended defence station posts an unheeded warning: KLINGON VESSEL IN QUADRANT.
Down on the planet, huge rock formations erupt, forming a primitive cathedral around the explorers. A shaft of energy appears, and assumes a variety of forms, which each observer sees as his own image of God. “You are the first to find me,” the being announces, explaining that the Enterprise will carry his power “to every corner of creation.” Sybok is awestruck, but Kirk, characteristically, dares to ask what God needs with a starship.
When the being inquires “Who is this creature?” Kirk challenges it further. “Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you God?” Furious, the creature attacks Kirk. Realising that he's been lured to the planet by this evil being, Sybok attacks. The two struggle furiously, then disappear beneath the ground.
A photon torpedo fired from the Enterprise blasts the cathedral to bits, but the creature reappears in a more terrifying form. Kirk, Spock and McCoy flee to the shuttlecraft, but the energy being disables the Copernicus. The transporter, not yet fully operational, can initially only retrieve Spock and McCoy.
Before Scotty can rescue Kirk, the Klingon ship attacks the Enterprise, and the shields are raised. Separated from his friends, Kirk now sees the possibility of death as very real. Trapped atop a rocky pinnacle, Kirk sees the Klingon Bird of Prey swoop down. Who will catch him first – the creature of the Klingons?
Transported in the nick of time aboard the Klingon vessel, Kirk is led to it's bridge, where he finds Spock in the command chair! Realising that Koord still outranked the Klingon captain Klaa, the Vulcan persuaded the Klingon general to take action, so that Kirk could be rescued.
A reception held aboard the Enterprise celebrates the recovery of the hostages. The three consuls, realising that the Federation and the Klingons have worked together to save them, return to Nimbus III, to begin planning for a lasting peace. Later, Kirk, Spock and McCoy return to Earth, and finish their shore leave together at Yosemite.
Errors and Explanations
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers
- At the beginning of the movie, an admiral claims they must send Kirk to resolve the situation on Nimbus III because he's the only experienced commander available. That may be true, but there's no need to send him on the malfunctioning Enterprise, especially since the transporters, which would be highly important in a hostage situation, are not functional. There is no time to transfer his crew to another ship. Besides, there might be a lot of resentment towards Kirk and his crew from personnel on other ships, especially aboard Excelsior.
- Spock using a tricorder on the surface to locate the hostages, instead of the sensors on Enterprise. The sensors may not be working any better than some of the other systems, forcing Spock to scan for the hostages on the ground.
- Kirk and the rescue party not using the wide angle stun setting on their phasers to subdue the insurgents in Paradise City. He doesn't want to appear as the aggressor.
- 'God' not landing the shuttle any closer. He probably wanted to watch them as they walked along, to see how they interact.
- Kirk using Boreal climbing shoes. They could be an original pair, either passed down through the family or acquired by Kirk as part of his antique collection.
- The stone pillars still standing after the torpedo hits 'God's' meeting place. Chekov could have set a yield low enough to ensure Kirk and the others would remain alive, but high enough to have a chance of killing the entity.
- Derf on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 10:43 pm: During the scene where Kirk, Spock and McCoy are put into the brig, Spock discloses that he has a half-brother. At that point, Kirk says, "I gotta sit down" and presses a button on the wall. A short platform emerges, and Kirk sits. The odd thing about this is that signage above the button reads, "Do Not Use While In Spacedock" ... why in the heck would it be unadvisable for prisoners to sit while in spacedock?? ... and for that matter, why would a prisoner give a hoot about obeying orders or directives? By Merat on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 11:34 pm: I think that's the toilet, Derf. :) It's like "Do not use while on runway" that some airline toilets have.
- LUIGI NOVI on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 6:18 pm: Are we really expected to believe that Spock can remember his own birth in such detail? Yes, there are some people who remember their own birth (Harry Kim even claimed to remember being in his mother’s womb), but to remember what his father said, and have even understood what he said, is just plain preposterous. (Ironically, this is the one scene that the reviewer at Jabootu thought was “neat.”) That would depend on whether or not Spock, during the fal-tor-pan ceremony, subconciously accessed the memories of T'Lar, who oversaw his birth. (This could explain why, during the testing session in ST IV, he did not understand why the computer would ask him how he was feeling).
- Fred W. Kidd (Fkidd) on Saturday, January 29, 2005 - 12:27 pm: Kirk, Spock and McCoy (thanks to Scotty's jail break) are in Turboshaft 3 and decide to scale the shaft in order to reach the Forward Observation Lounge to send a distress signal. Kirk and McCoy begin ascending the ladder, but Spock disappears through a doorway. Sulu and company arrives and persues Kirk and McCoy, and then Spock appears (from above, no less) wearing his thruster boots and announces, "I believe I have found a better way". If Spock was able to NOT ONLY find a pair of thruster boots AND make his way above Kirk and McCoy without detection, isn't it reasonable for him to take a moment at a nearby comm station to send a distress signal, and thus negating the reason for the "long and dangerous climb"? That would have left Kirk and McCoy exposed to danger for too long. In any case, they may have needed Kirk's security code.
- steve McKinnon (Steve) on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 6:57 pm: It's a funny scene, but the 'jail break' was done 'old school' with an explosive, instead of a nice, neat, quiet phaser that used to be able to melt steel in seconds and create a clean oval opening in walls. Charles Cabe (Ccabe) on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 3:42 pm: Scooty couldn't use s phaser. It would set off the alarms. dotter31 on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 6:31 pm: While that's true about the phaser, wouldn't an explosion powerful enough to do the same thing also show up on sensors? Benn on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 10:31 am: Of course, this is Scotty we're talking about - the Chief Engineer of the starship, Enterprise. He could easily have deactivated any security alarm that would have detected a phaser in use aboard ship or an explosion.
- Jean Stone on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - 11:12 am: Sybok needs a starship to get from Nowhere III to the center of the galaxy, which sets up what we'll generously call 'the plot' for the movie. How did he get to the planet in the first place? Could it be... a starship? If this wasn't the first place he stopped after his banishment, he should have already had plenty of opportunities to get his hands on a ship. If not, he could have just used his 'secret pain' routine on whoever sent him from Vulcan to Nimbus and taken that ship. If it works on the Enterprise crew it's got to work on expendable extras. Also, presumably there was a ship in orbit at the same time as the opening scene, given the Romulan ambassador had just arrived. Why not steal that ship? Merat on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - 2:13 pm: Sybok could have flown to Nimbus III in anything from a personal shuttle to a cargo hauler. What he wants is something powerful enough to punch through the interference at the galactic core. That means a starship. Good point on the Romulan ship, though they might have just sent her in a passenger ship since its supposed to be such a bad posting.
Internet Movie Database
- After Dr. McCoy tells Spock that the secret ingredient in his beans is Tennessee whiskey, Kirk says, "Bourbon and beans, an explosive combination." But Tennessee whiskey is not bourbon. Although both are made from (at least 51%) corn mash, Tennessee whiskey undergoes a unique filtration process known as the "Lincoln County Process," and bourbon does not. (IMDB) This error is Kirk's, not necessarily the filmmakers'.
- At two different times in the movie, the Klingon captain says the exact same line of Klingon dialogue, though it is captioned differently each time. The subtitle for one is "Shooting space garbage is no test of a warrior's mettle", the other is "Then the Federation will be sending a rescue ship." The Klingon uttered both times is: vaj toDDujDaj ngeHbej DIvI'. The actor said the wrong words on one of them. (IMDB) Marc Okrand, who invented the Klingon language and did the Klingon dialogue for the film, came up with a backfit to explain how the same set of syllables actually could have these two radically different meanings.
- Sybok says that Columbus proved the world was round. In fact, the circular globe had been developed nearly 100 years before Columbus sent sail on his voyage, and the fact that the Earth is round had actually been proved by the ancient Greeks by measuring shadows at different distances from the equator. (IMDB) It could be argued that, being a Vulcan, Sybok has not received adequate knowledge of Earth history.
- At the start of the fight on Nimbus III between the away team and the insurgents, at the cut to Sybock negotiating with Chekov, a loud explosion is heard outside the establishment as if the building has been hit, yet in the viewer image, Chekov reacts as if the Enterprise has been hit. He wasn't expecting any explosions during the rescue.
- The level of whiskey in McCoy's bottle changes during the camping scene (and not because he and Kirk are drinking it). For example, the bottle is mostly empty in the "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" shots, but nearly full when we cut to McCoy saying, "It's a song, you green-blooded Vulcan . . .," then empty again (and in his other hand) when we cut back to him for "God, I liked him better before he died." McCoy could be doing slight of hand with more than one bottle.
- When Kirk, Bones and Spock are flying up the turbolift shaft, the deck number gets higher as they go upwards. However Star Trek ships are numbered the opposite way round with the higher decks having lower numbers. For instance, the bridge (at the top of the ship) is on deck 1. The maintenance or construction staff probably got confused, and put the deck numbers in the wrong place.
- When Kirk and McCoy climb on to Spock while hovering in the turbo shaft, both of them step onto foot supports on Spock's boots. However, when the camera points down, both Kirk and McCoy's feet are dangling. With the way they are hanging onto Spock in regular shots, there is no way they could hold on. Both would fall to the bottom of the turbo shaft. Spock could be using his upper body strength to stop them falling.
- The Enterprise's deck numbering changes radically in the turbo shaft scenes (with deck numbering as high as 70 and repeating.) (IMDB) The beginning of the movie established that the Enterprise was assembled very poorly and things were falling apart or plain not built right. It would make sense that even the labels were incorrect as well.
- Even at maximum warp the Enterprise could not travel from Earth or Nimbus III to the center of the galaxy in the crew's lifetime. It would take thousands of years to make it one way. The distance from earth to the center of our galaxy is about 22400 light years. There could have been a number of warp highways in the area, which temporarily allows faster than normal travel.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs
- The Enterprise-A has a different bridge layout in this film from others in the series. This is due to the fact that the original bridge set, redressed for use as the "battle bridge" of the Enterprise NCC-1701-D and the U.S.S. Stargazer bridge in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, was left in storage outdoors and essentially destroyed by the elements. Subsequent non-canon Star Trek publications have attempted to explain the very different appearance of the new bridge by suggesting that Starfleet ships have bridge modules which can be easily swapped out and replaced with new ones. [N 1] The corresponding area on deck 2 is probably designed to allow this.
- With only one shuttle craft on Nimbus III, and the transporters offline, there is no way that all of the insurgents could have gotten off the surface and onto the Enterprise as it warps away immediately. This is most likely why Sybok decided to 'recruit' so many members of Kirk's crew.
- As Kirk and McCoy are climbing the turboshaft, the walls of the turboshaft can be seen to flex. As stated above, the ship was poorly constructed.
- In wide shots of the mountains on Sha Ka Ree, dirt roads are clearly visible on a planet supposedly uninhabited. Possible creations of the beings that imprisoned the false God.[N 2]
- ↑ In practical terms this seems unlikely; the turbolift doors are farther apart (2 stations between them) in the new bridge than the old (1 station between them), which would require ripping out and replacing the entire vertical shaft below the bridge deck.
- ↑ Why any being capable of imprisoning such a powerful creature would need roads is quite beyond me!
- ↑ Asherman, Allen. The Star Trek Compendium - Third edition. Titan Books Ltd. 1993. ISBN 1 85286 472 9 Pages 168-170
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