The Federation starship U.S.S. Excelsior is drawing to the end of its mission, but as Captain Sulu (George Takei) prepares his crew for home, there is a huge explosion out in space, causing a shockwave to almost break down the operations on his ship. On investigation, they realise that the blast has been caused by the exploding Klingon moon which was the main source of power for the planet, but when Sulu puts out an offer for help, he is turned down. However, the Klingon Empire reverses their decision when they come to terms with the fact that the disaster has ruined their civilisation - but what can the famous Klingon-hater Captain Kirk (William Shatner) do about it?
In case you hadn't cottoned on, the final Star Trek movie to feature the original crew was an allegory for the end of the Cold War, which was only fitting as for one thing, the Cold War really was over by this time, and for another the Klingons in the original series were thinly-disguised Soviets, with only the character of Walter Koenig's Chekov showing that on Earth, at least, East and West had come to a peaceful agreement. For some, with Nicholas Meyer returning to the director's chair after The Wrath of Khan almost ten years before, he had fashioned the very best of the series, though as it was designed as a grand finale for the crew, a note of self-congratulation inevitably emerged.
Still, for a film where most of the main characters were played by actors between their fifties and seventies, there was something cheering in seeing a cast of that advanced age managing to show they were still relevant in the modern blockbuster era. Never mind that this took even less than Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and that The Next Generation were somewhat overshadowing the veterans on television, which meant that the general public were keener to see those young pretenders in their own movie, Paramount did at least recognise that at this stage, the originals deserved their proper send-off.
Back to the plot and Spock (Leonard Nimoy, who contributed to the story) invites the Klingon Chancellor (David Warner) who is at the forefront of the negotiations with the Federation onboard the starship Enterprise, much to Kirk's dismay. He cannot forgive them for what they did to his son, so there is a lot of understandable bad blood between the two races when they sit down to dinner that not even a glass or three of Romulan Ale can pacify. However, it goes promisingly, with the Chancellor seeing possibilities for progress - but then the unthinkable occurs and when the Klingons return to their ship, the Enterprise appears to fire torpedoes at them and a couple of assassins beam over to bump off the Chancellor and with him, the peace talks.
So we have a mystery on our hands, and with Kirk and Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley) taken hostage when they go to help and put on a one-sided trial, things look bleak for our heroes. And yet, Mr Spock is still captaining the Enterprise, and is conducting his Sherlock Holmes-style investigation (Meyer is a confirmed Sherlock fan, and this informed his writing here) to find the assassins. If there's anything wrong with this, it's not so much the fact that it's so very pleased with itself, it's that the drama sags between the two action setpieces of the attack on the Klingons and the climactic race to save the day, and the pacing is sluggish, with only the the odd amusing line to brighten things up. The supporting cast is the most notable of the series, with Kim Cattrall as Spock's weirdly-coiffed protege, and supermodel Iman donning the yellow contact lenses as an alien prisoner; Christopher Plummer has fun as a Shakespeare-spouting warlord too. As a goodbye, this was as good as could have been expected, and one wouldn't begrudge the fans their chance to bid farewell to much-loved characters. Music by Cliff Eidelman.