Movie Name: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date(s): November 26, 1986
MPAA Rating: PG
The U.S.S. Enterprise has been destroyed, and the crew is facing charges for disobeying orders and threatening the peace between the Klingons and the Federation. When a strange alien devise threatens the Earth, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) discovers that the signal is searching for humpback whales which have gone extinct. Now armed with a Klingon Bird of Prey, the crew is headed back to Earth’s past in an attempt to save the creatures and prevent the future destruction of Earth. Now finding themselves strangers in a strange land, the crew must convince an oceanographer named Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks) of their assignment, while finding the power to return back to the future.
Directed by Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the final part of what is known as the Star Trek trilogy which began in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982 and continued in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984. The movie was well received and was nominated for Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Music.
People love this Star Trek, but I honestly find it too goofy. The movie uses the format of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by having the characters in fish-out-of-water type story. All the characters find themselves struggling in the past due to misunderstandings and advancements in the future. I wish the movie was a bit less tongue-in-cheek. I also find it a bit strange both in this film and the last film that both ships can be run by a skeleton crew composed of Spock, Kirk (William Shatner), McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), Sulu (George Takei), Chekov (Walter Koenig), and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols)…at least on this one it is a smaller ship, but seriously who are all those extra people on the Enterprise? I also find it kind of fun that Catherine Hicks is in this film while her TV husband on 7th Heaven Stephen Collins was a star in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.
Part of the problem now is that it feels so ’80s. The movie fortunately is anchored in the past so it is allowed to feel a bit dated, but the “Save the Whales” theme of the story is too forced. The idea that a signal would travel through the multitude of space, happen to target Earth, and happen to need a humpback whale which in 1984 was a hot-button topic is all too coincidental. I love whales, but as a plot point for an entire movie, it seems a bit much. I also realize Golden Gate Park is big, but I somehow doubt that an entire ship could be parked there for days without anyone running into it.
Both Star Trek III and Star Trek IV also take a cheesy, cheap approach to a certain aspect of the story which in particular sticks in my craw. In both films, there are scenes where they are reviewing past events, and they use edited camera work from the previous film…There is no video of the U.S.S. Enterprise blowing up available to Starfleet…how do they happen to have a movie print of the event, complete with the destroyed ship coming right at the camera. In Star Trek III they used footage (allegedly of security cameras) of Spock’s death…with edits and at some really strange angles for security cameras. Why couldn’t they have just shot something that looked better or fit with the story? It takes me out of the movie as a film geek.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a good movie, but not my favorite. Star Trek is one of those series that is allowed to have fun episodes, but to make a whole fun/funny movie seems a bit much. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home however was better than its 1989 sequel Star Trek V: The Undiscovered Country.
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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)