Star Trek’s popularity was at a high point since “ST III: TSFS” was released. And even though it wasn’t quite as good as “TWOK”, it still left the fans wanting more. But at the same time, the general consensus was reached that the next film should take a more lighter approach. And thus “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” was released in 1986. It has achieved the highest grossing box office (at $109,713,132) of all the Star Trek movies and rightfully so.
“The Voyage Home” was filled with an excellent mix of action, humor, a touch of drama, and suspense. The crew of the Enterprise returns home only to receive a distress call from the Federation President himself warning all incoming ships not to approach Earth due to the destructive transmissions of an orbiting probe aimed at Earth’s oceans. So it’s up to Kirk and company to act fast and take action to save their planet by traveling to the past circa 1986 and bringing back two humpback whales with them in hopes they can successfully communicate with the probe and as a bonus, repopulate the species.
This film was Leonard Nimoy’s second directing of a feature film. And it’s safe to say he did a wonderful job given the movie’s success. The use of humpback whales as a key figure in the movie is a clever approach and it gives Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future a sort of twist to it. I mean here we have a future that is essentially paradise in comparison to our own, but that paradise is without some of the sea life it used to have because they’ve gone extinct no thanks to the butchery of man in the past. Bringing back a pair of whales from our time to the 23rd century is a nice message for all “Save the whales” fanatics while making it an adventurous and equally brilliant aspect to the movie itself. And then there’s the humor part of it. For once, there are rather brilliant uses of dialogue that isn’t insulting to our intelligence. Such examples include Kirk’s incorrect (intentional?) use of the word LSD (LDS) when talking to Gillian Taylor. There’s the bit with “Professor” Scott. The list goes on which I’ll certainly cover in the list of stand out scenes.
“The Voyage Home” features some talent who make future appearances in one of the upcoming movies and even the other series. We have Brock Peters as Admiral Cartwright who makes a return appearance in “Star Trek VI “and also appears as Joseph Sisko in “Deep Space Nine”. There’s John Schuck as the exaggerating Klingon Ambassador who also returns in “Star Trek VI”. Robin Curtis also makes a brief return in this film as Lt. Saavik. Kind of a shame that she didn’t return after that as she was a pretty developed character to just leave behind on Vulcan, but at least she was given some kind of sendoff and not left out of the movie altogether. Mark Lenard also returns as Sarek who shows how much he appreciates Kirk saving his son back in Trek 3 that at the Federation Council hearing, he went to speak in Kirk’s defense of the Klingon Ambassador’s ridiculous comments. Jane Wyatt returns briefly in the beginning as Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson. And last, but certainly not least, we got Catherine Hicks as Dr. Gillian Taylor. Catherine Hicks is well known for her role in the TV series “7th Heaven.”
“Star Trek IV” has a lot of humor ranging from Spock nerve pinching a punk on a bus to his poor attempt at using “colorful metaphors” to Chekov’s interrogation at the Naval base or as he calls it, “nuclear wessles”. It definitely tones down from the past films while keeping the urgency factor there. And the commandeered Bird of Prey got to see some action as well ranging from taking the crew back in time by flying around the sun to giving those “pirates”, attempting to kill George and Gracie, a good scare after decloaking right above them. And the action towards the end culminated with the whales saving Earth with their “song” and Kirk getting his “old job” back by getting demoted as punishment (a reward?) for his actions in the previous movie.
The movie ends with the perfect exclamation point with the crew being given none other than the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-A which looks just like the original. To go into every detail possible would take forever so instead I’ll just say to get the Collector’s Edition DVD when it comes out Tuesday and see it for yourself!
And now I give you the list of stand-out scenes:
- The court martial hearing with the Klingon Ambassador and Sarek
- The probe makes itself known by disabling the USS Saratoga
- Kirk and company launch the fixed up Bird of Prey and sets course for home
- The probe’s continued path of damage by disabling space dock, then causing massive storms all over Earth
- The Bird of Prey’s “time warp” around the sun
- The crew is greeted by 20th century San Francisco with “Hey why don’t you watch where you’re going you dumbass!”
- “We are looking for the naval base in Alameda. It’s where they keep the nuclear wessles.”
- The punk on the bus playing that obnoxious music and Spock nerve pinching him
- Spock mind melding with one of the whales underwater while Kirk watches dumbfounded
- Spock’s poor use of “colorful metaphors” immediately afterward
- “Professor Scott” and his witty proposal to Dr. Nichols for the formula for transparent aluminum
- Chekov “playing dumb” with an FBI agent after being caught at the naval base
- His attempted escape right afterwards
- Kirk, McCoy, and Gillian rescuing Chekov from Mercy Hospital with humorous results
- Rescuing George and Gracie by giving the crew on a nearby whaling ship a good scare by decloaking the Bird of Prey
- The crew’s bumpy ride back to the future
- The Bird of Prey plummets into the ocean
- The whales are released and communicate with the probe, sending it on its way
- Kirk being demoted (“promoted”) to captain in return for saving the world
- The crew returns “home” to the USS Enterprise A and jumps to warp
This movie ranks among the best for obvious reasons. Stay tuned as next time, I reveal “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”
To be continued…