‘STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The One with the Whales
This is a fun ‘Star Trek’ movie and one of my favourites!
‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ is the third of the linked trilogy of ‘Star Trek’ movies that started with ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ and then with ‘Star Trek III: The Search For Spock’. It’s also the fourth film to feature ‘The Original Series’ cast of Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura.
This film was made in 1986 and again produced under the eye of Harve Bennett. It was also directed by Leonard Nimoy, who makes his second directing contribution to the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise following his success with directing ‘Star Trek III’. This film also has the original ‘Star Trek’ team at their best.
My parents and I purchased ‘Star Trek IV’ on a 2-disc special edition DVD sometime on the borderline of 2004/2005. We didn’t purchase all the ‘Star Trek’ films in one lot, as we went through each film one by one and purchased the next ‘Star Trek’ movie after we’d enjoyed the previous one.
The 2-disc special edition DVD has the following contents. The movie is on Disc 1 with the bonus features on Disc 2. ‘Star Trek IV’ has the feel of a classic ‘Star Trek’ episode from the TV series. It’s a time-travel story and has a good blend of elements in comedy, drama and action-packed adventure.
The film follows on from the events of ‘Star Trek III’. After saving Spock and restoring him to life on Vulcan, the former Enterprise crew have to face the consequences of their actions back at Starfleet. Admiral Kirk and his crew are now charged with some very serious violations of Starfleet regulations.
Thus the title of this movie as the Enterprise crew makes the ‘voyage home’ back to Earth to face their trial. To add to their humiliation, they have to travel back not on the Enterprise (as the good ship was destroyed previously), but in the Klingon Bird of Prey ship which they stole in ‘Star Trek III’.
But on the way from Vulcan to Earth, the Enterprise crew receive a universal-wide message from the President of Earth. The President warns everyone not to approach Earth as a crisis occurs. An alien probe passes through space and soon arrives in Earth’s orbit, transmitting a very strange alien signal.
The alien probe is causing trouble for Earth, as the alien signal it transmits causes oceans to be evaporated and the atmosphere destroyed. It also affects operations at Starfleet headquarters in the 23rd century as they can’t make contact with the alien probe and they are slowly getting destroyed.
Hearing the strange alien message for themselves, Spock and the Enterprise crew soon discover that the alien message is actually the song sung by whales – specifically humpback whales. This is a surprising revelation and pretty tricky to solve as humpback whales are extinct by the 23rd century.
There’s only one way to solve this situation. Kirk and the Enterprise crew must travel back in time to Earth’s past to find and recover some humpback whales and to bring them forward into the future. This they do, and the Enterprise crew in the Klingon ship soon end up back on Earth in the year 1986.
I love the time travel theme of this ‘Star Trek’. While William Shatner might not like doing time travel stories in ‘Star Trek’, they certainly are popular and fun to do. The original ‘Star Trek’ TV series have done time travel stories before like ‘Tomorrow is Yesterday’ and ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’.
‘Star Trek IV’ certainly has a lighter tone compare to the previous instalments of ‘Star Trek II’ and ‘Star Trek III’. This for me is rather refreshing and it allows the complete company of the original ‘Star Trek’ characters to enjoy larger journeys and have meatier roles compared to previous ‘Star Trek’ movies.
The humour is clearly there in ‘Star Trek IV’ but it doesn’t distract from the seriousness of the story. I like how this ‘Star Trek’ movie puts away all the doubts about the dangers of time-travel and changing the history of the future, since the film writers made sure that was resolved pretty quickly.
I also like the whales that feature in this movie. The fact that whales are extinct by the 23rd century is touched upon in this movie. I was pretty shocked and found incomprehensible why whales were being slaughtered in 1986. Sadly this is reflected today with the wild animals hunted like elephants.
The direction of this movie by Leonard Nimoy is superb. He’s very confident about the film he likes to make with ‘Star Trek IV’ after managing to direct ‘Star Trek III’ so well. He’s also very good with understanding the ‘Star Trek’ characters and balances his role as actor and direction in this film well.
As I said before, I love the camaraderie and interaction between the original ‘Star Trek’ Enterprise crew in this movie. The Enterprise crew are alone without Starfleet to give them orders when they travel back in time and they need to work together to save their future with recovering two whales.
It was funny to see how the ‘Star Trek’ cast react to the atmosphere of 1986 San Francisco on Earth. Kirk describes 1986 as ‘an extremely primitive and paranoid culture’. It was funny when Kirk and Spock have to give exact change when catching a bus and they sort out that loud rock musical punk.
The ‘Star Trek’ team are divided into three teams when in San Francisco 1986. Kirk and Spock team together to find the two humpback whales George and Gracie; Bones, Scotty and Sulu construct a tank to hold the whales; and Uhura and Chekov look for nuclear power to restore the Klingon ship.
William Shatner excels as Admiral James T. Kirk in this movie. Kirk leads his crew extremely well in this movie, as they travel back in time to save the day. He gets anxious when their mission becomes endangered with a damaged Klingon ship and trying to acquire two humpback whales on Earth 1986.
Leonard Nimoy as Spock is great to watch. Spock is recovering from his resurrection from ‘Star Trek III’. He’s not flying on ‘all thrusters’ according to Bones and he’s trying to figure how to answer the question of how he feels. He goes on a journey to find out who he is and be the Spock he used to be.
DeForest Kelley is great as Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy in this movie. I liked Bones’ interaction with Spock in this movie as he’s concerned for him and trying to reconnect him back into reality. I also like Bones’ shock and horror at how things are in 1986 medically since he doesn’t approve of 1986 Earth hospital methods and their medicine.
James Doohan is fantastic as Scotty in this movie. I like how he copes with being an engineer aboard their acquired Klingon Bird of Prey and trying to read Klingon. He informs Kirk of the trouble with the Klingon ship’s engineer when they travel back in time and has a thrill of transporting whales aboard.
George Takei is equally great as Mr. Sulu in this movie. He performs helmsman duties as usual aboard the Klingon Bird of Prey, but he gets to go outside when they’re in 1986. Sulu flies a helicopter in this film, as they’re trying to house a container for the whales aboard the Klingon ship.
Nichelle Nichols is lovely as Uhura in this movie. She performs communication officers duties extremely well aboard the Klingon ship as well as deciphering the alien message as whale song. She also get to join Chekov when they’re looking for nuclear power to restore the Klingon ship’s engines.
Walter Keoning is very good as Chekov in this movie. It was funny when Chekov asks where the ‘nuclear wessels’ are, considering the time period he’s in. It was also funny when Chekov and Uhura keep getting ignored. It got tense when Chekov got caught and held prisoner aboard a ‘nuclear wessel’.
Catherine Hick guest stars as Dr. Gillian Taylor, a biologist that Kirk and Spock meet when visiting the centre for the whales. Gillian loves her two whales George and Gracie and becomes a love interest for Kirk. I liked the chemistry between Gillian and Kirk and when she’s helping to rescue the whales.
The film’s cast also includes Mark Lenard, Spock’s father and Jane Wyatt as Amanda, Spock’s mother who also appeared in the TV series in the episode ‘Journey to Babel’. It was lovely to see both Spock’s parents in this movie and to see Spock interact with his mother and father in different ways.
Robin Curtis also makes a brief return appearance as Lt. Saavik, the Vulcan Starfleet crewmember who previously appeared in ‘Star Trek III’. It isn’t explained why Saavik stayed behind and didn’t go with Kirk and the others to Earth, though it has something to do with Spock’s ponfar in ‘Star Trek III’.
There’s also Robert Ellenstein as the Federation Council President, John Schuck as the Klingon Ambassador and Brock Peters as Admiral Cartwright. There’s also Majel Barrett as Commander Chapel and Grace Lee Whitney as Commander Rand, but they only make fleeting appearances here.
‘Star Trek IV’ is musically-scored by Leonard Rosenman, who makes his only contribution to the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise. I enjoyed Leonard Rosenman’s music for this movie. It’s unusual and has a slightly comedic feel to it, but it is still good ‘Star Trek’ music especially for the opening and closing credits.
The movie ends with the Earth saved after Kirk and the Enterprise crew bring the whales forward to the 23rd century and the whales answer the alien probe’s signal with their whale song. The Enterprise crew is rewarded with criminal charges dropped and Kirk is given command of a starship.
The DVD special features on the 2-disc special edition are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a commentary with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. There’s also a text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda to enjoy on this.
On Disc 2, there’s ‘The Star Trek Universe’ section with documentaries including ‘Time Travel: The Art of the Possible’; ‘The Language of Whales’; ‘A Vulcan Primer’ and ‘Kirk’s Women’. There’s also a ‘Production’ section containing the ‘Future’s Past: A Look Back’ documentary; the ‘On Location’ documentary; ‘Dailies Deconstruction’ and the ‘Below-The-Line: Sound Design’ documentary. There’s a ‘Visual Effects’ section including ‘From Outer Space to the Ocean’ and ‘The Bird of Prey’. There also original interviews with Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and DeForest Kelley. There’s a also a ‘Tributes’ section including the ‘Roddenberry Scrapbook’ and ‘Featured Artist: Mark Lenard’. There’s also an ‘Archives’ section including a production gallery and storyboards of ‘Star Trek IV’. There’s also a theatrical trailer for ‘Star Trek IV’.
The special features on the 2009 DVD of ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ are as follows. There’s a commentary with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman; ‘Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments’; ‘The Three-Picture Saga’; ‘Star Trek For A Cause’ and ‘Starfleet Academy: The Whale Probe’.
I’d like to share more on how much I love this ‘Star Trek’ movie, but I think now is the time to stop. ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ is one of the most successful and well-received films of the ‘Star Trek’ film series. It’s brilliantly directed by Leonard Nimoy and has a great time-travel story about whales.
With Kirk now commanding the new starship Enterprise-A, the original ‘Star Trek’ team can go forth where no-one has gone before in new voyages. After the light-heartedness of saving Earth with the whales, things get serious again when the Enterprise crew go in search of God in ‘The Final Frontier’.
‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ rating – 10/10
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