Preposterous. There is no better word in the dictionary for the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Take a seat and listen to this: in order to save the planet Earth in the 23rd century from an alien life-form Captain Kirk and crew has to travel back to the 20th century to obtain a couple of humpback whales and bring them back to the 23rd century so they can communicate with the alien and save the Earth. I don’t know what the scriptwriters were on at the time but it sure was strong stuff. What’s surprising is that this plot, bound to become a very, very bad movie, turns out to be the best Trek film in the series so far. Kirk and Spock in a bus are way more fun than on a spaceship as the 20th century planet Earth is more “alien” to the 23rd century people than Romulans and Klingons are.
This movie is some sort of a trilogy with part two and three. Fresh after they’ve found Spock, Kirk and his crew are exiles on the planet of Vulcan. When they go home knowing they will have to go on trial the Earth gets attacked by an unknown life-form. Spock discovers that this life-form talks in a language that humpback dolphins use. The problem: they went extinct a couple of centuries ago. The solution: time travel. And so the crew of the former Enterprise ends up in 1986 where they have to build a tank on their ship, get some nuclear material, fetch a couple of humpback whales and deal with the local population.
Finally a Star Trek movie I thoroughly enjoyed. I have had my fair share of negative criticism on the earlier three installments, but not this time. I enjoyed this film as soon as they left all the space stuff behind and set foot on Earth. What happens then is comedic gold. Scene after scene will put a smile on your face or have you bursting out in laughter. For some scenes you have to be familiar with the Cold War (Young people probably won’t get the joke about a guy with a Russian accent going around asking where he can find a nuclear powered Navy ship). The humor and the pacing really makes this installment much more fun to watch than the previous movies. It’s too bad that you have to watch the previous movies to fully understand what is going on or else I would advise everybody to do that.
Of course the movie isn’t perfect. The whole whale-hunt was relevant at the time but the message feels like an agenda that is being pushed too hard. A shame, they could’ve referred to it without showing an entire commercial against whale-hunting. Some of the effects also haven’t aged well but that’s also part of the charm I guess. After all this time they finally decided to rip off Star wars as well. Not only is there a council, it’s also filled with lots of different alien races. Something lacking in previous movies.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a great film. It finally takes the series less seriously and gets the entire crew off the ship and into the field. Much more fun than simply watching people sitting at their station pushing buttons.