To save Earth from an alien probe, Admiral Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to 20th century Earth to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it, humpback whales.
Year 1, Day 316
BEFORE: On today’s agenda for another triple feature, we complete the three films with solely the cast from The Original Series. Starting tomorrow, we get into The Next Generation territory, but first up we have Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home which is the final film in a “loose trilogy” that started with The Wrath of Khan. All of these films focus on the Genesis project with The Voyage Home picking up where the last left off: going back to Earth to face judgement for their actions.
AFTER: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home doesn’t look or play like the other Trek films I’ve seen thus far. In a way, it feels out of place just because it doesn’t conform to the established pattern I’ve become used to. However, it would not be logical to assume that all films should be the same. With The Voyage Home, this freshness and originality improved upon elements, mainly humor, that weren’t as strong in the previous films. But, I felt myself feeling that true spirit of adventure; something that was done very well in the last three.
It’s not just humor that was added to Star Trek with this new take on the franchise. Humor is something that has always been present in the franchise but it’s not typically something that stands out to me as the reason to watch. Here, the humor was both very organic and vital to the story. The Voyage Home takes place on 20th century Earth (as opposed to 23rd century Earth) and the result of culture shock and drastic differences (they still use money!?) leads to some very amusing situations. However, it’s not just that these scenes and scenarios provide laughs, and therefore entertainment. It also examines an aspect of science-fiction that I find extremely fascinating: that which takes place at home. There’s a time and place for action/adventure space epics that show off the new visual effects being developed (The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock are two such examples), but there’s also a time and place to stay put and posit the, “What if” question. Just because it’s science fiction doesn’t mean it can explore what we might normally classify as regular fiction. And it’s this exploration of our home, how we as a society act and interact, and the way others see this behavior that makes The Voyage Home stick out from the rest.
All this being said, it wasn’t really the film for me. No matter how exciting or interesting I may find the idea behind The Voyage Home, the fact is that it was lacking in excitement. Yes it had time-travel, a hospital deception, and placed Pavel Chekov (a Russian) in Red-era America. But the focus of the film was whales. How exciting. It’s almost as exciting as Quantum of Solace was where the villains were stealing the water supply. I understand that water can be very valuable, especially when available only in limited quantities, and that the whales were just the tool Nimoy used to discuss those issues I was so fond of earlier. But this is an idea of principle. Just as a James Bond movie should be about things like sabotage and weapons of mass destruction, a Star Trek movie should be more exotic than an alien probe wanting to talk with whales, no matter what the underlying message is.
Overall, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was a great entry. It provided a fresh look at the franchise, something that was quite different from the others while still taking place in the same universe. But when it comes right down to it, there’s a similar lack of energy to that of The Search for Spock. Although I will say that it is ever so higher due to the comedy and action scattered throughout.
RATING: 3 out of 5