Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Spock is back and he’s
better more logical than ever. The actor who plays him, Leonard Nimoy, also happens to be directing this movie. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was released in 1986 and picks up shortly after the events of the third movie. Out of all of the “Trek” movies, most people are quick to remember this one…more on that in a minute.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Why is it called, “Star Trek: The Voyage Home?” Well, I guess it’s because someone figured that “Star Trek: An Alien Probe Attacks Earth So Kirk Goes Back In Time To Get Two Whales To Bring Them Forward In Time So That The Whales Can Talk To It Before Something Really Bad Happens” might take up too much room on an advertisement poster. Oops, twenty-six year old spoiler.
It’s worth noting that William Shatner was not willing to come back as Kirk in this movie. A deal was struck to where he received a salary increase and a promise that he could direct the next Star Trek film…which turned out to be my least favorite Trek movie. Keep an eye out for an article on THAT piece of trash.
To recap the events of the previous movies that tie into this one:
“What do you mean Spock’s missing?”
That about sums it up. Okay, okay…tough room.
To summarize: Spock dies in the battle with Khan during Star Trek II. Before dying, Spock mind melds with McCoy and leaves his katra with him. In Star Trek III, Kirk and company have to become fugitives to pick up Spock’s body from the forbidden Genesis Planet and bring it and McCoy to Vulcan where all can be set right. The Genesis Planet ends up reviving Spock’s body and all would have gone well had Christopher Lloyd been content with being a time traveler. Instead, he became a Klingon Commander and after a brief fight with the Enterprise, which was destroyed, Kirk seized the Klingon ship and brought McCoy and Spock back to Vulcan where Spock’s mind / katra could be moved from McCoy back into its rightful owner. It worked.
“Yes, I asked for MORE GIGAWATTS! Great Scott…is 1.21 Gigawatts that much to ask for?!”
Star Trek IV…they’ve done it again. Spock and McCoy are back, more or less…and Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura unanimously agree to go back to Earth to stand trial for going against orders, sabotaging the Excelsior, stealing and destroying the Enterprise, and for agreeing to be part of that shoddy movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Okay, maybe that last part wasn’t true, but it should have been. Need I remind you of what they considered uniforms?
Before we begin with the synopsis, I want to say that Star Trek IV is noticeably different from the other Trek movies. It’s probably why people remember this movie the most. It features time travel back to a period of Earth that people can relate to…and of course, whales. Who doesn’t like whales? If you were to ask the average person ten years ago what their favorite Star Trek movie was, you’d probably hear something like, “the one with the whales.” Leonard Nimoy and the writers did an excellent job molding the movie into something that both die-hard Trekkers and non sci-fi loving people could enjoy.
On their way back to Earth in the Klingon Bird of Prey they seized from Christopher Lloyd (1.21 GIGAWATTS!), Kirk and company receive a transmission from Earth warning everyone to stay away and to save themselves. An alien probe apparently showed up and began transmitting a disruptive communications signal that causes everything around it to lose power. Earth is going to be ripped apart unless a way can be found to respond to the probe’s transmissions.
“Mister President…when the Light Company sends you a termination notice, you should probably take them more seriously.”
Spock deduces that transmissions are similar to that of the humpbacked whale, which happens to be extinct in their century. So Kirk must travel back in time to the late 1900′s and find some to bring forward in time. Using the slingshot effect around Earth’s sun, they manage to travel back in time as they intended. Those of you who have watched the series may remember this same manuever taking place in the episode, “Tomorrow is Yesterday.”
They activate the ship’s cloaking device and land in San Fransisco, California…specifically Golden Gate Park. It is quickly discovered however that the time travel manuever drained the ship of power and without finding a way to replenish their supplies, their cloaking device would be useless and they wouldn’t be able to escape Earth’s atmosphere if they needed to take off.
“Tell me Scotty, who’s turn was it to fill up the gas tank before we left?”
Scotty, McCoy, and Sulu go on a hunt to find a way to contain the whales in their ship while Uhura and Chekov attempt to solve their power problem. Spock and Kirk end up trying to find the whale songs they tracked down somewhere along or near the San Fransisco Bay Area.
“Oh yeah? Well…double dumb ass on you!”
“Excuse me, can you turn down that noise?”
You can tell this was the 1980s…who carries a three hundred pound boom box around anymore?
Flipping off Leonard Nimoy is illegal in six different countries. Fact.
I personally enjoyed how they made their way through the city, even though that particular plot line has been done over a hundred times in various movies. Don’t know what to do with your movie sequel? Throw your protagonists into New York City! If I ever found myself transported in to the movie world I’d become a psychiatrist…I’d make a killing.
“Mr Smith, I know what you think you saw was real, but take it from me, there’s no such thing as *snicker* Luck Dragons! If there were, they certainly *snicker* wouldn’t push kids *snicker* into dumpsters and fly through *snicker* local malls screaming at the top of their lungs. Here…have a Xanax.”
Kirk and Spock, through “simple logic”, make their way to the Cetacean Institute in Sausalito where they go on a tour led by Doctor Gillian Taylor. It’s there that they find two humpback whales named George and Gracie who turn out to be prime candidates for their mission. I, for one, enjoyed the tour as it actually educated the viewers of the movie a little about whales. Spock breaks off from the group and does what any logical Vulcan would do to learn more about the whales…dive into the tank and mind meld with them.
“What you’re hearing is recorded whale song. It is sung by the male. He’ll sing anywhere from six to as long as thirty minutes, and then, start again. In the ocean, the other whales will pick up the song, and pass it on.”
“The songs change every year, but we still don’t know what purpose they serve. Are they some kind of navigational signal? Could they be part of the mating ritual? Or is it pure communication beyond our comprehension? Frankly we just don’t know.”
Old Lady In Front: “Maybe he’s singing to that man?”
“There goes employee of the month.”
While Kirk and Spock are busy weaseling their way out of trouble with Gillian, Scotty, McCoy, and Sulu are busy doing a little weaseling of their own. They pose as scientists and assistants from Edinburgh who have supposedly come to talk shop with an awkward little man in charge of a manufacturing plant and manage to trade a formula for some transparent glass for the whale tank. Scotty’s reputation as a miracle worker really shines in this scene.
Uhura and Chekov, after asking half of San Fransisco for the location of “nuclear wessels”, find their way to Alameda Naval Base where the aircraft carrier “Enterprise” awaits them. Their mission is to collect the radiation from its reactor and beam out before being discovered. In theory, the radiation will help reenergize the Bird of Prey’s crystals and thus, the ship’s power source. Uhura makes it out with the collector, but Chekov is captured. After a brief interrogation, Chekov makes a break for it but is injured and is rushed to Mercy Hospital where he isn’t expected to survive.
“It was you…you let the dogs out…didn’t you!”
While all of this was going on, Kirk managed to woo the girl (again) enough to get her talking more about the whales. Gillian didn’t believe him, at least, not until the whales were shipped off to sea and she had no one else to turn to. She made her way back to the park where Kirk had told her to find him and began yelling an agonizing ten minute plea for help. Feel free to mute the movie at this point…her voice rivals the scream of Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Kirk beams the hysterical woman aboard and she believes him enough to help Kirk find the whales.
Just another day in Golden Gate Park.
“ADMIRAL!!! ADMIRAL KIRK!!!”
“ADMIRAL!!! WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!”
“ADMIRAL!!! ADMIRAL KIRK!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME!?”
“Transporter…which button is it…let’s see…I used to know how to do this…”
“ADMIRAL!!! ADMIRAL KIRK!!!”
Kirk: “It’s this one!”
Before that can happen, Kirk, McCoy, and Gillian take a trip to Mercy Hospital to rescue Chekov from “barbaric medievalism.” McCoy makes it to the ER in time to save Chekov but the police become aware of the situation just as they attempt to escape. After a humorous chase that reminded me of something out of The Three Stooges, they make it back to the ship and take off in search of the whales. One of my gripes with the story is that Gillian begs Kirk to let her come into his century and he LET’S her…knowing full well of the dangers of time travel. Nothing is ever said of it, much to my surprise, and nothing negative ends up resulting over it. A movie is a movie, I guess.
McCoy: “Out of the way! Dammit, do you want an acute case on your hands? This woman has immediate post-prandial upper abdominal distension!”
Kirk: “What did you say she’s got?” McCoy: “Cramps.”
Kirk’s timing is impeccable (as always) as they come across a whaling ship about to harpoon our two beloved whales. Still cloaked, they bring the Bird of Prey directly over the harpoon as it fires which strikes the hull of the ship rather than the whales. To add insult to injury, they decloak and soil the pants of every sailor onboard the whaling vessel. In a grand display, Scotty beams the whales and the water on board safely.
Okay! Okay! I’ll never hunt whale and watch Spongebob ever again!
Another slingshot around the sun sends them forward in time, though they awaken to find themselves without power and plunging into the Pacific Ocean. They manage to get the whales safely out of the ship’s bay. Following this is about five minutes of whale song. It reminded me of the first hour of the Pokémon movie, “Pikachu’s Vacation.” No subtitles, just…”BullllllllbaSAUR! JigglyPuff! PiiiiiiiikaCHHHUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!”
The theory that Vulcans melt when exposed to water died in this film.
In the end, the Kirk and the whales save the day. Kirk and his crew end up standing trial in the end but based on recent events they drop the charges, save one. Kirk is demoted from Admiral to Captain and is given his own ship again. In a surprising twist, we get to see the crew being ferried to their next ship and it turns out to be the NCC-1701-A.
Star Trek fans everywhere wept for three straight days. Fact.
It’s good to be home.
Overall, Star Trek IV was a great way to end the unofficial trilogy (Star Trek II, III, and IV). Focus was emphasized on specific character traits that were discovered and loved during the making of the series. Leonard Nimoy did an excellent job of bringing out the best in each character. Even though we’ve seen (insert protagonist into real life city here) plotlines many times before, this didn’t feel like just another one of those movies. Granted, sci-fi can be a stretch of the imagination, but at least it was, as Leonard Nimoy would say, “logical.”
I highly recommend this film for people of all ages. Just go rent it, already.