Star Trek IV The Voyage Home

  • Title:  Star Trek IV  The Voyage Home
  • Director:  Leonard Nimoy
  • Date:  1986
  • Studio:  Paramount Pictures
  • Genre:  SF, Action
  • Cast:  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Mark Lenard, Jane Wyatt, Catherine Hicks, Robin Curtis
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“Give me one more day, sir, damage control is easy.  Reading Klingon… that’s hard.”  — Scotty

“Our own world is waiting for us to save it, if we can.”  — Kirk

“To hunt a species to extinction is not logical.”  — Spock

“No, I’m from Iowa.  I only work in outer space.”  — Kirk

At Star Fleet, a Klingon reports to the council twisting everything that happened at the Genesis Planet in the last two films, calling Kirk a terrorist who killed a Klingon crew and stole a Klingon ship, but worst of all saying that it was Kirk who developed the planet-killer weapon, “Genesis”.  Sarek arrives to attempt to defend Kirk and explain what really happened.  Kirk is found, in absentia, in violation of Star Fleet regulations.

Meanwhile, Kirk and his crew are on Vulcan.  Scotty is repairing the Klingon Bird of Prey, now re-named HMS Bounty.  The crew votes that they will return to Earth to face the music.  Spock has been in recovery, re-training his mind in a multi-tasking environment of three computers all asking questions at the same time.  He is stumped by, “How do you feel?”, which prompts a conversation with Amanda, his human mother.

Meanwhile, the USS Saratoga encounters a strange probe.  Before long, its signals are draining/attacking the ship and it is left with no power.  As this probe encounters other ships, both Klingon and Federation, it either destroys them or disables them – through these power drains.  The probe heads to Earth.

Kirk and company, with Spock, leave Vulcan and return to Earth.  Saavik is left on Vulcan.  But as they approach Earth, they receive a planetary distress call.  The call describes the mysterious probe, but also the storms and power outages on Earth.  Space dock itself has no power, and neither do orbiting ships or any ships near Earth.  The probe’s unusual transmissions are even attacking Star Fleet itself in San Francisco.  The message orders that no one approach Earth.  Kirk has Uhura and Spock analyze the signal — the two soon realize it’s whale song, specifically humpback whale song.  Kirk points out that because humpbacks are extinct – the signal cannot be answered.  Kirk asks Spock and Scotty about the possibility of time travel and transporting a couple of humpbacks to the future (Kirk’s time).  Although it’s very risky, they decide to give it a try.

The Bird of Prey HMS Bounty slingshots around the sun, arriving on mid-1980s Earth.  They land the cloaked ship in San Francisco Bay Park.  However, the ship is damaged and the dilithium crystals drained.  Kirk splits his small crew into three teams:  one will obtain radiation photons from a nuclear reactor aboard a naval vessel, one will find the whales, and one will find the materials to build a tank to hold the whales on the space ship until they can be released.

In “Old” San Francisco, Kirk sells his eyeglasses at an antique shop, they distributes the money to his crew as they go about on their assigned tasks.  He and Spock wander about wondering where they will find a pair of whales in a city.  But Kirk spots a bus advertisement for “George and Gracie” the humpbacks on display at the Cetacean Institute.  After a slight difficulty in obtaining transportation, they reach the Institute and join a sight-seeing tour lead by Gillian, a marine biologist with a specialty in whales. The two listen to her lecture, but Spock jumps into the tank to meld with one of  the whales – Gillian is incensed.

Later she meets the two as they are walking back to San Francisco from Sausalito,  she drops Spock in the park and has dinner with Kirk.  She informs him that the whales are to be released in the open ocean, because Gracie is pregnant – and no calf  born in captivity has survived.  Yet, if the whales are released in open ocean, they will be at risk from illegal and legal whaling.  However, Kirk isn’t able to convince her that he needs to safely transport the whales to the future.  She drops Kirk in the park where she dropped off Spock.

The next day, Gillian goes to the Institute – only to discover the whales are gone.  She returns to the park, and sees a helicopter lowering something into an empty space – where it disappears.  She literally runs into the invisible spaceship.

Meanwhile, the rest of  the crew hasn’t been idle.  Scotty and McCoy find a plexiglass manufacturer.  In return for Scotty’s formula for transparent aluminium, they receive the plexiglass they need to make a whale tank.  Sulu transports it by helicopter.

Chekov and Uhura find the Naval base, and locate the “nuclear wessel”, the USS Enterprise.  They get on board and Chekov starts collecting photons/radiation.  In takes awhile, however, and their presence trips an alarm.  Uhura is beamed up in time, but Chekov is not.  He runs off, is captured, escapes, runs off again, and falls.  He’s sent to a local hospital under police guard in critical condition.

Uhura finds Chekov through the emergency calls.  Kirk, McCoy, and Gillian rescue Chekov.  McCoy causes some havoc, giving a woman waiting for dialysis a pill to re-grow her kidney.  Also, upon being confronted with doctors who plan on exploratory surgery to fix Chekov’s cranial fracture – he locks them in a closet and puts a doo-dad on Chekov’s head which cures Chekov quickly.  They escape the hospital and return to the ship.  Kirk attempts to say goodbye to Gillian, but she throws herself  into his transport beam.

The Bird of Prey HMS Bounty takes off and pursues the whales following the radio transmitter code Gillian gives them.  They place the ship between a whaler and the whales and successfully beam them aboard.  The ship then attempts to return to the twenty-third century.  It’s a bumpy ride, and upon returning power is an issue, because the probe is still there.  The Bounty crash-lands into the ocean. Kirk has everyone abandon ship and orders Spock to protect the crew.  He goes to the hold, which is filling with water.  He orders Gillian and Scotty to also abandon ship.  Gillian points out he has to get the whales out or they will drown (being mammals).  Kirk sets about manually opening the hold, and succeeds in getting the whales out.  He also gets out himself and joins his shipmates on the barely floating, slowing sinking space ship.

The whales frolic, and eventually answer the probe’s whale song.  The probe stops its attack of  communication waves, and leaves.  Calm and power return to Earth.

Kirk and company return to the Federation council chamber, now dry and dressed, to face judgement. When Spock is asked why he’s there, he responds that he stands with his shipmates.  The charges are read out, but dismissed in light of the crew saving the planet and the Federation.  One change remains – that of disobeying orders, levied solely at Admiral Kirk.  He pleads guilty.  For this he is busted back to Captain and given command of a new Enterprise.  The crew goes with him.  Kirk points out that they have “come home”.  Gillian joins a science vessel.  Spock has a conversation with his father and tells him to tell Amanda that he “feels fine”.

I really enjoyed Star Trek IV when it came out, but I feel it hasn’t really aged well.  There are strange anachronisms (such as Kirk’s huge Klingon communicator, much larger than a cell phone), and the constant swearing – amusing when the film came out, somewhat annoying now.  A great deal of the humor just doesn’t work as well.  There are also some major gaps of logic and intelligence.  For example, Kirk, Spock, and Uhura almost instantly figure out the probe’s communications are whale song, aimed at humpback whales.  Yet no one on Earth or in Star fleet could figure this out?  Why?  Second, of all the people send to the nuclear naval vessels – Kirk picks Chekov – someone likely to bring suspicion on himself simply by being there.  Though he does have the second highest level of science training after Spock.  They did explain Scotty’s giving away the transparent aluminium formula (how do you know he didn’t invent it?) though it is a non-invention paradox.  When Spock notes to Kirk that the glasses he sells were a gift from Dr. McCoy, Kirk responses, “And they will be again, that’s the beauty of  it,” meaning this to is a paradox (where did the glasses come from if they are now trapped in a time loop?)  The capture of leaking radiation to somehow re-charge the ship’s dilithium crystals also made no sense – If  the reactor was leaking, wouldn’t the sailors be in danger?  McCoy also wrecks a lot of havoc in the hospital, though his motives are clearly humanitarian.  Finally, Kirk’s “sentence” is one of  the biggest examples of throwing Br’er Rabbit into the brier bush I’ve ever seen.  In other words, it’s a “punishment” that gives Kirk exactly what he wants – to be a captain again, rather than an admiral – and captain of a new Enterprise to boot.  They film also doesn’t showcase the friendship of Kirk, Spock and McCoy as the previous two films.  On the other hand, all of the bridge crew members have significant things to do – so there’s less of  a feeling of people just standing or sitting around doing nothing – or disappearing entirely for long sections of the film, but the film’s style still there’s no personal threat to any of our main characters (until Chekov is injured – and McCoy fixes him up quickly).  The threat, of course, is to all of  planet Earth – and involves an important issue, so that does work.

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Star Wars