While back on Earth, standing trial for their hijacking of the starship Enterprise (see STAR TREK III), Kirk and his crew are thrust into a new adventure. A space probe threatens to destroy the planet if it is not allowed to continue its longstanding communications with a certain species of Earth mammal -- humpback whales. Unfortunately, there is an obstacle to their simple demand; the whales are extinct in the 23rd Century. So Kirk, Spock and the gang travel back in time to San Fransisco, circa 1986, where they battle culture shock, as well as the clock, while trying to corral a few friendly whales to bring back to the future. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Cinematography, Best Original Score.
A contemporary Marine biologist becomes involved with Kirk and crew as they undertake a vital mission into Earth's past to save a species whose extinction poses a threat to the very existence of the planet. The Directors' Series version includes outtakes and commentary by director Leonard Nimoy.
"Back in the '60s he was part of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley -- I think he did a little too much LDS" [sic] -- Kirk (William Shatner) making excuses for Spock's (Leonard Nimoy) odd behavior.
"I may have carried your soul, but I sure couldn't fill your shoes." -- Dr. "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to Spock (Leonard Nimoy).
"To hunt a race to extinction is not logical." -- Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
"...Relevant, funny and touching....A stirring adventure..." 01/09/1992 p.55
New York Times
"...There's something rather touching about the sight of that same old Enterprise crew on the streets of San Francisco....[Nimoy's] sincerity is unmistakable, and it counts for a lot..." 11/26/1986 p.C14
"...[This] excursion is warmer, wittier, more socially relevant and truer to its tv origins than prior odysseys....[The] technical credits are terrific..."
Los Angeles Times
"...It has an irresistibly sure touch, an easy command of its audience. It hits the right buttons, strikes the right chords, plays with our expectations with the right blend of savvy, guile and imagination..." 11/26/1986 p.C1
"...THE VOYAGE HOME eschews the previous films' heavy themes and puts light laughs centre stage..." 07/01/2003 p.129
Donald Peterman, Nominee, Best Cinematography,Leonard Rosenman, Nominee, Best Music, Original Score,Mark A. Mangini, Nominee, Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing,Terry Porter, et. al., Nominee, Best Sound
I remember the first time someone told me about the premise for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- that the crew of the former Enterprise would travel back in time to retrieve a pair of humpback whales. Described thus, it sounds abysmally bad, so I was pleasantly surprised that the actual film turned out to be rather entertaining. Star Trek IV, released the day before Thanksgiving in 1986, proved to be the most popular entry of the long-running movie series to date, scoring big with fans, conventional movie-goers, and critics alike. It was one of the season's most successful releases, and paved the way for Star Trek's return to television with Star Trek: The Next Generation...Star Trek IV picks up where Star Trek III: The Search for Spock left off, and forms the final segment of the motion picture trilogy begun in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan...The tone of The Voyage Home is considerably lighter than that of its predecessors; in fact, this is as close as Star Trek gets to being a straight comedy. At times, the proceedings become overly silly to garner cheap laughs, and the characters suffer as a result. Kirk, McCoy, and especially Spock, flicker back and forth between resembling the heroic figures we know and acting like caricatures of themselves. There's a running gag about Spock's inability to master profanity that, while undeniably amusing, is a little too cute...Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home marked the end of the "golden age" of Star Trek movies, such as it was (three straight quality outings). From this point on, the films were marred by stale writing, predictability, and questionable production values. Star Trek IV, while not a superior effort, is an effective and enjoyable sample of entertainment -- not good science fiction, but a lightweight piece of comic fantasy utilizing characters so familiar that they feel like old friends.
When they finished writing the script for "Star Trek IV," they must have had a lot of silly grins on their faces. This is easily the most absurd of the "Star Trek" stories - and yet, oddly enough, it is also the best, the funniest and the most enjoyable in simple human terms. I'm relieved that nothing like restraint or common sense stood in their way...The movie opens with some leftover business from the previous movie, including the Klingon ambassador's protests before the Federation Council. These scenes have very little to do with the rest of the movie, and yet they provide a certain reassurance (like James Bond's ritual flirtation with Miss Moneypenny) that the series remembers it has a history...The plots of the previous "Star Trek" movies have centered around dramatic villains, such as Khan, the dreaded genius played by Ricardo Montalban in "Star Trek II." This time, the villains are faceless: the international hunters who continue to pursue and massacre whales...Instead of providing a single human villain as counterpoint, "Star Trek IV" provides a heroine, in Hicks. She obviously is moved by the plight of the whales, and although at first she understandably doubts Kirk's story that he comes from the 23rd century, eventually she enlists in the cause and even insists on returning to the future with them, because of course, without humpback whales, the 23rd century also lacks humpback whale experts...There are some major action sequences in the movie, but they aren't the high points; the "Star Trek" saga has always depended more on human interaction and thoughtful, cause-oriented plots. What happens in San Francisco is much more interesting than what happens in outer space, and this movie, which might seem to have an unlikely and ungainly plot, is actually the most elegant and satisfying "Star Trek" film so far.
DVD, No Longer Produced
Paramount Home Video
James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
One of the most purely enjoyable of the Star Trek films.
Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide
The Enterprise crew takes a sharp left turn toward comedy in this uncharacteristic--and very entertaining--movie.
Rita Kempley, The Washington Post
A happy, heartfelt chapter that reunites the original cast with the original TV format, shying away from the cold and epic scale of the preceding movie adventures.
Steven D. Greydanus, Decent Films Guide
The most successful and widely appealing of the Star Trek films...[with] some of the most humorous and humane moments in the Trek canon.
...warmer, wittier, more socially relevant and truer to its TV origins than prior odysseys.
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