“May Fortune favor the foolish.”
“Are you sure it isn’t time for a colorful metaphor?”
For their fourth film outing, the Star Trek crew decides to keep things a bit lighter. In terms of story, all that was left to do was have Kirk and friends return to Earth from Vulcan to face judgment for stealing and blowing up the Enterprise in their rescue of Spock. But a giant PLOT TWIST shows up and starts destroying ships in a mad rampage to Earth and so our gallant crew has to deal with the PLOT TWIST first before they can return to Earth, and, in so doing, everyone has way more fun than in previous films.
Overall, this isn’t a terribly deep and dark Trek film and it tends to be hella preachy in parts, but it’s a fun action comedy with a whole bunch of great one-liners. Trek has always been OK with doing lighter, more comedy-related stories (such as when the Enterprise encountered the Psi 2000 virus that made them all drunk and crazy), and it’s nice to see them do this on a larger scale. Plus, it was the mid 80’s and action comedies were all the rage.
Fun fact! This movie came out the year I was born! Don’t care? OK, then, moving on.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
The Ship: The “H.M.S. Bounty,” which is actually Kruge’s ship, but since our heroes never found out what it was called, they decided to rebrand. (I always thought Kruge would call it something like the I.K.S Swag, but I can’t find the translation for “swag” in…the Klingon dictionary that I totally don’t own *shoves it in a drawer*). Also, we get our first look at the Enterprise A here!
The Captain: Admiral Kirk who, by the end of the film is stripped of his rank and “forced” to be a captain again (but, like, he just spent the past three movies either stealing the command or stealing the ship itself, so is it really a punishment?)
The Premise: A big huge probe…thing (it looks like a broken piece of a geological core sample with a little spinning fiddly thing sticking out of one side) appears out of literally nowhere and starts a mad dash for Earth, disabling every ship it encounters. Once it reaches Earth (oh, and it goes wubwubwubwubwubwub, which is fun) it wreaks havoc on the atmosphere and the Earth’s power systems.
Our intrepid crew, returning home from Vulcan in their stolen ship, intercepts a distress call from the Federation president telling them to stay away. But Kirk’s a rebel, so he doesn’t (obviously). And, after listening to the probe’s transmission (not the wubwub thing, but it’s other, kind of screechy sound that I can’t really render here) for all of four seconds, Spock figures out that the probe’s transmission is actually the song of humpback whales, which is fun, but the poor creatures have been…*gets up on soap box and clenches fist*…hunted to extinction! So Kirk decides they need to travel back to the 80’s (don’t we all?) and find some whales to bring forward in time so they can yell at the probe and tell it to go away.
(I love how nobody on Earth is able to figure this out, but I guess the probe knocks out the global interwebs so they can’t access Space Wikipedia like Spock does…still….)
After a bizarre dream sequence that makes no sense whatsoever, they arrive in the past and 80’s hijinks ensue, such as big hair, boom boxes, a scene in a pizza joint, and a chase through a hospital.
The Best Moments: There are so many, most of which are one-liners. But I’ll try to keep this list brief.
Spock learning to swear.
The Boom Box guy. The song, “I Hate You” is so amazing, it’s a shame it was just recorded for the movie and not actually a real song. The lyrics are hilarious. I quite like “I eschew you, and I say screw you!”
Whales! I literally love whales and it’s basically all because of this movie. As a kid, I thought Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks) had the best job ever. If this writing thing doesn’t work out, I would totally be OK with selling my organs on the black market so I could go back to school and study cetacean biology.
Gillian is a great character and I love her interactions with Kirk and Spock. It’s a shame we never see her again. *looks accusingly at Kirk* He had three movies of not romancing lady friends, and then he gets a chance and they get along, and he cuts their first date short, makes her pay, and then NEVER CALLS HER AGAIN, EVEN THOUGH SHE GIVES UP HER LIFE TO COME TO THE FUTURE AND LOOK AFTER THE WHALES! I’m sorry…Kirk/Gillian is my otp…
The adorable little old lady undergoing dialysis whom McCoy helps. She’s so cute and happy, and I love her so much.
McCoy and Spock getting back to being snarky with each other, even though they have this whole deeper respect for one another.
Why It’s Awesome: The previous three films were very Kirk/Spock/McCoy focused, and so it’s wonderful to see the rest of the crew get their moments, too. Uhura, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov all have great subplots, which is awesome, because they were pretty much consigned to the background for the previous films.
Also, it’s genuinely fun and funny. It’s a completely weird premise, but it works. And it’s a nice change in tone and pace. Also, if you ever get a chance, there was a “sequel” to this film written in the 90’s that explains what the probe was and where it came from. I think I still have it, actually…I need to re-read it…
But anyway, it’s a lighthearted feel-good romp that’s basically HOW THE 80’S SAVED EARTH! Not a lot of Trek mythology except Kirk’s demotion and the introduction of the Second U.S.S. Enterprise, but it’s a good movie. I’m pretty sure it’s the first Star Trek film I saw, actually. I remember having no clue what all the debate about the Genesis device in the beginning was about, but the whales were rad, and I was all about that.
That reminds me, we never get a resolution to the whole Angry Klingon Ambassador at the beginning who vows that there will be no peace as long as Kirk lives. Does he chill out eventually when Kirk saves the Earth? Does his fear mongering lead, in part, to the tensions that come to a head in Star Trek VI? Hmmmm…
The week after next, we’re going to be looking at the worst Star Trek movie in existence. It’ll be fun. I promise.
See you then!