3 1/2 Stars
A funny word kept creeping into my mind as I watched Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, ‘whimsical’. The goofy story involves a ton of whimsy and humor in turning the Star Trek formula and series on its head. Having only a vague connection to the other films in the franchise, this entry serves as a side story with no real bearing other than to have some fun with these very well-known characters. After facing trial for his actions in the last installment, namely stealing a starship, Kirk is demoted from Admiral to Captain and given back control of the Enterprise. This well crafted sequel is all action in an elongated opening sequence set in space. But when the Enterprise crew returns to 20th century Earth to save the almost extinct whales, the story perks up, takes on a good humored, emotional dimension and soars.
The film drags a bit during its preachy conclusion and a silly subplot in which a present day marine biologist is transported into the 23rd century is unsatisfactory. However the creative forces behind the series were very smart to play with the perceived conventions of the series and fans’ expectations. Changing the setting to present day circa 1986 San Francisco and turning these Federation officers into fish out of water makes for some surprisingly humorous moments. Shatner has never been more charming in the role of Kirk, his uncouth attempts at fitting into 1980s culture are grin inducing as when he suggests that Spock’s personality is a result of too much LDS (presumably meaning LSD). The subtext to this sequel is that Kirk and company are out to save the planet from its own shortsightedness. Voyage Home is a different type of Star Trek film yet it’s as entertaining as the previous sequels.
Director: Leonard Nimoy
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley