Movie Review – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

1986 Paramount Pictures

Two Stars

Even the poster makes me cringe.

Trek Lite, Disney Trek, whatever you call it this is Star Trek built for the mainstream audience. Although I know I’m going against popular opinion I honestly dislike this movie. I’ve been a Trek fan for over thirty years and this movie annoys me big time. It’s a well made movie but there are a few aspects that make it impossible for me to enjoy. Even though the basic story is sound I dislike the way it was implemented.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home starts a short time after the third movie with the crew still on Vulcan. Spock is relearning his lost knowledge while Kirk and crew are finishing repairs on the Bird of Prey (at least that’s what they appear to be doing anyway). Meanwhile a giant rusty barrel with a glowing soccer ball attached has entered orbit around the Earth and shut down the planet. Within two seconds our brave crew has figured out what they need to do to save the day and off to the past they go! Whoopee!
The attempt to make a Trek with a lighter tone is all too apparent as soon as the happy and repulsive Christmas music blares during the opening credits. Shortly after it also becomes apparent that everyone in the regular cast took a class in TV sitcom acting before filming began as well. The characters act differently and seem to have lost some intelligence to make them funny. I do not like humor that is so obvious, changes established rules and characters, and talks down to the audience. There are far too many situations aimed at getting a cheap laugh while sacrificing logic and common sense. Kirk lands a cloaked ship in San Francisco Park and only one person notices the entire time it is sitting there? The park is virtually deserted the whole time except for when the ship takes off and lands because it’s funny to see the reaction of the garbage men and joggers. Sulu pilots a helicopter transporting the transparent aluminum in broad daylight and no one notices as he lowers the panels into the invisible ship (except Gillian of course since the story dictated the need for her to observe the action). Near the end of the movie the crew enters the Bird of Prey through the door then closes the door so Kirk needs to beam into the ship? Why? Well because it’s the perfect setup for the cutesy “surprise” scene as Gillian grabs hold of him and beams in with him. So they couldn’t open the door and toss her out? How lame. The trial at the end is highly annoying with the aliens and humans in the gallery and their childish and overwrought reactions to the trial. It’s like the audience to an afternoon talk show was brought in to play the parts.
There are a few good things in Trek IV, the crew of the USS Saratoga is interesting and the remodeled bridge on the Bird of Prey is a big improvement over the design used in the previous movie.
The good:

Is it weird I found the crew of the Saratoga more interesting than the main plot?

The bridge of the Bird of Prey looks so much better.

While on Vulcan be sure to renovate your Bird of Prey.

The not so good:

I am eternally grateful that the bridge of the Enterprise-A was redesigned between this film and the next. The all white super bland design seen at the end of this film is very hard on the eyes.

This is almost as bad as the bridge in JJ Super Action Trek.

The alien probe is just plain ugly.

Deploy the glowing soccer ball of doom!

Not the best matte painting I’ve seen. Not the best special effects I have seen from ILM.

Not very Kirk-like behavior. How comedic.

You tricked me. Certainly we couldn’t throw your ass out the door!

Random thoughts and observations:

Nice work by Chekov throwing the Klingon hand phaser at his interrogators. Certainly no one could learn anything at all from a 23rd century weapon.

Nice work by the crew to check whether Gillian’s disappearance would have any affect on the timeline.
Nice work by Scotty handing out the formula for transparent aluminum. Also how did he apparently boost the graphics capacity of an ancient computer?
Nice work by the crew beaming Spock aboard the Bird of Prey just as Gillian drives off. Did they all hit their heads during the slingshot maneuver?
Why did the aircraft carrier have to be the Enterprise? Why does every freaking ship in Star Trek have to be the Enterprise?
Good thing the loud radio was turned off when Spock gave the punk the nerve pinch and he passed out on it. Wouldn’t want to go to all that trouble of showing someone turning it off. How lazy.
Would have been funny if the whales communicated the fact that the human race had been hunting them for hundreds of years. Wonder what the giant oil barrel beings would have done? Good thing this was a happy go lucky comedy.
Kirk steals the Enterprise and destroys it at the same time sabotaging another starship. I would think Starfleet would have given him some sort of reprimand beyond the all too convenient rank reduction.

Spock really wanted to crush a Gorn with a big rock but there were none around (rocks or Gorns).

A Klingon hand phaser? Do Klingon’s sneak around with concealed weapons? Seems to go against Klingon nature if you ask me.

Well gosh gee willikers aren’t I just the cutest thing! Cute yes but also annoying as hell.

Shouldn’t you know how to find me? It is your century after all! What a dummy.

I have no problem with a Trek that is a little more humorous but not with the artificially created humor contained in this movie. It all seems to be deliberately aimed at a more mainstream audience and did not appeal to me at all.


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