‘Star Trek’ movies rewatch: ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’

Posted Filed under

> Buy the complete Star Trek movies boxset on Amazon.

The story

Facing court martial from the Federation for their shenanigans in Search for Spock, Kirk and his crew fire up the dilithium matrix on their stolen Klingon Bird of Prey and return to Earth, only to find that the planet is under attack from an alien probe attempting to make contact with an extinct species: Humpback Whales.

To save the Earth from the probe’s destructive effects, Kirk & Co. travel back in time with the aim of picking up a couple of whales and bringing them back to the future to answer the probe’s call. Their destination? A place far more alien than Ceti Alpha V: San Francisco in 1986.

Best moments

The Voyage Home‘s best moments are all about levity and comic timing. Scottie attempting to talk to the Apple Mac through its mouse, Spock laying a rude punk rocker out cold with a Vulcan nerve pinch, the crew rescuing Chekov from a hospital (and McCoy’s flabbergasted reaction to 20th century medical ‘butchery’) are the most memorable, but they’re punctuated by plenty of humour that arrives from the crew struggling to adapt to the habits and customs of a different time, in a way they never had to when visiting an alien world.


» The Enterprise only gets a total of 1 minute 13 seconds of screen time – the shortest amount of time it’s seen in any Star Trek movie.

» The ‘Yes’ ‘No’ exchange between Kirk and Spock in response to Gillian’s question about liking Italian was improvised, as was the scene in which Chekhov and Urhura ask a passer-by where the ‘nuclear wessels’ are kept.

» Eddie Murphy was originally going to feature in the film instead of Catherine Hicks’ Dr. Gillian Taylor. The plan was for him to play a UFO Professor, rather than a Cetacean Specialist.

» The first of three Star Trek films to feature a swear word. Voyage Home, Generations, and First Contact all feature one use of the word ‘shit’.

» Majel Barrett’s last appearance as Nurse Chappel (blink and you’ll miss her), but far from her last appearance in the franchise. She’d go on to play Lwaxanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and play the Federation computer voice in the Star Trek series on TV and film.

Best quotes

» Scotty: ‘Admiral, there be whales here!’

» Taxi Driver: ‘Why don’t you watch where you’re going, you dumb-ass!’
Kirk: ‘Well, a double dumb-ass on you!’

» Dr. Taylor: ‘Sure you won’t change your mind?’
Spock: ‘Is there something wrong with the one I have?’

» Kirk: [after landing and cloaking the Klingon Bird of Prey] ‘Everybody remember where we parked.’

» Kirk: ‘May fortune favour the foolish’

The verdict

After the doom and darkness of Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock, there’s a welcome cheeriness to the fourth Trek instalment. Yes, the world’s about to be destroyed by a mysterious probe that resembles a big stick of cosmic liquorice, but much of Voyage Home is quite the jolly outing.

Under Leonard Nimoy’s direction, and with a sharply comedic script that focuses on character and gives everyone a share in the good lines, there’s a humour unparalleled by any of the films before or after it. Small wonder then that it’s the best-loved among fans and non-fans alike.

With its ‘fish out of water’ theme (or should that be ‘mammals out of water’?) that shows humans as the aliens and the crew as fallible people rather than heroes in uniforms, it’s as close to a pure Star Trek comedy as the franchise would ever get.

Indeed, the whole event feels like a holiday in a foreign land with your best mates: faux-pas arriving from unfamiliar customs, no idea what the currency’s worth, and the odd scrape with the locals. All that, and Kirk – who seems remarkably chipper despite the death of his son three months beforehand – gets to interact with a woman in the past who doesn’t have to die by being mown down (see ‘City on the Edge of Forever’).

Voyage Home is the kind of feel-good sci-fi that you rarely see these days, and which you certainly wouldn’t see in the Enterprise’s next outing, The Final Frontier

> Buy the complete Star Trek movies boxset on Amazon.

What do you think of the movie? Let us know below…