I stated in my review for The Motion Picture, that i can’t remember what the first Star Trek movie i had watched was (or something like that) but since i’ve been going through these films my brain tells me that the first one that i watched was Star Trek IV.
I remember it being in a clear VHS clam shell case, and how i watched it a number of times with my sister before i had watched some of the others, but its all very hazy to me as i look back.
I truly feel that when the makers of a film are clearly having fun with the project, that sense of fun bleeds into those that are watching it. That’s the best thing about Star Trek IV, despite the crew’s mission to save the world, and its environmental underpinnings it’s a very light and fun movie.
All of the crew members get their own little scenes to play it light and humorous, scenes like Kirk and Spock on a public bus, or Bones and Scotty trying to talk to an Apple 2 (or whatever it is…) are very funny scenes. It also gives the supporting cast (that honestly get sidelined for many of the films) a chance to shine. It also does a great job of getting Spock back to his normal self, as he starts the film out as being completely Vulcan and unable to understand the actions and feelings of his shipmates as he had done so before. However, his exposure to them allows him to contemplate that question of “how do you feel?” and realise its validity.
It also underlines again the failure of the reboot, as even this light and breezy entry into the series still has some unique and interesting ideas. Aside from time travel (which sadly isn’t a big deal here) i would say its most interesting concepts is the exploration of the idea that there may indeed be other intelligent species on this planet. Questions like: “What defines intelligence?” are most certainly topical even today, as we continue to find new evidence that erodes our image of ourselves as the only creatures on this planet that have it.
Animals such as Magpies, Dolphins, and Apes all demonstrate self-awareness, and with self-awareness doesn’t the possibility of language or even culture come? Even Ants with their underground metropolises complete with freeways and even air conditioning all make me ask questions as to what defines intelligence. While the film admittedly doesn’t delve all too deep into these types of questions it still is a rather fascinating concept, and well worth contemplation and exploration.
Unfortunately despite its light-hearted nature, the film does feel rather placed or a product of the 1980’s. The entire subtext of Chekov asking where the “nuclear wessels” are revolves around the fact that he is a Russian, in America, asking where he can find nuclear reactors and army bases. That cop just staring at him adds to the awkwardness, and i know its supposed to be funny but i just don’t find it so for whatever reason. Also the “Save the Whales” message while very much topical at the time, seems dated for a lack of a better term to me. While i acknowledge, that whaling is still going on, and i do agree that it should be stopped (although sharks are currently being killed by the millions, and honestly i think that is a problem that is more important at the moment) its still very much a concern of that time.
The movie honestly comes off as a bit preachy to me with its heavy-handedness, it attacks our level of pollution, and it attacks our use of nuclear power (doesn’t Starfleet use antimatter in its ships? Because that is so much safer…). While i’m certainly not for destroying the planet, it just kinda rubs me the wrong way, and i’m not sure why that is.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, is at least to me one of the lesser of the Star Trek films. It is firmly a product of the 80’s and while that isn’t a bad thing it does hurt it when compared to the timelessness of Wrath of Khan, of which this is a direct sequel.
However it was and still is a rather fun film, and that breeziness lets it become a suitable conclusion to the classic trilogy of II, III, and IV and lets face it, the previous two films were harrowing adventures that contemplated Life, Death, and their ramifications. I believe the series was in need of a little humour to wrap up the last few plot threads, and the result we have the crew returning refreshed and ready to continue their adventures.
*** OUT OF FIVE