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Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home

A science fiction & fantasy movie directed by Leonard Nimoy.

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I wished we'd learned more about the "space whales" who sent the probe...

  • Aug 26, 2010

Within days of the release of Star Trek III, my brother and I had the plot for Star Trek IV completely plotted.

With the destruction of the Enterprise during The Search for Spock, it seemed like getting the ship back would be a top priority. It occurred to me that the destruction scene showed only the primary hall burning up as the rest of the ship drifted into the Genesis planet's atmosphere. What if the secondary hall and warp nacelles survived and were captured by the Klingons, who have nothing so advanced? What if the events of that film precipitated a war between the Klingons and Federation? What if Kirk and crew were pardoned for their crimes because they were needed on the front lines of the war? What if they sallied forth toward combat and met the Enterprise as the enemy flagship?

Well, needless to say, Paramount did not consult me or my brother before selecting a script and filming The Voyage Home. And, while I think our storyline had promise, I can't say I'm displeased with their alternative.

Kirk and crew are returning to Earth after three months' exile on Vulcan, where they've been since resurrecting Spock. They expect to face charges for the theft and destruction of the Enterprise, sabotage, conspiracy and other violations of Star Fleet law -- but as they draw near the planet, they find it under apparent attack by a massive space probe.

The probe is directing a powerful signal at Earth's oceans, the effect of which is disrupting all energy systems and is converting the seas into a massively dense cloud cover. After determining that the signal is attempting to communicate with humpback whales -- a species extinct since the 21st century -- Kirk takes his crew on a timewarp to the late 20th century to try and find whales and bring them forward.

The delight of this film is the crew's interactions with 20th-century San Franciscans. After a trio of serious movie plots dealing with revenge, death and destruction, the producers opted for a lighthearted tale akin to episodes such as "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "I, Mudd." At the same time, there's a serious message about extinction in our own time.

Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks) is the always-perky cetacean expert recruited to aid Kirk's quest. (I'm surprised her appearance didn't usher in a new wave of wet sweater contests!)

There are a lot of nice scenes here, including Spock's dip in the whale tank and his dunking in San Francisco Bay; Scotty's impersonation of a visiting scholar and his attempts to use an "old-fashioned" mouse-driven computer; McCoy's treatment of an elderly kidney patient; Chekov's flight from U.S. military personnel, interrogation and rescue from a heavily guarded hospital; and Kirk's first encounter with modern American beer. Oh yes, and there's the face-off between a Klingon bird of prey and an evil whaling ship ... with predictable results. An extra nice touch is the cameo of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise from our era.

Some have said the environmental message of The Voyage Home is a little heavy-handed; well, considering our global track record, we probably need a few more of 'em.

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More Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home reviews
review by . September 10, 2010
The Star Trek franchise has taken its fans all over the galaxy. From its deepest unknown reaches with "Voyager" to the bridge of the "Gorkon," fans have seen plenty. The peculiar thing is that one of Trek's best tales takes place in late 80's San Francisco in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." After recovering Spock in "Star Trek III," the crew of the Enterprise find themselves as exiles in a Klingon vessel on Vulcan. When repairs to the damaged ship are completed, Kirk and company decide to return …
review by . July 26, 2009
Kirk and Spock on a bus
Don't tell me he wouldn't have photon torpedoed a few whaling ships.      Last but not least on my Trek movie reviews is the one EVERYONE loves.  Proof that funny talking foriegners to some are still funny, Leonard Nimoy smoked something evil when he thought of the plot and that mainstreaming your sci fi movies can rake in some major box office bucks.      We'll address all of that in a minute, but first-the plot.      Picking …
Quick Tip by . May 16, 2010
"The one with the whales" An absurd story that had to sound weird on paper is very entertaining on the screen. Always entertaining.
Quick Tip by . October 16, 2009
Yes, the "Save The Whales" Star Trek movie. A classic case of mainstreaming to make more money but it's entertaining regardless.
review by . May 20, 2009
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Blu-ray
The third movie (technically the fourth) in what has become known as the Star Trek Trilogy which include The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock, concludes on beautiful Blu-ray.  This is the second time I have watched Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in a span of two months and while it is not one of my favorite Trek films, it has really come to grow on me.  The film really comes to life on Blu-ray, having been completely digitally remastered and remixed with Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround.  …
review by . June 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Of all the Star Trek movies, this is probably one of the best and one of the few to make an impact with a wide audience (only Star Trek - First Contact compares). The plotline is funny, uplifting, and memorable. Having seen Humpback Whales in the wild, I also appreciate the movie's message - that in harming our environment, we are harming ourselves.    With that said, Star Trek IV is tough to follow if you aren't at least somewhat familiar with the Trek universe. This movie especially …
review by . May 20, 2009
Of all the Star Trek movies out there, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" is easily the silliest and goofiest of all the Star Trek films. It's also one of the best. The movie resumes where the previous Star Trek film left off. Captain Kirk and his crew have just rescued Spock and destroyed the Enterprise after their deadly fight with the Klingons. They are all feeling worn out after the fight, particularly Kirk and Spock. Kirk because he lost his son in the previous film, and Spock because he feels …
review by . May 15, 2007
The Star Trek franchise has taken its fans all over the galaxy. From its deepest unknown reaches with "Voyager" to the bridge of the "Gorkon," fans have seen plenty. The peculiar thing is that one of Trek's best tales takes place in late 80's San Francisco in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." After recovering Spock in "Star Trek III," the crew of the Enterprise find themselves as exiles in a Klingon vessel on Vulcan. When repairs to the damaged ship are completed, Kirk and company decide to return …
review by . February 28, 2004
Pros: Yay for Star Trek!     Cons: Aww no big space battles or ships exploding. =P     The Bottom Line: Save the whales - Star Trek style! Hey - why not? =P     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Just like with 12 Monkeys, I was flipping channels and landed on Star Trek the Next Generation. After that, however, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home came on. Now I'd seen bits and pieces before and knew something …
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Tom Knapp ()
Ranked #283
I founded the online review site, Rambles.NET, in 1999 and continue to operate the site with more than 200 contributors and more than 14,000 reviews in our permanent online archives. A fraction of my … more
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About this movie


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the fourth feature film based on the Star Trek science fiction television series. It completes the loose story trilogy started in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and continued in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Leonard Nimoy directed as well as starred in The Voyage Home, which earned four Academy Award nominations, for Best Cinematography, Best Effects, Best Music and Best Sound. The original music score was composed by Leonard Rosenman, reusing some material from his earlier score to Ralph Bakshi's animated The Lord of the Rings

Widely considered the best movie in the "classicTrek" series of feature films,Star Trek IVreturns to one of the favorite themes of the original TV series--time travel--to bring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov from the 23rd century to present-day San Francisco. In their own time, the Starfleet heroes encounter an alien probe emitting a mysterious message--a message delivered in the song of the now-extinct Earth species of humpback whales. Failure to respond to the probe will result in Earth's destruction, so Kirk and company time-travel to 20th-century Earth--in their captured Klingon starship--to transport a humpback whale to the future in an effort to peacefully communicate with the alien probe. The plot sounds somewhat absurd in description, but as executed by returning director Leonard Nimoy, this turned out to be a crowd-pleasing adventure, filled with humor and lively...
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Director: Leonard Nimoy
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
DVD Release Date: March 4, 2003
Runtime: 119 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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