A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 325 – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – January 19th, 2011

This movie has the distinction of being the Star Trek movie I have seen the most times. It’s not that it’s my very favorite, though I do enjoy it, it’s that it seems to show up on television when I’m flipping through channels. I don’t know why that is. Why this one and not Wrath of Khan or one of the TNG movies? I have no idea. I just know that I’ve seen that ending scene with everyone in the water more times than pretty much everything else we’re watching in these two weeks. Good thing I like it, cause if it was the Chekhov earwig scene from Wrath of Khan I kept happening across I think I’d be less amused (love the second movie but that scene gives me the willies).

For some reason I also suspect that this is the first Star Trek movie I saw all the way through. I mentioned that my parents are big Trek fans, but they were never all that into the movies. They could quote the show all night long, but the movies just never seemed to click for them I guess. And oh, my mother was merciless about this one, with its time travel plot and saving the whales. She’s all for saving the whales, but it’s such a cheesy movie and the concept is so very anvilicious. You can’t turn around in this movie without getting smacked in the face with a message about how in our time we’re doing foolish and illogical things that are just going to get us killed by giant alien probes in the future. Won’t somebody please think of the alien probes! And oh, our medical practices are barbaric! We still use money! And thank goodness we did have that brief dalliance with nuclear fusion, toxic side effects be damned, or the crew might never have gotten their ship back to the future (maybe they should have contacted Marty McFly and seen if he could tinker with the Bird of Prey?) and wow, aren’t we so backwards here in the present day.

Of course, by present day I mean the 1980s. When else would you get a science fiction movie with a moral like this? Indeed, the vast majority of the movie takes place in San Francisco, present day (1986). After the crew are ordered back to Earth to stand trial for their escapades in The Search for Spock a mysterious probe shows up, sending out a message no one seems to think to poke at enough to figure out, and disrupting power sources and whatnot everywhere it goes. The crew are all still in their stolen Bird of Prey and after Uhura uses her awesome communications skills to figure out what the message sounds like underwater the crew use the ship to travel back in time to grab some whales. Cause dude, we killed all the whales! Human bastards! Killed the whales!

Anyhow, that bit doesn’t last long and the rest of the movie shows our favorite characters as they try to cope with the late 20th century in California. They have to find some radioactive material to get the ship going again, leading to the oft-quoted “nuclear wessels” bit from Chekhov. They have to build a tank that can hold the whales in the ship for the trip back. And they have to procure whales. Preferably a mating pair. And what do you know! The Cetacean Institute (filmed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a very nice aquarium, by the way) has two whales! And one’s pregnant! Imagine that. Kirk tries his best to romance the whale biologist into letting them somehow take the whales but she’s cannier than most of the gals he tries to chat up and only ends up saying yes out of desperation. And then she totally blows him off at the end. Of course it all works out in the end, but in between there’s plenty of silliness with a race through a nuclear submarine, McCoy curing a woman’s kidney failure, Sulu stealing a helicopter and Scotty showing a present day plexiglas manufacturer how to make ‘transparent aluminum’ so they can get the materials they need for the tank. It’s ridiculous. It’s cheesy, as I said. It’s still a ton of fun.

Despite the preachiness and the dated 80s references and hair, and despite the variable mass of whales and the double dumbass and everything silly about this movie, I still love it. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, or maybe it’s that regardless of it all, the movie still has some great moments between Kirk and Spock, and Scotty and McCoy. It’s got some fun stuff for Chekhov and Uhura and Sulu and it’s got a redemption for the crew at the end. After all, they do get the Enterprise back when all’s said and done, putting them right back on board the ship they belong on. Which is what I personally believe the title refers to. It’s not about ‘home’ being the 20th century or Earth or whatever. It’s the Enterprise and all the bizarre things they have to do to get back to her.

January 19, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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