Friday, March 23, 2012

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Star Trek IV: The Damnable Voyage


- Picking up from the last Star Trek film, The Search For Spock (1984), the Enterprise crew go on yet another voyage in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). Leonard Nimoy directs The Voyage Home (it is a "Leonard Nimoy Film" no less), only this time he is in front of the camera as Spock as well as behind it directing the picture. Unfortunately, this Leonard Nimoy directed Star Trek film does not measure up to his last one, The Search For Spock, or many others in the series. Utterly ridiculous from its send off, The Voyage Home ends up dead in the water.

The Voyage Home is in the same vein of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) in that a big unknown thing is heading for Earth with intentions about as exciting as an Aaron Neville concert and just as bad. The crew, after giving the middle finger to Star Fleet and breaking ranks to save Spock, return to Earth to face their trial. Unknown to them, a dangerous probe that sends out an Earth-ravaging signal in the form of the song of a humpback whale is destroying the planet. Nimoy and company might as well have just come right out and shouted "save the whales pretty pretty please with whipped cream and cherries on top" because according to the film, the humpback whale went extinct in the 21st Century. That is an odd thing to say nowadays as there are more humpback whales now in the 21st Century there were in 1986 - go figure. But theoretically, there are no more humpback whales in the era of the Enterprise - alright, we will go with that. After other successful time travel sci-fi films of the era like The Terminator (1984) and Back To The Future (1985), the Enterprise crew naturally go back in time to go catch 'em some humpback whales! So all this danger and destruction is going on during the film and we as the audience know that humpback whales are the answer - well, that is some exciting stuff right there I tell you what! On with the show!

Here in this film, the Enterprise crew encounter the exciting, um,-1980s! How exotic a time! Here, they run into colorful characters with colorful uses of the English language - something that rubs off on a few members of the crew ("double dumbass on you!"). The crew sure had an exciting vacation when they were supposedly crunched for time: Captain Kirk meets a dame, Scotty looks like an idiot typing away randomly on a computer keyboard to create a wonderful moving 3-D graphic and talking into a computer mouse like it is a communicator, Mr. Chekov is mistaken for a Soviet Spy, and Sulu gets to fly a helicopter. Other supposedly "funny" things occur throughout the film but they are just not funny at all. Here is one of the biggest pitfalls of The Voyage Home: all the humor is so dumb you are either laughing because everything is so stupid or you are frustrated that you are wasting time watching this piffle.

Surprisingly, with such a dumb story and poor attempts at humor, the main cast does a good job. Shatner, Kelley, Nimoy, Doohan, Takei, Koenig, and Nichols all end up performing their roles well for what they have to do. There is one bad member of the cast that sticks out like Calista Flockhart's spinal cord however: Catherine Hicks. As if casting one terrible future 7th Heaven cast member in a Star Trek film was not enough (Stephen Collins in Star Trek: The Motion Picture), the filmmakers cast another one. Hicks plays her Dr. Gillian whale-hugger role to annoyance levels far beyond the readings of mere 21st century technology. Boy, is it ever not fun to watch her flip out.... or do anything, really. The film's soundtrack, composed by the Oscar-winning Leonard Rosenman, is not bad but is ultimately nothing special - though sometimes it actually adds to the cheesy unfunny gags found throughout the film and becomes insult to injury.

What you undoubtedly knew was coming before you even sat down to watch the movie, the crew gets their whales (one packed so full of whale spawn it will be able to repopulate the 23rd Century's whale-less Earth). Of course needing a climatic ending, the crew saves the whales just in time from the whalers! Those pesky whalers are just as numerous in the sea as fishing ships apparently. That's right Kirk my boy, de-cloak the ship and hover over the whalers! That'll show 'em - yeah! After such an exciting conclusion (and not dumb at all), everything else in the film ends the way everyone knew it would: the whales sing, the probe floats away, the Enterprise crew splashes around in celebration, they get off scot-free, and we see a montage of events we just spent two hours already watching. End curtain - thank heavens.

CBC Rating: 4/10

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