Part VII: Brought To You By PETA
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (TVH) is exploitation at it’s finest! By that I mean exploitation of the characters in Star Trek, the fans of the series, and basically exploiting the popularity of the series itself. TVH is a slapped together “comedic” romp through 1980’s era San Francisco. It took every ounce of strength I have not to turn this movie off in the first hour.
The first fifteen minutes, and last five are the third part in the story-trilogy that began with Wrath of Khan. They say farewell to Saavik and head to Earth to be tried for their misdeeds from the last film. Spock is going to join them as a witness, though he still hasn’t quite remembered his feelings for Kirk or Bones or the rest of them. They leave Vulcan and head towards Earth, when Uh oh! Here comes a giant turd with a disco ball hanging from it, and its destroying the Earth!
So what does Starfleet, with all of it’s power, and 23rd century knowledge do? Immediately give up and tell space travelers to forget the billions of people on Earth, that’s what! They should just save themselves? Really?
Well, one group of exiles aboard a Klingon ship won’t stand for that! In less than a minute our heroes figure out the problem and find a solution! Why couldn’t anyone on Earth do this? I don’t know. Turns out this disco turd is trying to communicate with the whales! But uh oh! Big nasty mankind killed all those off in the early 21st century! So it’s time for Kirk and co. to travel back in time to the late 20th century and get themselves a whale! Woo hoo!
Wow, what a great opportunity to head to the 90s, which according to the Star Trek timeline is when we create genetically superior human beings (including Khan) and start World War 3! That sounds cool, I’d love to see that. Well, too bad! We’re going to the 80s! Where the biggest problem you can find is a fat kid with a mohawk playing music too loudly. So our heroes, in an incredibly tripped out sequence; mostly involving a faceless and anatomically incorrect 3D animated man flailing around, travel back in time.
What follows is just… just awful. The crew splits up and goes on their own dumb adventures. Kirk and Spock head to find some whales to bring to their time. Which involves some incredibly gruesome real footage of whale hunters killing, skinning, and cutting open whales. This goes on for several minutes. They then meet Amanda, (Catherine Hicks) [apparently the casting department of 7th Heaven were trekkies] a pretty whale biologist. If you know anything about James T. Kirk, you can pretty much gather where it goes from there. McCoy and Scotty go to a plexiglass company to get a tank for the whales, and do a stupid little Professor Scott gag. To get the tank, they reveal to some guy a futuristic technology (therefore altering the future entirely.) I’m sorry but, “How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?” is not, and never will be an excuse.
Uhura and Chekov need to get a nuclear reactor in order to fix the Klingon ship. So Chekov, a Russian in Cold War era America mind you, just starts running around the streets screaming “do you know where I can find a nuclear reactor!?” He screams this to a cop’s face. This cop stands there and does nothing. Way to go SFPD. Then somehow, via this method I assume, they find it! Where else but aboard the Navy’s USS Enterprise!? Sulu, meanwhile, just walks right up to a guy in a helicopter and starts chatting about it. He later has that helicopter. I guess because he’s Sulu, and he’s awesome! Of course he’d get the whirly! (I assume that was the explanation they gave to each other in the writers room, including use of the word “whirly.”)
You see how this is working out? It’s a series of gags that keep on going until the film’s climax when they, in a spaceship mind you, have to outrun a fishing boat. Yup, really. The setup to every scene is a gag. Everything that occurs is a gag. They have Chekov being chased while whimsical music plays. They have Kirk and Spock saying 1980’s slang and words like dipshit. Unnecessary crowd reactions are throughout! Spock’s dressed like a ninja in a bathrobe! McCoy saves a woman with a pill sending a medical staff into a frenzy. They’re just going through the motions and use the cast of Star Trek to try to make us laugh. All while barely covering a very clear save-the-whales agenda! I’m all for saving the whales, but the whole movie is a long, drawn out after school PSA. The jokes are even on the same level. It’s like while they were writing this, they kept saying “wouldn’t it be funny if…” and then wrote that! No, it’s not funny!
Then, to top it all off! After they return to roughly the moment they had left, due to their whale saving heroism, the whole crew is innocent of all charges! That is except Kirk, whose rank is reduced to Captain so he can man a starship again! (A crowd cheers at this moment.) What else? In this incredibly short amount of time since Kirk’s gone from villain to hero, Starfleet even built Captain Kirk a Brand New Enterprise! This kind of lazy filmmaking could drive a lesser man to suicide! Listen, The Motion Picture, and Search for Spock aren’t that great, but at least they tried! Literally, in Star Trek IV, not one person, except maybe James Doohan, actually gave a shit. I could not have been more excited to press stop when the credits started rolling. I feel like I deserve an apology.