Movie Review: Star Trek IV The Voyage Home


     Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was the first Trek film I saw on the big screen.  I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen the others.  I wasn’t the only one in the house who watched Star Trek.  And though we didn’t go to the movies often, we did go.  Whatever the reason, this was my first.  It is also one of the only Trek films that doesn’t involve squaring off against a ‘bad guy.’  There is an adventure and a dilemma, but no mustache twirling villain.  Look, I don’t argue that the original show was ‘cerebral.’  It wasn’t even that good science fiction 90% of the time.  It was an action adventure show, not unlike several others of its time.  But though there were a great many fistfights over the three original seasons, not every episode was about punching it out with whatever rogue scientist or demigod Kirk found that week.  Sometimes, it was just about identifying a problem and addressing it.  I really, profoundly wish that element of the original show was a part of the movies more often.

The message in The Voyage Home is pretty darned heavy-handed, but as they set out to make a ‘message movie’ and then came up with the message to fit, that’s no surprise.  It reminds me of the satirical take on the 1970s in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  There’s a lot of fun poked at life in the 80s, especially West Coast life.  And that’s sort of the thing; it’s a fun movie.  It’s not dark or serious.  It’s got a serious message of conservation at its heart, but everything is presented in a lighthearted and enjoyable way.  The film features lots of my favorite stuff from the movie era, great character moments, those little exchanges between the longtime crewmembers.  From McCoy’s frustration at 20th century medicine and Scott’s disgust at the primitive computers, to Kirk and Spock trying to ‘fit in.’  It’s full of laughs and goofs, but all well handled.  Everyone seems to be having fun.

     The Voyage Home rounds out the trilogy within the series that began with The Wrath of Khan.  If there had never been another Star Trek film, this would have been an excellent finale.  It’s hopeful and uplifting, and ends on a positive note.  It gave an example of how Trek movies might go, if filmmakers could just break their death-grip on the Khan villain mold.  This was one of the most successful films of the franchise, and I hope that fact sinks in.  We could use another film without a villain.  Seriously.  It can work.  It has worked.

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