Summer Star Trek Blog-a-Thon: ‘The Voyage Home’

star-trek-iv-the-voyage-homeAfter a week’s vacation (my very first trip to Disney World — I had a blast!), I’m ready to dive back into my summer Star Trek blog-a-thon. This week I’d like to take a look at another film featuring the Original Series cast, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” However, before I do, I want to acknowledge a very sad bit of news I learned during my trip: the death of actor Anton Yelchin, who plays the younger version of Chekov in the Star Trek reboot films.

J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot film, simply called “Star Trek,” is near and dear to my heart, since it’s the film that sparked my love for the Trek franchise, particularly the characters from the Original Series. Yelchin was funny, warm, and lovable as Chekov in these movies; like all the cast members in the reboot films, he honored the original show while also bringing something new to the franchise. His promising career was cut short, and watching “Star Trek: Beyond” in July will be bittersweet for fans. It is Yelchin’s last appearance in a role he should have played many times more. He will be missed.

***

“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” is one of my favorite Star Trek films, and it’s also one of the most unusual (it’s commonly known as “the one where Spock swims with whales”). Directed by Leonard Nimoy, the film kicks off with a mysterious alien probe broadcasting a signal that inadvertently creates deadly changes to Earth’s climate. The signals the probe is broadcasting are actually humpback whale songs, but there are no humpback whales on Earth to answer because they’ve gone extinct. Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew cook up a plan to travel back in time to the 1980s to rescue some whales and bring them to the future so they can communicate with the probe and save the Earth. Unsurprisingly, the crew has a somewhat challenging time fitting into 1980s culture, particularly Spock, who is still adjusting from being brought back to life in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.”

As I type up the plot synopsis, I have to admit that yes, this film does sound somewhat strange. But somehow, when you actually sit down to watch the movie, it all works. The film is smaller and less epic in scope than many of the other Trek films, but that’s okay. It’s a more lighthearted adventure and shows off the genuine chemistry between the Enterprise crew members.

Some of the funniest moments of the film are made possible by the time travel element, such as Dr. McCoy’s frustration with 1980s medical practices, Scotty’s attempt to speak to a computer, and of course, Spock’s efforts to use profanity so he sounds more like a local. Spock also earns a round of applause from his fellow bus passengers when he uses a Vulcan nerve pinch to silence an annoying man who is playing music too loudly.

The film doesn’t really have a villain or any big, special effects-driven action set pieces, but as I said before, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace. “The Voyage Home” feels like an expanded episode of the Original Series, and even comes with a message at the end: respect — not squander — the Earth’s precious resources.

Up next, I’m planning to review “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (interestingly, the even-numbered original Trek films seem to be the best). Then I’m planning to re-watch J.J. Abrams’ two reboot films and a film featuring the Next Generation cast. I’ve actually not watched a Next Generation film before, so I’d love to hear your recommendations about which one you like the best!

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8 thoughts on “Summer Star Trek Blog-a-Thon: ‘The Voyage Home’

  1. This one was weak in comparison to others, but I’m like you and love the original series anyway. Can’t wait for July 22, and yes, I’ll pout every time I see Anton Yelchin on the screen. What a tragedy!

  2. Disney World – wow! Lucky u!
    Never got over th ludicrous premise of ST IV, so still haven’t watched it all th way thro – always found th scenes of 23rd century people trying to cope w 20th century San Francisco rather cringeworthy!
    Yes make th jump to lightspeed over to ST vi – rather enjoyed that 1!
    Sad to hear about Anton Yelchin – sad? bitter – no young life shld have to be taken like THAT.
    Anton and I shared birthdays, that’s how I got to learn of hiim – shame we will never get to see him fulfil his potential

  3. It feels surreal to refer to Anton Yelchin as the late Anton Yelchin, he was so young. I’m a fan of the Next Generation, the best one is First Contact. If you haven’t watched the TV series I would recommend watching Season 3 finale, and Season 4 premiere titled Best of Both Worlds, parts 1 and 2. It’s a good primer for First Contact.

    • I’m glad Anton Yelchin will be remembered through Star Trek; such a promising career cut short. 😦 Thanks for the recommendation on the movie! I’ve watched a few episodes from Next Generation and am excited to dive into the movies. I’ll plan on doing First Contact for the blog-a-thon.

  4. I really liked Voyage Home. It felt like a TV movie that really represented the original series. The two Nicholas Meyers movies are sensational movies but this one was the most Star Trek. For
    Next Gen, First Contact is as good of a Star Trek movie as you will find. My list goes 1.Wrath of Moby Dick vs Tale of Two Cities 2.The Kelvin TL (aka JJ saves the franchise) 3.First Contact 4.Undiscovering Shakespeare 5.Voyage Home and Search for Spock which are really just a two-parter.

    • You’re right–Voyage Home does feel like a TV movie. It isn’t theatrical in scope, like Wrath of Khan, but it’s really fun and entertaining and shows off the bond between the Original Series characters. I’m planning to see First Contact for the Next Gen part of the blog-a-thon. By the way, I love your adapted titles; “Undiscovering Shakespeare” is great. 😉 I’m reviewing that one next!

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