Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Double dumbass on you if you can't appreciate one of sci-fi's most enjoyable - and unexpected - comedies...

Ah Scotty, if only it were that fecking easy.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (8:00am, Thursday 5th February – shown again 5:00pm)

Three months on from the events of Search for Spock and the Enterprise crew are in exile on Vulcan while the Federation council debates their fate. Pinching a Starship and crashing it into a planet are pretty heavy offences, apparently. Returning to Earth in the Klingon Bird of Prey they twokked in the previous movie, the crew receive a distress call. Earth’s in trouble again; an alien probe in orbit around the planet is destroying the oceans and electrifying the skies. In the nick of time, Spock discovers the vessel is broadcasting messages in whale-speak. As there are none left in the 23rd Century, Kirk decides to time travel back to the 20th Century to pick up a couple of cetacean hitchhikers…

I didn’t think I was a fan of The Voyage Home, remembering a film that uncomfortably bolted broad comedy onto a common Star Trek premise. In fact, we’ve seen the basic story before in The Motion Picture. Alien probe comes to Earth, can’t find what it’s looking for, starts to destroy the planet.

Watching again, straight after the clunky calamity that is Star Trek III, I revised my opinion. Sure, it’s cornball in places – but it’s a ton of fun. With Spock back in the fold, freshly re-Vulcanised following his brush with death, the character dynamic is back in shovels and spades. In fact, The Voyage Home is the first story to fully use the whole cast, playing to and with their strengths. Scotty gives away the formula for transparent aluminium, Chekov goes on a hunt for “nuclear wessels” and Leonard Nimoy’s bewildered Spock is quite simply superb throughout.

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The ’80s fashions and sitcom scripting date The Voyage Home in a way that the other entries have managed to avoid – but a strong story and unfussy direction make an enjoyable ride all the same.

Best bits:

* Spock goes for a swim in the whale tank. * The crew’s Klingon vessel decloaks over a whaling ship.

WTF?! Moments:

* Scotty creates a 3D molecular model on an old Apple Mac by tapping the keyboard randomly for 20 seconds. * Kirk pushes a laughing Spock into San Francisco bay as the crew celebrate their successful return.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Star Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek V: The Final FrontierStar Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

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5 February 2009