Admiral... there be whales here!
The third and most enjoyable film in the trilogy
that began with THE
WRATH OF KHAN,
THE VOYAGE HOME finds our planet-cruising heroes on a time travel quest
back to the 1980s to retrieve a pair of humpback whales in order to
save the Earth of the 23rd century. And yes, in the context
the the film, this makes perfect sense.
The time travel device, borrowed from the episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday", allows more comedy than in any of the previous Star Trek films. With 1986 Earth being almost as alien to the Enterprise crew as any planet they've ever beamed down to, much of the comedy is of the fish out of water variety. Two of the most amusing examples are Spock trying to adapt to the level of profanity prevalent in 1980s culture but randomly misplacing the emphasis ("Attempting the hell to communicate"), and the Russian navigator Chekov, unaware of the Cold War, asking a police officer for the location of the naval base where they keep "the nuclear wessels". With the crew split up into different teams scattered around San Fransisco, the film never has a chance to lag as it keeps taking us from one comic adventure to another, showing us just how they all work together and separately in an improvised plan to get those humpback whales and transport them to the 23rd Century. Even two decades later, the lines and gags are funny, ringing true because they spring directly from the individuals characters' strengths, weaknesses and personalities.
William Shatner, for once, corrals his urges to over-emote and pulls off one of his best performances, as he attempts to win the confidence of a feisty female aquarium scientist. For once, Shatner is almost as charming as Captain Kirk thinks himself to be. Catherine Hicks, as Dr. Gillian Taylor, gives Shatner back as good as she gets and is the finest leading lady he ever had, in film or in the series. It is regrettable that Hicks only appeared in this one film, because she and Shatner had a chemistry that could have played out a marvelous courtship story over the next two films.
THE VOYAGE HOME also points out man's inhumanity to certain species, such as the humpback whale. Whales are amongst God's most majestic and mysterious creatures, and I, for one, can find no justification for whale-hunting. The film contains several moments where audiences should erupt in cheers, my favorite being the moment the Klingon Cruiser (commandeered by the crew in the previous film) de-cloaks menacingly over the whaling ship hunting down the film's two whales, George and Gracie.
There were two films yet to come featuring the original cast, but neither rose to the heights of this film. With a near-perfect script and fine direction, once again, by Leonard Nimoy, STAR TREK: THE VOYAGE HOME represents the peak of this branch of the movies series. - JB
IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR GOOD MOVIE QUOTES
"Don't tell me: You're from outer space."
"No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space."