Saturday, 10 July 2010
Director: Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay: Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett from a story by Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and Catherine Hicks
Genre: Science-fiction, adventure
Running Time: 119 minutes
Summary: This film was the fourth to be based on the cult TV series Star Trek (1966-1969) and opens up directly where the previous installment, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), left off with the Starship Enterprise destroyed and the crew living on the planet Vulcan while Spock (Nimoy) recovers from his experiences in the previous two films. The Enterprise crew head for Earth in a captive Klingon ship to stand trial for their actions in the previous installment. However, it turns out that the trial has to be put on hold when a mysterious alien probe approaches Earth sending a signal which causes massive power losses, extreme weather patterns all over the planet and threatens to evaporate the ocean. Analysing the probe's signals, Spock works out that the signal is intended for humpback whales, which have been extinct since the 21st century. The crew travel back in time to San Francisco in 1986 in order to locate humpback whales and bring them back to the future so they can reply to the probe's message. Along the way Chekov (Koenig) has a run in with the US Navy, Captain Kirk (Shatner) does his best to have a run in with an attractive whale expert (Hicks) and Spock learns about 20th century swearing.
Opinions: After three very serious installments this movie is a refreshing change of pace being essentially light-hearted with plenty of humour as the crew try to acclimatise themselves to the 20th century and also from the Kirk and Spock double act, which was such an entertaining feature of the original series. The film does take it's time getting going but when it does, it really delivers the fun. There's not much in the way of traditional Star Trek space opera hijinks, but there are some effective thrills amidst the comedy with the alien probe being effectively strange and threatening. Returning to the director's chair after Star Trek III Leonard Nimoy handles everything well, and the witty script keeps everything ticking over nicely. The environmental message is sometime hammered home a little too much (like, whaling's bad, m'kay?), and I suppose it is unfair to criticise the Star Trek people for having a social conscience but it would be interesting if they tackled a few less safe issues. Watching it today, the film has aged pretty well for the most part, the only element that really dates it as an '80s movie are the scenes where Chekov and Uhura (Nichols) are trying to find a nuclear vessel. The movie is pretty accessible to non-Trek fans and, despite the fact that there are numerous references to the previous movie, newcomers to the movie series should find it pretty accessible. This is definitely one of the best of the series and is great fun.