Friday, 21 January 2022

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Director Leonard Nimoy follows up Star Trek III: The Search for Spock with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a light-hearted sequel that sees Kirk and pals using a captured Klingon warship to sling themselves around the curve of the sun, a feat that - thanks to Spock's cigarette packet calculations - hurls them back in time to San Francisco in the mid-1980s. Their mission in The Golden City? To kidnap a pair of humpback whales in the hope that these time displaced sea creatures can then communicate with the cigar-shaped interstellar object currently transforming 23rd century Earth into a boiling cauldron. Voyage Home is the time travel film told with the language of a culture clash comedy; incredulous Russian ensigns standing in for smiling Paul Hogan. Once touched down, the Enterprise crew make little to no attempt to fit in, remaining in their futuristic clothes and doing zero research about the time period they find themselves in. 

Voyage Home, like Ron Howard's Cocoon, is essentially a feature length opportunity for a gang of ageing stars to mix it up with reckless, grey-haired, abandon. Actors who - at this stage in their career - might otherwise be locked into one-note, supporting, roles are given the opportunity to be charming, even irreverent here. While Nimoy's film spends a significant amount of time basking in the chemistry generated by the actor-director and William Shatner's self-proclaimed expert, the rest of the crew do (finally) get their own mini-moments to shine. James Doohan's Scotty hams it up away from his teleporter console, posing as a Scottish Professor happy to trade fantastical chemical compounds with greedy line managers in a bid to secure the specialist water tank equipment their mission so desperately needs. There's a note of joyous vandalism in Scotty's subplot, the chief engineer belligerently dismissive of, and completely unconcerned with, any potential ramifications following his casual correction of history. Voyage Home is funny like that. 

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