Plot: What’s it about?
It seems like the intrepid crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise can never catch a break. James T. Kirk (William “Willie” Shatner) and his crew were forced to commandeer a ship without permission to rescue their friend Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and now they’re facing criminal charges for their actions. No sooner do they start to put the pieces back together than they find themselves involved in yet another important mission, with the fate of the entire planet in jeopardy this time. A strange alien probe begins to emit audio patterns no one can decipher and soon begins to cause atmospheric problems such as storms and the like. After some time it is learned the sound is that of the humpback whale and perhaps if they are able to decode that language they can learn the message inside the probe’s patterns. But this might be a little difficult since the humpback whales have been driven into extinction, which leaves one option…time travel. Kirk and his crew travel back in time to 1986 where the attempt to rescue some whales and study them to unlock the patterns. This crew has seen many strange beings and sights in their day, but 1986s population might be a little too much for them…
This is an unbeatable concept if you ask me. I mean you’ve got two of the finest actors ever to grace the screen in the form of William “Big Will” Shatner and George Takei mixed in with a storyline that deals with communicating with a group of humpback whales. I’m sold right there, no more enticement needed for me to check this movie out. Of course I’ve seen this movie several times before I wrote this review, so I have a history with this movie…a dark past if you will. You see this movie was issued on laserdisc back in the day and it looked like someone defecated in a napkin, placed it on a shiny disc, and sold it. So I am stuck without a decent looking version of this movie…until now. Paramount has stepped up to the plate with this release and knocked one out of the park in terms of visual transfer quality. So I am pleased as punch as it is, since you must realize that I love this movie to pieces. If you’re a fan of the Star Trek films then this will be a must have in your collection, but even non Trek die-hards will find plenty to like with this installment. I recommend this release as a rental or purchase to all those reading this review and whichever option you choose, your money is well spent here.
This film was directed by Leonard Nimoy, who we all know affectionately as Mr. Spock or that “wacky” Vulcan. As if his terrific work in front of the camera wasn’t enough, Leo had to show off behind it as well and his efforts stand as solid entries in the series. I like the visual style used in this movie and I think it sets an appropriate tone for both this installment and the series as a whole. This is perhaps my favorite film in the series and that fact is due in part to how Nimoy uses his camera to capture the images. Nimoy also directed Star Trek III: The Search For Spock as well as other films such as Three Men And A Baby, Holy Matrimony, and Funny About Love. Of course Nimoy also reprises his role of Mr. Spock and he does a fine, stoic turn as usual. The man behind the magic of Star Trek, William “Bill” Shatner (Free Enterprise) takes the lead once again and gives an award worthy performance, as always. When it comes to playing a noble and fearless leader, no one does it better than Dickie Shatner baby! The supporting cast also includes DeForest Kelley (Trekkies), master thespian George Takei (Mulan), James Doohan (National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon One), Walter Koenig (Blonde Justice), and Nichelle Nichols (Porgy & Bess).
Video: How does it look?
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. If you’ve suffered through the miserable laserdisc transfer of this movie, prepare to rejoice as this release shows none of the problems that plagued that previous version. A brand new anamorphic transfer has been struck for this release and the framing reflects the correct intentions, which allows me to breathe a sigh of relief. The source print looks clean and free from debris and I could find no compression errors at all on this sucker. The colors appear bold and vivid with no visible problems and flesh tones retain natural hues as well. The contrast is stark and accurate, I noticed no problems with detail level or shadow layering in this transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release contains a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 track which provides an above average audio experience, though it lacks the depth and punch of an original 5.1 track. This one opens up the gates on the surrounds more than a few times and when that happens the audio is excellent. But when the surrounds are called on for more subtle use, the mix seems to falter somewhat leaving the background noise flat and inactive for the most part. The music sounds very good though which is always a good sign. The dialogue sounds terrific and has no problems whatever, every word is crisp and easily audible.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains the film’s theatrical trailer and a brief featurette with Leonard Nimoy, in which he discusses the production of the movie. I’m pleased to see these value elements added, but I would love a full blown special edition of this and the other Star Trek films in the future.