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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 118 minutes

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koeing, Nichelle Nichols and Catherine Hicks

Written by: Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes and Harve Bennett & Nicholas Meyer
Story by: Leonard Nimoy & Harve Bennett

Directed by: Leonard Nimoy

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (18 Scenes)

Released: March 4th, 2003

 

 

In the fourth and one of the most successful films crticially and financially in the "Star Trek" film franchise, a mysterious probe in the 23rd century threatens to destroy earth. This isn't good news for Captain Kirk (William Shatner), who decides to face the consequences after his illegal mission to rescue Spock (Leonard Nimoy). But while Kirk and his crew plan to go back to earth, they receieve a warning from the Federation about the probe and how it is ruining the atmosphere and getting rid of oceans. The solution to get rid of the problem the probe has caused lies in humpback whales, but those have been extinct for a long while. So it's up to the crew to go back in time all the way back to the year 1986 to find two humpback whales (in San Fransisco, no less) and save the world.

I'm still not really big on "Star Trek" despite my exposure thanks to reviewing DVDs of the series and movies, but out of what I've reviewed so far, I've found the fourth film to be most accessiable and most entertaining. That is probably because it takes very interesting - and different - directions than what someone like me expects from a giant science fiction franchise. I liked the idea of time travel, and the movie isn't bogged down in science-fiction mumbo jumbo that tends to alienate people like yours truly. The film's approach to its story is very simplistic, and while true fans still probably don't like that, it really does have its benefits and makes it a much more enjoyable, straightforward experience.

The film is quite amusing since it is infused with a lot of humor. And why not? Isn't it always fun when people from the future go back into the past, unfamiliar with a whole different kind of culture and society? The film almost feels like an experiment, and one that went quite well at that. The film also has very sharp writing (credited to four screenwriters). Besides the bits of humor and time travel ordeal, it feels very cohesive and does feel like a true "Trek" adventure. Yeah there's action, but there's something in the movie for everyone to enjoy. The dialogue is strong, the themes are actually more important than you'd expect and there is some decent character development here - things that truly add on to the crew members and lets us to get to know them a bit more.

Leonard Nimoy once again takes the helm as director (he also co-developed the story) and does a fantastic job. The movie can be a bit serious, but what he realizes is that at the ctore it is really a fun, light adventure and does not disrespect that. Even though the film is two hours, he paces is perfectly. He sets everything up nicely and does not get bogged down in all the little details. He provides ample support for the plot and gives a good focus on the characters and their own dilemmas. With a strong vision and lovely shots, he makes it quite cinematic and a real movie's movie. It doesn't feel like an extension of the show or previous films, which is good for non-"Trek" fans to jump right in. He really makes it an entertaining ride.

Leonard Rosenman provides a very nice score and the special effects do look quite good for their time. The acting is also really good, which should be expected given that the cast has been with each other and played these roles long before this. William Shatner gives a clear cut and not-so-hammy performance to good old Kirk, while Nimoy is just as strong an actor as director. Nimoy has some choice moments within the movie, and is nicely strong yet subdued. DeForest Kelley's pitch is just right while George Takei, James Doohan and Walter Koeing give great back-up with their acting chops (and of course, you have a sweet Catherine Hicks). "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" is a bit different than other "Trek" movies, but at the point when the film came out, it's exactly what it needed. While I'm sure die-hard Trekkies don't appreciate it as much as other entries, I for one think it being a bit more mainstream is a blessing. It does hold its own well, so if you're interested in a decent romp with dramatic, romantic and comedic elements, this film is really worth checking out.

 

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" looks pretty decent and pleasing, but there could have been some slight improvements upon the transfer (or so I thought). The film does seem to look better as it goes along, but at the same time, it kinda looks its age. Edge enhancment is notciable while dirt pieces, blotches and blemishes pop up here and there. The film's look is also a bit inconsistent. At times it's a bit grainy, but other times it's rather sharp. Still, the image itself can be a distracting as some parts of the picture look "smoothed over" and are a bit unnatural. Otherwise, everything else is pretty great. Color saturation is nicely contained, bold and looks fitting. Detail is superb and fleshtones are perfect. This transfer is nice overall, but the uneven spots make it a bit rough.

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 remix is very engaging and much more effective than I imagined. The mix does not tilt, so all the sound elements are well balanced. What I found to be the most impressive of this mix however is just how natural the surrounds sounded. There are a lot of surrounds in this movie, big and small. The small surrounds are really wonderful like computers making noises, echoes, people working in the background or even footsteps. The bigger surrounds that involve ships and action are on a much more grand scale which really make some major punches. Subwoofer use is pretty wonderful, while dynamic range is surprisingly strong. Fidelity is good, while dialogue is very clear and easy to hear. The music, particuarly the nice score from Leonard Rosenman, fills up the channels quite nicely. In all, the track really gets you into the movie and is really strong - even competitive with mixes of recent movies. Great stuff, if a bit surprising, over all. Also included is a French stereo track as well as an English Dolby Surround track, plus English subtitles and true English closed captioning.

 

More than the usual Paramount offering. The Featurette is the main attraction here and is quite good. Leonard Nimoy talks about his role as a director and what he exactly does. He also gives a nice explanation of the importance of widescreen with an example which is very interesting. You can really tell the man loves directing and he is actually a really good director (in my opinion). Do watch this. There's also the film's original Theatrical Trailer in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound.

 

The list price is a bit high, but the very nice transfer, 5.1 mix and well-crafted featurette can make a purchase justified. Besides, this is a very entertaining and the most accessible "Star Trek" movie I've seen yet. Even if "Star Trek" is not your cup of tea, this one is still worth a rental.