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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) – DVD Review

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home dvd cover


Written by: Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Harve Bennett, and Nicholas Meyer, based on a story concept by Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett
Directed by: Leonard Nimoy
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Keonig, Nichelle Nichols, and Catherine Hicks


  • Running audio commentary with Shatner and Nimoy
  • Running text commentary by Michael & Denise Okuda
  • Four Star Trek universe featurettes
  • Four production featurettes
  • Two visual effects featurettes
  • Tribute to Gene Roddenberry
  • Storyboard archives
  • Production gallery
  • Interviews with Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley
  • Trailer

Released by: Paramount
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: A must-have addition for Trek fans and most sci-fi geeks, a rental for just about anybody.

[ad#longpost]So despite the utopian, cash-free, egalitarian world of the 23rd Century brought about by the United Federation of Planets, they have a serious problem. A big, menacing alien cylinder is in orbit, and attempting to communicate with the intelligent residents of Earth. The problem is, the said intelligent residents are extinct. The alien wants to talk to the humpback whales…but there aren’t any left in the future.

Once again, the fate of the universe rides on the shoulders of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Admiral Kirk and his regular gang of slightly-past-their-prime officers set out to do the impossible: go back in time and rescue a pair of humpback whales, bring them back to the 23rd century, and hope the cetaceans do enough fast-talking to save the rest of life on Earth.

Landing in 1986 San Francisco, the crew must cope with limited technology, lack of hard currency, law enforcement, and general bad manners in their race to recover the whales and return to their own time to save the planet. Nimoy‘s direction suffuses the film with a healthy dose of analysis of our own century, allowing the movie to simultaneously make a point about the future we are headed towards as well as the present we are living in.

The performances are solid as ever throughout, though particularly director Nimoy’s Spock, in full-on Stranger in a Strange Land mode amongst the people of 20th Century Earth. These actors had enough background and history going into the film to carry through on auto-pilot, but this isn’t to say the acting is flat or the performances phoned in. The plot, while to many die-hard Trek fans a bit of a groaner, is easily the most accessible of all the Star Trek films, and perhaps why it was more successful than any of the other movies that had been released up till that point.

The transfer here is phenomenal, with an excellent remixed Dolby digital audio track in 5.1 or two-channel. The commentary with Nimoy and Shatner is highly entertaining, as Shatner seems to delight in harassing Nimoy mercilessly about his performance and direction. The text commentary, by the co-authors of the Star Trek Encyclopedia, is full of enough tidbits and trivia to keep even the most rabid Trekkie sated, and will arm the more casual fan or viewer with enough details to save them from such a Trekkie if ever backed into the corner at a convention.

The features, as with all the Star Trek film releases to date, are plentiful and broad-ranging. From interviews with theoretical physicists on the possibilities of time travel and whale-speak to production featurettes covering every aspect of the film’s creation. Visual effects, set design, location shooting, analysis of dailies, you name it. There are also extensive archives of storyboards and photo galleries, original interviews with Nimoy, Shatner, and Kelley, and a tribute to Gene Roddenberry by his son.

If you’re a fan of the Star Trek universe, this is an absolute necessity. It continues Paramount’s excellent line of Star Trek movie releases, full of additional material to add to a fan’s understanding of the production and experience of the film. For more general science fiction fans, this one is at least a rental, and if it ranks high enough among the Star Trek films, add it to your collection. Very few sci-fi films get the kind of loving attention on DVD that Paramount lavishes on every single Star Trek release, and that alone makes these films worthy additions to any DVD collection.

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