A Vulcan Out of Water
With the destruction of the Enterprise the crew remain on Vulcan whilst the recently reborn Spock is re-taught the logic which he is lacking. But now the crew along with Spock must return to Earth in the Klingon spacecraft and face punishment for their actions when they stole the Enterprise. That is until Earth comes in to contact with a strange probe which appears to be playing a message from the long extinct humpback whales. With no one able to communicate with the probe Kirk and the crew must travel back in time to 1986 to kidnap a humpback whale and bring it back in order to communicate with the probe.
"Star Trek IV" is an entertaining oddity and lets be honest with a storyline which features time travel and the call of the humpback whale it is easy to understand why it can sound complete and utter nonsense. Yet as I said it is an entertaining oddity which somehow still works despite seeming like it should be completely terrible. But in a way the reason it works is that it uses the formula which had been behind the previous two movies and then focused on having fun with it rather than coming in with a heavy storyline with a heavy message which in this case is an environmental one.
What do I mean by that, well the first part of the movie continues on the story from the previous movie so we see Spock retraining and becoming almost the Spock we know whilst also the situation with Kirk and the crew facing trouble when they return back to Earth. At the same time it puts in to place the current crisis which not only features this mysterious probe which appears to be of danger to Earth but we also get the Klingons angry at what Kirk did when he killed a group of Klingons and then stole their craft. The final third of the movie wraps up the story which was set up during the first part.
But it is the middle part of the movie which is the real focus and that is the humour of the crew of the Starship Enterprise arriving in mid 80s San Francisco and of course looking extremely out of place. It is pretty obvious stuff but basically it is a lot of fish out of water stuff with the focus on the lightness of it all. As such we have such amusing scenes as Chekov asking a cop where he can get some nuclear weapons to Spock struggling to understand the profanity which is common place.
We also get the lightness of the awkward relationships between the crew and Spock who doesn't remember any of their time together. It sounds like it shouldn't work and the desperate act of a studio trying to drain every cent out of a popular franchise yet it actually works and "Star Trek IV" is as entertaining as both the 2nd and 3rd movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" on paper sounds like a complete and utter disaster and I must imagine that there would have been some quizzical looks when the idea was presented to the studio bosses at the time. But with everything about it sounding wrong somehow it pulls it off to be a fine finale to the trilogy of Star Trek movies which were "The Wrath of Khan", "The Search for Spock" and this "The Voyage Home".