“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” 4K UHD Review

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Director: Leonard Nimoy
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Catherine Hicks, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Robin Curtis
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: November 26, 1986
4K UHD Release Date: September 7, 2021 (Amazon.com)

Plot Summary

To save Earth from an alien probe, Admiral James T. Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to San Francisco in 1986 to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it: humpback whales. (from IMDb)

Film Review

It’s a common belief in the Star Trek fandom that the even-numbered films are all the standout movies in the series. Exhibit A was Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan while exhibit B is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (and exhibit C is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and exhibit D is Star Trek: First Contact; the theory doesn’t really hold up from there, though). Completing the three-movie arc of Star Trek II and III and now IVThe Voyage Home was director Leonard Nimoy’s attempt at lightening things up after such a heavy thematic run of movies. After all, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was all-around too stiff and serious, II was violent and saw the death of Spock and III saw the death of Kirk’s son and the demise of the Enterprise. I agree that these characters definitely earned a lighter adventure.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home finds the crew of the Enterprise piloting Kruge’s Klingon vessel from The Search for Spock. Kirk and his crew are definitely out of their element here as they decide to take the vessel home to Earth where they know they’re going to face judgment for their rogue behavior. But when they get there, they find a space probe speaking an unknown language and its presence is wreaking havoc on the Earth’s atmosphere. When they realize the language is the same as humpback whales from Earth’s past, the Enterprise crew decides to travel back in time to 1986 to find whales and take them back to their time to save life as they know it.

Yeah, the plot for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a bit preachy when it comes to environmentalism, but I suppose that’s not entirely foreign to the themes in Star Trek. Still, the story makes for a fun fish-out-of-water (no pun intended) tale of our futuristic space crew getting dumped into the oddities of the mid-1980’s to try to accomplish their mission. It’s often silly, but always fun, and its more lighthearted approach may seem out of left field after the movies that came before it, but I agree it was a needed change of pace. Seeing Uhura and Chekov standing on a San Francisco street corner asking every passerby where they can find the “nuclear wessels” – in the mid-80’s no less – is pretty dang funny. Meanwhile, Kirk has found himself entertaining an attractive and spunky whale expert by the name of Gillian who he enlists the help of. Overall, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is probably the most “fun” Star Trek movie, until J.J. Abrams’ helmed soft reboot in 2009.

The content for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is mostly tamer, but since the story brings them to the streets of San Francisco in 1986, you can expect a little more language. There are 2 uses of the “S” word, a series first for Star Trek, as well as 2 “g*dd*mn,” 1 “S.O.B,” a few uses of the “a” word, and a slew of other colorful phrases. (It’s a bummer, too, because its nautical theme makes The Voyage Home a little more appealing for kids.) While there is some minor violence, the only notable moment is when Gillian is giving a tour of the aquarium and they stop at a monitor that is showing the horrors of whaling and the butchering of these magestic animals. The video starts out showing some whales in bloody water and having blubber being sliced off, and escalates to much more gory, real-life imagery of them being slaughtered and cut up, with a few disturbing images of blood-soaked ship decks and chunks of whale meat. It’s short but pretty intense.

Of the four films, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home probably looks the best in 4K UHD. A lot of that has to do with the brighter visuals, sunlight on the California streets, and water scenes. It’s the most fun Star Trek could be back in the 80’s and a memorable entry in the still-growing film series.

– John DiBiase (reviewed: 9/8/21) 

4K UHD Special Features Review

Along with the feature film on Blu-Ray and 4K UHD sets (which are two separate 4-disc collection cases inside a cardboard slip case, for a total of 8 discs across the four movies), are the following, previously released extras for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home 4K Ultra HD

  • Commentary by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
  • Commentary by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Blu-ray

  • Commentary by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
  • Commentary by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
  • Library Computer (HD)
  • Production
    • Future’s Past: A Look Back
    • On Location
    • Dailies Deconstruction
    • Below-the-Line: Sound Design
    • Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments (HD)
  • The Star Trek Universe
    • Time Travel: The Art of the Possible
    • The Language of Whales
    • A Vulcan Primer
    • Kirk’s Women
    • The Three-Picture Saga (HD)
    • Star Trek for a Cause (HD)
    • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 004: The Whale Probe (HD)
  • Visual Effects
    • From Outer Space to the Ocean
    • The Bird of Prey
  • Original Interviews
    • Leonard Nimoy
    • William Shatner
    • DeForest Kelley
  • Tributes
    • Roddenberry Scrapbook
    • Featured Artist: Mark Lenard
  • Production Gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)


– John DiBiase(reviewed: 9/6/21)


Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: None.
. Vulgarity/Language: 2 “S” words, 2 “g*dd*mn,” 1 “S.O.B,” 9 “d*mn,” 16 “h*ll,” 3 “a” words, 5 “My G-d,” 1 “Oh my G-d,” 1 “Why in G-d’s name,” A man gives Kirk the finger.
. Alcohol/Drugs: Kirk tries to explain Spock’s weirdness to a person on Earth as having done “LDS” in the 60s; Kirk and Gillian have drinks in a restaurant.
. Blood/Gore: We see a video showing whalers harvesting whales with bloody water and peeling blubber off whales. We see some very bloody imagery. The video gets increasingly bloody and graphic as the video progresses.
. Violence: We see replay footage of the Enterprise blowing up; We some violent winds and tumultuous weather on Earth; A Starfleet base window breaks during a storm, knocking people down (we see this same shot later in the movie); While pushing the warbird to warp speed, some panels in the cockpit burst. One almost hurts Uhura; Spock uses neck pinch on a thug on a bus and he passes out; We see a video showing whalers harvesting whales with bloody water and peeling blubber off whales. We see some very bloody imagery. The video gets increasingly bloody and graphic as the video progresses; Soldiers chase Chekov with guns. He falls from a height and lands on the ground; Gillian slaps a man in the face; In the hospital, Gillian pretends to be sick as a diversion; As they rescue Chekov, they wheel him on a gurney thru the hospital as cops chase them with guns. Some people are knocked over in the process; A whaling ship shoots a harpoon at whales but it strikes the side of the warbird; The warbird crashes hard on the ocean surface; The ship fills with water trapping the whales, Scotty and Gillian. Kirk swims underwater to manually release the door to save them.

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