by Michelle Erica Green

Grade: A-
Production: Paramount, 1986
Running Time: 1 hour 59 minutes

Video Summary:

This witty Star Trek film finds Kirk and his crew in the 20th century, seeking a pair of humpback whales to repopulate the oceans when a futuristic alien comes seeking the extinct animals. Spock's spirit and body have been rejoined, but he's still not completely himself. Moreover, his former crew is about to go on trial for stealing a starship to rescue him. On the way back to Earth, however, Kirk and Spock make a horrifying discovery: an alien intent on communicating with extinct humpback whales is turning the planet into an ocean world where no humans can survive.

After a dangerous jump back in time, the Enterprise gang find themselves in 1980s San Francisco, where a sympathetic marine biologist helps them retrieve a pair of humpback whales. But because they have no money or street smarts, the crew faces danger while trying to steal some radiation from a nuclear submarine. Then they have to get the whales back to the right moment in their own century...before the alien menace can destroy Earth.

Best For Ages:

6-8 - The whales and the humor make this one of the most popular STAR TREK films with young viewers.

8-12 - Non-Trek fans may find an aging Kirk and crew hokey, but most will enjoy the time-travel drama.

12 & up - This funniest of all the STAR TREK movies has always been popular with mature viewers.

Parental Advisory:

Educational Value: THE VOYAGE HOME has a strong environmental theme and emphasizes the innovations possible with limited scientific resources. Kirk and his crew must adapt to what they consider archaic language, and learn how to use money. The importance of teamwork is stressed throughout.

Entertainment Value: Much of this film is set on Earth in the 20th century, juxtaposing the futuristic travelers with the confusion of 1980s San Francisco. Some of the humor has dated, particularly jokes about computers and the Cold War.

Violence: An alien entity nearly destroys the Earth by creating terrible storms. Graphic films of whales killings demonstrate why the animals are endangered. One of Kirk's crewmembers nearly dies while fleeing from the military.

Sex: Mild flirtation.

Profanity: More than usual for STAR TREK, but mostly amusing: "Double dumb-ass on you!" Kirk tries to learn to swear like a contemporary cabbie.

Frightening Situations: Humans face the near-destruction of their home planet. Poachers slaughter whales.

Emotional Intensity: A scientist must deal with the loss of animals in her care. Chekov nearly dies when contemporary medicine can't treat his injuries.

Questionable Behavior: To save the world, Kirk evades a court date. Spock jumps into an aquarium whale tank. McCoy impersonates a 20th century doctor.

Mature Themes: Extinction. Time travel. The possibility that powerful aliens could destroy humanity.


THE VOYAGE HOME is a delightful film, with Kirk and a somewhat amnesiac Spock engaging in slapstick routines while they bumble around in the 20th century. The film centers around Kirk's redemption -- in a literal sense, his exoneration for breaking Starfleet law -- but it also must prove that his unorthodox approach to problem-solving has value. It succeeds delightfully, for instance in a scene where Spock attempts to use logic to track humpback whales while Kirk reads a billboard on the side of a bus advertising an aquarium.

A six-year-old viewer who was somewhat bored and frightened by previous Trek installments enjoyed THE VOYAGE HOME, particularly the scene where Spock gets in trouble for jumping into the whale tank. He was also amused by the space jokes, though as a young veteran of science fiction films, he was a bit puzzled about why visitors from the future would be doubted so greatly. The scene in which Scotty tries to talk to a Macintosh computer was lost on him, however, since the computers in the film ceased production long ago.

Fans of the FREE WILLY movies will probably like THE VOYAGE HOME even if they don't love Star Trek. The acting isn't great, but it's hard not to appreciate the comfortable companionship among actors who had been working together for twenty years when this film was released. Kirk and Spock's banter over whether or not they like pizza is terribly funny even if it is corny, and who can resist Gillian -- a scientist who turns down a date with Kirk to go study whales?

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