Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Paramount Pictures, 1986; see also 1986 in film) is the fourth feature film based on the popular Star Trek science fiction television series. It is often referred to as ST4:TVH or TVH. It completes the trilogy started in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and continued in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
A huge alien vessel orbits Earth and begins probing its oceans, causing widespread mayhem and draining the power from nearby ships. Returning from their mission on Vulcan to revive Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the one-time crew of the Enterprise reasons that the ship is trying to contact humpback whales, which unfortunately were hunted to extinction centuries ago.
Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) orders their hijacked Klingon Bird of Prey to slingshot around the sun to time travel to the 20th century. Arriving in the 1980s, the crew hides their ship in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, and spreads out to find materials to repair the ship's drive so that they can return to the future, and to find and procure some whales to communicate with the giant alien vessel and save the Earth.
The Voyage Home is played broadly for humor. Mr. Spock's memory and sense of self have not fully recovered from the events of the previous films, and his pilgrim-like appearance in Vulcan robes makes him the subject of a number of jokes, although he gives as good as he gets. Every member of the crew gets an opportunity to star in a few scenes.
Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett co-wrote the script, with Bennett writing the 23rd century scenes and Meyer writing the 20th century scenes. The film is essentially a lighthearted adventure. The loose threads from The Search For Spock involving the crew's disobedience of Starfleet orders is handled perfunctorily at the end of the film, thus denying viewers the opportunity to see Kirk and company have to own up to their actions.
At the end of the film, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), which was destroyed in the previous film is replaced by the almost identical Enterprise-A. While it was a popular moment, some viewed it as marginalizing the destruction of the previous ship. The filmmakers initially intended for the crew to receive the USS Excelsior (NCC-2000) (possibly renamed to Enterprise), but an unexpectedly large outcry caused this idea to be dropped.
The film was directed by Leonard Nimoy, who also reprised his role as Mr. Spock.
The popularity of this film, the highest grossing Star Trek movie to date, was what prompted the decision to make a new spinoff series, which became Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- To date, this is the only Star Trek film in which no one dies or is killed.
- The model of Apple Macintosh computer shown in the Plexicorp office scene is the Mac Plus. It was originally to be an Amiga, but Commodore required the producers to purchase a computer while Apple was willing to lend the machine shown.
- Sequences planned but cut from the final film included Hikaru Sulu encountering an ancestor, as well as a sequence that would have revealed that Lt. Saavik was pregnant with Spock's child (a continuation of events from Star Trek III), which is why she stays behind on Vulcan. The latter has caused much debate among Trek fans over whether Saavik's pregnancy should be considered canon if it was never confirmed on screen.
- The film marks the first use of the word "shit" in a Star Trek production, when the term "dipshit" is used twice. The film suggests that, by the late 23rd Century, swearing is uncommon, although this is contradicted not only by previous and later Trek films, but also by Kirk himself in this very film.
- In the film, Uhura and Chekov visit the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise. The real Enterprise was unavailable for filming, so the carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) was used.
- The scenes at the 'Cetacean Institue', apparently in Sausalito, were filmed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- The exact amount of time that elapses during the conclusion of this film is a matter of debate. It is evident that a number of months must elapse between the crew returning to Earth and later taking command of the NCC-1701-A, in order to allow for a trial, and refitting and recommissioning of a previously existing Constitution-class vessel.