Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
Written By: Leonard Nimoy (story) Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer (screenplay) Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)
I’ve never understood this film as a conclusion to the two preceding films. There was so much potential here to create a story that could have brought culmination to the Klingon conflict but they went in a drastically different direction. The movie begins with the Klingon outrage over Captain Kirk and Genesis only for a new obscure threat to break in and take precedent. It all seemed like an excuse to put the crew back in modern times like it was just for fun. It also served as an excuse to get all political about the environment. This movie has always been my least favorite Star Trek film, because it isn’t Star Trek.
Maybe if they didn’t have this great build up to a conflict between the Federation and Klingons I could accept this story. There is all this background talk over the last two films about a treaty between the two and this movie starts with those talks falling apart because of Captain Kirk. That’s a great story set up and it should have led to a climactic conflict between the two. That would have been really cool, but instead this other story got in the way. A probe threatens to destroy Earth because it can’t communicate with an extinct species of whale. The actions of man have led to grave consequences in the future and that’s this movie in a nutshell.
How would Spock be able to identify the sound the probe was making as the songs of humpback whales? Not only is he talking about a long since extinct species on Earth but he just got reborn and can’t even remember his relationship with Kirk. It’s just silly and I don’t know what Nimoy or the producers were thinking when they pitched this story. They just completely ignore the most obvious direction the film should have taken.
The fish out of water scenario that the crew find themselves in during present day San Francisco is quite funny. You have Spock mind melding the punk rocker, Russian Chekov walking around asking about nuclear wessels, Kirk trying to explain Spock as having done too much LDS in the 60s and so on. All really funny stuff but Star Trek has never been about comedy. Yeah you get a zinger here and there but there is no need to make an entire film for that purpose. Nevertheless, all the crew members get a moment to shine in this one and that is worth something.
I don’t subscribe to the odd and even theory of Star Trek films specifically because of this movie. This is an even numbered sequel so should be considered one of the better films but I just don’t think that’s the case. I think the movie could have been great had it gone in the right direction but it went a different, much sillier, way. I don’t care for the time travel or the political message about whaling.
Yeah whaling is awful, but it’s ridiculous for Star Trek to take a stance against it. I mean come on, Khan quoted Captain Ahab like nonstop in The Wrath of Khan. You can’t go from putting the most famous whale hunter of all time in the limelight to sending a message about how wrong it all is.
I’m not entirely sure of the status of humpback whales today. To the best of my knowledge whaling is no longer a thing and there are still plenty of them in the ocean. Amber and I found ourselves at a wonderful west coast paradise in January of 16 and we saw plenty of them in the ocean from the resort pool. They would lunge out of the water and splash down into the sea, it was a really breathtaking sight. Do I have this film to thank for that possibility?
Somehow I doubt Star Trek had anything to do with the presence of humpbacks in our current ecosystem but I hope someone out there still feels like he/she accomplished something. I know a fact about humpback whales that I picked up in college and kept along my journey through life. Humpbacks have hip bones, they are vestigial body parts. They aren’t attached to anything but they are there and prove that at one point whales had legs and walked the Earth. That makes sense given they are mammals but it’s a tidbit of information I throw out there anytime evolution comes up. I don’t pretend to know anything about anything, but that’s an interesting piece of information.
This movie has no villain, no space battles, and no real danger for our characters. It’s more like an episode for the show and less like a movie. I just don’t like it and I find it disappointing. It ends without even touching on the Klingon problem it was building up to in the previous film and in the beginning. I think this is one of the weakest Star Trek films and I’ll leave it up to you if it’s worth your time or not.
NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: The Final Frontier (1989)