The 101 Sci-Fi Movies brings me yet another personal fave, and the lightest of the Star Trek films to be made.
Leonard Nimoy takes the director’s chair as well as helping on the story front to make a commentary on the society of our times (in this case 1986, though it’s still relevant if not more so today).
When a probe arrives on Earth to ascertain why it has lost contact with one of the sentient species on Earth, Starfleet and the entire planet is thrown into upheaval as no one is able to respond to it, any starship or space station in proximity loses power and can’t interfere, and it’s projecting its message into the oceans.
Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) and company, including a resurrected but slightly off, and socially awkward Spock (Nimoy) listen to the probe’s transmission while en route to Earth from Vulcan to stand trial for the events of the previous film.
The only way to save the planet is to find a pair of humpbacks to communicate with the probe.
Spock and Kirk hit on the plan at almost the exact same moment, and they are off, slingshotting around the sun, and travelling back in time to the late 20th century to recover, and repopulate the species, and hopefully tell the probe what to do with itself.
From there, our stalwart crew are put in that ever reliable fish out of water scenario as they try to interact with the 20th century.
Scotty (James Doohan), McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Sulu (George Takei) are tasked with converting the ship’s hold into a tank to hold the whales, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) are collecting photons from a radioactive source (nuclear wessels, which happens to be the 20th century version of the Enterprise) while Kirk and Spock try to find a pair of whales and meet cetacean biologist Gillian (Catherine Hicks).
Underlying all the fun is of course the dire fact that we as a species continue to hunt species to extinction for no justifiable reason, and as Spock points out it’s highly illogical. But even with that heavy theme hanging over it, as well as the reminder that we share our planet with others, it’s not just for us, the film is a lot of fun, and loses nothing on repeated viewings. Something I’ve done since first seeing it at Liberty Theater (so recently revisited on my BIFF run) in 1986 with my mom, my sister and my friend Gina.
Scoring this time around falls to Leonard Rosenman, who uses a lot of joyous sounding horns to drive his themes and highlight the original theme by Alexander Courage. The modelwork and special effects are top-notch as well, as practically all the footage of the humpbacks, George and Gracie, are radio-controlled creations!
This is a film that shows what Star Trek can do best, entertain, but also leave us with an important message to think about, something that I think is lacking from the current re-imagined Trek films, as enjoyable as I found them.
What is your favorite of the classic Trek films?