40 Movies For 40 Years: 1986

1986 is a year that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Not because of any one particular movie that came out, but because of something that happened in the news.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. I read every book that my library had about the space program, the planets in our solar system, the moon, NASA…you name it. So, when I was I the third grade and we got the news that a teacher was going to go into space and conduct classes for us on television I was thrilled.

That was the year that the Challenger exploded a few second after blast off. The entire crew died.
The fact that we all saw it happen made it so much harder to deal with. It was an absolute defining moment in my life. It was the moment that I realized that not all the stories had a happy ending.
I just wanted to take a moment and acknowledge that at the top of this entry. But this blog is about movies, and there were a few of them in 1986.

Sigourney Weaver was fighting Aliens, Ralph Macchio was back in The Karate Kid Part II, and Matthew Broderick was making some comedy history with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But, for the second time in this series the film that made the biggest impact on me was a Star Trek movie. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

I wrote a while back about the fantastic movie that I thought Star Trek II was. Star Trek III has never been one of my favorites, even though it was the story of how Spock came back from the dead. But it was successful enough for Paramount to trust Leonard Nimoy to fill the director’s chair one more time. IV is the third part of the Star Trek trilogy, which is what a lot of fans call II, III, and IV since they have a story thread that runs through them starting with the death of Spock, then the destruction of the Enterprise, and finishing up here as the crew returns to Earth and takes on a new ship.

The difference in this movie and the others is that it is mostly a comedy, though the premise doesn’t seem very funny. In the 23rd century a mysterious probe show up out of nowhere and starts evaporating the Earth’s oceans. It is threatening the life of the planet. Just as this is happening the Klingon Bird of Prey that the Enterprise crew took over in the last movie show up. Spock does a little bit of magic reasoning and figures out that the probe is trying to communicate with what it thinks is the main life form of Earth, humpback wales. They were prominent in the oceans the last time the probe came around a few million year ago. But by this time they’re all gone. So, Kirk decides to do what any of us would do…go back in time and scoop up a couple of whales.

So, we get a really funny movie about Kirk, Spock, McCoy and company walking around in San Francisco in 1986. Most of them are human, but their reality is so far removed from what life was like in their ancient past that it’s hilarious to see them try to blend in. Some of the comedy that we got was Spock doing the nerve pinch on a bus punk, McCoy resurrecting a bed-ridden old lady with some future medicine, Scotty causing a paradox by inventing future materials, and Checkov asking various passersby where he can find the “nuclear wessel”.

As far as plot…there isn’t really much. This movie was supposed to be a light-hearted romp and give fans a welcomed breather after the heavy plots of the last two films. The crew had dealt with the death and resurrection of their friend. This time, they were looking for whales in the past.

That’s all that I really have to say about it. Because, it’s not the best Star Trek movie…but of all the movies that came out in 1986 it is the one that had the biggest impact on me. I love Star Trek…and I love time travel. Some of the best Star Trek episodes had to do with time travel, and this was the first film that dealt with it. It wasn’t the last and it didn’t even do it the best. That distinction belongs to First Contact. But, if you want to have a fun adventure with the crew of the Enterprise…er, HMS Bounty…The Voyage Home is the way to go.


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