Still on the Vulcan planet awaiting repairs to their captured Klingon ship, Kirk and his crew are summoned to earth by the Federation to stand trial for making Star Trek 3 so very dull. However a deep space probe is approaching earth sending out a communication signal that is disrupting power and damaging the whole planet. When they find that the signal relates to the now extinct humpback whale, Kirk decides to travel back in time to the 1980's to recover and bring back a whale.
Part 2 of the series is easily my favourite to this day of the Star Trek movies, so part 3 was a major problem, being so very dull and heavy, but part 4 was an improvement simply because it was so much more light hearted and fun. The plot is potentially very silly and a barely hidden ecological subtext that threatens to sink the film, but it is delivered with tongue in cheek and it is that saves it. The mocking humour is gentle and really carries the film as fish-out-of-water gags abound and the contrast between the crew and their surroundings is used well.
While the plot is nonsense, the cast all enjoy themselves in whatever roles the script gives them. Shatner has the biggest role of course but has the least fun as he has to carry the unlikely love interest. Nimoy is good fun despite having a follow on from the last film that is a little heavy and he does a steady job as director. The rest of the crew have small roles but each is funny - whether it's Chekov appearing to be a communist spy, McCoy berating modern doctors as the Spanish inquisition and Sulu happily flying helicopters for some reason.
Overall this is not the best Star Trek film as it lacks any real action, excitement or tension, but what it lacks in this area it makes up for in terms of gentle laughs. Looking at it alone it is only reasonable but after watching the dull `Search for Spock' this is a fun relief.
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