Mark Watches ‘Star Trek: The Voyage Home’

In The Voyage Home, the crew of the Enterprise begins their journey home to face the ramifications of their actions, only to discover a threat to Earth along the way. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

What the fuck did I just watch?

This is perhaps the most surprising thing I’ve come across in the Star Trek canon, namely because it’s clear the people running the show knew they had an audience already. This movie is a bunch of people saying FUCK IT and giving this fandom the weirdest and funniest entry into its canon, and I just… I adore how fucking terrible it is at times? I don’t even know if I have any criticisms to offer to you because I want to wrap this precious movie up in a blanket and hide it from the world. It’s too good for us. It’s too hopeful. IT’S TOO LOVELY.

It’s only now, thinking back on it, how much this film breaks from EVERYTHING expected of a Star Trek film, and yet it perfectly fits within this fictional universe. There’s not a single antagonist within the two hours of The Voyage Home. That probe is an unthinking, unfeeling thing, sent to check up on Earth’s progress. THROUGH HUMPBACK WHALES, which is both the worst and most perfect thing in the universe. Like, if you sit there and think about it, it makes no sense. Whales? Whatever alien race visited earth picked WHALES to use as a check-up device? But then you sit there and think about it, and holy shit, they picked the most peaceful and docile species to keep track of, and any society that destroyed the innocent was probably terrible. However, I don’t view this probe as a villain, and I think doing so kind of ruins the whimsical chaos of this film.

AND CHRIST. I was not ready for a funny film, and I’m so thrilled that no one spoiled this for me. The reveal that whales were technically the impetus for the probe? It was weird, but it felt like it was Star Trek weird. I could buy it, no problem. And I never got to a point where I felt like this wasn’t something that should belong within this universe. If anything, by the end of this movie, I wondered why the show hadn’t toyed with more humorous scripts. The comic timing of these actors, particularly when they work together, is unreal. But it’s not just the timing. Sure, it’s a lot of fun to see Spock try to understand the world all over again, or to watch Chekov take himself so seriously.

For me, though, the joy of this movie comes from watching these characters – who have faced ungodly horrors in the universe, who have watched their friends and crewmates die at the hands of unnamed alien creatures, who have seen places and things most humans have not – struggle to spend FIVE MINUTES IN SAN FRANCISCO without dying. It is so beautiful that I hesitate to even bother to describe the multitude of reasons why I have needed this. I don’t want to sully this. But that’s why this is so funny: their own species is far more mystifying to them than any alien. In that sense, they all become like Spock, struggling to understand why it is that a bus needs exact change. They don’t get why yelling very loudly about “nuclear vessels” in front of a cop is a terrible idea. THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE ABSURDITY OF HIDING IN GOLDEN GATE PARK OR MIND-MELDING WITH A GODDAMN WHALE OR HOW TO USE 20TH CENTURY COMPUTERS AND IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RUNNING GAG I COULD EVER ASK FOR. Y’all, Bones believes our late-80s medical equipment is on par with the Inquisition.

How could I not love this movie?

It was refreshing to have a film focus on all of these characters, to give them meaningful scenes (sometimes on their own!), and to show us that this franchise is willing to do weird shit to entertain us. At no point during this film – as odd as it was – was I ever bored. Not once. I don’t even care to nitpick the bad science or the time travel paradoxes because it doesn’t matter to me. Hell, the handwaving of these things is part of the movie’s charm! Did Scotty and Bones accidentally change time by giving up the formula for transparent aluminum? Will those whalers alter the timeline? How can any space vehicle get that close to the sun? WHO GIVES A FUCK WHEN THE FILM IS THIS ENTERTAINING?

Spock’s journey is rewarding to watch. The movie doesn’t ignore that he’s still reassembling his memory, and I was fascinated by his willingness to adapt out of a need to save the future of the human race. Dr. Taylor’s journey was also surprising! I didn’t expect this script to stick to bringing her into the future; most time travel stories don’t do this, but she gleefully comes along, eager to help out, and I adore that about her. (Oh my god, that means both of the parents from 7th Heaven were on this show now. WILD.) She’s not just a pawn here; she gets her own story, and that’s something Star Trek isn’t always that good at. Plus, she doesn’t end up as a romantic subplot for Kirk, even if there might be some underlying attraction there.

I don’t even know what else to say, y’all. This was so much fun, and I can’t hate on any of this. Like… WHAT WAS THIS EXPERIENCE LIKE IF YOU SAW IT IN REAL TIME? Did you know it was about whales in space??? DID OTHER FANS APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF THIS WACKY ADVENTURE? I never want to stop talking about this film, please indulge me, y’all. At least until I start The Next Generation, WHICH IS NEXT. IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE!!!!

The video for The Voyage Home can be downloaded here for $2.99.

Mod note about The Next Generation: Please be aware that while most places combine both parts of the show’s pilot into one episode, Mark is watching them separately. The split has been listed in the schedule for about two weeks, so hopefully this isn’t coming as too much of a surprise, but if you missed it, here’s where the split happens: Part 1 ends at 48:29 after the line: “Vs jr’er tbvat gb or qnzarq, yrg’f or qnzarq sbe jung jr ernyyl ner.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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