There been times when Star Trek four has actually been considered the best of the series. I mean superior even to Star Trek 2 : The Wrath of Kahn. I never understood that, in my mind is actually one of the least successful of the series.
I think its biggest sin is that it is so dated. This is a quintessential 80s film. It’s not just the setting either, not just the product placement of things like Winchells or Michelob or specific places, it’s the save the whales conceit. It’s the fish out of water conceit. It’s the brand of comedy is being used here, the RUSSIAN looking for nuclear wessels. It’s all just so very 80s. So very hanging out in San Francisco in 1984. Star Trek should ever be dated like this. Sure you can look at Star Trek Next Generation and tell that the hairstyles began in 1987 and ended in 1994, but the series doesn’t feel like a product of its time (with the possible exception of counselor Troi, then again really she’s just doing a job that Dr McCoy qualified to do but still took on in the original series).
One of the great arguments here for this film is that everybody has something special to do. The only other little bits whether it Sulu in the helicopter or Scotty figuring out how to house the Whales and giving over the formula for transparent aluminum. Little bits – I’m not sure how good that small focus is as an argument.
I kind of get that and it’s something that William Shatner tried very hard to do with Star Trek five. It’s also something he failed to do there, but that’s neither here or there. Still it’s not about them having something to do, rather it’s how goofy and stupid those things they have to do are. Goofy antics? This is not what I watch Star Trek for. I want to see the beautiful starship and the red uniforms and charcters in peril and intrigue and this is none of that. It just fails in so many ways for me.
I think time has helped my argument on this by the way. Wrath of Khan is nowgenerally considered the best of all the Star Trek films and Star Trek 4, while still enjoyed doesn’t enjoy quite the notoriety that used to. Still for me, this is an even weaker entry then Star Trek 5.