In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, director Leonard Nimoy establishes a light-hearted, but very high stakes, action-packed environment. Voyage Home is in no way an action movie–the action sequences mostly consist of chases and comedic subterfuges–but there’s a new one every few minutes. The screenwriters came up with a scenario where there’s always danger, but always an almost immediate comic relief.
Flipping between that danger and relief is where William Shatner is so important. He’s able to activate the intense concern momentarily, a grin ready for when the implications have surfaced. Shatner has the most to do in the film, but owns it the least–he’s got some flirtation with Catherine Hicks, but nothing as substantial as most of the other cast members. When he’s out with Nimoy in modern day San Francisco, he’s usually just there to set up Nimoy’s laughs.
The modern day setting is an incredible success too. Nimoy is able to so convince his audience of the 23rd century setting at the start, the trip to the audience’s own time takes them out of water too.
DeForest Kelley gets a lot to do, sort of switching between sidekick for Shatner, Nimoy and finally James Doohan. Kelley and Doohan are great together.
As a director, Nimoy’s sensibilities–especially for comedy–are strong. For a Star Trek film, he’s surprisingly uninterested in complicated space effects. He sticks to the grounded stuff.
Nimoy and company engage the franchise’s iconography to excellent result. Just great.