The Star Trek movie series has always been a mixed bag in terms of quality. Some, like Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek Beyond, have been well received by both longtime fans and critics, while others, like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier or Star Trek: Nemesis are definitely not examples of this franchise at its best. Fortunately, 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ranks in the former category, and Walter Koenig, a.k.a. the original Pavel Chekhov, believes it's the best of the movies because
Calling it "the best film they (the original Star Trek cast) ever made, Koenig shared with Yahoo some personal highlights from working on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, including Chekhov getting some action scenes and getting to shoot in San Francisco rather than a sound stage. However, going to a deeper level, he cited how the movie best represents what Star Trek is all about. As he put it:
I also think it's the film that's most representative of Gene Roddenberry's original inspiration, to tell socio-political stories that spoke to what was transpiring in the world at the time. We addressed the topic of the environment with the storyline about the extinct whales. I feel we did a service for the world by addressing that subject in cinematic form and making it part of their consciousness.
Walter Koenig certainly isn't alone in commending Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Look around, and you'll frequently see it listed near the top of many 'Best Of' Star Trek movie lists, and it ranks at 85% among critics at Rotten Tomatoes. More importantly, however, is that Koenig is spot-on when he says that The Voyage Home was a great watch for how it addressed environmental and sociopolitical stories at the time. At its best, Star Trek has used its sci-fi setting as a way to explore deep themes and ideas that stretch across decades, but having these characters traveling back to what was was then the present day was a great way to explore the differences in human society across centuries.
Following almost directly after the events in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home saw the original Enterprise crew traveling back to the late 1980s to retrieve a pair of humpback whales, as they were the only things capable of stopping a destructive probe heading to Earth. As with many Star Trek time travel stories, there was a lot of "fish out of water" fun moments with the main characters getting acclimated to the '80s, and in Chekhov's case (a Russian in the U.S. during the Cold War, I should add), he was captured while he and Uhura were breaking into a nuclear-powered ship to find a suitable power supply. Oh, and let's not forget his infamous "nuclear wessels" line. Good times.
If you have a favorite moment or theme from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, let us know in the comments below.