Star Trek III: The Search For Spock Movie Review

In the name of the franchise, the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly goes in search of fallen comrade Spock, who may have been reborn and regenerated on the "Genesis Planet." Those who have seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are familiar with the backstory. Brave Spock (Leonard Nimoy, who wanted to get out of the part) sacrificed himself to save his friends from radioactive destruction, with his sole justification being that "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one." As he died, his skin a mass of welts and burns, he gazed into Kirk's weeping face and gently confirmed that he was, and always shall be, his friend. The body was ceremoniously shot out into space and landed on the emerging planet. It was an operatic moment. Days later, the despondent Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) is still mourning the loss, and glumly presides over the ship as Starfleet performs their routine inspection.

Meanwhile... our favorite cranky doctor, "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), is being driven mad by some force beyond his control -- somehow imagining that he is becoming Spock, or falling under the Vulcan influence.

Meanwhile... back on Genesis, Kirk's gung ho son, David (Merritt Butrick) and Lt. Saavik (formerly played by Kirstie Alley, now Robin Curtis) are inspecting the unstable core of the planet. The whole thing will blow to pieces in a matter of hours, perhaps because there's a strange life force on the planet growing at an accelerated rate.

Only problem is... a gang of renegade Klingons (led by Christopher Lloyd) have caught wind of the Genesis Project, and want to get their hands on this device as an apocalyptic weapon.

And to make matters worse...after Kirk and his loyal crew come to discover that, Good Lord , Spock might still be alive, the Space Federation refuses to allow them the right to take out the Enterprise, which is hopelessly out of date. It can't compete with the new vessels they've created, and furthermore, Admiral James T. Kirk and his merry men (and Uhura) are getting a wee bit too old to be gallivanting around the galaxy in search of brave new worlds, or, for that matter, the pipe dream that Spock is a futuristic Lazarus.

Never one for following the rules, Kirk and his team assemble in defiance of their orders, steal the Enterprise, and fly on out to Planet Genesis. Only problem is, the Klingons are waiting for them, and ready for battle. Directed by Leonard Nimoy, this episode could best be described as functional, in that the situation is interesting enough for a routine episode of the TV show. The script is fairly long winded, and it takes forever for the Enterprise to get out into space. We must endure heaps of exposition with Spock's father telling Kirk that he needs to go out there and find his baby boy, and scene after scene of McCoy's mental breakdown (including a silly exchange with an alien in a bar as they start bickering over space travel).

It's ridiculous how easy it is for Kirk and Co. to sneak into their ship, knock out the two or three guards standing watch, and pilot it out of an enormous and heavily guarded space station. Perhaps it's not that they're against impossible odds, as usual -- it's how clumsily staged this sequence is, and how goofy the Federation seems. It's bubble gum storytelling.

There are a few good space battles between the Enterprise and the Klingon Bird of Prey vessel, and a fist fight between Kirk and Kruge (Lloyd) on the exploding Genesis Planet. Those things appeal to the little kid in me who loves stories of Intergalactic Space Rangers and pulp space opera fiction. There's just nothing like two guys duking it out on the edge of a cliff as a volcano erupts behind them.

There are one or two moments close to the pop opera grandeur of Wrath of Khan, like Kirk debating over the fateful decision of whether or not to blow up the Enterprise. Catch me if I'm wrong, since I'm hardly an academic of Star Trek trivia, but wasn't old Kirk debating whether to blow up the Enterprise in every other episode? I almost felt nostalgic as he deliberated over his choice, and when he asks the question of whether he did the right thing, McCoy puts a comforting hand on his shoulder and says, "You did what you've always done. Turned death into a fighting chance to live." Too bad the entire movie wasn't so boldly theatrical.

The double-disc DVD (Paramount is releasing the Star Treks at a healthy clip now) has the usual goodies. The trivia subtitles are again a must-see, and commentary by crew (including Nimoy) is interesting. Notably, Nimoy claims that he did not mandate his character's death in Star Trek II. Disc two has the usuall making-of goodies plus some non-film-specific documentaries about the Klingon language and terraforming in general.


Star Trek III: The Search For Spock Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG, 1984


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