Mar 9, 2012

[Movies] Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

It's curious to think that at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, actor Leonard Nimoy (who plays Spock) decided that he was done with the franchise and thus the story was written to remove him from future film endeavors. And yet after the movie came out, he had a change of heart and not only agreed to reprise his role as Spock, but he also wanted to direct the next installment of the series.

In some ways, you could say that Nimoy started the trend of Star Trek actors stepping up to the director's plate whether in terms of the feature-length movies or even the individual episodes of the later incarnations of the science fiction franchise.

It's quirky to consider how among Star Trek fans, there's a general consensus that the odd-numbered movies tend to be the ones that are perceived to be "worse" than their even-numbered counterparts. Of all the movies, this one probably stands to differentiate itself from its brethren, at least in my opinion.

I'm not saying that this was an amazing movie or anything like that. But it's certainly better than how many folks generalize it to be.


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a 1984 science fiction movie directed by Leonard Nimoy with a screenplay by Harve Bennett. Given a limited budget of only $16 million, the movie went on to gross over $87 million worldwide.

After the grueling battle at the end of The Wrath of Khan, the remaining crew of the Enterprise bid farewell to their now-deceased first officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) while firing his his torpedo tube casket into orbit around the planet revitalized by the Genesis device. In time they return to Earth Spacedock, where they learn that the Enterprise is to be decommissioned. In addition, the crew is sworn to secrecy about the Genesis device and related events.

In time, the USS Grissom returns to the Genesis planet together with Saavik (now played by Robin Curtis) and Kirk's biological son David Marcus (Merritt Butrick). Their mission is to continue study of the planet and the effects of the Genesis device. Once there, however, they're surprised to find a different kind of life form on the surface, thus Marcus and Saavik beam down to investigate. At the same time, a Klingon Bird of Prey under the command of Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) diverts to the Genesis planet as well upon intercepting transmissions related to the device.

The movie certainly presented some rather interesting concepts and themes for viewers to consider, which echoes back to the types of stories we experience while watching the original TV series. I mean come on, we have a device that restores life to a dead planet but it turns out that there are other consequences related to it that make you question to have the right to such power. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) starts to act crazy because somehow the consciousness or essence of Spock managed to find its way into his brain before death, making you consider if such a thing is possible. Does that mean Spock's "soul" was in our friend the good doctor? Or is this something limited to the telepathic abilities of an alien race like the Vulcans? The list goes on and on.

DeForest Kelley
DeForest Kelley (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)
To be fair, I did get a kick of out of McCoy struggling with Spock in his head. I mean seriously, the two have been at each other's throats since the TV series given how Spock represents cold logic while McCoy tends to represent human compassion given his role as a physician. Thus to have the two merged together in the strange manner that they had been was indeed pretty hilarious. In this regard, kudos are well deserved given the unique acting challenge this presented.

I really didn't buy into the whole Kirk (William Shatner) and David dynamic, probably because David had little to no redeeming qualities. Sure he was a scientist who put principles before his life but at the same time he was a bit of a dick and only knew how to discriminate against the "military" as his only tune for the past two movies. Thus it's hard to appreciate Kirk wanting to keep him safe and all that jazz because who'd want to protect that annoying guy?

I have to admit that the overall plot was rather weak and there were quite a few points that left me either yawning or scratching my head in confusion. The direction and pacing of the movie certainly made sense, but just some of the plot twists were a little beyond me. And thus that weakened the movie, which is probably what one can attribute as being a reason the movie is considered one of the weaker ones. But the ship combat dynamics and how they eventually dealt with the Klingons was interesting enough and it's something worth watching a few times, if you're into that sort of thing.

Overall, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was a decent enough movie and a good demonstration of Leonard Nimoy's abilities as a director. It could have had a larger contribution to the overall franchise had the story been a little tighter, but it's still an enjoyable romp into the Star Trek universe. Thus the movie rates a respectable 3 giant mutant worms on the Genesis planet out of a possible 5.




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