Jan 20, 2017

[Movies] For the Love of Spock (2016)

The passing of Leonard Nimoy in 2015 was a tragedy in itself, especially for the Star Trek fan community that grew up admiring his character Spock from the original Star Trek series. Both the actor and the character were pretty striking individuals who have made quite an impact on the lives of many, many people.

For the Love of Spock began as a documentary project focused on the character and not the man. But given Nimoy's passing in the middle of the project, the tone of the documentary changed to talk more about Leonard Nimoy and not just our half-Human, half-Vulcan hero.

I had been looking forward to watching the feature for some time now and was not expecting it to be released on Netflix so soon. But as a big Star Trek  fan (I'm in the camp that identifies as Trekkies), I was very grateful that the streaming service made this possible so soon after the documentary's initial release.

Synopsis: For the Love of Spock is a 2016 documentary about Leonard Nimoy, his role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek and his life and career outside the show. The feature was directed by his son, Adam Nimoy.

What began as a documentary about Spock conceived in the fall of 2014 ended up as a visual love letter of sorts from Adam Scott to his father Leonard. The movie initially went through Kickstarter in order to raise the funds needed to license all the still images and clips needed to tell a full story of Leonard Nimoy's career. The campaign succeeded and the movie premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2016 and was formally released on home video in September of the same year.

While it's inevitable for most of the movie to be about the impact of Star Trek on Nimoy's life, there's still more than that to the man. The movie has a rather personal tone given it is driven by his son Adam and the insights shared go beyond your typical documentary about an actor. Here we got a son's perspective on a father that he had to share with the world as Mr. Spock for a community of fans that also saw Spock as a father figure. It does make for an interesting slant to the documentary's narrative structure of sorts.

What I Liked: You can feel the love and dedication that went into making this film from start to finish. More than what Adam's words convey, there's just something about how the whole thing is crafted that just speaks of a lot of respect about the man both as an individual and as this larger than life character from another planet. I've watched a number of Star Trek documentaries in my time and this one nicely ventures into a more personal take on things.

That is not to say that this documentary does not have a lot to share on geek front. Beyond a lot of interesting interviews and celebrity features, the film also has a very rich collection of images and clips from Nimoy's career that really make you feel that the Kickstarter campaign was totally worth it. Spock as a character is best viewed through the lens of the medium that brought him to life - through Star Trek. And this movie made sure to deliver in that regard.

What Could Have Been Better: As much as the documentary followed a largely chronological flow to covering Nimoy's life and career, there were a number of times that I felt things could have been structured a little better. There are a number of digressions and side conversations that don't always flow well in the greater scheme of things but the final output is still pretty compelling. 

I only say this given the perspective that one way or another, documentaries try to explore a subject and lead viewers to a potential conclusion about things. This may not be universally true, but for the most part we see this time and time again that documentaries have a focus or a goal in mind. This one felt a little all over the place since it was trying to cover a man's life, but this is not a major "problem" with the film, perhaps more just an observation of the flow.

TL;DR: For the Love of Spock is a touching documentary that is part fan celebration, part dedication from a loving son. Not everything was perfect about Leonard Nimoy's life and the documentary does its best to use both the good and the bad moments to paint the picture of a man's life. Thus the feature gets a good 4 interesting revelations about Nimoy's career outside of Star Trek out of a possible 5.

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