Saturday, August 25, 2012

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

This Star Trek film journeys into a ho-hum cinematic world.

It's not terrible. It's not great. It's OK.

For Star Trek completists, it's must-see viewing, of course.

Casual fans of the long-running franchise could safely bank on parts II, IV and VI for greater enjoyment.

The Search for Spock begins where The Wrath of Khan ends. The Starship Enterprise is in rough shape after its most recent battles. The crew holds a funeral service for Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who died at the end of the second Star Trek film.


His remains are dispatched to Genesis, a planet-wide science experiment dreamed up by Kirk's son, David (Merritt Butrick). Federation monitoring of Genesis pinpoints a lifeform near Spock's casket. Hmmm. Has the Enterprise's science officer been resurrected on this planet of new life? It sure looks that way when David and Saavik (Robin Curtis) find Spock's burial robe, but not him. The parallels to Jesus Christ's resurrection after being crucified are pretty obvious here.

The Klingons, enemies of the Federation, learn about Genesis' power and want David's scientific find for their own evil use. Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) and his crew head to Genesis.

BRING HIM BACK After being chewed out by Spock's father Sarek (Mark Leonard) for not bringing "his living spirit" back to Vulcan, Kirk vows to bring his best friend home. Captain and company, against Federation orders, hijack the Enterprise and head to Genesis.

David's science project isn't as solid as he believed. Enterprise isn't in the best shape to do battle with, oh, any cloaked Klingon vessels they might encounter. Kruge wants Genesis. See where this is all going?

McCoy (DeForest Kelley) always gets some fine laughs and he delivers again here. His best crack is his first when he tries to arrange purchase of a vessel to get to Genesis. Sulu (George Takei) beats the snot out of a Federation guard. Chekov (Walter Koenig), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Scotty (James Doohan) get their brief moments too.

Nimoy makes his feature film directing debut here. He did have four television credits prior to this 1984 release including a 1983 epiosde of T.J. Hooker featuring one William Shatner. Star Trek IV and Three Men and a Baby would follow.

Star Trek III pretty much delivers what viewers will expect, including some decent action and wisecracks, but no big surprises.

RATING: 7/10

FILM FACTS: William Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories is a nifty accompaniment when watching the film series. His chapter on The Search for Spock includes interesting details on Nimoy's decision to direct the third film, Shatner's initial unease with the script, Takei's unhappiness with said martial arts scene and his surprise role in the film's finale, Nimoy's initial choice of actor for Kruge and how actress Dame Judith Anderson beamed on board.

I did not know prior to writing this post that Carl Steven, who portrayed Spock at age nine, died in 2011. He was 36. Steven's other credits include Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Little House on the Prairie.

Butrick, who appeared in 20 episodes of the television series Square Pegs, died in 1989 at age 29.

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