DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Monday 18 May 2009

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) dir. Leonard Nimoy
Starring: William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, DeForest Kelly, Robin Curtis


It didn’t take long for the Star Trek producer Harve Bennett to figure out how to continue on the adventure of the immensely successful 'Wrath of Khan'. Without the talents and instincts of Nicholas Meyer at the helm, it’s a technically proficient affair but less passionate and ultimately a softened version of the previous film.

When we last left the crew of the Enterprise, Kirk outsmarted his nemesis Khan, destroying him and his mutinous crew and launching the Genesis device thus creating the first artificial ‘Genesis Planet’, but not before Spock saved the day and sacrificed himself for his colleagues. At the beginning of SFS those warmongering Klingons have also caught on to the presence and power of Genesis and seek to harness its power for evil. On the flight home Bones starts exhibiting strange behaviour and speaking like Spock. In fact, it’s Spock soul which he had downloaded to Bones via a mind meld. And when signs of human life emerge on the new Genesis planet, it’s apparent Spock is alive and needs to join up with Bones to complete his reincarnation. Kirk and a the essential Trek crew hijack the enterprise while docked at Earth and go back to the Genesis Planet to find Spock.

Kirstie Alley’s Lt. Saavik character is recast with newbie Robin Curtis. Though less striking in pointy ears than a young Alley, Curtis delivers a fine performance in one of the key roles in the film. Saavik’s matronly nurturing of Spock provides some of the most tender moments in the series, not excluding the Trekkie wet dream version of the Vulcan lovemaking ritual.

Unfortunately Christopher Lloyd doesn’t stand up to the intensity of Ricardo Montalban’s passionate performance as Khan. It’s the first Klingon baddie on the big screen, and admittedly it was difficult to look past Lloyd’s comic persona to find the fear in his character.

The Blu-Ray’s featurette is a treasure of the intra-cast conflict of egos. Leonard Nimoy’s promotion to director seems to be a sore spot in William Shatner. A palpable bit of jealousy emerges as he freely describes Nimoy’s popularity among the Paramount brass after his performance in Wrath of Khan. He even is bold enough to suggest that because he got Nimoy a directing gig on his show, “TJ Hooker”, and there actually taught him how to direct.

Of course, a fourth Star Trek meant an even longer voyage for the crew. “The Voyage Home” which completes what’s been billed as the “Original Motion Picture Trilogy”. The journey through time back to 1987 to bring back an extinct humpback whale to the future works like that famous ‘Trouble with Tribbles’ Original Series episode – a blatant comedy episode, with little redeeming franchise gravitas.

“The Search for Spock” sits right in the middle of these two pictures, film which unfortunately charts the downfall of the movie version of the franchise, that is, until the JJ Abrams resurrection. Enjoy.

“Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Trilogy” is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment


Anonymous said...

"It’s the first Vulcan baddie on the big screen". You mean Klingon.

Also, you kinda reduce The Voyage Home to a lame comedy. I thought this was a very refreshing Trek. Better than SFS for sure. And Part 6 is by far the second best of the series, and hardly evidence of a series in constant downfall. First Contact? Sorry, there are some excellent Trek films other than WOK. I'm not even sure you're a Trek fan after all.

Alan Bacchus said...

Sorry - bad typo. I've just corrected it. Sorry for the difference in opinion...

Klymkiw said...

As an original Star Trek fan, I was supremely disappointed that the franchise did not have the courage of its convictions to keep Spock dead after WOK. That wqas such a beautiful and heartbreaking film that it seemed in total keeping with the spirit of the series and reduced the sequels for me to little more than perfunctory doses of Trek. And I also think, aside from that major flaw, they all pretty much stink save for the nice Nicholas Meyer-directed entry after WOK that starred Christopher Plummer.