Trek 50: Part 4 – The Search for Spock

Star-Trek-III-The-Search-For-Spock“You’re suffering from a Vulcan mind meld, Doctor.

That green-blooded son of a bitch… It’s his revenge for all those arguments he lost.”

-Kirk, McCoy

“The word, sir?

The word is no. I am therefore going anyway.”

-Sulu, Kirk

Among Trekkies, it’s generally accepted that the even numbered Star Trek films are all perfect and amazing and the odd numbered films are terrible and awful. It’s an exaggeration, obviously. The Search for Spock is not a bad film, but it’s not perfect. I love the score and the effects are top notch. The villain, Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) is too awesome for his own good, and Bones has some of his best moments in this film. The script has its moments, but has also a tendency to take itself a bit too seriously at points, with some characters delivering grandiose lines that are better suited to motivational posters. The pacing is also uneven, going from fantastic tense moments to scenes that move too slowly in contrast.

It’s an important part of Trek mythology, though, and deserves its due.

spock5

Is this pose mythological enough?

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

The Ship: U.S.S. Enterprise (Constitution Class refit) in her last adventure… *takes hat off in remembrance*, and a stolen Klingon Bird of Prey

The Captain: Admiral Kirk who didn’t have to take over for anyone this time…he just stole the entire ship.

The Premise: The Genesis Planet has set Tumblr activists ablaze (Do they have Tumblr in the 24th century? Are it’s users as easily offended as they are in this century? These are important questions, but not for here) and has become a galactic controversy. David Marcus (Merritt Buttrick) and Saavik (Robin Curtis who took over for Kirstie Alley when she went crazy at the negotiation table), who are exploring the planet, have discovered that it is having the meltiest of meltdowns. But they ALSO find that the Genesis effect has regenerated the corpse of Spock into that of a rapidly aging boy. But he’s not a zombie, which is fun.

On the Enterprise, a ship that is now set to be decommissioned following 20 years of service and the extreme damage that Khan’s attack inflicted on it, Kirk finds McCoy delirious and raving about returning to Vulcan. With the help of Spock’s father, Sarek, Kirk discovers that, before he died, Spock transferred his soul (his katra) to Bones. And so Kirk must steal the Enterprise and retrieve Spock’s body so that he can be properly laid to rest and have his katra preserved.

The Best Moments: The stealing of the Enterprise is my favorite sequence in the film, and one of my favorite musical moments in all of Star Trek. James Horner’s score is magnificent, grander and more complex than his score for The Wrath of Khan, and this particular moment is a lot of fun. It’s beautifully paced, a good mix of humor and action, and it’s nice to see the beat up Enterprise leaving the new Excelsior in the dust (although, I have to admit, the Excelsior class is my all time favorite starship design).

USS_Excelsior_stalls_outside_Spacedock

Sure, I’m dead in space, but look how sexy I am!

There’s also a short, quiet scene after Spock is brought back aboard where McCoy is tending to him, speaking to his unconscious form with the most tenderness I think we’ve ever seen in McCoy. He and Spock bicker so much, it’s wonderful to have this moment to really show us that, despite all his insults, McCoy sees Spock as a dear friend

Why It’s Awesome: This was Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, and for a first go, it’s pretty good. I think the script could have been tighter, but in terms of the visual composition, it looks wonderful. I love the symmetry and balance of the Vulcan temple at the end, especially coming after the chaotic firestorm of the Genesis Planet’s death throes. And I like how involved Nimoy was in the visual design of the film. The super cool Klingon Bird of Prey that makes its debut in this film was his design, one that would endure throughout the entirety of the Star Trek canon.

Also, Kruge. I heart Kruge. In terms of villains, he’s not immensely complex (he just wants the Genesis device so he can use it as a weapon to beat back the Federation), and he is defeated rather easily, I’m sorry to say, BUT Christopher Lloyd has such great screen presence and he’s just so much fun. He’s menacing and dangerous, but he’s also got serious swagger and has some wonderful one-liners. Coming after the massive scenery-chewing Khan, I like how Kruge is able to hold his own and stand out, despite his status as a relatively minor villain. Long story short: Kruge is awesome.

1118full-star-trek-iii--the-search-for-spock-screenshot

I can’t hear you over the sound of my SHOUTED DEMANDS THAT YOU GIVE ME THE GENESIS DEVICE!

Overall, it’s an uneven film with enough redeeming qualities to keep it memorable and entertaining. And it’s a good mythology film that will have big repercussions not only for later films, but the Star Trek universe as a whole. Watch it for the good and ignore the iffy stuff.

Next week, we’ll be saving the whales! See you then!

 

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