MOVIE REVIEW | ***TREK WEEK*** Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Search for Spock
Even for someone with little to no knowledge or history with the series until very recently, I still know the old rule of thumb that even numbered Star Trek movies are good, odds are not so much.  After watching the first two instalments, the rule held up.  As goofy and cheesy as it looks today, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is an enormous improvement on Star Trek the Motion Picture.  Unfortunately, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock also supports the odds versus evens rule.

But I don’t want to dwell on dodginess (not just yet anyway), because there are some genuinely good parts that almost make this work.  For one, this is a genuine sequel, a real continuation of what came before.  It’s not just a quickly slapped together follow up to cash in on Kahn’s success.  It’s a legit and direct continuation of the story, setup when Kahn activated the Genesis Device and Spock sacrificed his life to save his comrades.

The other main reason to watch this movie?  The bad guy is played by Christopher Lloyd!  Ever since the makers of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest found him cowering in the corner of what they thought to be an abandoned mental institution and decided to use him in their movie, no one as committed to crazy more than Lloyd.  Here, he plays rogue Klingon, Kruge, seeking out the Genesis Device that has grown an entirely new planet since being activated by Kahn.  The planet is also the home of Kirk and crew’s main motivation, the reincarnated, quickly aging Spock.

Spock 2.0 feels like a bone thrown to Trek movie watchers unfamiliar with Trek the original series.  It’s understandable that the whole “Spock only comprehends logic, cannot understand irrational humans and their silly emotions” schtick would have been played out over the course of 79 episodes if the character was going to have any development, so the reboot is a good way to give the relatively uninitiated a glimpse at the that Spock, and some awesome lessons in Vulcan biology, puberty and sex rage.  Yeah, I said sex rage.

An upside to the relative absence of Spock is the room it makes for the Kirk / McCoy relationship to breathe a little, instead of “Bones” being the perpetual third wheel to the ongoing Kirk / Spock rom-com.  The lack of Spock also highlights the lack of any real depth to the rest of the regular Enterprise crew.  The decades of parody, sketches and bad impressions have told me as much about Checkov, Sulu, Uhura or Scotty as the actual Star Trek movies have at this point.

The continuation from Kahn also leads to one of the weakest aspects of The Search for Spock, the character of David, Kirk’s son.  I’m still unsure if the mention of David as Kirk’s son in Kahn was supposed to be a late movie revelation, or if it was common knowledge and only seemed like a revelation to me because I paid so little attention to what preceded it.  Either way, the story seems to put a lot of faith in the viewers’ investment in that relationship that I just didn’t feel like it earned.  Which makes the second act climax fall almost completely flat.

All that said, there is enough good to outweigh the bad and make this worth a look.  Especially the direct connection to, and continuation of, Wrath of Kahn.  It also leaves me the most excited for what’s to come next.  Well, “excited” is a strong word.  It makes me think what comes next night not be absolute shit.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Direct By – Leonard Nimoy
Written By – Harve Bennett

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