Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)

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Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)

Post  BoG on Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:36 pm


STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK starring
WILLIAM SHATNER Like a Star @ heaven DeFOREST KELLEY and CHRISTOPHER LLOYD as Kruge
also starring MERRITT BUTRICK * ROBIN CURTIS * MARK LENARD as Sarek
co-starring JAMES DOOHAN * GEORGE TAKEI * NICHELLE NICHOLS * WALTER KOENIG
JOHN LARROQUETTE * ROBERT HOOKS * JAMES SIKKING * PHILLIP ALLEN * MIGUEL FERRER
JUDITH ANDERSON *
with GRACE LEE WHITNEY * and LEONARD NIMOY as Spock
Directed by LEONARD NIMOY

The 3rd Star Trek film was the logical, well-paced and predictable follow-up to Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan. Only, there were obvious, immediate drawbacks that unavoidably prevented it from matching the quality entertainment value of Star Trek II. If you haven’t seen this, be aware there may be some SPOILERS coming up.
_________
DRAWBACK #1: There was no Khan here. Instead, we meet a nasty Klingon named Kruge.

DRAWBACK #2: There was almost no Spock; he was, uh, missing in action for most of the film.

DRAWBACK #3: There was no Saavik, as we’d known her in Star Trek II. Actress Kirstie Alley did not return in the role, for reasons I forget, and was replaced by actress Robin Curtis. Curtis utters her lines in that unemotional tone indicating she follows the Vulcan way, but the delivery comes across as very flat and robotic, with no undertone to suggest suppressed passions. In her first scene, she calls David (Kirk's son) "so human," but it comes across as a meaningless statement; is she insulting him? Humoring him? Praising him? It feels like none of those, like nothing. She is the weakest character in the story, which continues directly from the end of The Wrath of Khan.

DRAWBACK #4: And, finally, this was the middle film in the informal trilogy of Star Trek II, Star Trek III and Star Trek IV. As it goes with most middle films in trilogies, there’s no real beginning - the film starts in the middle of a story - and no real ending; there were unresolved issues at the conclusion which would be addressed in Star Trek IV.
Still, this was probably the best odd-numbered Trek film (the 1st, 5th, 7th and 9th films all had serious drawbacks, to varying degrees). In the plot, Kirk and his small crew head back to Earth in a scarred, damaged Enterprise and everyone aboard is understandably depressed. McCoy does them one better: he behaves as if possessed...by what? A Vulcan spirit? Upon their arrival home, the ship is promptly decommissioned (an admiral here states that the Enterprise is 20 years old; he must mean 20 years since the 1st big refit, when Kirk first began commanding her; she's 40 years old if you count the missions of Captain Pike and Captain April).

Everything appears to grind to a halt; there's a nice scene of the surviving crew socializing in Kirk's apartment when who should show up but Spock's father, Sarek (actor Lenard reprising his role from the original series). Kirk now has his new mission and it's a doozy - it's basically the "Mission:Impossible"-style entry of the Trek films; you know Kirk will succeed eventually, but getting there is most of the fun.

A lot of the plot involves the bureaucracy of Starfleet and the current climate of 23rd century Earth; we don't see too much - an amusing scene with McCoy in a weird bar, for example. There's also the amusing sequence with the new starship, the Excelsior, and its smug captain (played by Sikking). All these, however, stray from the premise of the original series, where it was understood humanity had evolved over the past couple of centuries; all the characters here behave in much the same way as we would expect 20th-century people to behave. The story concentrates a lot on intrigue and machinations, as if we’re seeing an underbelly to the 23rd century Federation which has not been revealed before. It resorts to the visuals of odd aliens or strange locales to elicit a reaction from viewers, not the overall idea of a futuristic society.

This film also returns the brutish Klingons to the forefront as Trek's most nasty adversaries. They last made a brief appearance in the first Trek film and were best known as the bad guys of TOS up to this point. This film was 3 years before TNG would begin to show the Klingons in a more sympathetic light.

I think the filmmakers went a bit overboard in depicting the Klingon bridge as the polar opposite to the typical Starfleet bridge. Kruge's pet (a dog turned inside-out it seems), and Kruge's penchant for vaporizing officers who say the wrong thing plunges this into dark satire. The Klingons get as far as they do in this story based on dumb luck and it's only when they deal a fatal blow to Kirk's family that they're elevated to 'villains we love to hate,' and turns this into a fitting precursor to the 6th Trek film, where Kirk's antagonism towards Klingons gets the most play.

We also have a yin-and-yang theme at play here: Kirk will succeed in his quest to find Spock and aid the suffering McCoy (excellent performance from Kelley, as usual), but only if he loses a couple of other things precious to him. The Genesis Planet is remarkable in some ways (though it sometimes has a 'studio set' feel), a continuation of its creation in Star Trek II, but David used unethical shortcuts to get the job done and so must pay a price for his transgressions. It's a tough, morally unyielding Trek universe we seem to have here when, despite epic struggles, one barely breaks even. The limitations of series/sequel films such as this (as opposed to on-going TV series) are delineated by the unceremonious sudden discard of concepts such as the planet and characters such as David (why introduce such in one film only to dispose of same in the next?).


Even more, there was this tendency here for shock effect, to try and draw in audiences with clumsy revelatory scenes or mass destruction, projecting the less-subtle facets of most action films in the later eighties, the nineties and so on. Rather than the majesty of the also action-filled Wrath of Khan, this one is just violence and crude exposition. Even so, Nimoy's directing debut wasn't too bad and he expanded the roles for the other regulars to good effect - Scotty, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov all got to shine in at least one scene, unlike the previous 2 Trek films, better demonstrating that this was, in fact, a team of heroes. This positive was probably a benefit of Nimoy being a fellow actor and personal acquaintance of the regulars. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10.
Anyway, Nimoy fared even better with the next one, the 4th film, The Voyage Home (1986).

We all knew he'd be back, didn't we? There was a saying passed around back then in the media, along the lines of "in science fiction, no one ever really dies or stays dead." This just shows how little those in the media understand science fiction. Of course, this lack of understanding applies to the general populace and also explains why actual science fiction has been devolved in popular culture over the past few decades, including in Star Trek.

an ABC TV Promo:
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Post  BoG on Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:52 pm


__________ Spock takes over command...!
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