A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 324 – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – January 18th, 2011

So, we’re three nights into our Star Trek mini-project and I’ve got to say, it’s interesting watching these one after another, as if I’m watching nightly episodes. Indeed, at least last night’s and tonight’s feel like they’re directly following one another, complete with a “previously, on Star Trek…” section. And so if these are just feature length episodes, how does this one stack up? Well, according to Trek lore, this is supposed to be a “crappy” movie, owing to being an odd number. But I wouldn’t say that. I’d say it’s certainly not as tight as the second movie and not as epic as the first, but it’s okay. Uneven, but okay.

The trouble, I think, stems from having what are essentially two plots. On one hand there’s the action plot with the Klingons trying to get their hands on the Genesis Project information and on the other hand there’s the titular search for Spock, which isn’t much of a search since he’s right there on the planet in body and right there in McCoy’s head in spirit. And the movie has to try and balance out those two plots and meld them somehow into a single cohesive plot. After all, the title of the movie says it’s about Spock, and certainly getting his body back from the planet Genesis was used on is the impetus for Kirk and the rest of the crew to head back out there. But then the Klingons show up and repeat Khan’s whole deal, facing off with Kirk and demanding the information and threatening people Kirk cares about. It serves to make things feel sloppy.

Personally, much as I love the Klingons and all, I think the movie could have been a lot tighter and cleaner had they managed to make the retrieval of Spock’s body fraught with danger without an additional enemy. After all, they were already on the run from Starfleet, having swiped the Enterprise and disabled the Excelsior in direct violation of orders. If they were going to have an enemy show up, have the Enterprise out there legitimately, but without contact or something. Don’t split it up like this. Because despite ostensibly being a single plot, where the Klingons are a mere inconvenience in the true plot of getting Spock back, it feels divided. And while I’m complaining, if a Vulcan ambassador shows up demanding his son’s body in order to perform cultural funerary rites, dismissing it with “I’ve never understood Vulcan spirituality” seems a little off for Starfleet. Locking McCoy up even when the Vulcans have an explanation for what’s happening to him? Come on. It feels like a set-up. It doesn’t feel genuine. And that’s the problem. It needed so much tension added in that none of it feels right.

All that being said, there’s still a lot to enjoy in this movie. After all, it’s Star Trek, and it features the famous line(s) “Klingon bastard, you killed my son!” There are some truly nice performances from DeForest Kelley and, I’ve got to say it, William Shatner. Okay, in Shatner’s case it’s nice because he’s snappy and smug and having fun being an outlaw in his own fleet, but I still say that counts. I do like Christopher Lloyd as the Klingon leader. Overall I like the Klingons, even if I don’t necessarily like their role in the movie (seriously, Khan rehash). I think Nimoy did a good job directing his fellow castmates, even with the plot being somewhat messy. The funny thing is, while the plot is messy, there’s some good writing in individual scenes, so it’s possible to give and get good performances even with things being such as they are.

What it boils down to is that it feels uneven and rough, especially when set so closely after the second movie, which was nice and tight. Perhaps if it hadn’t been following on the heels of the second movie, using plot points and secondary characters. Perhaps if it didn’t feel like the second part of a two-parter season ending cliffhanger. But it was and it does, so. Yeah. On its own it’s a perfectly decent piece, but as a sequel to Wrath of Khan it just isn’t quite the same.

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January 18, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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