A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

January 18, 2011

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

This is an odd-numbered Star Trek movie which means that in accordance with the supposed curse of the Star Trek films it is regarded as lackluster. I think that’s a little unfair, though. It doesn’t live up to the high standard set by Wrath of Khan, but how could it? This movie’s biggest failing, really, is part of its very fabric. The whole purpose of this movie is to undo one of the most impact full dramatic moments in the history of Star Trek. From the moment you see the title of the film, though, you know how it inevitably has to end, so there’s not much suspense involved in the narrative.

What I do like about this movie is how well integrated it is with the second Star Trek movie. Right from the start this movie feels more like a continuation of Wrath of Khan than a stand-alone film. It starts out with footage of Spock’s death and funeral and proceeds directly into the new movie with the badly damaged Enterprise limping home to stardock above Earth. Kirk has a great log entry about how the death of Spock is like an open wound, and there’s a very defeated and melancholy tone to the start of the movie. I also enjoy some of the spooky touches that hint about what has happened to McCoy after his final mind meld with Spock in the climax of the second film. DeForest Kelley does a great impersonation of Leonard Nimoy as Spock a couple times, even doing the trademark raised eyebrow.

So most of the plot of the movie involves the crew trying to recover Spock’s body from the unstable Genesis planet and return it to Vulcan. Starfleet are suddenly complete obstructionist dufuses about returning to Genesis so Kirk and his crew have to dress up in leather jackets and hijack their own ship to do it. (I’m not sure why the leather jackets are obligatory – they soon abandon them in favor of starfleet uniforms) Then they have to deal with an annoying but bumbling Klingon captain (played by Christopher Lloyd) who wants the secret to Genesis for use as the ultimate planet-destroying weapon.

You know – I just watched this movie all the way through and I can honestly say that it feels like not much happens. Maybe it’s the lack of tension. Kirk easily outwits everybody who stands in his way. He kills off practically the entire Klingon crew without having to fire a shot. Sure, his son dies an ignoble death as a hostage in the Klingon’s hands, but aside from that and the destruction of the Enterprise it feels like nothing really goes wrong in this movie. Like I said before, we all know how it has to end, right? Even the preposterous fistfight between the Klingon and Kirk feels almost laughable. (Amanda and I sang the Star Trek fistfight music over it, which seemed to help. “Buh ba BAH ba BAH ba BAH ba ba bah bum!”)

On a more personal note: it did me good to see the fountain from the center of my old college campus which is featured as part of the scenery on Vulcan. It brought back all kinds of old memories – some of which I will probably talk about when we review Real Genius, which was also filmed on the Oxy campus.

Tomorrow we get to watch another even Star Trek film – the more humorous and light-hearted Voyage Home – also directed as this movie was by Leonard Nimoy. I’m looking forward to that.

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

4 Comments »

  1. Going from 3 to 4 so quickly, you may notice the Mysterious Klingon who Kirk refuses to execute at the end of 3. Is he still in the brig on the Klingon Bird of Prey they spend 4 flying? Did they leave him on Vulcan? Did he ever return? No, he never returned. And his fate is still unlearned!

    Comment by Josh | January 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Maybe they gave in and killed him.

      Comment by tanatoes | January 19, 2011 | Reply

      • I sort of want some enterprising geeks to create a short film, set at the end of 4, with footage of the crew escaping from the flooded and sinking Bird or Prey inter-cut with footage of the poor hapless Klingon, still in the brig. “Guys? What’s going on? Hey can anyone hear me? I’m out of prune juice…”

        Comment by Josh | January 19, 2011

      • Was “enterprising” there a deliberate pun?

        Comment by tanatoes | January 20, 2011


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