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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Originally Aired: 1984-6-1

Spock, who had died saving the Enterprise from Khan's wrath, is found alive on the Genesis planet where his body was sent to rest. [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 6.31

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- This film features the first "transwarp" drive; the first of many contradictory engine principles of the same name. Maybe this version was flawed by design, as it was never used again.

- This is the first Star Trek production to feature a Klingon Bird of Prey.
- This is the first Star Trek production to feature a targ.
- This is the first Star Trek production to feature a full size starbase, in which a full size starship can dock within. Always an impressive sight.
- This film hints at the Pon Farr being something that only happens to Vulcan males.
- This film was nominated for the 1985 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk: "Mr. Scott, have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of 4?" Scotty: "Certainly, sir. How else can I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?"
- Our first sight of a Klingon Bird of Prey!
- The Klingon Bird of Prey firing on the ship it just bought its information from.
- Sarek's appearance.
- Seeing no Spock in his coffin.
- Kirk: "The answer is no. I am therefore going anyway."
- McCoy acting like Spock in the bar.
- McCoy arguing with his "backwards friend."
- McCoy: "I'll discuss what I like. And who in the hell are you?" Morrow: "Could I offer you a ride home Dr. McCoy?" McCoy: "Where's the logic in offering me a ride home you idiot? If I wanted a ride home would I be trying to charter a space flight."
- McCoy trying to Vulcan neck pinch Morrow.
- Kirk and crew's operation to steal the Enterprise.
- Scotty to the Excelsior computer: "Up your shaft."
- Uhura's handling of "Mr. Adventure".
- Scotty sabotaging the transwarp drive of the Excelsior.
- Kirk: "I should recommend you all for a promotion! In whatever fleet we end up serving..."
- The Klingon commander executing his gunner for destroying the science ship.
- The revelation that Genesis is a fundamentally flawed concept.
- Saavik mentioning that Spock will undergo the Pon Farr. Good continuity there.
- The Enterprise battling the Klingon Bird of Prey.
- The Klingons killing Kirk's son.
- Kirk: "You Klingon bastard, you killed my son!"
- The destruction of the Enterprise.
- Kirk: "My god Bones. What the hell have I done?"
- Kirk extending a hand of friendship to the Klingon commander only to have him grab his leg and try to take Kirk with him to his death. Kirk kicks his face in and lets the Klingon die. Awesome.
- Kirk stealing the Klingon Bird of Prey.
- Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu trying to figure out Klingon technology.

My Review
This film makes up for many of the failings of its predecessor by swiftly stepping over its faulty premise: "The Search for Spock" was over largely within the opening moments of the film. They found his mind and his "soul" in short order. Instead, the film is a quest to reunite them, not find anything. Indeed, this film does not insult its audience by pretending the events of the last film were anything else but obvious setup for this one and we're well on our way to rescuing Spock in short order, guns blazing. In addition to that, I quite enjoyed the beginnings of the story arc that this film establishes. Never before on Star Trek has one story led into the next, except of course for the anomalous two part episode The Menagerie. Perhaps inspired by the Star Wars trilogy, indeed this film would seem to be the equivalent of "The Empire Strikes Back" and Wrath of Khan the equivalent of "A New Hope." In keeping with this analogy, there is quite a bit more darkness in this film. Instead of Kirk unrealistically trivializing and dodging death like in Star Trek II, he's forced to confront it head on. Not only must he face the death of his ship, but his son as well. He sacrifices two very important things in his life to get back another in a truly selfless act. Beyond this, there are a few little aesthetic details which enhance this film immensely. The Federation regards Genesis as a failure for its inability to create stable planets. The Klingons, however, regard Genesis as an incredible success for its viability as a weapon and covet its power. The resulting political fallout is fascinating and helps alleviate some of my concerns in the previous film of the device's contrivance. In addition, despite my hatred of retconning actors with new ones, the new Saavik is better acted. Overall, I feel that Star Trek III is highly underrated and easily the best film of the entire original series lineup.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2008-09-03 at 3:01am:
    The more I watch this film, the less favorable it becomes to me. First, the actions of he Klingon commander don't make sense to me. He already had a tape with Genesis information on it. What else did he want Kirk to tell him about it? I believe he was asking, "What is the secret to Genesis?" How does Kirk answer that? Does he say "Well, the secret is peanut butter, yeah, that's right peanut butter"?

    My other problem with the film is the recasting of Saavik. Why, why, why!? Why not give the character a different name?

    Those two things are trip me up so much when I watch the film. I still watch it about once every year, so it is definitely not the worst.
  • From Aaron on 2009-08-20 at 9:21pm:
    The Klingon only had the short promotional video from ST II that didn't show how the device worked, only what it did. If he knew that Kirk's kid was the main scientist, he probably wouldn't have killed him.

    My main beef with the movie was kiling David. It reset the characters back to their TOS setup and they ended up stuck without ever having a chance to grow. Plus, David was in Square Pegs which was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid.
  • From Jeff Browning on 2011-11-05 at 5:27am:
    Logical issue: Why would Spock's body regenerate? The previous film clearly indicated that organic matter present on a planet where the Genesis device detonated would be reformed into the new matrix. In other words, total destruction of all organic matter. This is never explained adequately.

    Also, what's with the accelerated aging? It is too convenient. It gets Spock to exactly the same age he was at before the events of The Wrath of Khan. It is just too neat.

    I agree with the comment about recasting Lt. Saavik. What was so bad about Kirstie Alley? I rather liked her as Lt. Saavik. She certainly went on to great success in other films. And the person they casted in this movie (Robin Curtis) was basically never heard from again (aside from a roll on General Hospital).

    I did think that Christopher Lloyd was terrific as Kruge, the Klingon commander.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-23 at 1:41pm:
    ‘7’. Pretty good, overall. Of the original six movies, I rate this one in 4th place – but that’s only because 2, 4, and 6 are VERY good movies. The character interaction, a sense of unity and purpose towards a common goal, all this is high on the list of the appeal to this movie; more so than in any of the others, this film gives the characters’ collective sense of personal honor and duty, and shows how that relates to (and can override), professional considerations. Unrealistic perhaps, but a fun premise nonetheless.

    That being said, there were a few elements to this film that I did not like. First, and least importantly; Starfleet. The ‘retiring the Enterprise’ subplot (a factor from here on out) was tiresome– stop telling me your decommissioning the Enterprise. Starfleet security (at Earth and Genesis) is also notoriously bad.

    Second, Saavik. The replacement was terrible. Hated it. A great character is introduced in ST2, and then in ST3 it is completely ruined. Better to have left her out altogether.

    Last and most importantly, this movie robbed ‘Wrath of Khan’ of its dramatic power by reversing the death of Spock. It is said in the site review that this movie deals with loss and passing, but I think the opposite is actually the case. This movie is all about using a cheap gimmick to avoid dealing with what real loss is all about.
  • From Captain Keogh on 2013-05-30 at 7:40am:
    This film was the first appearance of Earth Spacedock [correct me if I am wrong] the Excelsior Class and the Oberth Class starships
  • From Abigail on 2019-12-26 at 3:47pm:
    I watched this movie with two friends last night. I remember it being rated as one of the poorer movies, although I didn't really remember it from last time I saw it (approximately 20 years ago). To my surprise, I quite enjoyed it. I admit I hadn't thought as deeply about it as you did in your review, but I agree with your points regarding character development in Kirk. An enjoyable film.
  • From Gaius Gracchus on 2021-11-06 at 9:07pm:
    Considering the dominating adage of "only even-numbered Star Trek movies are good," I was not expecting this film to be as solid as it was.

    DeForest Kelley gets to absolutely shine here, no longer taking the typical backseat to Nimoy, and his scenes where he's channeling Spock's consciousness
    (doing a Spock impression) are gold - "to expect one to order poison in a bar is not logical."

    Kirk gets several moments to shine as he outwits Starfleet and the Klingons. The rest of the supporting cast gets ample moments, as well. Memorable scenes for Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura.

    Christopher Lloyd is an absolute gem as Kruge, and sets a good bar for the "new Klingon" characterization.

    The biggest letdown of the movie, to me, is the death of David. The character had a lot of potential but I would have loved an opportunity to see him develop more than just here and Star Trek II. Perhaps that's part of why it hits the audience hard, defies our expectation...

    From the destruction of the Enterprise to the fal tor pan, this movie is rife with defining scenes. Nimoy did a fantastic job directing, and I feel this film is unfairly maligned with that "odd-numbered Trek" canard. Watch it.

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