Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

As Star Trek III gets another telly outing, we look back at The Search For Spock and wonder: has it improved with age?

That bloke from Hill Street Blues chasing the Enterprise.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) (Sky Movies Sci-Fi/Horror, 1:30pm, Tuesday 3rd February – shown again 7:10pm)

The Wrath of Khan’s tearful ending – as Spock apparently sacrifices his life for “the needs of the many” was ripe for a sequel. McCoy is carrying around Spock’s spirit or “katra” in his noggin – Spock’s body is on the Genesis planet. Admiral Kirk has to get them both back to Vulcan to lay his friend to rest. Meanwhile, a federation science vessel spots signs of life on Genesis – could it be the reanimated Spock? Conveniently, yes – that’s exactly who it is. Oh, and there are some Klingons in the mix too.

The Search for Spock is a superb science fiction idea for a sequel. It creatively uses a set of premises established in the previous film to bring back a major character in a way that doesn’t overly stretch the internal logic of Trek or the audience’s good will. Not bad for a plot that was apparently hatched very late in the filming of Khan.

It’s a pity that the execution doesn’t live up to the set-up. This is, for my money, one of the weakest entries in the series. After a rip roaring first half hour that sees Kirk commandeer the Enterprise (again), while Christopher Lloyd’s Klingon baddie Kruge hams it up for the camera, it settles into a turgid second half based on the self-destructing Genesis planet. The cringe-worthy moments come thick and thicker, as horse-faced Kirstie Alley replacement, Robin Curtis, stumbles woodenly through the part of Lt. Saavik.

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As in every Trek movie, there are still some great moments. The destruction of the iconic Enterprise will resonate deeply with any fan of the original series and Shatner’s never relished the scenery he’s chewing so much. Ultimately though, the narrative lacks heart.

Though Spock is in many ways the focus of the story, he’s absent throughout. McCoy’s role is reduced to a bit part, with only a couple of early scenes giving the country doctor anything to do. Without the ‘holy trinity’ the Trek magic wanes – and we’re left with a rudderless vessel, flailing on the waves.

Best Bits: * Kirk steals the Enterprise * “You Klingon bastard! You killed my son!”

WTF?! Moments: * Chekov’s Little Lord Fauntelroy outfit. * It only takes five people to pilot the Enterprise… * Cheesey Klingons mug for the camera * The reborn Spock has his first Pon Farr… cue uncomfortable Vulcan nookie.

2 stars
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek V: The Final FrontierStar Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

3 February 2009

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