Movie Review – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

1984 Paramount Pictures
Three Stars
After the brilliance of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan the producers must have thought now what do we do? With Spock dead, the Enterprise trashed, and Kirk’s son revealed, what direction to go in? Of course the main question I imagine was to move on without Spock or resurrect him? I guess they decided Spock was a rather integral part of Trek so they made a deal so Nimoy would direct and Spock would return. With the rest of the cast returning except Kirstie Alley all they needed was a story.
Here’s the story in nutshell: Some Klingon’s find out about the Genesis device and head for the Genesis planet to steal the secret of the “Genesis Torpedo”. Kirk’s son David and Saavik are now on the science vessel USS Grissom checking out the newly formed planet where they discover Spock has been brought back to life by the Genesis effect. Kirk hears the news and requests the use of the Enterprise to return to Genesis. On learning the ship is to be mothballed they decide to steal it and head off for Genesis unaware of the Klingon nasties that have destroyed the Grissom and taken David, Saavik, and Spock captive. Three years from now on the first season of  Star Trek: The Next Generation we all found out that Klingon’s do not take hostages so I guess these guys didn’t read the manual?

So how does this all compare to Wrath of Khan? Well it’s not brilliant but it’s entertaining. Nimoy shows he has some talent as a director as well as an actor. You can tell he was wrestling with a very small budget in the way certain things are handled but he keeps it all together and makes it fun. He directs the regular cast well especially Shatner who gives a very good performance. The other cast members are good as well in their usual smaller roles. Robin Curtis lacks the edge that Alley brought to the role but she does a good job and looks damn nice with the pointed ears.This is definitely not as high quality as Star Trek II but is by no means a bad movie. Good fun for us Trekkies.

The good:

The movie shines for the most part in the design and production departments, the Bird of Prey and the Spacedock are impressive.

Cool stuff but isn’t the Bird of Prey a Romulan thing?

Why do they need that rinky dink dry dock from the first two movies if they have this? Because they didn’t build the model until this movie!

The destruction of the Enterprise is handled with class.

The dragon is slain. All hail the dragonslayer. Oops wrong movie.

Oh yeah here’s that pesky dragon.

The not so good:

You can definitely see some more budget crunching moments with a few special effects including the most laughable rock slide ever.

They didn’t add enough flames. You can still see how lame it looks!

The crew of the USS Grissom get my vote for lamest crew in the history of Starfleet. Captain Esteban sounds like he couldn’t flush a toilet without first asking permission.

Voted most likely to consult Starfleet before making any decision and most likely to get blown up by Klingon’s.

The Klingons as portrayed here are passable as the villains although this group seems a bit less bright then some we have seen in the past.

The bridge designs of the Excelsior and Bird of Prey are disasters. The production team definitely dropped the ball with those sets!

You could play football on the Excelsior bridge.

Klingon bathrooms are not known for their privacy.

I am not a fan of the design of the USS Grissom.

Icky poo! Is that a Frisbee?


Weak torpedo effect. Looks like the ship is hocking a loogie.

Kirk is now narrating the tape containing the information on the Genesis device? I would have liked to have seen Dr. Carol Marcus again but I’m sure this was done so they wouldn’t have to pay Bibi Besch. How cheap.
Random thoughts and observations:
The death of Spock was handled in such a mature and intelligent way in some ways it’s a shame that they resurrect him. It would have been interesting to see what direction Trek would have gone without him.Why would taking Spock away from the Genesis planet stop the rapid aging process? He was essentially renewed by the proto-matter so wouldn’t his form be unstable as well?Does the crew of the USS Grissom beam from the primary to the secondary hull or are there turbo-lifts inside the nacelle pylons?
I find it very interesting that when Kirk is informed of David’s dead there are reaction shots of McCoy and Scotty but not of Sulu and Chekov. The same thing happens as Kirk is covering David’s body on Genesis. Would it be so hard to give some screen to everyone?
She looks great. I seem to have a thing for women with pointed ears.

She looks great. I seem to have a thing for women with pointed ears.

Sulu never got over the loss of his speed control handle.

If I were Walter Koenig I would have refused to wear this outfit. Poor guy.

Set phaser to toss. Nice consistency with the phaser effects dudes.

Spock’s quarters are huge. Nice graphics (not).

Genesis is a rousing success. Good job Dr. Marcus.

Some guy dressed like Kirk joins the fight. Go Kirk stunt double!

My favorite scene:

The scene where Saavik tells Kirk that David is dead. William Shatner has what I consider to be his best moment as Kirk. He looks completely lost and vulnerable.


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