Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Collector's Edition, Special Collector's Edition
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Admiral kirk and his bridge crew risk their careers stealing the decommissioned enterprise to return to the restricted genesis planet to recover spocks body. Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 05/01/2007 Starring: William Shatner Phil Morris Run time: 105 minutes Rating: Pg Director: Leonard Nimoy
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock follows the same winning formula of the first two Star Trek special-edition DVD releases, although it has no extra footage as The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan did. The first disc presents the film with an audio commentary track, the bulk of it handled (appropriately) by director Leonard Nimoy. He doesn't do it in character as Spock, but rather chortles and gushes about his cast and crew, especially William Shatner. Other contributors include Robin Curtis, who explains how Nimoy and writer Harve Bennett made it easy for her to take over Kirstie Alley's role as Saavik. There's also a subtitled commentary track full of trivia and details by Michael Okuda, joined this time by wife Denise. If you want, you can listen to the audio commentary while reading the subtitled commentary. The second disc offers the basic "Captain's Log" documentary (2002, 26 min.) plus substantial documentaries about models, creatures, and Klingon and Vulcan languages and costumes. Last, in "Terraforming and the Prime Directive," scientists discuss how a Genesis-like project could lead to humans colonizing Mars. --David Horiuchi
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There is a little weakness in the plot as to why a Klingon would risk war with the federation to go after the so-called "weapon" of genesis, and it starts out a little slow, but otherwise, it's a marvelous Star Trek movie.
I like the way this movie adds to the lore around Vulcan mysticism. It presents Kirk without Spock, which is kinda of like ying without yang. But it is the tension of the division of the inseparable duo separated that adds to the movie's tension. This made a marvelous Saturday afternoon.
The Search For Spock is my second favorite. The Journey Home is my favorite. If we keep going the way we are headed, the only way to see a whale may indeed be to go back in time.
THEATRICAL RELEASE: June 1, 1984.
BUDGET ESTIMATE: $17 million.
USA BOX OFFICE: $76 million. WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE: $87 million.
THE PLOT: Kirk and Co. disobey Federation orders by stealing the Enterprise from space dock (!!) and heading for the forbidden Genesis Planet (created in the previous film) to retrieve Spock's body and clash with Commander Kruge, a Klingon bent on claiming the secrets of the Genesis Project for his own destructive purposes.
COMMENT: For a 1984 film I admit that the Genesis Planet sets aren't the greatest, but they get the job done. Besides, if you're used to watching the TV episodes they're fantastic. Star Trek was never about outstanding special effects anyway (with the exception of the unique and brilliant "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"); no, Star Trek is about people, their joy of living and their grand spirit of adventure and exploration.
GREAT LINE: Witnessing the emblazed ship go down on the apocalyptic horizon of the Genesis Plane, Kirk asks: "My God, Bones, what have I done?" McCoy responds: "What you HAD to do, Jim, what you ALWAYS do -- turn death into a fighting chance to live."
QUESTION: Just how far does the Saavik (Robin Curtis) go in helping the teenage Spock get through his first Vulcan "pon farr" on the Genesis Planet? The film itself doesn't concretely answer, it simply shows Saavik holding Spock's hand and comforting him. However, since early drafts of "Star Trek IV" featured Saavik remaining on Vulcan because she was pregnant with Spock's child, we can assume that Saavik went ALL THE WAY in helping young Spock (!). Okay, so now the question is: Did she do this out of a sense of Vulcan duty or simply to get her jollies with a young Vulcan stud?
Speaking of Robin Curtis, she plays Saavik much more Vulcan-like (i.e. better) than Kirstie Alley in "The Wrath of Khan" (I never bought Alley as a Vulcan). In truth, Curtis in nothing less than exceptional in this film.
COMMENT: Although early in the story Sarek describes Spock's 'katra' as his "living spirit" and later Kirk refers to it as his "soul," it's clear in the the film that the katra does not refer to spirit or soul in the traditional sense, i.e. one's non-physical life-essence. We know this because, while McCoy possesses Spock's katra, the Vulan's actual consciousness or life-essence is simultaneously within his rapidly-aging regenerating body on the Genesis Planet. Hence, the katra could be accurately described as an incorporeal file of a Vulcan's knowledge and life, which is why Sarek described it as "everything (Spock) knew, everything he was."
FYI: I never bought Merritt Butrick as Kirk's son, David, but he's serviceable. He died of AIDS in 1989 at the young age of 29.
ANALYSIS: "The Search for Spock" is a great Star Trek picture embellished by the welcome return of Trek's quirky brand of humor. The story expertly meshes comedic touches with dead-serious tragedy. It's also thoroughly enjoyable and compelling to see Kirk & crew in the wry and unexpected role of Starfleet rebels, risking everything to honor their fallen comrade. Another highlight is the return of Klingons as major villains, with upgraded make-up no less.
The only problem with this Trek installment is revealed in the title -- there's no Spock, at least as we know him, but the film does a fabulous job of instilling a sense of the Vulcan's lingering presence. The story climaxes with the powerful image of Spock's mates warmly gathering together. This scene is worth the wait where a simple raised eyebrow fills the viewer with incredible warmth and joy (not to mention the shedding of a few tears).
Also, I gotta hand it to the creators for coming up with an inspired and (seemingly) credible way of resurrecting Spock; the Genesis Project was, by happenstance, the perfect catalyst.
FINAL WORD: "Star Trek III" is inexplicably condemned by fundamentalist trekkers as a failure or, at best, mediocre.
The Search for Spock was never my most favorite story in the Star Trek movie series. Something about Bones acting like he was losing his marbles for half the movie sort of took the joy out of his character for me.
But I always loved it because it has Christopher Lloyd playing the first Klingon to be depicted with the cranial ridges. The special effects stepped up a notch from The Wrath of Khan and with the HD presentation they just look fantastic.
(David Marcus, may his soul Rest in Peace and to Heaven)