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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Saturday, March 12th, 2016 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

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Where’s Spock? Why, he’s right there in the director’s chair, of course. For the third cinematic voyage of the Starship Enterprise, Leonard Nimoy took on a dual role as actor and director, though the former role was somewhat minimal. Which set a pattern for numerous other Star Trek cast members. According to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki, 15 cast members eventually sat in the big chair, although only Nimoy, Shatner and Jonathan Frakes directed movies.

I don’t recall if I watched The Search for Spock prior to this rewatch project. But I actually watched it twice within a month or two to make up for it. Why? Well, because it didn’t really stick the first time around. Which is to say that about the best I can do to critique this movie is to damn it with faint praise. It’s like one of the many Star Trek TV episodes that’s not bad but that doesn’t have anything special to recommend it. I think the word serviceable sums it up best.

[Click any of the images for bigger versions.]

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The plot, such as it is, is summed up in the title. Spock’s space coffin was jettisoned at the end of the last movie, and just happens to wind up on the Genesis Planet. Whose magical powers resurrect Spock as a young Vulcan tot and subjects him to an accelerated growth process that brings him back to full Spockness in no time at all.

At which time his memories, personality and this and that, all of which were stored in Dr. McCoy’s brain, are transferred back and all is well. Oh, and some nasty Klingons, led by the loopy Reverend Jim guy from Taxi (soon to be the loopy Back to the Future guy), are plotting to use Project Genesis for their own nefarious purposes.

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Random Observations

Apparently this one was tagged as “the final voyage of the starship Enterprise.” Kind of like those “final” tours The Who embarked on.

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“Up your shaft.” Nice touch.

The combustion engine stalling sound that the Excelsior makes when it grinds to a halt. Very stupid touch.

Spock’s quarters sealed off — because we’ll still use yellow police tape three centuries from now.

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Pointy sideburns — still the height of men’s fashion.

Spock steals the show, even though he only speaks a few lines at end of the movie.

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Speaking of Spock’s voice, just exactly how does McCoy reproduce it so perfectly?

Is the Excelsior‘s captain carrying a futurist version of a riding crop? Are all other Federation captains thoroughly obnoxious?

I might have missed the handwavery explanation for it, but why is Spock the only one aging on the Genesis Planet?

Star Trek 3 Spock

Vulcan = ancient Egypt? Just asking.

The previous articles in this series are:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)


William I. Lengeman III’s last article for us was An Old Dark House Double Feature. He holds forth at www.wileng3.com.

5 Comments »

  1. It’s brings Spock and McCoy together in a way that McCoy would never want. He has the Vulcan in his mind and even starts to think like one. This and seeing Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon made this movie worth watching. Watching II, III, and IV back to back kind of makes this loose trilogy.

    Comment by Glenn - March 12, 2016 8:52 am

  2. > Watching II, III, and IV back to back kind of makes this loose trilogy.

    Glenn,

    I recently did exactly that, and you’re right. There’s a difference in tone between the films (which I rack up to different directors), but other than that they fit together remarkably well.

    I haven’t continued past IV yet in my own re-watch, but I will. I remember enjoying V okay when it first came out, but everyone I was with hated it.

    Comment by John ONeill - March 12, 2016 11:54 am

  3. I remember liking this one more than it probably deserved when I saw it in the theater. For some reason, that Spacedock thing just struck me as too cool for words. Plus the bit where McCoy finds himself in the Mos Eisley cantina trying to book passage from a smuggler and his Wookiee copilot — oh, wait …

    Comment by Joe H. - March 12, 2016 12:12 pm

  4. I like this one entirely on grounds of style and atmosphere. The plot and the action are nothing to write home about, which makes it look rather weak when compared to 2, 4, and 6 on those grounds.
    But artistically it’s one of the better ones. And much better than 4, which I really can’t stand. I include it as one of my four good movies with 2, 6, and 8.

    Comment by Martin Kallies - March 12, 2016 2:40 pm

  5. III really was just an explanation, why Spock is back on board in number IV.

    4 was always considered one of the better ones and I did like it. But I suspect it might havent aged very well, since “SF-heroes visit our time” has been done so often since then. Including all of the tropes and jokes…
    I think the best original cast Star Trek is The Undiscovered country by a mile.

    Comment by peer - March 12, 2016 2:50 pm


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