Star Trek III: The Search for Spock


I always like to start with the good because the good is optimistic. The good is that this is a good movie, full of great character moments and William Shatner at his best as he mourns the death of David and the destruction of the Enterprise – two of the greatest moments in Star Trek as a whole.

Obviously, Star Trek III was supposed to have been the final installment in a trilogy.  With the crew’s rebellion against Starfleet thus ending their career, the destruction of the Enterprise, and the crew’s final reunion as the caption “…and the human adventure continues” appears, there is a sense of finality to the picture.

Of course, this wasn’t the case.

Star Trek III, of course, concerns The Search for Spock who has been resurrected by the recently created Genesis Planet.  To save their comrade, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise must sacrifice everything they hold dear.  They must give up their lives, their loved ones, and their home because the good of the one outweighs the good of the many.

For such a profound message, the movie turns out flat due largely because of cheap production values.  Outdoor scenes are shot on crummy looking sound stages and snow looks suspiciously like chopped up white plastic bags.

Still, despite it’s shortcomings, Star Trek III is a largely underrated movie.  There is a lot of emotional moments such as the destruction of the Enterprise and Kirk’s reaction to the death of his son, crumpling at the base of his command chair.  Also, this movie boasts one of the first appearances of John Larroquette as Maltz, the mild-mannered Klingon and Christopher Lloyd as the ruthless Commander Kruge.

This movie also contains several treats for the sharp-eyed trekkie.  Tribbles, Andorians, and Mark Leonard reprising his role from the original series as Spock’s father, Sarek.

I do believe that this movie is underrated, but it’s still not a great movie.   Like I said, it suffers from cheap production values and the script is terribly stilted.  Plus, and I know this is petty, but the easy resurrection of Spock takes away from the bold impact of his death in the previous movie.

However, The Search for Spock also has some great action sequences in it such as the Enterprise’ escape from spacedock and her ultimate destruction.  Star Trek III also debuted the popular USS Excelsior and Klingon Bird of Prey.  However, the final battle between Kirk and Kruge on the planet looks horrible.  The rocks coming up out of the ground look like giant turds.

What’s bad? You can tell that the film series has taken a dramatic leap backwards in funding from the studio. The sets – especially the planet-side sets – are flimsy and cheap looking, obviously shot inside of a studio and even starship interiors appear reused and sterile. Why did they cut back on the budget knowing that the first two movies were so sucessful? Who the hell knows, but it’s an annoying penny-pinching philosophy that continues through the rest of the franchise.

Still, the quality of the story holds up the cheapness and delivers a nice movie that brings back an old friend in a believable way that keeps it from becoming silly. I likes it.

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About the author

Jason Donner

Jason Donner devoured the universe and you are all living inside him.