Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)

Star Trek III: The Search For Continued Success

- The Star Trek franchise leaders got their game together following the extremely dull and poorly made Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and made The Wrath Of Khan (1982), single-handedly saving the franchise. Picking up where The Wrath Of Khan left off, the Enterprise crew goes on a search for Spock in: well, The Search For Spock (1984). With a plot that begins right after The Wrath of Khan ends and revolving around the Genesis device and the story regarding Spock, The Search For Spock tries to cling to the success The Wrath Of Khan in every way it can. As a result, The Search For Spock ends up a little more like "The Wrath Of Khan II" rather than a stand-alone Star Trek film. However, The Search For Spock is a good sci-fi film and a nice piece of the Trek film series.

In this film, the planet that Spock might be alive on, Genesis, is quarantined by the Federation; but the Enterprise crew, desperate to see if Spock is alive after their final run-in with Khan, goes on a search for Spock against Federation orders. Meanwhile, some nasty Klingons are after the deadly Genesis device and will stop at nothing to get it. Will Kirk and friends find Spock and save the universe? Find out in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock!

When Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979, it had been ten years since the cast members had played their Starfleet characters and most performances came out very rocky - if watchable at all. The cast was considerably better by the next film, The Wrath Of Khan in 1982, with a little help a better script. By The Search For Spock in 1984, the third time was the charm and the entire cast put their characters on like gloves and gave real good performances. The Search For Spock is easily DeForest Kelley's finest big-screen hour as Dr. McCoy and William Shatner manages to give another good performance here as Captain Kirk - helping to make up for his horrible performance in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Kristie Alley must not have wanted her Star Trek career to continue after The Wrath of Khan, as a bigger Lt. Saavik part is played by Robin Curtis, who is a tad too wooden in the role even for a Vulcan. Christopher Lloyd is also great in the film and makes a surprisingly convincing Klingon baddie with great screen presence and a brand of strength that most actors would not have exhibited in the role. Also helping the overall number of good performances is the smaller role of Pavel Chekov in the film - Walter Koenig is not called upon to scream or act scared in The Search For Spock, and it is better that way.

Perhaps one reason the cast gives better performances here in The Search For Spock than in other Star Trek films is the presence of a Star Trek actor behind the camera. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, directs the film (no wonder they had to search for him!) and creates a well paced and mostly polished Star Trek film. Nimoy gets real good performances from his actors and also gets rid of that pesky pacing problem the first two Star Trek films had, adding greatly to the overall quality of the film.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock is not without some drawbacks. While Nimoy does an overall good job putting the film together, The Search For Spock has an odd combination of sci-fi adventure, art house, and cheese. The sci-fi adventure bits work very well, the art house take on a few scenes is a little too weird for its own good (like the unnecessary close ups on Sarek and Kirk during a mind-meld and Spock and Saavik's "connection"), and the cheese comes out of nowhere to almost ruin entire sequences. Also, the quick and anti-climactic ending does not help the film out either. Since there is no build-up to a cinematic climax, the film feels like it's in the middle rather than the end when the final action sequence occurs. Still, the film finally ends without leaving the audience *completely* unsatisfied.

One thing that makes The Search For Spock a little bit more unique than the previous Star Trek films is that it makes the Star Trek universe a little bit bigger with the mention of inter-galactic diplomatic relations and the addition of other races with different languages and crafts. Naturally, there are also great special effects in the film, but what is particularly great about them is that they actually improve upon those seen in The Wrath Of Khan.

So with all the many elements that go into it, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock ends up one of the better films of the Star Trek film series.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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