Thursday, 15 October 2009

Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock

Lowdown: Kirk attempts to revive Spock as everything around gets destroyed.
As with its predecessor in the Star Trek series of feature films, The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock is a film for which I carry a personal burden. The Search for Spock is the last film I saw at the cinema with my uncle; he had to leave in the middle due to medical issues, and from then on we could only watch videos or laserdiscs together at home. This uncle of mine was not just another uncle; while he was one of many uncles, there is only one that carries the title “my uncle”. Only one that is probably the person most responsible for me being the way I currently am, only one that dared question what everyone else took for granted while my brain was still not contaminated enough, only one that bought me my first Carl Sagan book, only one that bought me my first science fiction books, and only one that took me to see at least one film a week between 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back to 1985’s Search for Spock. Perhaps it does make sense that the two films enclosing this cinematic window of influence are both action packed science fiction sequels.
The Search for Spock starts exactly where The Wrath of Khan left off. The bruised Enterprise is heading home as heroes while researchers are left on the new artificially created Genesis planet to research the project’s success. While the Enterprise’s crew is mourning Spock’s death (during Wrath of Khan’s conclusion), clues accumulate to suggest Spock isn’t really dead (what a surprise). Kirk learns he needs to head back to Genesis and retrieve Spock’s body if there is to be any chance of reviving his best friend.
Kirk has a problem, though: Starfleet deems the Enterprise too old and sentences it for decommission while relegating Kirk to ground duties. Blasphemy! While Kirk can maneuver his way around this problem, he and his crew do risk court-martial. That is not their only problem, though: A bunch of renegade Klingons led by a rather vicious Christopher Lloyd will stop at nothing to capture Genesis’ secrets. Not only that, Genesis itself is dying. Will Kirk have enough time and resources on his hand to rescue Spock’s body and revive it in a religious ceremony on the planet Vulcan? Might as well ask if the sun will rise tomorrow morning. The real question, though, is what price will Kirk be paying for the revival of his best friend, and is it worth it?
The real problem with The Search for Spock is not its predictability, but rather it not leaving non-Trekkies any chance of getting into it. The film spends absolutely no time in rushing for the action pieces while providing zero introduction; it also assumes you know exactly where its predecessor has left you off. Quite a tall order, if you ask me, given the rarity of home film viewing back in 1984-1985.
Other than that, The Search for Spock is a cliché Star Trek adventure where each of the very familiar characters has another opportunity to show off for what made it famous in the first place and all the supporting cast is hardly developed at all. It works, though: if you’re into Star Trek then you will probably find The Search for Spock pretty entertaining.
Iconic scene: As with its predecessor, the makers of this film thought they have to go one step further than the series. This time it’s the retirement of the Enterprise that is the main talking point.
Best scene: Kirk has enough of the troublesome Klingon.
Worst scene: Spock's religious Vulcan revival. Highly illogical!
Technical assessment: An awful DVD that obviously was not invested in. The picture is horrible and the sound, although 5.1, sounds very dated. There seems to be a better release of this DVD out there, though.
Overall: 3 stars out of 5, but non Trekkies need not (and should not) apply.

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