Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984) Review

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984) Director: Leonard Nimoy

“…the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many….”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As Leonard Nimoy’s inaugural directorial effort, the third Star Trek film is a grand adventure that successfully reintroduces Spock after he was “killed” sacrificing himself at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). In reality, Star Trek III:The Search for Spock is actually the second part of a trilogy (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982; Star Trek III: The Search For Spock in 1984; and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986). During the run of the original series Spock was the clear fan favorite –there was a widely held belief that Leonard Nimoy hated playing the character because he was frustrated with not being fully compensated for the use of his likeness in all the Star Trek merchandise, however details remain a bit murky. At any rate, he had a long desire to try his hand a directing and since his presence was necessary for the film, Paramount was keen to offer him the role. Thus, against another majestic score from James Horner, Spock makes his grand re-emergence once again!

The USS Enterprise returns home to Earth following its battle with Khan over the Genesis Device in the previous film. The death of Spock looms large over the film –Kirk notes the feeling of emptiness aboard the damaged Enterprise as it heads home. He does not relish the thought of being transferred to a new ship, the Excelsior. At the end of Khan, Spock had performed a last-minute mind meld with Dr. McCoy (reprised by DeForest Kelley). His last word to Dr. McCoy was “remember,” and apparently a part of Spock’s essence (or “katra”) was transferred to Dr. McCoy, which is a standard Vulcan ritual. However, Dr. McCoy begins acting strangely, muttering odd ramblings to Kirk from inside Spock’s sealed quarters (asking why he was abandoned on Genesis, and requesting that Kirk climb the stairs of “Mount Seleya”), and soon the situation grows dangerous for Dr. McCoy. The situation is explained to Admiral Kirk (reprised by William Shatner) by Spock’s father, Sarek (played by Mark Lenard), whom we first met in the Star Trek season two episode “Journey to Babel.” Meanwhile, the Federation science vessel Grissom arrives at the Genesis planet carrying the Vulcan Lt. Saavik (played by Robin Curtis after Kirstie Alley feared being typecast in the role from the previous film), and she is joined by Kirk’s son David (Merritt Butrick) en route to conduct studies on the new planet. On the Genesis planet they discover a life form –previously believed to be an impossibility– and they learn that Genesis spawned a child-like Spock who is aging rapidly.

A nearby Klingon vessel headed by Kruge (played by Christopher Lloyd) makes a deal with a traitorous Starfleet vessel which carries information about the Genesis Device, a tool they intend to exploit for power. They arrive at the Genesis planet where they find Saavik, Kirk’s son David, and a young Spock –however, like the young Spock, the nascent planet is rapidly aging, too. In a matter of hours, Spock begins experiencing the Vulcan mating signs for “pon farr” which was first introduced in the second season episode “Amok Time.”

With the knowledge that rejuvenating Spock may be possible on Genesis, Kirk and his former crewmen decide to return. Against the orders of Starfleet, they commandeer the Enterprise and head for Genesis, which has become a Federation secret, forbidden to visitors. On Genesis, the Klingons have captured David, Saavik, and Spock –and in the course of events, David prevents Saavik from being killed and he is tragically stabbed to death (the Klingons are unaware that David was Kirk’s son). After a bruising battle for the damaged Enterprise, it only ends with the self-destruction of the USS Enterprise (the same code sequence is used from the season three episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”). Kirk and the crew beam down to the Genesis planet where they are temporarily stranded while the planet destroys itself in a matter of hours. Kirk defeats Kruge in a campy hand-to-hand combat sequence, the kind only Star Trek can get away with, and they takeover the Klingon vessel and bring Spock back to the planet Vulcan where he can be reunited with his “katra” from Dr. McCoy (he identifies himself as “McCoy, Leonard H., son of David”). After the ritual, a dazed Spock asks Kirk why they decided to come back for him, to which Kirk responds, “Because the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many….” Suddenly, Spock begins to remember:

“I have been and ever shall be your friend.”

1 thought on “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984) Review

  1. It’s especially very hard to re-watch this one because of David’s death and the Genesis failure after now seeing Star Trek Continues: The Holiest Thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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