Star Trek III – The Search for Spock picks up right where The Wrath of Khan left off. Spock is dead and his body has been interred on the newly-formed Genesis planet. Kirk and the rest of the crew have returned to Earth.
While there, they find out that McCoy is holding Spock’s consciousness due to the mind meld at the end of the last film. In order to save Spock and his experiences, the crew needs to rescue his body (if possible) and return to Vulcan within a short time. So, of course, they steal the Enterprise.
Together with The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home, this film is part of an arc that needs to be seen together to understand the full story. While those other two films have strong stories and compelling performances, however, The Search for Spock is rather weak in those areas. Not horribly so, but enough that it felt like a mediocre episode on any one of the Star Trek television series.
I was sad to see that Kirstie Alley didn’t reprise her role as Lt. Saavik, but I thought Robin Curtis actually did a better job as a Vulcan. She seemed far less likely to crack-up laughing than Alley. Christopher Lloyd played an interesting Klingon, but didn’t seem to project the gravitas and savageness needed in the role. A little too much of his goofy roles came through in the portrayal of Kruge, the Klingon commander.
The story in The Search for Spock had a number of implausible bits that weakened the overall strength of the narrative. For example, the likelihood that Scotty would be able to completely disable a starship while it’s in dock without anyone noticing what he was doing. While the Federation society is generally open and trusting, there are enemies of the Federation all over, so the security should be much higher for a ship that is being prepared for a mission.
The special effects were generally good, but Kruge’s pet targ was not especially menacing. It seemed to be a larger, more toothy version of the Kowakian monkey-lizard from Return of the Jedi. Its movements were incredibly jerky, and it just felt fake. Perhaps they should have brought in Jim Henson to do the puppet.
Despite the various problems which caused the film to stumble on occasion, The Search for Spock was still enjoyable. I don’t recommend seeing this film without watching The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home, though, as the film doesn’t work very well without watching the three in order.
Release Date: June 1, 1984 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief social drinking, bar scene)
Language: 1 (occasional, mild)
Violence: 3 (some brutal violence and fighting, peril, space battles, death)