Friday, June 7, 2013

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock


  After the controversial ending of Star Trek II, and it's immense financial success a sequel was inevitable, but one without Mister Spock? Blasphemy. Obviously, Paramount pulled out all the stops to get Leonard Nimoy to revisit the famous character, including an offer to direct. Nimoy accepted the terms and got back on board to direct which is basically... an excuse to revive Spock. Yet it also manages to somehow be one of the better Star Trek movies. The whole odd numbered curse (google it) is pretty much bullshit. This and the reboot prove that. While The Search for Spock is probably one of the most blatant examples of fan service ever, that doesn't stop it from being more than fun, but outright moving. It's basically about a group of friends rushing across the galaxy fighting off vicious adversaries, and braving a planet about to explode... just to save the life of a friend. Damn good popcorn entertainment in my book.

  It's better to invest creative energy and production values into a resurrection like this than just retconning the amazing Wrath of Khan and having him show up in a sequel with no explanation. Spock is a Star Trek mainstay. He's undoubtedly the most famous character, and the face of Trek as a whole. He had to come back. Nimoy eventually embraced this, returning to helm this entry into the franchise. It's directed with gusto and flair, due in no small part to returning cast. Their energetic chemistry, banter, and wit carry the movie over it's shortcomings, and land it firmly in the 'fun' section. It's impossible not to love these characters in anything they do. Just to see them return is enough to get me to sign up, and then to watch them brave impossible odds to save Spock? Classic.

  Because of it's inherent cop-out nature, many dismiss Star Trek III as a lame and silly entry, and I wonder if any of them have seen it. The movie dives deep into the meaning of friendship, albeit in a schmaltzy and happy go lucky way, but it does. Once the crew gets to the planet where Spock's body resides, things take a dark twist as the Klingons show up. With insane on screen gravitas, Christopher Lloyd plays the Klingon commander. He does so with incredible energy and manages to establish a brutal and evil villain for this movie. He's undeniably memorable and irresistibly fun. Not to mention, with the inclusion of some serious antagonists, the story unfolds in a way that effects Star Trek canon forever.

  The low points of the movie are pretty apparent. Nimoy's direction, while lively and competent is somewhat lacking. Or, rather lazy I should say. In one scene, Kirk is reviewing footage from an event that happened in the previous movie, and the exact footage from the movie is shown. Impossible camera angles and all. Dramatic close-up's and everything. It's silly and sticks out like a sore thumb. And while it's harder to blame Nimoy specifically for this one, at one point, we find ourselves in a future bar that looks like a carbon copy of the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars. It's impossible to think about anything else during that scene and it felt rather more like a knock-off than anything. Yet, these are the movie's shortcomings, little things like this. On the whole it's a rather solid entry.

  The Search for Spock is not a bad movie. It is a wholly solid and good movie. Also, with how it affects Star Trek canon, and finds a serviceable way to bring back one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time without feeling like a total rip-off... I'd say it's more than adequate, it's essential. It's also a load of fun. While best viewed as a companion piece to Wrath, there's nothing stopping anyone from enjoying it on it's own merits. It's one of the better Star Trek movies, and needs to get the appreciation it deserves. It's the second shining part of a big sprawling adventure that is undoubtedly the timeless and undisputed highlight of a much beloved and endlessly entertaining franchise.

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