After dealing with Spock’s heroic sacrifice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I was excited to see that the next Star Trek movie was titled “The Search for Spock”……maybe he wasn’t really gone! That was enough of a hook to get me back in the theaters. This movie was the first to be directed by a cast member (Nimoy), who also appeared in the film….but had no lines until the very end of the movie. It had all the requisite Star Trek goodies – struggling with the Prime Directive, breaking the rules for a greater goal, big special effects…and Klingons!
This movie was interesting from a series perspective, because it gave McCoy (DeForest Kelley) a lot of screen time compared to other movies…instead of being a supporting character, he carried a number of scenes, and a lot of the plot revolved around the secret that he was carrying. Once his friends realized what they had to do, they worked together to not only ‘steal’ the Enterprise, but to cleverly disable the only ship that could pursue them. Instead of the plot revolving entirely around Kirk and Spock, the ensemble cast got to show off their chemistry, which is part of what drew audiences to Star Trek in the first place. Gene Roddenberry referred to Star Trek as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, and in a lot of ways, he was right. Star Trek could have been just as interesting no matter what the setting…because the writing, acting and chemistry is what made the series stand out.
….but meanwhile, back on the Genesis planet…..word must have gotten out that Genesis was a hot property, because the Klingons decided that they wanted a piece of the action. Played with the proper villain-like flair, Christopher Lloyd hit all the right notes as the power-hungry Kruge….although even with tons of makeup and prosthetics, I couldn’t listen to him without hearing Doc Brown or Jim Ignatowski. While trying to rescue the rapidly aging Spock (who conveniently stopped aging at Nimoy’s current age), Kirk suffers a devastating loss. While recovering his friend, he lost someone very close to him, which is another recurring theme in the Star Trek universe – if you gain something…there is usually a cost.
This movie also introduced something that happened in other later films…..blowing up the ship. While it was threatened in the series (“The Corbomite Maneuver”, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”), they actually did it this time. That reinforced another Star Trek idea – people are more important than things….and things can be sacrificed.
At the end of the movie, Spock is returned to Vulcan, and begins to show recognition of his friends…..”I have been and ever shall be….your friend.”, and then a hint of emotion when Spock says, “Jim…..your name IS Jim…”, lets us know that all is right in the Star Trek universe, and we’re going to get another ride on the roller coaster.
What I learned from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is….
Never leave your friends behind.