Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Review
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After going back and watching the Star Trek classic, The Wrath of Khan, I was irrevocably hooked on Star Trek—and even the widely-panned The Search for Spock couldn’t drive me away.

Now, I can’t really talk about what happens in Spock without a few Khan spoilers. So if you haven’t seen it—and you’d rather not know what happens—you might want to skip down a few paragraphs.

As the film opens, the crew of the Enterprise returns home to find that their worn-out ship is about to be decommissioned and replaced by the new USS Excelsior. To add insult to injury, the whole Genesis thing has become rather controversial, so no one’s allowed to talk about Khan’s defeat.

Meanwhile, McCoy (DeForest Kelley) has started acting rather strangely, and Spock’s father, Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard), explains that McCoy is carrying Spock’s katra—or his soul. Determined to return Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and his katra home to Vulcan, Kirk (William Shatner) asks for permission to take a ship to the Genesis Planet to retrieve Spock’s body. But when his request is denied, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

As the crew nears the rapidly aging new planet, they discover that there might still be hope for Spock—if they can save him from the Klingons, who want control of the Genesis Device.

Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, The Search for Spock, is admittedly a bit shaky. While Star Trek movies are famously cheesy, Spock climbs to new heights in cheesiness. The effects are pretty bad, the fight scenes are laughably awkward, and the acting (especially Shatner’s, as always) is amusingly over-the-top. The story, meanwhile, is sometimes rather perplexing (unless, of course, you have a firm grasp on Vulcan traditions and folklore).

Still, if you’re able to embrace some of the film’s inherent ‘80s sci-fi cheesiness, there’s plenty to love about Spock. From the plethora of alien species to the wacky futuristic casual wear, it’s certainly visually entertaining. But it’s the characters (and their unshakable friendships) that make the film worth watching. If you take away the cheesy sets and the bad acting, you’re left with a crew full of likeable characters who will do anything for each other—even if it means putting themselves in danger or risking their careers by breaking Federation rules. Kelley, especially, steals the show, mixing McCoy’s usual hyper-sensitivity with Spock’s cold, calculating logic as he sets out on a mission to help a guy whom he doesn’t particularly like.

Okay…so maybe it’s all just a bit silly, but it’s also an entertaining other-worldly adventure. If you’re new to the series, though, don’t start here; start with Khan. Or, better yet, start with the new Star Trek—because it’ll give you a feel for the characters and their history that will help you boldly go into the rest of the series.

Blu-ray Review:
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is also included in the three-disc Star Trek motion picture trilogy Blu-ray collection (along with Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).

In addition to the set’s standard features—the Library Computer trivia feature and the BD-Live Star Trek I.Q. feature—the Spock disc includes a commentary track with Star Trek series writers Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor, along with numerous extras, which offer more insight into the characters, the filmmaking process, and more. I particularly enjoyed Captain’s Log, a rather lengthy making-of feature that discusses Nimoy’s directorial debut while unintentionally demonstrating Shatner’s massive ego. It’s definitely a must-see.

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