PG! Glorious PG! The grossest thing in the movie are these microorganisms that grow to insane sizes. They look like maggots the size of snakes and they try to choke out the Klingon commander. The Klingon dog also looks a little gross. But honestly, the movie is pretty chill. They talk about Pon farr, which involves the coming of age of a Vulcan, but that's pretty low key. If you wanted an actual PG action movie in the '80s that was actually PG, look to Star Trek. It's great. I get to watch these at home and if the kids walk in, the kids walk in.
DIRECTOR: Leonard Nimoy
Simon Pegg, before the heavens decided to put him in a movie that disproved the point, said that the only good Star Trek movies were the even numbered entries. There might be a moral tale to be told from the Star Trek franchise that I don't think many studios think about nowadays. There is always the knee jerk reaction to reboot a franchise the second a weaker entry enters the series. I'm not talking about a bad entry. I'm talking about an entry that wasn't as good as the previous movie. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a blessed movie that can't be blamed for destroying a franchise because it landed smack dab in 1984, a time where a weaker entry could still find footing.
I have very few negative things to say about The Search for Spock. It may not appear that way because I tend to get real negative about film the more I write about it, but keep in mind that I kind of like The Search for Spock. It's one of those movies that I'm aware is shameless because it instantly tries to retcon Spock's death. Oh wait, you didn't know that Spock died? I mean, the title of this movie is The Search for Spock. Spock's death is one of the most famous scenes in Star Trek history. I'm not bolding that for you. Instead, I'm going to write all this filler to justify my outrage. Part of me can't get over the fact that Star Trek II killed off perhaps the major character of the franchise only to bring him back in Star Trek III. I'm sure that the folks over at Paramount knew that they couldn't sell Star Trek without Spock. The only thing that really makes me happy that this movie exists is that Leonard Nimoy directed it. The way I understand it, and it has been decades since I read the books about this stuff, is that Leonard Nimoy wanted out of the franchise at the beginning of Star Trek II. He agreed, in his most Harrison Ford attitude, that he would come back if Spock died in Star Trek II. But once he was filming Star Trek II and he knew that Nicholas Meyer had a good head on his shoulders and that test audiences loved it, they refilmed the end to imply that Spock had a chance to come back through Dr. McCoy. Again, it is so odd when narratives only exist because of business decisions. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock kind of cheapens the emotional impact of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I mean, people still love The Wrath of Khan. But we never actually get one of the original series movies without Spock. That's really odd. I'm not saying that Spock shouldn't have come back or even that Star Trek III should completely ignore Spock. But what about the slow roll out that Spock might come back in Star Trek IV? Do some teasing. Lay the groundwork. Have Nimoy appear in III in hidden teases. Maybe I've been corrupted by the Marvel movies, but it is so very odd that it exists.
But Nimoy directing the movie? He went from being completely out and done with Spock to directing a movie that has his character's name in the title. Star Trek III isn't amazing, but it seems like Nimoy is excited to direct it. There's a lot of good that actually happens in this movie to push the franchise forward. I know that this seems small, but the tease of the U.S.S. Excelsior is such a smart move. The Excelsior comes into play in Star Trek VI and I don't know if any of that is intentional here. But the Excelsior plays a part of showing that the old dogs have some new tricks. At the onset of Wrath of Khan and, to some extent, The Motion Picture, the Enterprise is played around with being a ship with gusto. She was refitted with all kinds of bells and whistles and she kind of, if you squint, appears to be the flagship. But then it is put side-by-side with the Excelsior and you forget that she's a training vessel. I teach "Old Ironsides" and I can't help but make the comparison with the poem. It seems unceremonious to have ships like the Excelsior fancying up the galaxy while the Enterprise is meant to be decomissioned and rotting. Honestly, the bad-teacher part of me wants to show my English class The Search for Spock now because it is Holmes's thesis played out in film. SPOILER: Nimoy blows up the Enterprise. (Okay, that might be a fabulous metaphor for how Nimoy felt about Star Trek. If anyone is going to blow that thing up, Nimoy would.) In "Old Ironsides", Holmes laments the decommissioning of the U.S.S. Constitution, a ship that couldn't be sunk. He advocates for putting her out to sea one last time and letting the sea take her violently, fulfilling her fate of being a warship. Kirk and company have to steal her to make it happen. They actively go against orders and betray the Federation to steal the Enterprise and get Spock back. The destruction of the Enterprise is what makes this movie feel worthy. There's something slow and decrepit about how the Enterprise is treated over the three movies. The original crew's movies constantly address their aging. Big surprise, The Simpsons picked up on that. But the Enterprise is a cast member. Being more of a Star Trek guy than a Star Wars guy, I always had more love for the original Enterprise than the Millennium Falcon. Watching the ship blow up is paradoxical for me. Watching her grow old and have big old holes in the side of her hull is depressing. Watching the ship blow up to take out the bad guys, however, is glorious. It also seems to be something major. SPOILER FOR STAR TREK IV: I know that they get a new Constitution (I GET THE CONNECTION!) Class ship named the Enterprise. I know it looks almost exactly the same as the one that blew up. But the actual ship was in pieces on Genesis. Well, it was, before Genesis blew up too. Man, when Kirk wrecks something, he really wrecks it. Kirk and crew standing on the surface of Genesis, watching the wreckage burn up above, is heartbreaking. But it is the moment that the movie needs more than anything else. It makes the movie.
I always thought that another part made up the movie and this watching changed my mind. The crew stealing the Enterprise was always cool to me before. But it also is way too easy. The Federation is wildly incompetent to actually make it work. There's lots of moments that we kind of just have to accept to explain how easy it is to steal a Federation starship. The big one I have that the movie actually points out is Uhura's new position as transporter chief on Starbase Whatever. It's amazing that she requests a completely stupid job transfer, immediately gets it, and does so in a timely manner that allows the Enterprise crew to steal back the Enterprise. In my head, it was Danny Ocean trying to get the Enterprise. It wasn't. They borderline just pointed guns and took it. Scotty managed to get the ship to run on minimal staff. I didn't realize that was really a thing. There are so many things to trip up and a lot of it was explained by Scotty being a miracle worker. Why did I have that moment in my head as being this big elaborate thing? In my head, it involved me shouting "No way!" a lot and trying to wrap my head around things. Nope. They just kind of do it. On a parallel thought, what do you think Christopher Lloyd thinks of Star Trek III. He's the big bad of the movie. He's clearly Christopher Lloyd. Christopher Lloyd: The Klingon. He had to put on annoying makeup everyday, but I don't think he's in the movie that much. He also has to get beat up by Kirk. I feel like Kruge seems to be a big villain. I mean, SPOILER, he kills David (one of the quickest returns to status quo I've seen in a franchise). But he also gets beat up by Kirk. Most of the movie is just Lloyd sitting in a captain's chair barking out orders. The orders aren't even that good. The Enterprise spots a cloaked Bird of Prey, which is pretty impressive. But the only reason that Kruge is able to stop Enterprise is because she is minimally staffed and Scotty hadn't planned on combat. That doesn't really show competence. The killing of David seems like such a moment of housekeeping that it is almost irresponsible that it is in this movie. The second movie introduces a major element to Kirk's story. He was not allowed to raise a child. He finally has this child accept him as his father. He is going to bond with the kid and the kid is unceremoniously killed by a random Klingon who wants a missile? I suppose that's how stupid death really is, but it feels very cheap. David Marcus / Kirk really has no character to explore. We know that he doesn't trust Starfleet in Wrath of Khan because of Kirk, but we never get to know David beyond that point. He continues his study of the Genesis device, but only dies to the fact that he failed in his calculations to create life from nothing. I guess that's double housekeeping because Genesis also doesn't work. It can't show up as a device (pun intended) if Starfleet scraps it for not working. Also, where is Carol? How does she feel about David's death? There's all these questions.
Young Spock is fun. Saavik constantly changing roles is confusing to me, but for a movie called The Search for Spock, I thought that we'd get far more insight into Spock's origins. Really, the most interesting stuff with Spock is the stuff that DeForest Kelly brings to the character. That might be the most satisfying element of The Search for Spock. For decades, these characters have gotten on each others' nerves and this movie explores the understanding that McCoy finally gets by carrying Spock's soul. It doesn't undo their fighting, but shows how valuable their friendship was to one another. Oddly, as much as this is a search for Spock, it is also a mission to save Doctor McCoy. I still completely miss the entire cast getting movies to play. This is not the ensemble movie really. We have this moment at the end of Search for Spock where they all simultaneously reach to say hi to Spock. That might be a metaphor for the experience for the cast in general. They all kind of just wait around for the big name to have yet another big scene and then they get to congratulate him on it. I really feel bad for Nichelle Nichols. She's hanging out on Vulcan. I dare you to tell me how she escaped the starbase after the Enterprise escapes. They didn't beam her anywhere. I don't know why they didn't, but they all said that they would meet up at the appointed destination. The second Enterprise left those starbase doors and Excelsior shut down, she should have been the first one investigated. I'm just saying. But in terms of serving the big three of the original series, this movie does it in spades. I love that McCoy finally gets a story. The other movies are really just the Kirk and Spock movies. But McCoy is always present. Giving him a real plot connecting him to Spock is a great choice and I still miss DeForest Kelly.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a better movie than people give it credit for. If it wasn't constantly trying to backpedal for what happened in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it would be considered a much better entry in the franchise. And thank God that reboots weren't a thing because then we wouldn't get Space Splash with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.