Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (PG)
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Caution: spoilers for this movie and Star Trek II.
This is the third film based on the TV series Star Trek, and the second in a three-movie story arc (though all three films are self-contained stories). It came out in 1984, and I'm sure I saw it at some point in the 80s or 90s. I re-watched it in 2023, as part of my Summer of Star Trek, by which time I didn't remember much about it. I ended up having mixed feelings about it. Some of the dialogue and plot I found a bit cheesy or something, but mostly I liked it. The film was directed by Leonard Nimoy, who is best known for playing Spock, though we don't see him in that role here until the end of the movie, for a reason that I'll explain later.
It takes place shortly after The Wrath of Khan, with the Enterprise returning to Earth. (Along the way, there's a joke about Scotty being a "miracle worker" which I had no memory of from this movie, but it's basically the same idea as an exchange he would later have with Geordi in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I liked it well enough here, but now that I know it wasn't original to that episode, I'm not sure how I feel about it on the show, anymore.) When they get to Earth, the commander of Starfleet, Admiral Morrow, gives shore leave to everyone except Scotty, whom he assigns to work on the new starship Excelsior, which has an experimental transwarp drive. Scotty isn't happy about that, as he would rather oversee repairs to the Enterprise, but Morrow informs them that Enterprise is going to be decommissioned.
Meanwhile, a Klingon commander who is apparently named Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), though I don't think his name was ever spoken in the movie, decides he wants to obtain the Genesis device to use as a weapon. So he goes to the Genesis planet that was created at the end of the previous movie. Already there is the science starship Grissom, whose crew includes Lt. Saavik (now played by Robin Curtis, replacing Kirstie Alley) and Dr. David Marcus. (I'm not sure how long they had been on the Grissom or how they got there before Enterprise even returned to Earth, but I suppose it's not that important. Although in Star Trek fanfic I've been involved in, my primary character, Jax, is descended from David and Saavik, who are not revealed in canon to have had a relationship or any children together. If, theoretically, they did, the conception would have to have taken place sometime between Star Trek II and III. But that's none of your concern, it's not real, anyway.) Um, so, Saavik and David beam down to the planet to investigate a life-form reading, and they discover that Spock, who had died in the previous movie and been shot to the planet's surface in a torpedo tube, has been regenerated by the Genesis effect. He's a young boy now, but he's rapidly aging, as is the planet itself. (The planet is unstable because of a reason I won't reveal, but it's not going to last more than a few days, at most.) When the Klingons arrive at the planet, they destroy the Grissom, despite Kruge just ordering the vessel be disabled. A few Klingons beam to the surface and take David, Saavik, and the young, mindless Spock hostage.
Oh yeah, Spock has no mind because in the previous movie, he had placed his soul, or "katra", into McCoy, who is now behaving strangely because Spock's katra is messing with his own mind. Then Spock's father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), pays a visit to Kirk, thinking Spock would have put his katra into Kirk, but discovers that never happened. However, Kirk realizes Spock put his katra into McCoy, whose behavior has gotten him tossed into a holding cell, pending transfer to a mental facility. McCoy's friends break him out of the cell and steal the Enterprise, whose crew now consists only of Kirk, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and McCoy. The Excelsior tries to pursue them, but Scotty had disabled its transwarp drive. Our heroes head to the Genesis planet to recover Spock's body, and get into a conflict with the Klingons, which results in one character's death, and the destruction of the Enterprise. Kirk and his crew eventually manage to capture the Klingon ship, and go to Vulcan, where a high priestess named T'Lar performs a ceremony to transfer Spock's katra from McCoy to Spock (who is now back to his proper age, played by Nimoy).
And... I'm not sure what else to say about the plot. I've pretty much spoiled the whole thing, already. I did want to mention this movie features the first appearance of Earth's Spacedock, though I tend to think of it as "Starbase 1", which may be what it was called in other, later media, or that may be another space station entirely. Whatever. And I wanted to say that at one point when Spock was lying unconscious, he looked to me like Frankenstein's monster. There may be other tidbits I thought of while watching the movie that I'm forgetting, now. Or not. Anyway, overall it was a decent movie, with a few highpoints (even if some of them were tragic) and some forgettable lowpoints. Mostly it seems to exist as a vehicle to bring Spock back into the franchise after having killed him off (because of Nimoy changing his mind after the second movie). But Kruge is a decent villain in his own right. Nowhere near the level of Khan, of course, but still.
Followed by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home