Saturday, April 13, 2013
Review: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Yes, the film you are about to watch is not going to be as good as The Wrath of Khan, the ultimate reason being: even though I have been screaming about "Balance of Terror" and when? this and when? that and whinewhinewhine, and then I was given that thing I so desired and expressed my joy at such a thing, the correct way to think is that they should never listen to me (the audience) and just tell me what to fuckin like. The Search for Spock gives the audience everything it ever asks for... and oh god... OH GOD NO MAKE IT STOP.
Okay so okay, outlying warriors from the Klingon Empire, led by Christopher Lloyd as the dopiest Klingon ever, gather some classified material on the Genesis planet. After killing the only other people who know about it, they make a beeline for the planet where Kirk's son and THEY RECAST SAAVIK?! THE FUCK? are busy encountering mysterious thingies. Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew, each member getting a quick needless close up and a pause for cheers, dock at an orbiting hub to butt heads with petty Starfleet personnel and young cadets who are young and brash and don't know nothin from nothin.
After a large amount of time-wasting exposition, a quick scene ripping off Star Wars, and more cutaways to the peripheral characters, we freewheel our way back onto the Enterprise (which can apparently be run by like 4 people without a problem) for a by-the-numbers showdown with the bad guy and the inevitable return of Leonard Nimoy who has now decided that he wants to be involved in the series, thanks, dick. Forget all that shit in the last film about the joy of youth -- it's great to be old! Forget the nonsense about the needs of the many -- Spock is more important and that makes it okay to break protocol!
After the heights it reached in The Wrath of Khan, it's an incredible letdown to be back in television show territory. It's got a similar spirit to The Motion Picture, but way more bland and time-wasty (yes, that's possible). Go ahead and imagine the first reel of the film burned to about twenty minutes in, and imagine the film entirely from the perspective of Saavik and Kirk's son, exploring the Genesis planet and coming across a newly formed Spock, maybe even battling some fringe Klingons who found out about the planet somehow. Now that's good television! But because it's a movie, you resign yourself to certain compromises. The Enterprise Crew has to be involved with the main line of action, however awkwardly, and we have to either utilize the things we establish or end them in this film.
It is here where you can say that at least The Search for Spock takes risks. We deal directly with the Genesis project instead of pretending it never happened a la "City on the Edge of Forever," but only to close the books on it because now it's unstable technology I guess. Kirk's son gets to have a good ol' time in a second movie, but gets fucking iced. The Enterprise gets blown up for real in a Corbomite bluff... er no, the opposite, it's like an Anti-Corbomite Gambit. Anyhow, all these risks seem pointless in the long run. A lot of attrition loss for something that could have been done a whole lot easier. Don't the transporters have a save state for Spock's body? Put Bones into the damn transporter, convince him somehow, I don't care. And what about the Giant Spock on that one planet? Did we forget about that?
And did we even need Spock's return in the first place? I know, I know, he's awesome and stuff, but he died. He's fucking dead. Deal with it. We had that shot of Spock's space coffin on the Genesis planet and that gave us hope and enough closure to move on. We did not need to bring him back in this nonsensical manner. And there was no explanation as to why Spock's new body wasn't unstable like the planet, right? Or why there wasn't some insane version of Khan running around the planet, fused with the fragments of the Reliant? Okay, that would have been awesome. Is it too late to call somebody?
I mean, look, I will say that the setups regarding a rapidly aging Spock, from child to man, are interesting, especially when viewed from the perspective of Saavik. "He was my superior last I knew him and now I'm going to have to fuck him, aren't I?" There are also some fun moments here and there, we get a larger window into Vulcan biology and we nail down Klingon culture. I don't hate the film... just everything that it stands for!