Palmer’s Trek, the unwatched frontier. These are the voyages of Agent Palmer. On his continuing mission: to explore Star Trek. To seek out its numerous series and movies. To boldly go where many fans have gone before!
A direct sequel to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is, as I write this, my favorite of the films in this franchise because, even more than its direct predecessor, this is an even more of a direct return to the Original Series.
It’s a bit shorter than the previous two films, but it never lags for a moment. It has an element of the unknown and the essence of time is ever present. The villains are good, and our fearless leader Admiral Kirk needs to use his brain and brawn to survive.
The premise is that a rogue Klingon crew headed by Kruge, the magnificent Christopher Lloyd, are after the Genesis Device and its planet from the previous film, not as a way to create life but as a destructive weapon.
Meanwhile, Kirk, still reeling from the loss of Spock, is about to have something else to mourn, the decommissioning of the Enterprise. While discussing it with fellow member of the brass, Admiral Morrow, we get some great insight into the rest of the film.
Kirk is asking Morrow to give him a ship and access to the now quarantined planet Genesis to go after Spock’s body. Morrow responds with, “Out of the question, my friend! The Council has ordered that no one but the science team goes to Genesis! Jim, your life and your career stand for rationality, not intellectual chaos. Keep up this emotional behavior and you’ll lose everything. You’ll destroy yourself! Do you understand me, Jim?”
While Kirk responds with, “I had to try,” he’s got that look in his eye like something more is afoot, and of course it is. This is what I’m here for and why I love this film. Kirk, along with a crew of McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov, and Lt. Uhura’s help, take back the Enterprise and head off to Genesis.
There are two things of importance here. First, they take off, basically in their civilian clothes, which is why for a good portion of the rest of this film, Kirk looks like the Fonz, popped collar and all, and just as if not more important, is the stealing of their own ship.
This concept is getting back to the swashbuckling Captain Kirk of the original series, where he would do what needed to be done, often in spite of Starfleet regulations. This is precisely why this movie is my favorite so far, and there are other things.
I believe that the hand-to-hand fight between Kruge and Kirk is a better fight sequence than Kirk vs the Gorn. I believe that Robyn Curtis portrays a better Lt. Saavik than Kirstie Alley did in the previous film. But let’s talk about the opening credits for a moment here. On one hand I believe that the opening credits help me out because it notifies me that there is a new actor portraying Lt. Saavik, however, on the other hand spoiled the return of Spock’s father because I saw Mark Lenard’s name who plays Sarek. So I wasn’t really surprised, perhaps I wasn’t supposed to be, when Sarek appears at Kirk’s door. You take the good with the bad.
Like many fans of the original series, the fact that Spock chooses to mind meld with McCoy is pure perfection. “That green-blooded son of a bitch! It’s his revenge for all the arguments he lost.” Perhaps, but it’s also a sign that Spock and McCoy’s relationship also grew over time like Spock and Kirk’s. Perhaps, like a volcano, it was just bubbling there under the surface with a thick mantle of respect dotted with mountains of animosity.
The language game has been magnified as well, with a central plot point being Captain Kirk’s use of the Klingon language. How much he really grasps is, well, not determined in this film, but he knows enough.
Now, I don’t know how much of my love for this film is because it’s directed by Leonard Nimoy, who was an integral part of not just the franchise but the original series that I first fell in love with, but it can’t be just a coincidence that this film returns to that original form more than either of the previous two. And yes this is a reiteration, but it’s important, because that’s why this is my favorite film in the franchise so far!
This film has all of the emotion and adventure of the classic television series. The only difference is that it’s on a larger scale and there is one very instrumental piece of the franchise that is missing as the movie comes to it’s close with …AND THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES…
I am aware the adventure continues, but I wonder on what ship, since we saw the entire destruction of the Enterprise in a BIG BADA BOOM fireball. That ship has been as much a character as any named crew member. It’s a ship that is integral to the entire franchise up to this point as it is not only Captain Kirk’s ship, it was Captain Pike’s ship, and it’s really the only ship in the fleet that matters…
And that destruction did come as a shock. Throughout the franchise thus far, fans have seen the self-destruct sequence initiated a few times before, but never did it actually end with explosive results. It’s usually just a bluff, and until the final actual explosion, it’s what I thought would happen again.
The adventure continuing without it seems illogical, and yet the adventure will continue. I don’t know if it’ll be a retcon or an Enterprise II, but I look forward to what the next film has in store as, so far, they keep getting better and better.