The Franchise Files – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Spock is dead. Or is he?

At the end of The Wrath of Khan, it had appeared that Spock (Leonard Nimoy) had made the ultimate sacrifice. To save his crew, the Vulcan looked death right in the eye and accepted it in order to allow his crew to defeat Khan. After giving their last respects and sending the highly-regarded Science Officer into the depths of space (sort of like a burial at sea for spacemen), the Enterprise makes their way back to Earth.

The tone is somber and full of regret, as Kirk has just recently lost his best friend. Things take a turn for the strange when resident doctor of the ship, McCoy (DeForest Kelley) starts behaving as if he is Spock – and that’s not all. While observing the Genesis planet from the USS Grissom, Kirk’s son, David (Merritt Butrick), finds a report of a lifeform on the planet. And it’s coming from Spock’s metal tomb.

This sets the stage for a perfect companion film to The Wrath of Khan. The Search for Spock in no way feels like a forced sequel. While the idea of bringing characters back to life generally screams “cash cow,” the story here is much more compelling that one might imagine.

You see, Spock being resurrected makes perfect sense on Genesis. The planet itself can create matter out of nothing; therefore, it’s entirely reasonable that a dead body left on the planet would be subject to regeneration. Genesis creates life. If it can create life out of nothing, then surely it can create life out of something that was.

Spock does not just spring out of his grave dancing and singing Vulcan songs, either. He reappears as but a child; a shell of what he once was. Having anticipated this, the ever-logical officer performed a mind meld with McCoy before facing his death, fusing the doctor with his Katra, or essence. The rapid acceleration of life that is present on Genesis causes Spock to age at an astonishing rate, but without his Katra, Spock could never be whole again.

Though much of this story focuses on resurrection it is equally about death. There’s a lot of grieving going on in this story, and towards the end, Kirk must grieve even more. It’s not exactly a joyous affair through and through.

While many claim Khan to be superior, I adore the third film in the Star Trek series. I love how the characters must feel real, considerable pain; I love seeing the way in which the crew of The Enterprise comes together on a journey based on friendship, breaking laws and defying orders for the possibility of saving a character who is essential to the crew. The direction, courtesy of Nimoy himself, is excellent. Watching DeForest Kelley act in Spock’s mannerisms make for a sometimes hilarious but always amusing film. The humor is in stark contrast to the dire circumstances in which Kirk faces, and it makes for an excellent release of tension.

The special effects are great as well, and though it’s no Star Wars, that’s perfectly fine. Star Trek has always had its own unique look, and this film feels like a much longer and much more emotional episode of the series. One that is justified, this time. There are beautiful set designs, and the painted backgrounds give the film a familiar feel, especially during the sequences on the Genesis planet.



One thing, though – not to fault the film on this, because it’s no one’s fault, but seeing Christopher Lloyd as the head Klingon was an extremely amusing surprise. It’s hard to take him seriously because you can’t stop thinking Back to the Future the first time you watch The Search for Spock. Though I’m used to it now, the first time had be almost rolling on the floor whenever he opened his mouth. When all is said and done, he actually makes a great Klingon. Who would have thought?

Against a budget of $16 million, the film grossed $87 million. So, yeah, you can bet your ass there would be a sequel. What’s even better is that, due to the critical success as well, Nimoy, who did an exceptional job, would be tasked with directing the next film in the series. But will he have as much success directing the follow up?

You’ll have to find out in the next installment, when he look back on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Stay tuned to The Geeked Gods. Live Long and Prosper.

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  • The Franchise Files – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – The Geeked Gods
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