Final Frontier Fortnight: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) Review

In 1980, George Lucas brought Star Wars second installment, The Empire Strikes Back, to the big screen. It was a darker, more somber and much better movie than it’s predecessor. He then followed this movie up in 1983 with a lighter, “funnier” and “fluffier” movie in Return of the Jedi, seen by many as a lesser sequel. Knowing this, it is very easy to see the template that the creative minds behind both the second and third movie in the Star Trek series were following.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan was a darker, more somber affair which finished with the death of a notable and popular character. You would be forgiven for believing this could spell the end of the movie franchise but what actually occurred was the foundations being laid for the third installment and in quite a cheap and inexplicable way, the bringing back of that dead character.

This movie undoes the work of the previous film

So The Search for Spock is a movie which does exactly what it says in the title and manages to undo all the good work and ground-breaking story-telling the previous movie accomplished. The plot of this movie is shallow and too easily resolved. All the crew need to do is get to the location of the previous movie and “rescue” Spock.

The shallow and weak nature of the story means that the writers have to create forced drama but nothing which particularly inspires. A plot about disobeying Starfleet and stealing the Enterprise leads nowhere, the fate of two principle characters, one of which is Kirk’s son, doesn’t resonate, mainly because William Shatner’s acting is as poor as ever and to round it off, there is the addition of a villain.

Christopher Lloyd doesn’t make for a convincing villain

The villain also feels as “bolted-on” as the rest of the plot developments. Christopher Lloyd, Doc Brown of Back to the Future, plays a rogue Klingon who wants to recreate the plan of the previous movie’s much superior villain. What could be imposing and threatening comes off as goofy, mainly because Lloyd is so miscast and is known more for his lighthearted roles rather than serious, dramatic ones.

There is some saving grace to the events of The Search of Spock. For starters, this movie goes for another bold move and actually destroys another key character – The Enterprise itself! Such a big move would become common-place in later movies but here it still feels shocking and quite a bold move. The film also brings back Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, which for all the positives of killing the character, is still iconic enough to want to keep around.

It is good to have Nimoy back though

It isn’t enough to make this movie worthy of it’s predecessor though. What Wrath of Khan managed to set-up so successfully is eventually completely undone, rendering the darker and more somber (and successful) movie irrelevant.

Overall, Star Trek: The Search for Spock is a huge dip in form compared to the second movie in the series. It has a flimsy plot, poor story-lines and a villain which is more cartoon than menacing. Although some more bold decisions are made, the movie undoes the best decisions the Wrath of Khan made and ultimately renders that film irrelevant.

Rating – 3

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

A disappointing entry after the successful second movie



3 thoughts on “Final Frontier Fortnight: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) Review

  1. Before i was able to watch these movies on VHS here in Brazil, i knew of their existance due to the MAD magazine parodies.
    “Back to the Future” “Rocky IV” “Alien” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” were my favourite parodies. and then i had the “Star Trek III” parody which was my “first contact” with that series. The parody was so affectionate, so respectful and moderate that i knew it was something the artists loved very much.

    So, MAD magazine sort of made me look forward to watch this series.

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