Monday, 20 December 2021

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

A sad, supplementary, sequel to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that picks up in that film's dying moments then immediately sets about undoing its conclusion. In fairness to Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, its predecessor had already worked unusually hard to ensure that viewers were not left feeling that Spock's death was to be a permanent diversion for the series. Not only did Leonard Nimoy's Science Officer put a mysterious mind-zap on an unconscious colleague - key here to the Vulcan's eventual resurrection - but his torpedo chassis-cum-coffin was blasted at the Genesis planet, a cauldron of rebirth born out of an interstellar explosion in a swirling nebula. Search for Spock quickly undermines this potential for an ongoing, artificial, utopia by explaining that one of the project's key scientists, and Kirk's estranged son, cut corners. This attempt to brute force a new beginning has resulted in a planet that has already begun to shake itself apart. 

Although consistent in terms of the endemic arrogance displayed by the Kirk boys, it's a shame there's no attempt to contextualise this fracturing, apparently aggressive, world in terms of Khan's volcanic tempers - Genesis is, after all, a massive rearrangement of the super soldier's genetic material. Either way, this impending cataclysm gives the Enterprise crew a ticking clock; one that forces them to work against orders issued by an unconcerned Starfleet. If the Enterprise crew don't get to Genesis soon, Spock's eternal soul will be lost to the void. Directed by Leonard Nimoy, Search for Spock gets something out of William Shatner that no previous Star Trek feature has managed. His volume is turned right down, to the point where the often truculent actor actually registers as natural, even charming. Although his arc ends up being incurious and underwritten, we are (briefly) allowed to see Kirk experience real pits of despair during this journey. Elsewhere, Nimoy is shaky when it comes to action - the director very clearly having no taste for bloodletting - but happy to turn his frame over to massive, matte painted, vistas that throb with a period allure. 

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