Movie Reviews: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock directed by Spock

In hindsight, the simplest solution to bringing back Spock from the dead was always to give him what he wanted.

To direct his very own movie.

According to many people, Star Trek is afflicted with the “odd movie” curse. The motion picture was a complete bore (besides watching Kirk fly up to the retrofit Enterprise, I can’t watch the movie). Star Trek V was bombastic (giving Shatner the keys to the kingdom only to find out he didn’t have the magic touch). Star Trek Generations was a mess (to be covered in a future blog). Star Trek III was always thrown in as a weak, odd movie, when I believe it is a tremendous film when you break it down.

Nimoy knew heart of Star Trek was the characters and put it all on the line here, before blowing up the Enterprise became a lame trope.

Admiral Kirk, fresh off his encounter with Captain Ahab Khan, reuniting with his ex-flame and his long lost son, and losing his closest friend, Spock, returns the Enterprise to space dock. It sounds a little extreme, but I think the return to space dock sequence is moving on many different levels and can be read numerous different ways. Is Kirk coming home defeated, or is this an allegory for coming home from war? Are all those people standing up to watch the damaged Enterprise in awe of the space fight that must have transpired, or in awe that they know this is Admiral James T. Kirk’s ship and he is a total badass, or know that he just beat Khan, or are they paying final tribute to a final voyage of a ship. We then learn that Spock’s life force has been transfered into McCoy and a choice is made by Kirk.

Kirk is going to steal the Enterprise (before Nicholas Cage started stealing Cars, the Declaration of Independence and the President).

He is going rogue.

The crew makes a choice to commit mutiny and face whatever consequences, in order to search for Spock. Star Trek III is more of a caper than anything else. It is different and real and the emotional impact is there because you have a 25 year relationship built up with the audience. They want Spock back just as much as the crew does.

Then we have one of my favorite scenes in the movie; Mr.Scott sabotaging the Excelsior. I love the interplay between old and new, past and present, a theme heavily covered in Star Trek II. The search and rescue is tremendous, up to the inputing the codes to self destruct the Enterprise. Here, I actually feel something when they destroy it. There is a relationship between a man and his starship. When Star Trek Generations tried the same thing with Riker (a single bird of prey destroying it), it was lame. It didn’t play up to the theme of sacrifice and getting old and risking everything that Star Trek III did. None of the new movies quite live up to the swashbuckling nature of the old series. The movies stand apart from the TV series because the characters make bold choices that they hadn’t made before and are willing to pay the price for what they believe is right. Can you imagine watching this movie back then without knowing what was about to happen next? This is storytelling and imagination without worrying about the box office and action figures and ties ins.

Overall, the movie is a solid follow up to Star Trek II, and is a good middle section of the “great Star Trek trilogy.” It isn’t as good as the Wrath of Khan or the Undiscovered Country, but I could watch this more than any of the Next Generation films and especially INTO DARKNESS … ugh.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10

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Movie Reviews: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

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Star Trek II: The wrath of Khan directed by Nicholas Meyer

If you ask 95% of Star Trek fans what their favorite movie is, they will say Star Trek II. I mean, come on, this is the Star Trek movie everyone compares every new movie to, much like The Empire Strikes Back in the Star Wars universe. Why is the Wrath of Khan a masterpiece? Was it the Shatner and Montalban over-acting? (They never see face each other in the same proximity at any time). Was it the plot holes that fanboys dismiss? (Chekov wasn’t in the Space Seed episode and why is the genesis technology only trusted to a few scientists?) Was it new costumes? (Getting rid of the weird gray uniforms of the Roddenberry disaster of “The Motion Picture” and going all naval-like) Was it the scream heard around the universe? (Khaaaaaaaaaaaaan!)

I think it comes down to one thing: Nicholas Meyer. The production was mired in a movie executive quagmire of idiocy. Roddenberry was retired (thankfully). Harve Bennett came up with a bombastic version of a Khan script involving 12 face-t0-face confrontations between Kirk and Spock mirroring the original series. They also had Spock dying unceremoniously in the first act. It wasn’t until they hired Nicholas Meyer, who wrote a tight script in 12 days for no credit or pay that Star Trek changed forever (well … until Shatner got his turn directing, but that’s another story).

Meyer turned Star Trek to an adventure. Simple as that. We already loved the characters. This was Horatio Hornblower in space. All of the character building and backstory was already given. The Wrath of Khan is a story about revenge, life, sacrifice, and death. Yes, Meyer militarized Star Trek, but what do you expect? The Federation doesn’t arm their starships with photon torpedoes for no reason. Characters die. Villains are angry. People are willing to follow their leader to the very end. This is how the world works.

The film is a masterpiece and holds up to today (far superior to the hot mess/remake called Star Trek into Crapness). The story starts with the Kobayashi Maru scenario and a discussion of growing old, giving a bookend with Spocks death at the end of the film. Captain Kirk is the whale for Khan’s version of Ahab. We watch the longest and greatest space battle in Star Trek film history. The movie is epic and one of my favorite films and is the start of the 2nd greatest sci-fi trilogy of all time. (Star Wars Original Trilogy over Star Trek II, III, IV)

GUEST REVIEW: VLADAMIR KALIVCHOSKY

I do not agree with your insinuation that the great Chekov did not know about Khan. With a  helmsman of his caliber, he would have surely reviewed all the greatest adventures of James T. Kirk and studied them like a hawk. Chekov was what Starfleet called a “fast warper” and had all his boxes checked to command a Constellation Class Starship someday. If it wasn’t for backstabbing Sulu and an obvious quota system, he would have been the first Cosmonaut Russian to command something in space. I only point to the end of this fine movie when after Chekov almost vaporizes them with a phaser because of a space bug in his ear, Kirk trusts him like nothing happened and lets him drive the starship through the nebula. If that doesn’t say trust, I don’t know what is. There ain’t nobody that can go “Z minus 200 degrees” like Chekov. Nobody. 

Movie Rating: 11/10 (Off the damn charts … part of me sheds a tear when Kirk says “human” in his eulogy)

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