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Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1984)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:05 am    Post subject: Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1984) Reply with quote






The 3rd Star Trek film was the logical, well-paced and predictable follow-up to Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan. Only, there were obvious, immediate drawbacks that unavoidably prevented it from matching the quality entertainment value of Star Trek II. If you haven’t seen this, be aware there may be some SPOILERS coming up.

_______ _______

DRAWBACK #1: There was no Khan here. Instead, we meet a nasty Klingon named Kruge.

DRAWBACK #2: There was almost no Spock; he was, uh, missing in action for most of the film.

DRAWBACK #3: There was no Saavik, as we’d known her in Star Trek II. Actress Kirstie Alley did not return in the role, for reasons I forget, and was replaced by actress Robin Curtis. Curtis utters her lines in that unemotional tone indicating she follows the Vulcan way, but the delivery comes across as very flat and robotic, with no undertone to suggest suppressed passions. In her first scene, she calls David (Kirk's son) "so human," but it comes across as a meaningless statement. Is she insulting him? Humoring him? Praising him? It feels like none of those, like nothing. She is the weakest character in the story, which continues directly from the end of The Wrath of Khan.

DRAWBACK #4: And, finally, this was the middle film in the informal trilogy of Star Trek II, Star Trek III and Star Trek IV. As it goes with most middle films in trilogies, there’s no real beginning — the film starts in the middle of a story — and no real ending; there were unresolved issues at the conclusion which would be addressed in Star Trek IV.

Still, this was probably the best odd-numbered Trek film (the 1st, 5th, 7th and 9th films all had serious drawbacks, to varying degrees).

In the plot, Kirk and his small crew head back to Earth in a scarred, damaged Enterprise and everyone aboard is understandably depressed. McCoy does them one better; he behaves as if possessed.

By what? A Vulcan spirit?

Upon their arrival home, the ship is promptly decommissioned. An admiral here states that the Enterprise is 20 years old. He must mean 20 years since the 1st big refit, when Kirk first began commanding her. She's 40 years old if you count the missions of Captain Pike and Captain April.

Everything appears to grind to a halt. There's a nice scene of the surviving crew socializing in Kirk's apartment when who should show up but Spock's father, Sarek (actor Lenard reprising his role from the original series). Kirk now has his new mission and it's a doozy — it's basically the Mission: Impossible-style entry of the Trek films. You know Kirk will succeed eventually, but getting there is most of the fun.

A lot of the plot involves the bureaucracy of Starfleet and the current climate of 23rd century Earth. We don't see too much — an amusing scene with McCoy in a weird bar, for example. There's also the amusing sequence with the new starship, the Excelsior, and its smug captain (played by Sikking).

All these, however, stray from the premise of the original series, where it was understood humanity had evolved over the past couple of centuries. All the characters here behave in much the same way as we would expect 20th-century people to behave. The story concentrates a lot on intrigue and machinations, as if we’re seeing an underbelly to the 23rd century Federation which has not been revealed before. It resorts to the visuals of odd aliens or strange locales to elicit a reaction from viewers, not the overall idea of a futuristic society.

This film also returns the brutish Klingons to the forefront as Trek's most nasty adversaries. They last made a brief appearance in the first Trek film and were best known as the bad guys of TOS up to this point. This film was 3 years before TNG would begin to show the Klingons in a more sympathetic light.

I think the filmmakers went a bit overboard in depicting the Klingon bridge as the polar opposite to the typical Starfleet bridge. Kruge's pet (a dog turned inside-out it seems) and Kruge's penchant for vaporizing officers who say the wrong thing plunges this into dark satire.

The Klingons get as far as they do in this story based on dumb luck and it's only when they deal a fatal blow to Kirk's family that they're elevated to 'villains we love to hate,' and turns this into a fitting precursor to the 6th Trek film, where Kirk's antagonism towards Klingons gets the most play.

We also have a yin-and-yang theme at play here. Kirk will succeed in his quest to find Spock and aid the suffering McCoy (excellent performance from Kelley, as usual), but only if he loses a couple of other things precious to him.

The Genesis Planet is remarkable in some ways (though it sometimes has a 'studio set' feel), a continuation of its creation in Star Trek II, but David used unethical shortcuts to get the job done and so must pay a price for his transgressions.

It's a tough, morally unyielding Trek universe we seem to have here when, despite epic struggles, one barely breaks even. The limitations of series/sequel films such as this (as opposed to on-going TV series) are delineated by the unceremonious sudden discard of concepts, such as the planet and characters such as David. Why introduce such in one film only to dispose of same in the next?

Even more, there was this tendency here for shock effect — to try and draw in audiences with clumsy revelatory scenes or mass destruction, projecting the less-subtle facets of most action films in the later eighties, the nineties and so on.

Rather than the majesty of the also action-filled Wrath of Khan, this one is just violence and crude exposition. Even so, Nimoy's directing debut wasn't too bad, and he expanded the roles for the other regulars to good effect — Scotty, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov all got to shine in at least one scene, unlike the previous 2 Trek films, better demonstrating that this was, in fact, a team of heroes. This positive was probably a benefit of Nimoy being a fellow actor and personal acquaintance of the regulars.

Anyway, Nimoy fared even better with the next one, the 4th film, The Voyage Home (1986).

We all knew he'd be back, didn't we? There was a saying passed around back then in the media, along the lines of "in science fiction, no one ever really dies or stays dead."

This just shows how little those in the media understand science fiction. Of course, this lack of understanding applies to the general populace and also explains why actual science fiction has been devolved in popular culture over the past few decades, including in Star Trek.

BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

Galaxy Overlord Galactus

Last edited by Bogmeister on Sun May 19, 2019 12:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good review. Not the strongest ST film with the original crew but certainly light years better than ST:The Final Frontier.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


IMDB has several interesting trivia items for this production. Very Happy

~ When negotiating Kirstie Alley's contract for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Paramount Studios did not offer or include any options or clauses regarding any possible sequels. According to director Leonard Nimoy, this left Alley open to negotiate a new contract for this film, resulting in Alley's excessive salary demands, which led to her being dropped and replaced by Robin Curtis.

Note from me: Although she's a competent actress, Kirstie is not exactly Sarah Bernhardt, and her performance as Saavik, a Vulcan, was a bit beyond her ability. Sadly, Robin Curtis was no better. Just cheaper to hire . . .

~ Production was endangered by the great fire at Paramount Studios. William Shatner helped fight the fire and rescue a crew member before firefighter reinforcements arrived.

Shatner said that his motivation for doing so was purely to save a day on the shooting schedule, as he had to make a deadline to be available for shooting on a new season of T.J. Hooker (1982).

Note from me: Anybody who would help fight a fire is exhibiting bravery, even if they later claim it was done for reasons which benefited them. Cool

~ The film's villains were originally intended to be Romulans, but upper studio management wanted Klingons to be used, since they were better-known enemies.

By the time the decision was made, the Romulan warship was already built, and they did not want the expense of replacing it. However, since Star Trek (1966) had already established that the Klingons and Romulans had shared technologies and ships in the past (for exactly the same real-world cost-cutting reasons), the idea of Klingons using a Romulan-style vessel was not a problem.

Note from me: Correct me if I'm wrong, but do we ever get to see the original Klingon ships in the other TOS-cast movies, other than in ST: TMP? If not, that seems strange. Weren't the three Klngon ships in ST: TMP actual models — and wonderfully detailed models, too!

So, were they destroyed after the movie was made? Sad

~ Nicholas Meyer, director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), was originally asked to direct, but refused because he thought that Spock's death should have remained final. He directed the final film of the original series, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Note from me: I'd like to think that Meyer would have approved of the idea I came up with after I saw the movie and disliked it so much I wanted to "fix it". Briefly, my version goes like this.

Spock's body was revived by the Genesis Effect, similar to what happened in the movie, but not as a child. However, despite having all his memories intact, his mind no long has the Vulcan training needed control his emotions.

For this reason, we see the kind of Vulcan which existed thousands of years ago — the savage and undisciplined beings before the Vulcan race used logic to keep from destroying themselves.

But this also means that Spock is prone to show all the other emotions his ancestors experienced — including humor, pride, eroticism, and selfishness!

And so, Kirk and company must deal with a highly intelligent (but wildly unpredictable) version of Spock who is the polar opposite of the person they've known for years. All this is happening while they're attempting to elude the Klingons and return Spock to Vulcan for the mind meld which will restore his full Vulcan discipline.

~ To keep the secrecy, the name "Spock" was never used in the movie script, but instead the alias "Nacluv" - "Vulcan" spelled backwards — was used.

Note from me: Hey, that's revelc! (A Vulcan word . . . Wink)

~ Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), Captain Kirk's yeoman in season one of Star Trek (1966) and returned as transporter chief in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), makes a cameo appearance during the Enterprise's docking sequence. She is the red haired officer in the spacedock lounge who shakes her head in disapproval as she sees the ship's damage.

Note from me: I watched the clip of that scene on YouTube and noticed Miss Whitney. By gum, she looks SO much better with that lovely red hair than she did in the silly "bee hive" wig she had to wear in TOS.

Every time I see it I feel sorry for all those poor homeless bees! Confused

Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)

Last edited by Bud Brewster on Mon Mar 07, 2022 2:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2022 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the Nitpicker's Guide:

Amazingly, Kirk gets commended for his actions in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Does no one care that Kirk should have raised the Enterprise's shields against the Reliant and that doing so would have kept Khan from gaining an early advantage?

Starfleet Command certainly displays its Earthcentric attitudes in this movie.

Kirk wants a ship to retrieve Spock's body and take it to Vulcan, and the only excuse the commander can come up with is, "Well, I never understood Vulcan mysticism."

Vulcan is supposedly a founding member of the Federation of Planets. Spock comes from an extremely well-respected family. He served in Starfleet honorably for decades, and Starfleet can't let Kirk retrieve his body?

How come Saavik never told Kirk about this katra business? Did she assume that because Spock died behind the protective glass in Engineering, that the transfer to McCoy never took place?

Sidebar: I was happy to see Leonard Nimoy return as Mr. Spock, but on the other hand, I kinda wish they had left Spock deceased.

His passing made Wrath of Khan very powerful & emotional.

By bringing him miraculously back to life, the film gave into the cliche so prevalent within the science fiction genre that you don't have to worry because we can bring back anyone from death. It greatly reduces the stakes and gravitas if SF can continually pull this rabbit out of a hat. And they do it often, be it in literature, films, TV, and comics.

And I never was thrilled by that whole katra concept to begin with.
Hey, all I have to do is place all my memories & persona inside another being's mind and poof, I'm reborn.

Oh, and the entire process only takes seconds with no apparent preparation that we know of.

Id this SF or the Magic Land of Alakazam?

The creators evidently believe that momentum will be extinct in the twenty-third century. When the Excelsior loses forward thrust, it coasts to a stop!

Sidebar: Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again. SF films and TV shows have NEVER let real science get in the way of telling a story. Even when scientific consultants could propose a way to have the science accurate and still not lose the drama of the moment.

After conning Kruge's men into coming over to the Enterprise just before it blows up, Kirk and company beam down to the surface of the Genesis planet.

Wouldn't it be better to beam over to the nearly empty bird of prey and commandeer the ship from Kruge?

Sidebar: Maybe, maybe not. Kruge could anticipate such a tactic and have booby-traps for any unwelcome visitors. Even a lone Klingon could be a handful to deal with in a confrontation.

Kruge could also set it up in case of an invasion that his vessel will self-destruct just like the Enterprise did.

Also, once his men had beamed over to the Enterprise, Kruge would raise his shields on his ship, thus preventing any transporter beam to get through.

Also, in "The Day of the Dove" episode of ST:TOS, we saw Kirk have Scotty beam up a bunch of Klingons to the Enterprise, along with Kirk and his landing party.

Scotty then materialized only the landing party, while he kept the Klingons in the transporter buffer until Kirk summoned security with phasers to be in the transporter room when the Klingons were finally materialized.

Shouldn't Kruge wonder if such a tactic could be used on his men as they beam over to the Enterprise?

Not to give Kruge too much credit here, but he is a warrior and would be trained to think tactically in these situations.

However, I did wonder why Kruge's star ship was unable to scan the Enterprise and see that it was building up to a total explosion? Perhaps the Enterprise's shields prevented it?

At the end of the movie, Sarek wonders at the great cost of bringing Spock back to Vulcan. Specifically he mentions the death of Kirk's son, David.

David didn't die because Kirk wanted to bring back Spock to Vulcan. David probably would have died at the hands of Kruge no matter what happened.

The Klingon captain claims he wants prisoners when his vessel first approaches the Grissom, but Kirk said that Klingons don't take prisoners in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

Sidebar: True. We've seen this don't take prisoners dogma applied to Romulans as well, and then flaunted because the story demands it.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2022 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Mike, you've carefully described many of the reasons why I feel that this sad excuse for a movie should be tossed in the trash and forgotten forever. Rolling Eyes

The "old ASF" had long post by me that described a much better story than this said excuse for Star Trek cinema did. But I won't bother describing it from memory, here.

You'll just have to trust me when I say that my version would have thrilled Trekkers . . . instead of insulting them. Sad

Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)

Last edited by Bud Brewster on Tue Jun 14, 2022 10:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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Starship Pilot

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2022 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but do we ever get to see the original Klingon ships in the other TOS-cast movies, other than in ST: TMP? If not, that seems strange. Weren't the three Klingon ships in ST: TMP actual models — and wonderfully detailed models, too!

So, were they destroyed after the movie was made? Sad

There was actually only one model, multiplied via optical printer. It was displayed at the Smithsonian in the 1990s, but I don't know its current whereabouts.
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