Friday, January 29, 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016
They say there's a bit of a myth/curse when it comes to Star Trek movies. You've likely heard it by now, it's that the odd numbered movies are bad, and that the even numbered movies are good. And in some cases, it's strangely accurate, but in some cases, I think it's a silly idea. And this movie is exhibit A when it comes to that, because frankly, I think this movie is just as strong as its predecessor. Now granted, those are some big words for a movie coming off the heels of Wrath of Kahn, but in many instances, there are moments in this movie that impressed me in ways that Wrath of Kahn didn't as much. Now that's not to say it's better, because there are a few things in this film I do rub my head at, but to call it a bad film is highly inaccurate.
The Search for Spock takes place immediately following the events of Wrath of Kahn, and that's a trend that no other Trek film (except for the film following this one) does. This is the second film of a designated "trilogy", and it takes on the torch as we see a battle-beaten USS Enterprise, limping towards Starfleet, scheduled to be decommissioned. We also get an introduction to one of my personal favorite ships of Starfleet, the ship dubbed the "Great Experiment", USS Excelsior, which to date remains one of my favorite ideas and designs for any Star Trek ship. The Excelsior's color, smooth design, and even sounds at first are just beautiful to witness, though I will say that in this movie, the bridge is a little ugly. But thankfully, that's fixed in Star Trek VI (but we'll get to that soon enough). It also gets a bit of a laugh in the film when Montgomery Scott sabotages it's awesome transwarp technology, and it sputters out literally in space...and it sounds like a cartoon car dying. Oh the indignity... And the inner nerd still rages about how Starfleet immediately ditched Transwarp after this movie, but that's a rant for another day.
We get a little flashback to Star Trek II, specifically when Spock decides to sacrifice himself to fix the Warp Core of the Enterprise, and we see that he's put his essence into the mind of Dr. McCoy. And this might be the biggest thing I scratch my head at. The idea of putting an essence into someone? I've seen this done in so many ways now, that I really don't know if there is a good way of doing it or not. I didn't like it in Chappie when it literally erased any death of the main characters, I didn't care for it in Transcendence when it actually led me on an interesting trip of wondering if the main character in the computer was indeed the main character, or a rogue machine, only to pull one of the stupidest endings I've ever seen at me, and here, where machines aren't even a part of the equation, I'm still unsure about it. Now it's not NEARLY a plot device as the other two films I just mentioned, and the idea of Spock's soul trapped in the mind of Dr. McCoy is actually very intriguing. But I would have liked it more if it actually hindered McCoy more. Instead, they give him some drugs and it's pretty much rendered quiet for the rest of the film. I would have liked this idea explored more. How was Spock able to put his essence into McCoy by a simple mind-meld? We're there any other symptoms that McCoy perhaps had to deal with from such a burden? Just simple questions like this to give us a better idea of how the overall idea works. But it's just kinda glossed over for much of the film. That is the film's biggest fault in my book. While Spock's return to the franchise is a welcome one to me, as he is my favorite character in Trek, it just seemed a little too convienient to bring him back in the way presented.
But enough about that, let's talk about the good. The villain. Christopher Lloyd, before he was known as Dr. Emmett Brown, plays a Klingon Commander named Kruge, and he is just so much fun on screen. Now granted, he's not as strong a villain as Kahn, but in my opinion, he doesn't need to be. He's one of my favorite villains of the franchise. He effectively left the Enterprise dead in the water, he has his minions kill Kirk's son in an actually very emotional scene (and again, Shatner pulls a decent emotional breakdown when that happens, which kinda makes up for his dry response of the fact he even had a son to begin with in the previous film), and he's just...such a fun Klingon. Whether his persistent headstrong personality is getting in the way of finding out the secret of the Genesis planet, or having a fun fistfight with Kirk, Christopher Lloyd had a lot of fun in this role, and you can tell by his performance. He is a born Klingon.
And speaking of the Enterprise...it has the strongest scene in the movie. I remember the first episode I saw in which Kirk activated the auto-destruct sequence of the Enterprise. "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" was a very strong episode, and for it to come in the absolutely ATROCIOUS season 3 of Star Trek (and no, this episode does not redeem that season), I will say surprised me. And it introduced the concept of the auto-destruct sequence. The thing is, much like the first motion picture, the auto destruct was paced...very slow. So the tension really wasn't there for me. Here, they capture that needed tension in the short time needed, and I gotta say that though it's a very strong scene, it does get a bit of a laugh when the Klingons board and have no idea what's going on despite an audio countdown. But seeing the Enterprise, the ship we grew to love, a ship that is by all means the poster ship of science fiction, a ship that is in many ways untouchable in the levels of cool in Starship's in general, going up in flames, seeing that registry number disintegrating in flame on screen really hits home. You fans out there may know that the Constitution Class Enterprise isn't exactly a ship I worship, but any incarnation of the Enterprise is cool in my book. And seeing it erupt into flames like that when it was set to be decommissioned was just...strangely touching.
There are a few other scenes I kinda question, from Spock aging rapidly from infancy to a possible theory my father brought up of the possibility of Saavik getting pregnant after sating Spock's Pon Farr, but overall there's not enough bad about this film to negate any enjoyability in watching it. Sure it does some things better than other things but overall, it's a good follow up. Again, I just don't think many people look at it as strongly, mainly because it may have needed a villain as strong as Kahn or a more emotional ending, which this one didn't really have. But for what it was, I don't let anyone talk bad about it, because it needs to be said that...well in Star Trek fashion, the points of the good...outweigh the points of the bad....or something. I tried.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock earns three stars out of four from me. A great follow up to Kahn, and just an overall great movie. As the first movie to be directed from Spock in the franchise, it really was a fun movie. Yeah there are a few things that are silly or just don't fit, but again, those small things don't do anything to the good of this film. But you don't have to take my word for it. Give it a watch after watching Wrath of Kahn. You won't be disappointed.
Please feel free to share your opinions on the film down below. Leave a comment for any film you'd wish me to review. See you next time as my Voyage through Trek filmdom continues in Star Trek IV, and as always, thanks for reading.
Final Verdict: 3/4