Carrying on with my non-Trekkie viewing of Star Trek films – The Search For Spock!
When we last left our heroes, Spock was dead and I was very upset. Of course we knew that not even crossing to the other life can keep a Vulcan down. With that little teaser of Spock’s coffin landing on the Genesis planet, there was no doubt that he’d come back.
The Search For Spock picks up right where The Wrath of Khan left off. The Enterprise crew return home to get their ship repaired, only to discover that the Enterprise is going to be put out to pasture. It’s a metaphor for the crew, you guys! Then McCoy finds himself with a dual personality. Spock has apparently put his soul into McCoy’s body – nice one, Spock – so that he can have last rites back on Vulcan. The crew figures that they’ve got to give old Spock final peace, and liberate McCoy from the whole ‘having your friend inhabit your body’ thing.
Meanwhile, the Genesis planet is getting all kinds of weird. The whole planet ages and evolves at an alarming rate, producing some pretty fucked up lifeforms. What’s more, a bunch of pissed off Klingons led by Christopher Lloyd have decided that the very existence of Genesis is an act of war. They want the secret for their very own. Predictably, they’re going to have to fight the Enterprise crew to get it.
The Search For Spock has the feel of a middle film, because that’s exactly what it is. This is the development stage of the arc, between Spock’s death in Wrath of Khan and his re-learning cycle in The Voyage Home. For that, it’s a perfectly enjoyable film, though not a the same level cinematically as Wrath of Khan.
There are some lovely, amusing moments between the Enterprise crew as they make plans to steal their own ship and return to Genesis to find Spock’s body. The reasoning behind this seems a little muddled – if any Trekkies can explain to me why they need Spock’s body, and at what point they realize that they could actually put his soul back into his body, I would be very grateful. But it does give DeForrest Kelly an opportunity to do a quality imitation of Leonard Nimoy. We also learn about the Vulcan aging process, as dead Spock regenerates into a new baby Spock who grows up very quickly. Puberty is very tough on Vulcans.
The biggest problem with the film is the whole Klingon subplot. It would have been fine, even necessary, adding action to what is basically a quest narrative. But why did we need whole swathes of dialogue in Klingon? The version I watched didn’t have subtitles, so there I was, listening to Christopher Lloyd garble on, without the slightest idea of what the hell he was talking about.
The final fight between Kirk and Kruge (Lloyd) seems a wee bit tacked on, as though we really just needed a scene with Shatner getting down and dirty. For awhile the search for Spock takes a backseat to Kirk’s anger at the death of his son, who very stupidly and bravely sacrifices his life for new Spock’s.
In the end, The Search For Spock is a mostly satisfying effort. While it does not stand up to the calibre of Wrath of Khan, or the humor of The Voyage Home, it’s fun and, particularly at the end, moving. Do they find Spock? Does he come back? C’mon. What do you think?