Sunday, March 1, 2015

Paramount's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Be well my friends. You're all we've got left.

Granted, I'm only thirty-eight so I haven't seen as much as some. But this story of friendship and courage, of sacrifice and dedication, or risking it all for one of your nearest and dearest, is one of the most powerful I have ever seen. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is an epic tale. It features the struggles of the Enterprise crew to do what they can for the man who saved all of their lives and  who has seen them through adversity on many other occasions. A man who is, and always will be, their friend. And in typical Star Trek fashion it answers, or at least attempts to answer one of life's great questions: When, and to what extent, do the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. And yes, I reviewed it today because of the death of Leonard Nimoy. I'm a nerd. It's a memorial.

This is perhaps the only time we see the ST:TOS crew together in a continuing story arc. ST III begins with one of the final scenes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The death of Spock is reshown, followed by his funeral and eventual consignment to space, similar to the practice of burial at sea practiced by wet navies for centuries. When the replays end, the plot of the new movie begins and Kirk is informed that he has left something important behind: Spock's soul. What follows is a roller coaster ride.

Kirk and friends sail off into the cosmos, once more on a rescue mission. They once again encounter new lifeforms and old friends. The sacrifices are many: The potential losses include expulsion from Starfleet and/or imprisonment, loss of life and public humiliation. (Spoilers, if you're one of the three people on the planet who haven't seen this yet.) The loss of both Kirk's only son and the Enterprise herself are clearly shown. McCoy risks his own life in order to return Spock's "katra," his soul to his body. There is no sacrifice the crew is not willing to make to save one of their own. And in the end, they do so.

All of that being said, the story is not quite perfect. The action is very tightly plotted and Kirk's actions in defeating a Klingon Bird of Prey and her crew stretch the limits of believability. Given Kirk's history as a character and his relationship with his son it was probably inevitable that he would avoid a complete breakdown upon David's death. The fact remains that both Shatner and the production team could have added something here to make his reaction a bit more realistic. One does not simply shrug off the loss of their own child.

The ending is one of my favorites of all time. The only people who haven't dreamed of being able to see someone they were close to who has passed are people who have never lost anyone. While I certainly envy those people, they're in the minority. It does the heart good to see Spock stand up off of that stone table and walk away. My reaction when Spock stops and recognizes Kirk left me wondering if perhaps the pollen count was a bit higher than I expected even now. I can't help but wonder if maybe, just possibly, this movie and others like it will put the name Roddenberry up among the greats of storytelling. Only time will tell. Bottom line: 4.75 out of 5 phasers.

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