Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a 1984 American science fiction film, written by Harve Bennett, directed by Leonard Nimoy, and based on the television series Star Trek.
It is the third film in the Star Trek film series, and is the second part of a three-film story arc that begins with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and concludes with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).
After the death of Spock (Nimoy), the crew of the USS Enterprise returns to Earth. When James T. Kirk (William Shatner) learns that Spock’s spirit, or katra, is held in the mind of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Kirk and company steal the Enterprise to return Spock’s body to his homeworld.
The crew must also contend with hostile Klingons led by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) who are bent on stealing the secrets of a powerful terraforming device.
The Federation starship Enterprise returns to Earth following a battle with the superhuman Khan Noonien Singh, who tried to destroy the Enterprise by detonating an experimental terraforming device known as Genesis.
The casualties of the fight include Admiral James T. Kirk’s Vulcan friend, Spock, whose casket was launched into space and eventually landed on the planet created by the Genesis Device.
Upon arriving at Earth Spacedock, Doctor Leonard McCoy begins to act strangely and is detained.
The commander of Starfleet, Admiral Morrow, visits the Enterprise and informs the crew the ship is to be decommissioned; the crew is instructed not to speak about Genesis due to political fallout over the device.
David Marcus (Merritt Butrick) – Kirk’s son and a key scientist in Genesis’s development – and Lieutenant Saavik (Robin Curtis) are investigating the Genesis planet on board the science vessel Grissom.
Discovering an unexpected life form on the surface, Marcus and Saavik transport to the planet. They find that the Genesis Device has resurrected Spock in the form of a child, although his mind is not present.
Marcus admits that he used unstable “protomatter” in the development of the Genesis Device, causing Spock to age rapidly and meaning the planet will be destroyed within hours.
Meanwhile, Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), the commander of a Klingon vessel, intercepts information about Genesis. Believing the device to be potentially useful as a weapon, he takes his cloaked ship to the Genesis planet, destroys the Grissom, and searches the planet for the survivors.
Spock’s father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), confronts Kirk about his son’s death. The pair learn that before he died, Spock transferred his katra, or living spirit, to McCoy. Spock’s katra and body are needed to lay him to rest on his homeworld, Vulcan, and without help, McCoy will die from carrying it.
Disobeying orders, Kirk and his officers spring McCoy from detention, disable the USS Excelsior, and steal the Enterprise from Spacedock to return to the Genesis planet to retrieve Spock’s body.
On Genesis, the Klingons capture Marcus, Saavik, and Spock, and before Kruge can interrogate them, their ship signals that the Enterprise has arrived. Kruge beams back to the Bird of Prey.
In orbit, the undermanned Enterprise initially gains the upper hand in battle, but the Klingons return fire and disable the ship. In the standoff that follows, Kruge orders that one of the hostages on the surface be executed. Marcus is killed defending Saavik and Spock.
Kirk and company feign surrender and activate the Enterprise’s self-destruct sequence, killing the Klingon boarding party while the Enterprise crew transports to the planet’s surface.
Promising the secret of Genesis, Kirk lures Kruge to the planet and has him beam his crew to the Klingon vessel. As the Genesis planet disintegrates, Kirk and Kruge engage in a fistfight; Kirk emerges victorious after kicking Kruge off a cliff into a lava flow. Kirk and his officers take control of the Klingon ship and head to Vulcan.
There, Spock’s katra is reunited with his body in a dangerous procedure called fal-tor-pan. The ceremony is successful and Spock is resurrected, alive and well, though his memories are fragmented.
At Kirk’s prompting, Spock recalls he would refer to Kirk as “Jim” and recognises the crew as well. His friends joyfully gather around him.
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- Paramount Pictures commissioned the film after the positive critical and commercial reaction to The Wrath of Khan.
- Nimoy directed the film, becoming the first Star Trek cast member to do so.
- Producer Harve Bennett wrote the script starting from the end and working back, and intended the destruction of the Enterprise to be a shocking development.
- Bennett and Nimoy collaborated with effects house Industrial Light & Magic to develop storyboards and new ship designs; ILM also handled the film’s many special effects sequences.
- Aside from a single day of location shooting, all of the film’s scenes were shot on Paramount and ILM soundstages.
- Composer James Horner returned to expand his themes from the previous film.
- The Search for Spock opened on 01 June 1984.
- In its first week of release, the film grossed over $16 million from almost 2,000 theatres across North America.
- It went on to gross $76 million at the domestic box office, with a total of $87 million worldwide.
- Critical reaction to The Search for Spock was positive, but notably less so than the previous film.
- Reviewers generally praised the cast and characters, while criticism tended to focus on the plot; the special effects were conflictingly received.
- Roger Ebert called the film a compromise between the tones of the first and second Star Trek films.
- The Search for Spock has since been released on multiple home video formats, including VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray high definition discs.
You can read interesting trivia and background details about the Star Trek franchise here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Leonard Nimoy.
- Producer(s): Harve Bennett.
- Writer(s): Harve Bennett.
- Music: James Horner.
- Cinematography: Charles Correll.
- Editor(s): Robert F. Shugrue.
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures.
- Release Date: 01 June 1984.
- Running Time: 105 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.