Our reviews of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (published April 19th, 2000), Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection (published October 19th, 2009), and Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection (Blu-Ray) (published May 18th, 2009) are also available.
"Kirk, you do this, you'll never sit in the Captain's chair again."
The word, sir, is…"
This is Star Trek, so you know that I have many positive things to say. While quite a few believe that this movie falls prey to the "curse of the odd-numbered movies," I disagree and proclaim that there are a multitude of things (which I'll get into later) that give this movie depth, character, and charm…not to mention re-watchability (did I just invent a word?). After the immense success of Khan!, it would be a very difficult situation (and truly rare) for the sequel to be able to live up to its predecessor. The Trek franchise had just been revitalized and saved from potential oblivion, so how do you follow-up that monumental event? In addition, Khan's story somewhat limits the directions you can do in the follow-up. Nonetheless, Spock elegantly picks up where Khan left off and tells a touching story of the power of friendship.
Up your shaft.
Facts of the Case
"She's supposed to have transwarp drive."
Because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one, Spock sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise from the imminent detonation of the Genesis device at the end of Star Trek II. But being the ever-logical Vulcan, Spock knew that his upcoming actions would be fatal and so he transferred his katra to Dr. McCoy before entering the dilithium chamber. No one was aware of this action when they sent Spock's body into the depths of space. But luckily the gravitational fields of the newly formed Genesis Planet were still in flux, and they snared the far-flung torpedo tube, yielding a soft-landing on the surface. As the Genesis device literally creates life from lifelessness, the Genesis wave reanimated Spock. Spock was alive but without his katra.
Kirk and crew have left the Mutara Sector for home, and a galactic controversy has ensued relating to the events that took place in the nebula. Upon arrival at a starbase orbiting Earth, Kirk quickly learns that he will not be able to return to Genesis because of the political troubles. Even worse, the Enterprise is deemed too old for repair and she is to be scrapped. Chief Engineer Scott is transferred to the new U.S.S. Excelsior for trials.
All is not well with Dr. McCoy, for Spock's katra is unintentionally and inadvertently causing the good doctor some mental distress. He does not know why, but he is compelled to find a way to get to Mt. Seleya on Vulcan via Genesis. As the Enterprise is unavailable, he tries to find private transport into this now-forbidden sector of space. Unfortunately, his conversation is overheard by Starfleet security; and, when confronted, McCoy tries to use the Vulcan nerve pinch on the agent to make an escape. He is unsuccessful and finds himself locked away in the "Federation funny farm."
In the interim, Kirk is visited by Sarek and learns that McCoy is carrying Spock's katra. With this knowledge, Kirk absolutely knows he must return to Genesis to retrieve Spock's body so his katra can be replaced. Kirk pleads his case with the admiralty but he is denied permission. Nonetheless, Kirk disobeys this direct order and along with Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, and Scotty, they break McCoy out of detention, steal the Enterprise, and race to Genesis.
Meanwhile at the Genesis Planet, the science vessel U.S.S. Grissom has been dispatched to survey the newly created world. Onboard are Dr. David Marcus and Lt. Saavik. During their scans, they immediately and surprisingly discover Spock's burial tube. Shockingly, they also detect life, which they did not believe was possible. This amazing discovery prompts David and Saavik to beam down to the planet to investigate. While there, they find a young Vulcan boy wandering around. David correctly deducts that Spock's body has been regenerated by the Genesis wave.
As David and Saavik explore Genesis, an unbeknownst danger strikes at Grissom: the Klingons! Captain Kruge wants the secret of the destructive power of Genesis, and has come there and will to do whatever it takes to gain that knowledge. Shortly after destroying Grissom, the Enterprise arrives. Kirk quickly deduces that thing are amiss and very quick a spectacular battle of torpedoes and wits develops between Kirk and Kruge. While Kirk has the upper hand early on, Kruge is a formidable enemy and strikes a lethal blow to the Enterprise. To bolster his point, Kruge kills David ("You Klingon son, you killed my bastard!"). Not even one of Kirk's famous bluffs can stop Kruge, so Kirk must sacrifice his ship to save his friends. Kirk sets the self-destruct sequence on the Enterprise and everyone beams down to Genesis. There, Kirk rescues Spock and Saavik, defeats Kruge, and steals the Klingon Bird of Prey and returns to Vulcan where Spock's katra is returned from McCoy.
…And the human adventure continues.
Don't call me Tiny.
The latest release in the Paramount Trek double-dip is a great improvement over the original, Spartan release. Why they couldn't do this the first time and garner a few brownie points from fans is beyond me—actually, no it is because we all know why they did it this way.
I keep reading all over the Internet that the transfers in this re-release are the same ones we were treated to on the original; however, I am dubious of that statement. In fact, contrary to what is said, I believe that the previous version was non-anamorphic. I've owned both copies, watched both versions on my widescreen TV through the same DVD player, and I can see a difference in this new version. What I see in this release is a "larger picture" with smaller black bars at the top of bottom of my TV. This difference is perfectly illustrated at The Digital Bits, thus reinforcing my conclusion that there is a difference in the transfer. I will full proclaim that I am not a videophile, and, in all truth, it's entirely possible that I could be wrong with my assertion. However, I can only tell you what I actually saw.
Because this anamorphic version utilizes more of my TV's screen, today I saw details in Spock that I have never noticed in the dozens of viewings over the years! Take, for example, the scene where the Enterprise has just entered orbit around Genesis. Kirk and Sulu are looking at the viewscreen when they notice the distortion that is the cloaked Bird of Prey. Watching the scene this time, I could actually see that the distortion they refer to is shaped like the Bird of Prey. As far back as I can recall, that distortion has been nothing more than a blob in all prior viewings. This is just one of the many subtle details that this transfer brings out. However, having more detail in your transfer isn't all good news as the age of the movie becomes clearer as well. Unfortunately, the print is marred by more dirt than there should be; I would have thought Paramount could have spent a couple bucks to clean it up a bit better, especially on a double-dip. Additionally, the print is filled with a fine grain throughout the movie. Overall, I was a tad disconcerted to see how dirty this print really is, even for something nearly twenty years old. Though however riddled with dirt and grain it is, fortunately it isn't overly distracting so it doesn't interfere with the presentation. But not all is lost for on the positive side, there is excellent definition, a rich color palette, and only minimal edge enhancement in the realm of transfer errors. It is a bit of a mixed bag with the video transfer, but it's nothing to prevent you from owning the disc.
Moving on to the audio tracks, there are several to choose from and I selected the 5.1 Dolby Digital transfer. I do believe in this instance that this audio track is identical to the previous release. The remixed 5.1 track is truly respectable and does utilize most of the channels quite effectively. Through the center channel, dialogue is cleanly and accurately presented without any hiss or distortion; the front surrounds project most of the film's ambience and special effects; the rear surrounds do get minor usage but they aren't fully utilized due to the original limitations of the audio; and the subwoofer gets moderate usage in some key sequences, namely the destruction of Genesis.
As we all know, in the pantheon of Trek movies the odd ones are typically
considered inferior to the even-numbered ones. "Inferior" itself may
be too strong a word, so perhaps we'll just say that most people prefer the
evens. But even if that is the case, many things work very well in this movie,
especially considering the huge expectations after Khan. Allow me to
remind you of what works well in The Search for Spock:
Unfortunately, I must give equal time to some of the things that don't quite
gel in the third installment of the Trek movie franchise:
And now we can move on to the bevy of bonus materials on the discs. There is
a nice variety of items at your disposal, but not all of them all thoroughly
With all of that taken care of, I would like to congratulate Paramount for finally doing something right with these re-releases: the menus. With each new release, the Trek menus are truly getting better and better. Trek I was a pathetic attempt at a navigation system, which you didn't even see unless you pressed the menu button (I personally don't like it when you pop in a disc and it goes right to the movie). Trek II was a solid step in the right direction, yet there wasn't a lot of diversity or animation in the menus. However, in Trek III, you have excellent menus with details, motion, and animation. If they continue to progress at this rate, the menus for Trek IX should be staggering!
And now that I said such a nice thing about Paramount, I think I'll retract some of it with a reminder of the stupidity that also emanates from that studio. There is no excuse for these re-releases. Paramount is simply taking absolute granted of the fans of the series by first releasing a pathetic batch of movie-only discs and then finally granting us with what we deserved in the first place. As always, shame on you Paramount! Hang your head in disgrace for plotting out such a malicious and vile act against your truest fans. We have been with you for years supporting this franchise and yet you treat us with constant disdain. Obviously, we're nothing but dollar signs to you. One day, this will all come back to haunt you. Re-release after re-release, bare-bones disc after bare-bones disc, your contempt is apparent and will be your undoing. Additionally, we are not children. Stop treating us like idiots. We know the FBI rules and we do not need to be forced to watch all of the multitudes of legalese and disclaimers before your movies! Let us skip them. Every other studio does; why not you?
Because the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
You want reality? This is fantasy!
This is Star Trek, the most played-out franchise is the history of entertainment. There is nothing original or fresh or exciting left in the pathetic attempt to rake in a few more dollars from this tired escape. Beyond that, we all know that the odd-numbered movies blow chunky salsa, so any inclination anyone would have in the first place to see this geek-fest would do better, if so desperate, to watch any of the even-numbered ones. Live long and propeller!
Why that green-blooded son of a bitch. It's his revenge for all those
arguments he lost.
It's Star Trek. You already know whether you like it or not, so little of what I say is going to sway you to jump on the bandwagon at this point in time. From my point-of-view as a Trekkie, this disc is a no-brainer and an absolute purchase (even if it is a double-dip). If you're a newbie to all this, then I've thoroughly ruined this movie for you by revealing all of the plot details; and, if you do exist, then I apologize. By chance that you haven't watched this movie in some time, then go out and give it a rental. Seeing it after all this time will remind you that not all of the odd-numbered movies are truly as bad as the "curse" would lead you to believe. There is much to praise in this film, and the bonus materials, while somewhat iffy, do add a nice complement to the set.
I intend to recommend you all for promotion, in whatever fleet we end up
As a result of the studio's continued reliance on the double-dip, Paramount is hereby sentenced to five years for their unrelenting abuse of their power in the Trek hierarchy. Sentenced is reduced to time-served for actually producing a DVD of respectable quality.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary with Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Robin Curtis, and Charles Correll
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