Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Review
Shock, horror! Spock's dead - well that's what everyone thought when Star Trek II drew to a close. There would be no more Kirk-Spock banter and who would take up the mantle to keep things nice and logical aboard the Starship Enterprise?
After fighting the genetically enhanced Khan in the previous instalment of the long-running science fiction movie series, Kirk and co were mourning the loss of one of their own. Returning to Earth things go from bad to worse with Doctor McCoy seemingly becoming mentally unstable. Arriving back on Earth Kirk (Shatner) is confronted by Spock's father, Sarek (Marc Lenard), asking where the body of his son is. According to Vulcan custom, the body needs to be returned to the homeworld in order for a ritual to be carried out. Unfortunately, Kirk and co held their own impromptu funeral service on the Enterprise before ejecting Spock in a torpedo casket towards the newly formed Genesis planet.
Before his death, Spock carried out a mindmeld on McCoy with the intention of letting McCoy be the messenger of what to do following the Vulcan's untimely demise - a message that didn't quite get through. Starfleet refuses permission for Kirk to head back out to Genesis to retrieve the body of his friend, so he takes in his own hands to steal the Enterprise and go there anyway.
Meanwhile, the Klingon's have found out about the Genesis device. Aware of it's potential as a devastating weapon they too head off to the Genesis planet in order to retrieve what they can. On the planet, Lieutenant Saavik and Kirk's son, David, are carrying out research when they discover the torpedo casing that held Spock's body - only it's empty apart from a few overgrown ex-microbes. Nearby they find a young Vulcan boy - who could this be?
Star Trek III had a lot to live up to following the thrills presented with the previous film - the one that many people still consider to be the best in the Trek saga. Of course, people at the time were expecting so much and were inevitably disappointed with the final result. However, when judged independently of the rest of the films Star Trek III begins to offer something more - it's a difficult task to judge it this way as it follows on directly from the devastating events of the previous film.
Direction by Nimoy is fairly good - although not quite as 'cinematic' as the previous film, and as always the cast put in the required performances - it's difficult to judge them now as the actors near enough shaped the characters they play anyway so separating the character from the actor is quite difficult. All in all, Star Trek III is a competent instalment and fits in nicely in the middle of a trilogy of Star Trek films. It doesn't push the envelope, but as a slice of traditional Trek it delivers.
Paramount have got into a habit of releasing two versions of these films - the collector's edition in a silver case and a standard edition in normal Amaray packaging. I actually prefer the latter, although with the collector's edition you do also get a CD with various PC bits and bobs - in the case of this release you get the PC game, Star Trek: Starfleet Command. I'm not sure if it's a demo or the full version.
The transfer is adequate - but far from perfect. Other than some print damage, the picture also appears a little washed out and soft at times. There is an obvious lack of detail, but some scenes are rendered very well - especially the sequence on Vulcan that features some deep red shades. There are some minor digital shimmers - nothing too distracting, but not up there with the crystal clarity of some of the more recent films.
A nice Dolby Digital 5.1 remix greets us with some impressive channel separation, but unfortunately, the surround action is limited and the bass lacks punch. The dialogue is reasonably clear but this isn't a soundtrack that will win any awards.
Other than the PC game mentioned above, the only other extra is the theatrical trailer. Given that we're expecting Paramount to start announcing special editions of the films at some point next year, this disc acts as little more than a stopgap.
Star Trek III is an average film on a very average disc. Nothing about this release stands out from the crowd, but it's still a good slice of Trek and therefore will almost certainly appear in plenty of DVD collections. If you're not a fan then it may be worth holding off to see if Paramount do indeed plan to release some extra special editions next year.