STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH
Although STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN was one of the finest entries in the STAR TREK movie series, its immediate follow-up turned out to be a less than stunning offering. I guess you can say that STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK fell victim to the curse that afflicted all of the odd numbered movies in the series. I donít want to give them impression that STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK is a bad movie, it isn't. Personally, I really like the movie and found much of it to be quite enjoyable, especially when Kirk and company defy Starfleet orders and hijack the Enterprise right out of a space dock. This sequence is an absolute hoot, and for me, it is the highlight of the film. Of course, this sequence doesn't negate the fact that STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK does have some problems.
The biggest problem with the third installment in the STAR TREK movie series was something that was beyond anyoneís control. Letís face it; STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, which offered the self-sacrificing death scene of one of the most beloved characters, was the pinnacle of STAR TREK storytelling. Unfortunately, there was no scenario that could have been devised at that point that would have been dramatic enough, or epic enough, to meet fans expectations- especially on a STAR TREK movie budget. Another problem is the fact that a STAR TREK is only as good as its villain. In respect to STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK the villain was miscast by bad timing. At the time of the filmís production, Christopher Lloyd's character from TAXI was too ingrained in everyone's mind for him taken seriously in such a villainous role. Only with the passing of decades, can Lloyd's performance in this film be appreciated. Finally. I'd like to mention the film's soundstage bound exteriors, which look too artificial and lend an air of "cheapness" to the production- something that is a bit too reminiscent of the plywood sets original TV series.
The events depicted in STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK come immediately on the heels of the preceding film. Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is dead and as the battle scarred U.S.S. Enterprise makes its return to space dock around Earth. Although, Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) wants to take the Enterprise back to the Genesis planet, where Spock remains were interred, the planet itself has become a galactic controversy and the "twenty-year-old" Enterprise is to be decommissioned. Making matters worse is the strange mental affliction affecting Dr. McCoy (Deforest Kelly) since Spockís death, as well as the arrival of Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard), who comes to Kirk seeking sonís "Katra" or living spirit. Kirk quickly realizes that he and his crew must return to the Genesis Planet if he is to save Spock's soul and Dr. McCoy's mind. Of course, this is all easier said than done, since returning to the Genesis planet requires that they defy orders and steal the now mothballed Starship Enterprise. Added to the mix is a group of hostile Klingons bent upon learning the secrets of the device that created the Genesis planet itself. The cast of STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK also features James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick, Judith Anderson, Robin Curtis, Phil Morris, John Larroquette, James B. Sikking and Miguel Ferrer.
Paramount Home Entertainment has reissued STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK in a two-disc set, which presents the film in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Adding no new footage to the film, this edition of STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK utilizes the same transfer that was previously issued on DVD as a movie only edition. The presentation appears a bit stronger because of improvements authoring techniques, since that initial release. There are some limitations in the film elements, which can be somewhat grainy and display occasional blemishes. However, for the most part, the image is crisp and rather nicely defined. Colors show some improvement, with the strong reds being rendered with greater stability. Blacks appear accurate, contrast is generally smooth and shadow detail is good for a film closing in on the twenty-year mark. The dual layered DVD is pretty much free from noticeable digital compression artifacts.
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK comes with the same Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that was offered on the previous issue. The 5.1 channel encoding opens up the sound- giving a cleaner, better-defined special quality to this track, which originated in the matrixed Dolby Surround format. The forward soundstage is where most of the sound effect activity is localized, while the rears provide a good deal of ambient sound, including the engine rumble of the movieís spaceships. Dialogue is rendered with terrific intelligibility, although voices can sound a tiny bit canned at times. The bass channel is very solid, enhancing the afore mentioned spaceship rumble, although it is not as ground shaking as newer soundtracks. James Hornerís score is well reproduced with a nice level of musical fidelity. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.
Computer animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's nicely designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a solid supplemental section. Starting things off on disc one is an audio commentary with director Leonard Nimoy, writer/producer Harve Bennett, cinematographer Charles Correll and actress Robin Curtis. While the commentary track edits the participants together, it does offer a lot of interesting background information and stories about the production. Disc one also features a text commentary on a subtitle track by Michael Okuda, co-author of The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Again the text commentary proves to be cool source of reference for this movie and everything STAR TREK.
Moving on to disc two, we find various programs and other supplements. The Captain's Log clocks in at twenty-six minutes and features interviews with Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Harve Bennet, Charles Correll, Robin Curtis and Christopher Lloyd. While the program does duplicate some of the material contained in the audio commentary, it does offer additional information and stories about the production, along with remembrances via William Shatner's bizarre sense of humor. Terraforming And The Prime Directive runs twenty-four minutes and examines the future of space exploration as depicted in science fiction like STAR TREK and how it relates to mankind's current efforts, with a focus on terraforming the planet Mars as a first step into a greater future.
In the section entitled The Star Trek Universe one will find Space Docks And Birds of Prey, Speaking Klingon and Klingon And Vulcan Costumes. Space Docks And Birds of Prey is a twenty-seven minute program that looks at the spaceships created for the film by ILM. Speaking Klingon runs twenty-one minutes and introduces Mark Okrand, who developed the official Klingon language for the STAR TREK universe. Klingon And Vulcan Costumes is a twelve-minute look at the film's costume design. In the section marked the Archives one will find storyboards and production photos. A theatrical trailer and teaser trailer for the upcoming STAR TREK: NEMESIS close out the supplemental disc.
Paramount has done a really great job with their Special Edition release of STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK. While not the best of the STAR TREK movies, it does have its moments. Trekkers that own the original release will find this DVD a worthy upgrade, although casual viewers probably won't. Of course, any Trek fan who hasnít already purchased STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, will count this edition as a must have.
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