Released in 1985, much has been made about Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a failed film, or at least, a film that did not live up to its predecessor. How could it? 

Comparing The Wrath of Khan to The Search for Spock is like comparing Michael Jackson’s most significant album (and some may argue, the greatest pop-rock album of all time) “Thriller” to its follow up, “Bad.” That first album sold a bajillion copies, had some of the most outstanding singles — “Billy Jean,” Human Nature,” “Beat It,” and even gave us an event video which is played on Halloween to this day. He even had a duet with a Beatle. 

A few years later, Jackson gave us “Bad.” This follow-up to the top-selling record of all time was bound to fail. Sure, you got “Smooth Criminal,” “Man in the Mirror,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and, of course, “Bad.” But unlike “Thriller,” this one did not set sales records. Jackson was already the top pop star globally and had nowhere to go but number two. He tried to match the duet with Paul McCartney on “Thriller” with a duet with Prince on “Bad.” Unfortunately, the Purple One declined the offer.

What fans got was a B+ effort from Jackson. “Bad” would have been a smash for anyone else, but for Jackson, it was a letdown. 

This is kind of like The Search for Spock. Many older Treksperts out there like to point out the corners that writer and producer Harve Bennet cut when creating this one. They point out the fact that the Romulans have the Bird of Prey — not the Klingons. They make a big deal over the pile of crap in the back of the smugglers’ ship and a bunch of other stuff.

I will grant them that the graphics aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior was awful (and they were), but I saw The Search for Spock on Laserdisc at a friend’s house around 1988. And I loved it! Sorry for all those who like to watch movies to point out errors; I really enjoyed The Search for Spock back then and still do today. I actually wish Paramount would re-release the film for its 40th anniversary in theaters. Then they could fix the terrible graphics aboard the Excelsior.

All that said, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock  was released on June 1, 1984. With a budget of $16 million, the film grossed $87 million.

STARDATE: 8210.3

The film begins with a quick recap of the final few minutes of Spock’s life from The Wrath of Khan. This allowed those few fans who hadn’t see Star Trek II to get all caught up. After that, we hear from Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) himself. As he details in his personal log, the U.S.S. Enterprise is patched up from its battle with Khan and is headed back to Earth. 

Kirk’s son, David Marcus (Merritt Butrick) and Saavik (Robin Curtis), have stayed behind on the Genesis Planet to conduct research. 

NOTE: As is often talked about, Saavik was recast between TWOK and The Search for Spock because Kirstie Alley did not want to return to the role. She was replaced by Robin Curtis, who did a fine job but was not as loved as Alley, who went on to star on Cheers and the Look Who’s Talking films. I bet it would be cool to see Saavik return to Trek… on Picard, maybe? 

Anyhow, Kirk also said that most of the trainee crew had been reassigned.

Saavik (Robin Curtis) and David Marcus (Merritt Butrick). Courtesy of Paramount
Saavik (Robin Curtis) and David Marcus (Merritt Butrick). Courtesy of Paramount

Enterprise feels like a house where all the children are gone,” said Kirk. He also talked about how he left “the noblest part” of himself on the new planet (Spock). 

As they cruised back toward Earth, Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) announced that Starlet had not acknowledged their requests for more information about the Genesis situation. Kirk ordered Scotty to “automate” the ship so they could presumably take the Enterprise back to the Genesis Planet for support… or something. 

Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan) also said that he’d need eight weeks to finish the Enterprise’s refit. Then he backtracked and said that he’d get it done in just two weeks. 

“Mr. Scott, have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of four?” Kirk asked.

“Certainly, sir,” replied Scott. “How else can I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?”

“Your reputation is secure, Scotty,” said Kirk. As Kirk turned to leave the bridge, a young cadet (actor Phil Morris) asked if there would be a reception for the crew by Starfleet when they pulled into dock. 

“A hero’s welcome?” asked Kirk. “Well god knows there should be. This time we paid for the party with our dearest blood.”

Kirk stepped onto the turbolift and signed.

Meanwhile, we join a small smuggling ship (a very cool creation by the team at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) known internally as the “Merchant Man”) as they wait to meet someone deep in space. The two human pilots on the ship asked where “he was.” The Klingon female aboard the ship told them that “he” had been there for some time.

The Klingon woman, Valkris (Cathie Shirriff), hailed the mysterious ship.

“Commander Kruge, this is Valkris,” and then started to speak in Klingon. A voice responded to Valkris, telling her well-done. 

At that, a Klingon Bird of Prey appeared above the small ship. 

NOTE: As pointed out before, the Romulans were supposed to be the ones with the Birds of Prey, but the Klingons got them too, thanks to some changes in the The Search for Spock story. Apparently, Commander Kruge was supposed to be aboard a stolen Romulan ship and not a Klingon one. The script called for Kruge to terrorize his own people with this superior Romulan ship. Instead, Harve Bennett and others switched it back to being a Klingon ship. Director Leonard Nimoy approved the Klingon “Bird of Prey” design, and no one thought to change it. 

The Bird of Prey and the Merchant Man ship. Courtesy of Paramount
The Bird of Prey and the Merchant Man ship. Courtesy of Paramount

Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) responded back to Valkris (in Klingon) to load the Genesis information into the computer and transmit it. She said that she watched it, and Kruge told her, “that’s too bad.” He said that she’d be remembered with honor. Then the Klingon ship swung around and blasted the smuggler’s ship out of the sky. 

NOTE: It was for this film that Marc Okrand developed Klingon into an existing language. Before this point, the only Klingon used was by James Doohan and Star Trek: The Motion Picture producer Jon Povill, and that was extremely limited. Okrand even wrote a Klingon dictionary and serves on many Trek projects to this day, including Star Trek: Discovery

Beside Kruge’s chair on this Klingon ship was a dragon-like dog. Kruge ordered one of his crew to feed the creature. You can read more about the “monster dog” here

Later, the Enterprise returned “home” to Space Dock (which was based on an original design by Andrew Probert, which Roddenberry called the “Space Office Structure”). As they cruised in, the crew observed the U.S.S. Excelsior, which was supposed to be the newest vessel in Starfleet. Mr. Sulu (George Takei) noted that it had “trans-warp drive.” Scotty was not impressed.

The U.S.S. Excelsior. Courtesy of Paramount
The U.S.S. Excelsior. Courtesy of Paramount

“Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon,” said Mr. Scott. 

NOTE: The U.S.S. Excelsior was to be the next great ship but could not be too fancy to overshadow the Enterprise too much. According to the special features on The Search for Spock blu-ray, ILM designer Bill George said he designed the Excelsior as if created by a Japanese firm. He took hints from Japanese industrial design to create this new style of starship, which appeared in five Trek films, The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and many other places.

As the damaged and scarred Enterprise floated inside the massive hanger, Starlet personnel watched in awe. One notable person was Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), a veteran of many memorable Original Series episodes.

As Sulu connected the ship to the mooring systems, Chekov (Walter Koenig) reported that someone had broken into Mr. Spock’s quarters. Kirk ordered them sealed, so he was not too happy to hear this. He ran down there, and a shadowy figure said that he needed help.

“Jim… help me,” said the man. “You left me on Genesis. Why did you do that? Help me …”

Kirk grabbed the intruder and wheeled him into the light. It was Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForrest Kelly)!

“Help me, Jim,” said McCoy. “Take me home. Climb the steps of Mount Seleya.”

“Bones, Mount Seleya is on Vulcan,” said Kirk. “We’re home — on Earth!”

“Remember…” said McCoy before he passed out in Kirk’s arms. 

“Uhura! Get the medics down here!” Kirk called. “Get them now!”

Soon, Commander Starfleet Marrow (Robert Hooks) boarded the Enterprise for an inspection. He told the crew that they’d done remarkable service, and they would all get extended shore duty, except Scotty. The latter would report to the Excelsior as the new captain of engineering.

“With all appreciation, sir, I’d prefer to supervise the refit of Enterprise,” said Scott.

Marrow said that there would be no refit of Enterprise. Kirk protested, saying that they wanted to take the ship back to Genesis. Marrow said that was out of the question. He told them the politics of Genesis made going back too controversial. He banned them from talking about the project with anyone. 

Aboard the Klingon ship, Kruge and two of his officers watched the Genesis presentation, now narrated by Admiral Kirk. This was changed from Star Trek II, which featured Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch) as narrator, most likely a cost-saving move.

Kruge demanded thoughts from his lieutenants on what they saw. Torg (Stephen Liska) said, “great power to control… dominate.” Maltz (John Larroquette) said, “impressive… they can make planets.” Kruge dismissed Maltz and told Torg that they would go to Genesis to “act in the preservation of our race.” He said they would seize the power of the weapon.

The Klingons look at the Genesis information. Courtesy of Paramount
The Klingons look at the Genesis information. Courtesy of Paramount

Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Grissom (NCC-638),a science vessel, orbited the Genesis Planet. Captain Esteban (Phillip R. Allen) was in command. David and Saavik scanned the planet’s surface.

NOTE: The Grissom was named after U.S. astronaut Gus Grissom, one of the original Mercury astronauts. Grissom was killed in a training accident while preparing for the Apollo missions. The ship was a science vessel and categorized as an Oberth-class ship. 

They found all sorts of temperature and topical variance on the planet’s surface. They were “fascinated” by what they had seen. But one thing that set everything a-kilter was a torpedo tube on the surface. 

David speculated that the tube was from Captain Spock’s burial. “Gravity was in flux… it must have soft-landed,” he said. Esteban radioed back to Starfleet to update them on what they’d found. Then the scanners detected a life form. 

David wanted to beam up the “animal life form,” but Esteban cited Starfleet policy instead. Saavik asked permission for her and David to beam down. Esteban was non-committal.

“Captain, we’ll take the risk,” said David. “We’ve got to find out what is down there.”

“Or whom,” added Saavik. 

NOTE: I looked up some advertising about Star Trek III, wondering if they were teasing Spock in the ads. If you look at this one below, you’ll see that they were not. The clips used in this ad were very dramatic… and there was no Spock. I wondered because all of these little hints through the film keep the viewer guessing. 

YouTube video

This ad by Taco Bell ruined everything, though. What a spoiler, Taco Bell!

YouTube video

Back on Earth, Kirk and the rest of the bridge crew got together at the captain’s apartment to drink to “absent friends.” Sulu asked Kirk what would happen to the ship, and Kirk replied that the Enterprise would be decommissioned. Chekov asked if they’d get a new ship; again, Kirk didn’t know. Uhura asked about McCoy, and Kirk said he was resting. 

NOTE: A lot has been said about the civilian costumes that Kirk, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov wore (all designed by Robert Fletcher) during this scene. I immensely enjoyed them. Kirk looked incredibly relaxed in a 23rd Century jogging suit. In contrast, Uhura looked like she was going for a cross between the 80s (big shoulder pads) and Afrofuturism. Sulu wore a leather jacket with a cape. A cape! It was fantastic. Chekov got the short end of the stick. He was wearing a salmon jumpsuit. Kinda blah.

Kirk was expecting Scotty to join the party, but instead, Sarek (Mark Lenard) walked in. Kirk did look a bit shocked to see Spock’s dad. Everyone left after a brief introduction. 

Kirk and his crew. Courtesy of Paramount
Kirk and his crew. Courtesy of Paramount

“I will speak with you alone, Kirk,” said Sarek.

NOTE: If I was Sulu or Chekov, and I was invited to the boss’ house for drinks and got kicked out by some weirdo in a robe, I would be pissed. But hey… Sarek did look pissed. 

Sarek immediately started asking Kirk a bunch of questions regarding Spock’s death and the moments that led up to it. 

“Why did you leave him on Genesis?” Sarek asked. 

Apparently, Kirk should not have left Spock’s lifeless body on that new planet. He should have brought the body back to Vulcan. Sarek said that his living spirit, known as the Katra, was still a few things left to be done.

Sarek got frustrated with all this talking and requested to mind-meld. They did, and Sarek and Kirk talked through those last scenes of Spock’s life (as seen on Star Trek II). Sarek realized that Kirk never touched Spock, and there was no way to transfer the Katra. 

Kirk then took Sarek to Starfleet Headquarters to review the Enterprise’s engine room footage when Spock died. They saw the whole thing, and they saw how Spock melded with McCoy. 

Sarek, played by Mark Lenard. Courtesy of Paramount
Sarek, played by Mark Lenard. Courtesy of Paramount

Sarek told him that he must get Spock’s body from Genesis and bring it to Vulcan and Dr. McCoy. Only then would this be put right. 

Back at the planet, Grissom beamed David and Saavik down to the surface to investigate. They arrived in a tropical area to start their search. They found Spock’s torpedo quickly and found that the microbes on the surface of the torpedo from the Enterprise had evolved into fat slugs.

Saavik questioned how this could happen. David didn’t answer. He did open the torpedo and found no dead body, but only the Vulcan burial robe. The ground rumbled, and they heard a voice in the distance screaming out. They ran toward it.

Meanwhile, Kirk met the Commander of Starfleet for drinks. He tried to talk Marrow into giving him back the Enterprise to fulfill his duty to Sarek. He denied Kirk’s request to the Enterprise, so Kirk said he’d hire a ship. 

“Out of the question,” said Marrow. “The council has ordered that no one but the science team goes to Genesis.”

After a few more seconds of arguing, Kirk laughed and said that he “had to try.” Marrow laughed too, and that was that. Sulu and Chekov were waiting in the restaurant lobby, and Kirk said that Marrow denied his request. But he wanted to still try. Sulu and Chekov said they’d help, and Chekov said that he’d get Dr. McCoy ready.

In another part of San Francisco, McCoy walked into a bar, which must have been seedy for the 23rd Century. People were all getting drunk, and some of them were playing video games. 

NOTE: This scene always reminded me of a low-budget cantina from the original Star Wars. We got to see some strange aliens and human beings in bizarre clothing, but nothing too expensive or otherworldly. This could be another scene that Paramount could use CGI to spruce up if they could make a special edition version. I won’t hold my breath.

The "alien" as played by Allen Miller. Courtesy of Paramount
The “alien” as played by Allen Miller. Courtesy of Paramount

Bones ordered a drink, and a crazy looking alien with huge ears (played Allen Miller). McCoy spoke with this character, trying to charter a ship to the Genesis planet. The alien said that was forbidden, and McCoy raised his voice. 

A Federation security agent (Conroy Gedeon) stopped the conversation and offered McCoy a “ride home.” McCoy tried to use the Vulcan neck pinch on the agent, but it hilariously did not work.

“You’re going to get a nice, long rest, doctor,” said the agent.

NOTE: I realized that there was no way that this could have worked (since it was 20 years before Deep Space Nine premiered), but wouldn’t it have been cool if the “large eared alien” could have been Quark? Or perhaps a generic Ferengi would have worked too. Another idea for a special edition. I know Armin Shimerman would come back for something like this!

Back on Genesis, David and Saavik were tracking a “second life form,” which has two feet. 

On Earth, Kirk visited McCoy, who was in custody at some sort of police station. He woke McCoy and made the Vulcan hand gesture.

“How many fingers am I holding up?” Kirk asked.

“That’s not very damn funny,” said McCoy. 

NOTE: YES, IT WAS!

Kirk gave McCoy a sedative, which was supposed to calm the doctor down for a journey. Kirk said that McCoy was suffering from a Vulcan mind-meld.

“That green-blooded son of a bitch,” said McCoy. “It’s his revenge for all those arguments he lost.”

NOTE: Geez, these scenes are so hilarious! And this was a call back to The Original Series and the debates they had, usually at the end of the episodes. 

Simultaneously, Sulu burst into the station looking for Kirk, saying that the Commander of Starfleet needed to see the captain. One guard left the front desk area to retrieve Kirk, while a second stayed behind. This second guy (Doug Shanklin) let out a giant yawn, and Sulu asked him if they were keeping him awake. He stood and looked down at Sulu.

“Don’t get smart, tiny,” he said to Sulu.

In the cell with McCoy, the other guard walked in to tell Kirk that he was needed, but Kirk cold-cocked him with one punch! As Kirk walked McCoy out, Sulu told him to take the side elevator as there were agents on the way. Sulu then flipped the colossal guy, destroyed the computer, and said:

“Don’t call me tiny.”

NOTE: What a great moment and line. 

In the elevator, Kirk called Chekov to inform the other crew members who were in on this plan. He said that the “Kobayashi Maru had set sail for the promised land.” 

Meanwhile, as Scotty was departing the U.S.S. Excelsior when he ran into Captain Styles (James Sikking), who said that they would be breaking some of the Enterprise’s speed records in the morning. Scotty was polite as he said good-night to the captain. 

Captain Styles. Courtesy of Paramount
Captain Styles. Courtesy of Paramount

NOTE: At the time, Sikking was a massive television star thanks to his role on the hit show Hill Street Blues. His small role in Star Trek III was a coup for the film. 

As Scotty entered the turbolift, the automated voice asked for his destination. He said, “transporter room.” The AI said, “thank you,” to which Scotty replied: “Up your shaft.” 

At the same time, Uhura was working at Old City Station transporter depot with a young lieutenant. This guy told her that he wanted excitement in his life, which she probably did not wish to because she was “winding down” her career. She didn’t like that. 

Just then, Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu walked in. With a phaser, Uhura put the lieutenant in the closet. She said that she’d meet them at the rendezvous spot and wished them well as they beamed out. It was another hilarious and well-done scene.

Aboard the Enterprise, Scotty and Chekov were at work setting things up to go. Scotty said that the ship was almost entirely automated. Kirk said that he could not ask any more of them and told them to leave. Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov made it known that they would stay to help on this mission. 

The Enterprise cleared moorings and began to move out of position. Chekov reported that the Commander Starfleet ordered Kirk to return the ship, but Kirk said not to respond. 

On the Excelsior, the crew called Styles to the bridge from his quarters. They also signaled a yellow alert. 

“Bridge, this is the captain,” said Styles. “How can you have a yellow alert in SpaceDock?”

“Sir, someone is stealing the Enterprise!”

“I’m on my way,” he said.

NOTE: These scenes were fantastic, and James Horner’s score only made them better. 

The Enterprise backed out toward the doors, and Chekov announced that the Excelsior was powering up to pursue. The crew reported that all speeds were available to the Excelsior, including the new TransWarp drive. Styles ordered that they follow at 1/4 impulse power. 

The terrible graphics on the displays of the Excelsior. Courtesy of Paramount
The terrible graphics on the displays of the Excelsior. Courtesy of Paramount

Just at the last possible second, Scotty got the space doors to open. All breathed a sigh of relief. The Enterprise moved away from SpaceDock, and as they did, Styles signaled directly to Kirk.

“Kirk, if you do this, you’ll never sit in the captain’s chair again,” he said. Kirk ignored the warning, and they made the jump to warp speed. Upon seeing this, Styles ordered TransWarp speed to overtake the Enterprise

But, thanks to Mr. Scott, the Excelsior was unable to jump to warp, as he took out some of the components from the TransWarp computer drive. This was very funny, as the Excelsior just sputtered and did not move.

Back on Genesis, Saavik and David were in a desert area under winter conditions as they tracked the humanoid. When they finally caught up with him, they said, “yup it’s Spock.” Saavik tried to speak to him in Vulcan, but he didn’t understand. David said it was the Genesis wave that regenerated Spock. 

Saavik wanted to beam Spock up to the Grissom, but Captain Esteban wanted Starfleet to OK it first. When the Grissom tried to send a message to Starfleet, they found that they were being jammed. 

Turns out it was the Klingon Bird of Prey. Kruge ordered that his gunner disable the Grissom, but instead, the Klingon shot destroyed the vessel. Kruge was enraged, saying that he wanted hostages. The gunner said it was just a “lucky shot.” Kruge used his disruptor to kill the gunner on the spot.

Torg then notified Kruge that there were life signs on the planet’s surface. As Saavik tried to contact the Grissom, young Spock touched her face. Saavik said that the Grissom must have been destroyed, and they needed to keep moving, as the enemy would likely come after them too.

As the Enterprise sped to Genesis, Kirk asked for a scan for vessels in pursuit. McCoy responded in Spock’s voice. Everyone on the bridge was stunned. 

On Genesis, Kruge and a landing party beamed to the surface. They were attempting to find Saavik and David, who were now resting. Saavik asked David why the planet was not what he “hoped for.” He admitted that he’d used protomatter to solve specific problems with the Genesis matrix. 

“Protomatter … an unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable,” said Saavik.

“It was the only way to solve certain problems,” said David.

“So, like your father, you changed the rules,” she said. 

“If I hadn’t, it might have been years, or never,” he said.

“How many have paid the price for your impatience?” Saavik asked. “How many have died?”

Nearby, Kruge found Spock’s torpedo and the life forms which had evolved even more. Now they were long, slimy tentacled creatures. Kruge picked one up and killed it just as it nearly strangled him.

Kruge’s team and David experienced nightfall unbelievably fast. We learned that there must have been a moon or something orbiting Genesis because when the planet spun away from the star it orbited, something else replaced it in the sky, which reflected blue light.

NOTE: This was never explained, and I assume that Nimoy and Harve Bennet just created this scene and took moonlight for granted. We never actually saw a moon orbiting the Genesis planet.

Saavik was caring for Spock and told David that he was aging with the planet. David said that they had hours or days before the world breaks up. She also told David that Spock would “feel the burn of Pon Farr,” which was the mating drive in Vulcan males, which they must satisfy every seven years. 

NOTE: This was first addressed in the TOS episode “Amok Time.”

They detected Kruge on the tricorder, and David said he’d meet them. He asked for Saavik’s phaser and left. 

Back on the Enterprise, Chekov reported that Starfleet was trying to reach the Grissom, but there was no response. Kirk told Chekov to contact the Grissom. Chekov got no response either.

On the planet, Spock writhed with pain and shook. Saavik started the Pon Farr rituals. 

NOTE: We didn’t see them mate (thank goodness), and it was left up to the audiences’ imagination, but we assume that they did. Here’s what Harve Bennet’s script said about this scene:

Spock does not respond; he is in quiet agony. She
kneels beside him. His breathing is labored… Saavik
offers her hand in Pon Farr configuration — like a
two-finger Boy Scout salute. Spock studies it, then
she brings up his right hand in the same configuration.
With her two extended fingers, she touches his and then
slowly begins to stroke his entire hand in gentle fore-
play. His breathing eases now, his body begins to
relax. Uncertainly, he begins to return the finger-
play, first on Saavik’s hand and then on her temples.
He is more in control now… intense. His eyes turn
and lock on hers. Hands touching, they move together
until their faces are brushing… and their fingers
embrace.

In orbit high above the planet’s surface, the Klingon’s detected the Enterprise. Before they were noticed, they went into cloak. As they did, Chekov swore that he saw something (the Klingon ship cloaking). Kirk began calling to the Grissom… on the surface, Saavik’s communicator played Kirk’s voice. Still, she was asleep (after her long night with Spock). 

The Klingons grabbed her and Spock up and forced them to walk. They tossed Saavik and Spock down next to where the now-captured David was seated. David was all beat up.

“I’ve come a long way for the power of Genesis, and what do I find?” said Kruge. “A weakling human, a Vulcan boy, and a woman.”

Kruge, as played by Christopher Lloyd. Courtesy of Paramount
Kruge, as played by Christopher Lloyd. Courtesy of Paramount

Saavik tried to tell Kruge that the planet would destroy itself very soon, but he didn’t believe her. 

“You will tell me the secret of the Genesis torpedo,” Kruge told Saavik. 

“I have no knowledge,” she said.

“Then I hope pain is something you enjoy,” said Kruge. He then beamed up after learning that the Enterprise was approaching. Saavik and David heard Kirk’s voice over the Klingons’ communicators. They smiled.

Chekov continued to scan as Kirk called to the Grissom. Kruge waited for the exact moment to strike; they crept closer and closer to the Enterprise. Finally, they were so close that Kirk and Sulu could see the distortion with the naked eye. Before the Klingons could completely decloak, Mr. Scott fired two photon torpedoes. Direct hit!

The Klingons suffered damage, and most notably, Kruge’s devil dog died. They returned fire and hit the Enterprise — which was unable to raise shields.

“The automation system’s overloaded,” said Scotty. “I didn’t expect to take us into combat, you know.”

The automation system completely fried out, and neither Scotty nor Sulu had control over anything. Kirk said they were a “sitting duck.” Kruge wondered why the Enterprise hadn’t finished them off.

“They outgun us ten to one!” Kruge said.

Kirk then hailed then and tried to bluff Kruge into surrendering. Kruge called the bluff. He told Kirk that they had prisoners on the surface. Kirk asked to speak to the prisoners. Saavik spoke, saying that she and David were both there… and someone else.

“A Vulcan scientist of your acquaintance,” said Saavik.  

“Vulcan?” Kirk pondered. “Is he alive?”

“He is not himself, but he lives,” said Saavik. “He is subject to rapid aging like this unstable planet.”

The Klingons put David on the call as well, and he admitted that he screwed up the Genesis program. 

“Just don’t surrender,” said David. “Genesis doesn’t work.”

So Kirk knew Kruge meant business, he ordered that one of the prisoners be killed. The Klingons were going to kill Saavik, but David jumped in. After a struggle, the Klingon stabbed David to death.

“Admiral… David is dead,” said Saavik. Kirk stumbled back and whimpered.

“Klingon bastards — you’ve killed my son,” Kirk said. 

Kirk agreed to surrender the Enterprise. Kruge ordered that a landing party take over their ship. Sulu said there were 12-14 Klingons on a Bird of Prey. Kirk ordered McCoy and Sulu to the transporter room. He said Chekov and Scotty had a few things to do. 

He told Kruge that on the next signal, the Klingons would beam over. 

“No tricks, Kirk!” said Kruge.

“No tricks,” said Kirk.

Kirk, Scott, and Chekov authorized the self-destruction of the Enterprise. They signaled to the Klingons, and as they beamed over, the Enterprise crew beamed away. 

The Klingons scoured the empty ship. Torg called to Kruge to say the ship was abandoned and that the only thing speaking was the computer. Kruge heard the countdown, but it was too late. The Enterprise began to blow apart.

NOTE: With the in-ship views of the destruction, viewers could see plywood blowing apart. Did they still use plywood to build ships in the 23rd Century? Ha ha!

On the surface, the crew watched at the Enterprise burned up in the atmosphere. 

“My god, Bones,” said Kirk. “What have I done?”

The Enterprise burns up in the atmosphere as her crew watched. Courtesy of Paramount
The Enterprise burns up in the atmosphere as her crew watched. Courtesy of Paramount

“What you had to do… what you always do,” said McCoy. “Turn death into a fighting chance to live.”

Using a tricorder, Sulu reported that the planet core was unstable. He did locate the life signs of the Klingons, Saavik, and Spock. 

Speaking of them, Spock started aging rapidly again. His face began to bubble and warp as the planet began to break up. Trees fell over as the ground shook and fires began raging. A Klingon tried to stand Spock up, but the Vulcan tossed him 20 yards away. Saavik and the other Klingon watched Spock’s face deform.

As this happened, Kirk and company found Saavik. Kirk shot the Klingon and asked McCoy to look at Spock. Kirk walked over to David’s body and laid his jacket upon it.

Saavik said that David gave his life to save hers and Spock’s. McCoy noted that Spock was suffering from rapid aging and that he had all of Spock’s “marbles.” Saavik said that the only thing that could be done was to get Spock off the planet. 

Kirk found a Klingon communicator on the ground. He picked it up and called to Kruge. 

“Sorry about your crew, but as we say on Earth… c’est la vie,” Kirk said. He then told Kruge that he had the secret of Genesis, but to get the mystery, he’d need to beam them up. 

Kruge beamed down with his disruptor pointed at Kirk. He ordered Kirk to drop his weapons and that Kirk stand aside. He called to Maltz to beam up everyone except Spock. Kirk said he ought to beam Spock up as well, but Kruge said he would not — because Kirk wanted it.

They negotiated for a bit, and eventually, it devolved into a classic Kirk hand to hand battle. Many cool things happen (just watch — you’ll see), and Kirk finally won the fight. He used the communicator to beam both he and Spock up to the Klingon ship. 

When he got up there, Scotty and the others had taken over. It took them a while to figure out how to fly the ship, but eventually, they got it. They got away right before the planet exploded.

On the ship, McCoy told the sleeping Spock that he missed the Vulcan… something he thought he’d never say.

When they arrived on Vulcan, Uhura and Sarek were waiting for them. The crew presented Spock to the Vulcan High Priestess T’Lar (played by Dame Judith Anderson). Sarek asked her to transfer the Katra from McCoy to Spock. She said that hadn’t been done in millennia. 

The Vulcan High Priestess T’Lar, played by Dame Judith Anderson. Courtesy of Paramount
The Vulcan High Priestess T’Lar, played by Dame Judith Anderson. Courtesy of Paramount

NOTE: This whole setting looked like “Amok Time” done with a much higher budget. It looked great — from the costumes to the ceremonial tables and gongs, to the ears — everything was a believable upgrade to the TOS series. Well done!

She took them both and stood on a stage above everyone else. McCoy and Spock laid on tables, and she touched their foreheads. A long time passed, and eventually, Sarek walked McCoy off the stage. McCoy said he was “alright.”

Sarek thanked Kirk. Kirk said he had to do it, or else he would have lost his own soul. 

Eventually, Spock stood and walked off the platform. He was wearing a long hooded robe, which covered his face. Spock walked past Kirk at first, then paused and came back. He looked at all of the crew, one at a time. He then looked at Kirk and said:

“You came back for me,” said Spock to Kirk.

“You would have done the same for me,” said Kirk.

Why would you do this?” Spock asked.

“Because the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many,” said Kirk. Spock looked down and walked a few steps. He then turned back and said:

“I have been and always shall be your friend.”

 “Yes, Spock!” said Kirk. 

He then began to ask about the Enterprise. Kirk told him that Spock saved them all. 

“Jim. Your name is Jim,” said Spock, who then turned to McCoy. The doctor smiled and tapped his temple. The rest of the crew surrounded Spock, and everyone smiled.

The film ended, and audiences saw “… and the adventure continues..” on the screen. Which set us up for yet another Star Trek sequel. 

TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:

Another good one. Like I said when I started this review, it’s almost too much to ask for a sequel to stand up to one of the very best films of the genre. But Star Trek III was pretty darn good. I enjoyed the heist, the battle scenes with the ships, humans, and Klingons. In fact, I think the fight between Kruge and Kirk was something that was missing from the previous film — as Shatner and Ricardo Montalban (Khan) never appeared on set together. So there was no big fight between Kirk and Khan. 

Without Spock on the screen, the others got more lines, like Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov. That was nice as well. 

I think Star Trek III was a great second act in a three-act story. This may not have been planned in advance, but it worked out nicely. 

RATING: 4 out of 5

CREDITS

STARRING

William Shatner
DeForest Kelley

CO-STARRING
James Doohan
George Takei
Walter Koenig
Nichelle Nichols

ALSO STARRING

Mark Lenard … as Sarek
Merritt Butrick … as David

SPECIAL APPEARANCE
Dame Judith Anderson

INTRODUCING
Robin Curtis … as Lt. Saavik

AND

Christopher Lloyd … as Kruge

Executive Consultant … Gene Roddenberry
Music Composed by … James Horner
Associate Producer … Ralph Winter
Edited by … Robert F. Shugrue
Art Director … John E. Chilberg II
Director of Photography … Charles Correll, ASC
Executive Producer … Gary Nardino

Based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry

Written and Produced by Harve Bennett

Directed by Leonard Nimoy

ALSO STARRING
James B. Sikking
Allan Miller

and as Spock

Carl Steven
Vadia Potenza
Stephen Manley
Joe W. Davis
Leonard Nimoy

Unit Production … Manager Michael R Schoenbrun
First Assistant Director … John Hockridge
Second Assistant Director … Ken Stringer
Costume Designer … Robert Fletcher

Camera Operator … David Nowell, S.O.C.
First Assistant Cameraman … Robert A. Torres
Second Assistant Cameraman … Alfredo R. Sepulveda
Second Camera Operator … Michael Scott S.O.C.
2Nd Assistant, 2nd Camera … Norman E. Parker
Sound Mixer … Gene S. Cantamessa, C.A.S.
Boom Operator … Raul A. Bruce
Utility … Jack Wolpa

Men’s Wardrobe Supervisor … James Linn
Women’s Wardrobe Supervisor … Agnes G. Henry
Wardrobe … Jean Merrick, Dan Bronson, Joseph Markham

Special Makeup Appliances created by … The Burman Studio

Makeup Artists … Wes Dawn, James Kail, James L. Mccoy
Hairstylist … Silvia Abascal
Additional Hairstylists … Paul Abascal, Carol O’Connell
Script Supervisor … Lily La Cava
Chief Lighting Technician … Norm Glasser
Best Boy … “Big” Ed Cooper, Ed Reilly
Key Grip … Dennis Harper
2nd Company Grip … Clarence Ebert
Dolly Grips … Jon Falkengren Tom Sawyer
Set Decorator … Tom Pedigo
Property Master … Joe Longo
Assistant Property … Ronald E. Greenwood
Lead Man … Jerry Kobold
Swing Gang … Charlie Russo, Ron Galloway

Special Effects Supervisor … Bob Dawson
Special Effects … Rocky Gehr, Thomas R. Homsher, Dennis K. Petersen, Tony Vandenecker Peter G. Evangelatos

Construction Coordinator … Lynn Price
Construction Foreman … Scott Goodale
Paint Foreman … Ed Charnock, Jr.
Standby Painter … Dennis C. Ivanjack
Illustrator … Tom Lay
Set Designers … Cameron Birnie, Blake Russell

Transportation Coordinator … Robert D. Mayne
Transportation Captain … Lynn Harman
Craft Service … Robert Morgan
Unit Publicist … Ed Pine
Still Photographer … John Shannon
Assistant Film Editors … Martin X. Chielens, John A. Haggar
Color Timers … Terry P. Haggar, Bob Noland

Supervising Sound Editors … Cecelia Hall, George Watters II
Sound Effects Editors … John Leveque, Paul Bruce Richardson, Jack Woods
ADR Editors … Sean Hanley, Ron Horwitz
Foley Editor … Pamela Bentkowski
Foley by … Dan O’Cconnell, Ellen Heuer
Assistant Editors … Daniel F. Finnerty, Bruce D. Fortune

Special Sound Effects by … Alan Howarth ,Frank Serafine
Additional Sound Effects … Sprocket Systems, Randy Thom, Tom Johnson
Music Editor … Robert Badami
Orchestrations … Greig Mc Ritchie
Music Scoring Mixer … Dan Wallin
Re-Recording Mixers … Ray West, David J. Hudson, Robert W. Glass, Jr.

Technical Advisor … Dr. Richard H. Green
Alien Language Created by … Marc Okrand
Assistant To Mr. Schoenbrun … Debbie Schwab
DGA Trainee … Cynthia Riddle
Dialogue Coach … Joel Marston
Choreographer … Andre Tayir
Assistant Choreographer … Barbara Arms
Voice-Over Casting … Barbara Harris
Assistant To Mr. Bennett … Sylvia Rubinstein
Assistant To Mr. Nlmoy … Teresa E. Victor
Production Assistant … Deborah Arakelian

Special Visual Effects produced at
Industrial Light & Magic
Marin County, California

Supervisor of Visual Effects … Kenneth Ralston
Visual Effects Art Directors … Nilo Rodis, David Carson
Optical Photography Supervisor … Kenneth F. Smith
Visual Effects Cameramen … Donald Dow, Scott Farrar, Selwyn Eddy III
Assistant Cameramen … Peter Daulton, Robert Hill, Patrick Mcardle, Ray Gilberti. Dave Hanks, Toby Heindel … James Lim, Donald Clark
Optical Camera Operators
Optical Line-Up … Ralph Gordon, David Berry
General Manager, ILM … Tom Smith

Production Supervisor … Warren Franklin
Production Coordinator … Laurie Vermont
Supervising Modelmaker … Steve Gawley
Additional Spacecraft Design … William George
Modelmakers … William Beck, Sean Casey, Richard Davis, Michael Fulmer, Ira Keeler, Jeff Mann
Creature Supervisor … David Sosalla
Matte Painting Supervisor … Michael Pangrazio
Matte Artists … Chris Evans, Frank Ordaz
Matte Camera Supervisor … Craig Barron
Animation Supervisor … Charles Mullen
Effects Animators … Bruce Walters, Phillip Norwood
Chief Visual Effects Editor … Bill Kimberlin
Visual Effects Editor … Jay Ignaszewski
Miniature Pyrotechnics and Fire Effects … Ted Moehnke
Stage Technicians … ILM Stage Crew
Still Photography Supervisor … Terry Chostner
Equipment Engineering Supervisor … Michael Mackenzie

Video Playback and Displays by
The Burbank Studios

Video Supervisor … Hal Landaker
Chief Engineer … Alan Landaker
Video Coordinator … Rick Whitfield

Instrumentation Displays Computer Animation by
Symbolics, Inc., Graphics Division
Omnibus Video, Inc.
Strayframes

Casting by … Stuart Jensen, Elza Bergeron, Mary Ann Barton

CAST

Kirk … William Shatner
Spock … Leonard Nimoy
McCoy … Deforest Kelley
Scotty … James Doohan
Chekov … Walter Koenig
Sulu … George Takei
Uhura … Nichelle Nichols
Saavik … Robin Curtis
David … Merritt Butrick
Trainee Foster … Phil Morris
“Mr. Adventure” … Scott McGinnis
Admiral Morrow … Robert Hooks
Spock … Age 9 … Carl Steven
Spock … Age 13 … Vadia Potenza
Spock … Age 17 … Stephen Manley
Spock … Age 25 … Joe W. Davis

The Merchantship
Captain … Paul Sorensen
Valkris … Cathie Shirriff

The Klingons
Kruge … Christopher Lloyd
Torg … Stephen Liska
Maltz … John Larroquette
Sergeant … Dave Cadiente
Gunner #1 … Bob Cummings
Gunner #2 … Branscombe Richmond

USS Grissom
Captain Esteban … Phillip Richard Allen
Helm … Jeanne Mori
Communications … Mario Marcelino

The Bar
Alien … Allan Miller
Waitress … Sharon Thomas
Civilian Agent … Conroy Gedeon

The Excelsior
Captain Styles … James B. Sikking
First Officer … Miguel Ferrer

The Vulcans
Sarek … Mark Lenard
Child … Katherine Blum
High Priestess … Dame Judith Anderson

Others
Prison Guard #1 … Gary Faga
Prison Guard #2 … Douglas Alan Shanklin
Woman In Cafeteria … Grace Lee Whitney

Stand-Ins
Robin Kellick, Kimberly L Ryusaki, Phil Weyland, Steve Blalock

Voices
Spock Screams … Frank Welker
Enterprise Computer … Teresa E. Victor
Flight Recorder … Harve Bennett
Space Dock Controller … Judi Durand
Elevator Voice … Frank Force
Background Voices … The Loop Group

Stunt Double for William Shatner … John Meier
Stunt Double for Christopher Lloyd … Al Jones

Stunts
Steve Blalock, David Burton, Phil Chong, Eddy Donno, Kenny Endoso, Jim Halty, Chuck Hicks Jeff Jensen, Don Charles Mcgovern, Tom Morga, Alan Oliney, Chuck Picerni Jr., Danny Rogers, Frank James Sparks, David Zellitti

Stunt Coordinators … Ron Stein & R. A. Rondell

Additional Optical Effects by … Movie Magic
Wardrobe Accessories … Hollywood Armor

Special thanks to
United States Marine Corp Air/Ground Combat Center
29 Palms, California

Theme from STAR TREK television series
Music by Alexander Courage

“GENESIS PROJECT” by Craig Hundley
“I REMEMBER YOU” by Johnny Mercer & Victor ScherIzInger
“THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC” by Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen
“TANGERINE” by Johnny Mercer & Victor Schertylnger

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