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Star Trek III The Search for Spock (1984) - Illustrated Reference

Updated on December 28, 2016

Star Trek III The Search for Spock was directed by Leonard Nimoy. It premiered on 1st June 1984 Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Robin Curtis, Merrit Butrick, Mark Lenard and Christopher Lloyd. Screenplay by Harve Bennett. Music by James Horner. 105mins.

Against orders Admiral Kirk and crew steal the USS Enterprise from space dock and race to the quarantined Genesis Planet to save an old friend. Meanwhile the Klingons are already at the planet searching for the secrets to the Genesis Project.

After wanting to be killed off in Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, Leonard Nimoy changed his mind and wanted to play Spock again, on condition he also direct the film. His request was granted. He would get to direct the fourth Star Trek film too.

Kirk: Gentlemen, your work today has been outstanding and I intend to recommend you all for promotion... in whatever fleet we end up serving.

William Shatner (1931-) / Admiral James T. Kirk

Born in Quebec, Canada, William Shatner has also starred as James Kirk in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991) and Star Trek Generations (1994).

Leonard Nimoy (1931-) / Mr. Spock

Born in Boston, Massachussets, Leonard Nimoy has played Spock in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Kirk: You're suffering from a Vulcan mind-meld, doctor.
McCoy: That green-blooded son of a bitch! It's his revenge for all the arguments he lost.

DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) / Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, DeForest Kelley has appeared as Dr. McCoy in Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991).

Merritt Butrick (1959-1989) / David Marcus

Born in Gainesville, Florida, Merritt Butrick's films include - Zapped (1982), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Head Office (1985) and Fright Night II (1988).

Robin Curtis (1956-) / Lt. Saavik

Born in New York Mills, New York, Robin Curtis took over as the young Vulcan Lt. Saavik, after Kirstie Alley’s asking price to return was rejected. Her films include - Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986), Hexed (1993), The Unborn II (1994), Dark Breed (1996), Recoil (1998) and Scorpio One (1998).

Mark Lenard (1924-1996) / Ambassador Sarek

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mark Lenard has played Spock's father Sarek in three Trek movies as well as appearances on the classic Star Trek and The Next Generation series. Sarek dies of an incurable illness in the Next Generation episode Unification p.1.

His films include - The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Hang em High (1968), Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979 as Klingon Captain), Star Trek IV The Voyage Home (1986 as Sarek), The Radicals (1990) and Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country (1991 as Sarek).

Torg: My Lord, the ship appears to be deserted.
Kruge: How can that be? They're hiding.
Torg: Yes, sir. The ship appears to be run by computer. It is the only thing that is speaking.
Kruge: Speaking? Let me hear it.
Enterprise computer: 9-8-7-6-5...
Kruge: [shouts] Get out! Get out of there!
Enterprise computer: 2-1...

Christopher Lloyd (1938-) / Klingon Commander Kruge

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Christopher Lloyd (1938-) plays nutjob Klingon Commander Kruge, he wants to use the Genesis device as a weapon.

His films include - One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975), To Be Or Not To Be (1983), Buckaroo Banzai (1984), Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-1990 as Dr. Emmett Brown), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988 as Judge Doom), The Dream Team (1989), The Addams Family (1991 as Uncle Fester), My Favorite Martian (1999) and Piranha 3D (2010).

Judith Anderson (1897-1992) / Vulcan High Priestess

Born in Adelaide, Australie, Dame Judith Anderson is probably best known as the evil housekeeper Mrs. Danvers in the classic Hitchcock film Rebecca (1940). Other films include – Kings Row (1942), Laura (1944), And Then There Were None (1945), Salome (1953) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).

When the script was being written it was a toss up as to who should be killed off, David or Saavik. The decision was made to kill David as punishment for helping to create the Genesis device.

The massive orbiting SpaceDock makes its first appearance in this film, a service station for Starfleet spaceships. The model of the station was 6ft high and full of wiring powering hundreds of tiny lights.

Elevator voice: Level, please.
Scotty: Transporter room.
Elevator voice: Thank you.
Scotty: Up your shaft.

Vessels featured in Trek III are the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (destroyed by Kirk after enabling self-destruct), the USS Excelsior (Transwarp drive disabled by Scotty) , the USS Grissom (destroyed by the Klingons, named after astronaut Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom).

The Merchantman (cargo ship carrying stolen data on Genesis Project, blown up by the Klingons), the Klingon Bird-of-Prey (appropriated by Kirk after the destruction of the Enterprise and used to take Spock back to Vulcan, reappears in The Voyage Home).

Four other actors play Spock in the film – Carl Steven, Spock aged 9. Vadia Potenza, aged 13. Stephen Manley, aged 17. Joe Davis, aged 25.

Edward James Olmos was considered for the role of Klingon Commander Kruge.

Tribbles can be seen in the sequence where McCoy enters a bar looking for transportation to the Genesis Planet. Asexual alien fur balls, Tribbles first appeared in the classic 2nd season episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” (1967).

Star Trek III The Search for Spock was competing against Ghostbusters, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in theatres the summer of 84.

After an impressive $16m opening weekend the film went on to gross $76m in the US and a worldwide total of $87m making it the least successful of the three Trek films released thus far.

Trek fans would cite Trek III as an example of the “curse of the odd-numbered” Star Trek films, where the even-numbered Trek movies are considered much better than the odd-numbered.

I enjoyed Star Trek III, I think it's the most underrated of the Trek adventures.The Klingons make excellent hissworthy villains, Christopher Lloyd’s barking mad Kruge was a memorable adversary for Kirk. The film has plenty of humour and it was sad to see the Enterprise destroyed.

The film's highlight for me was the entire “stealing the Enterprise” sequence. The final ritual on Vulcan is anticlimactic but it’s good to see Spock back with his friends again. James Horner delivers another sweeping score.

The Critics Wrote –

"The Star Trek saga remains a television series at heart, even in its wide-screen incarnations. For all the fancy effects and sprawling panoramas, the scale remains small. The disadvantage to this - a certain visual blandness, even tackiness, to the story's more grandiose settings - is well outweighed by the intimacy that exists among Enterprise crew members, and by their seriousness and avidity about what seem to be the silliest minutiae (a blinking sign, for instance, that reads ''Life form! Life form!'' while scanning the Genesis planet). That's what longtime Trekkies love about the series, and it's still here - a little the worse for wear, but mostly untarnished." (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

“A morose, darkly unilluminated film with none of the fun usually associated with the series’ characters. Even more disturbing is the fact the multi-tiered climax of the film - the defeat of the Klingons, the escape from the planet and its destruction - does not come at the film’s finale. Instead, the audience is subjected to the tedious ceremony of Spock’s resurrection in an incredibly incomprehensible sequence.” (Parish & Pitts)

"Star Trek III The Search for Spock is an emotionally satisfying science fiction adventure. Dovetailing neatly with the previous entry in the popular series, the Harve Bennett production is helmed with a sure hand by debuting feature director Leanord Nimoy, who also appears briefly but to good effect as the indestructible half human/ half Vulcan Spock." (Variety)

"This is a good but not great Star Trek movie, a sort of compromise between the first two. The first film was a STAR WARS road company that depended on special effects. The second movie, the best one so far, remembered what made the "Star Trek" TV series so special: not its special effects, not its space opera gimmicks, but its use of science fiction as a platform for programs about human nature and the limitations of intelligence." (Roger Ebert)

“Very silly, empty and unamusing.” (Halliwell)

“Achingly prosaic.” (Pauline Kael)


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    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      My pleasure Rob, thanks for commenting.

      Only 8 films to go. :)

      Btw the elevator voice, in the bit where Scotty says "up your shaft", was Leonard Nimoy's.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      The common opinion back when the 'Trek' franchise was still going, was that the even numbered movies were better than the odd numbered ones. In general, that was probably true, but there were some exceptions. I don't think that 'The Search for Spock' was quite as good as the film before and after it, but I rather enjoyed it.

      I thought that this film really captured the heart of the close bond between Kirk and Spock, better than any other. Shatner was excellent at portraying Kirk's depression after Spock's death and his desperation to save his 'katra'. DeForest Kelly was also very good in this one and had some great lines (Although none of them were as good as his "What is it with you anyway?" line from the fourth film.)

      Even the supporting players who usually got very little to do in the TV series were well provided for here. Sulu and Uhura both got great scenes in this one. James Doohan also had a few entertaining scenes as Scotty. (I've heard that Walter Koenig was not happy with this film because he'd gotten such a big part in the previous film but had very little to do in this one.)

      Christopher Lloyd made for an excellent villain, and a worthy follow-up to Kahn.

      As has been pointed out, the conclusion of the film was the biggest flaw. It was a nice emotional moment but seemed anti-climactic for a major motion picture, especially after the whole apocalyptic Genesis sequence.

      I remember my pals and I (the Odd Boys, as we called ourselves) sneaking in to see to see "Ghostbusters" the same day we saw this film.

      Another fun Trek hub. Thanks for the Trekkie memories.


    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      And the next one is all about Saving the Whales (and the Earth), and has even fewer special effects, which paid off handsomely for the studio. :)

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Look at my previous comment....I meant to say I was complaining about the special effects not complimenting them....but I think you got my point anyway....I always viewed Paramount gave them so much money for Star Trek: The Motion Picture...that they kept trying to get some of that money back by really limiting the budgets on the remaining Star Trek films.....luckily Star Trek has always been about character and story versus special effects

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      "Go on, it's easy isn't it? You have nothing to live for have you... go on... go on..."

      Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers quietly urging Joan Fontaine to jump out of a window to her death. brrr.

      Appreciate the comment Flora, thanks.

      You're right the two films do go together and many fans consider II III and IV as a trilogy, we don't find out what happens to Kirk and co after they stole the Enterprise and than blew it up, it's all resolved in the next one.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I quite enjoyed The Search for Spock. Although it is not as good as The Wrath of Khan I think it is very well made and that the two films fit together. I have often watched the two movies back to back.

      Judith Anderson from Rebecca-ah, was she scary in that film without trying to be. Very creepy indeed.

      I love Deforest Kelley's role while he is inhabited by Spock's Katra. De Kelley gets his best dialogue in the movies here. It's a very juicy film for him.

      The cast is wonderful. I love Lloyd. According to Larroquette, there is a group of Trek Klingon fans who are determined to get his character out of prison.

      I prefer this actress portraying Saavik. Because I never saw The Wrath of Khan before I saw Alley in Cheers, I was quite familiar with her in another role-and only one role. It was a bit distracting. I had no connection to Trek III's actress.

      I loved reading this hub.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Cogerson, your comments much appreciated they are. (why am I talking like Yoda?)

      I agree some of the effects aren't very convincing, but I really like ILM's work on the spacedock sequences.

      Christopher Lloyd is always good value, I read somewhere that he really enjoyed playing Kruge.

      I should mention John Larroquette is in this too playing the only surviving Klingon Maltz.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Another winning hub Steve....I think my favorite line in the whole series and movie franchise is in this movie and you mention it...McCoy: That green-blooded son of a bitch! It's his revenge for all the arguments he says so much about the great friendly fighting between McCoy and Spock.

      I agree with you about the ending on Vulcan .....maybe it should have been the beginning of IV.....I think The Search For Spock is one of the better ones the movie odd curse for me....I do not acknowledge if you are not a fan of Star will get all the meaning of the crew giving up on so much to help find their friend.

      I love Christopher Lloyd in the movie....I think he is great as the bad only compliment on the whole movie are the special effects at the end of the movie and the planet is falling looks like something they could have built in my backyard....but overall I love this movie....Voted up and awesome.