Personal Background: This was the first Star Trek movie I ever saw in the theater. I recall my mother taking me and my brother to see it. I don't remember a ton about it, though I do remember the Enterprise blowing up. I remember my mom being misty-eyed when that happened. I also recall that I really like this one as a kid in general. As a kid I thought it was exciting and fun, and I remember loving the Klingon ship in this. I don't think I understood Spock coming back from the dead as such, at that age. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the superiority of Wrath of Khan; yet, this one still holds a special place for me as a Trek fan, even now. However, I can also admit that this one has serious flaws, in both logic and storytelling.
Basic Plot: The tragic events of ST II weigh heavily upon the crew of the Enterprise. The ship is severely damaged, those cadets are suddenly scarred and battle-hardened, and then of course, there's the loss of Spock. Though you might think that Kirk would suffer most, it is McCoy that has lost it- he has been acting like Spock in a disturbing fashion, and no one knows why. That is, until Sarek arrives to figure out just what has happened to his son. Kirk and Sarek figure out that McCoy has Spock's Katra, or essence. Sarek demands that both McCoy and Spock's body be brought back to Vulcan. This will be a challenge, since Spock's body is on the "Genesis Planet", which is now under quarantine by the Federation, with the exception of the science vessel the USS Grissom (which has Saavik and David aboard). Kirk decides to hell with the orders and steals the Enterprise (one of the best scenes in the movie, and indeed, the entire franchise, I feel) in order to retrieve the body.
|Gives me goosebumps every time|
|Klingons presented as a real threat|
|A good, but brief, battle|
|Its great that Mark Leonard is back, but the Katra concept needs work|
Themes/Concepts: Although there are flaws to the plot, it is here in this category that ST III falls the hardest. Plot holes can be forgiven if the movie ties it all together well OR has something powerful to say. TMP, though ponderous and wooden, had powerful ideas about "creation", "purpose", and what man's role in the galaxy might truly be. For TWOK, the themes of confronting death, finding one's "place" in life, the cycle of life and death, and the question if man has the right to wield the powers of creation and destruction.
|Willing to risk it all in the name of friendship|
|Kirk fights in "hell" to save Spock|
De Kelly also does great as McCoy. Since he is technically harboring Spock's consciousness, Kelly is essentially playing a man who has to souls in him. When he talks of "going home to Vulcan", the look in his eye is downright scary- has McCoy lost his mind? Then, as he jumps between "McCoy" and "Spock" in the bar is both tragic and humorous, and Kelly handles it so well. And then, after all he's been through to rescue Spock, the Vulcans explain that he's in even more danger, and he says deadpan "I choose the danger... hell of a time to ask". Again- Kelly nails that fine line so well.
|Kruge- ruthless but also desperate|
|Great effects here, and very sad for longtime fans|
Musical Score: Again, as with TWOK, James Horner did the score. You either love him or hate him. I love his music, and its the same here. Yes, he lifts some cues/whole tracks from TWOK, but it works in the movie. His original stuff is really good too- the music at the opening credits is similar to the opening theme of TWOK, but also different and more uplifting. His score during the battle with the Klingon ship and the destruction of the Enterprise is top notch, as his his "Arrival at Vulcan" theme.
|Spock's return isn't the only legacy of ST III|
Well, the nostalgia in my heart wants to give this a 3 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. I loved it as a kid, and I still enjoy it very much. But, my logical brain tells me that this could have been better- and it is not up to par with its immediate predecessor. It's NOT cursed or bad, it just isn't as good as Trek can be. Therefore, I give this 2 1/2 out of 4 Marks of Chaos.
Until next time...