Picks and Pans Review: Star Trek Iii: the Search for Spock

updated 06/18/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/18/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

No other film of the high-tech space-epic era has done such a satisfying job of making sure that its special effects are kept in their place: supporting a story line that is full of human—not to mention Vulcan—emotions. Written by Harve Bennett and directed by Leonard Nimoy (old Spock himself, in his first feature directing job), it makes deft use of the relationships that have been built up among the Enterprise's ere crew curing its 17-year TV history and the two previous, largely lamentable features. The original crew William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei and Nichelle Nichols—is back, cruising around the universe trying to find out if Spock really died in Star Trek II. There are some new faces: Robin Curtis as a young officer, Merritt Butrick as Shatner's son, Christopher Lloyd as a vile Klingon and Dame Judith Anderson as a Vulcan priestess. But they're only incidental. The film focuses tightly on the Enterprise's old gang. This isn't a bunch of spring chickens any more; Shatner is 53, Kelley, 64. There are moments when a more apt subtitle might be The Search for a Good Toupee. But their age is part of the movie's charm. The affections and tensions among the characters are by this time almost all unstated, the way they are in a real family. It certainly helps to be, if not a card-carrying Trekkie, at least familiar with the basic plot lines. It's useful to know, for example, of the bickering between Spock and Dr. McCoy (Kelley) or the Lone Ranger-Tonto relationship between Spock and Capt. Kirk (Shatner). But the movie has enough warmth and energy to involve anyone who likes adventure movies—especially those full of feeling as well as firepower. (PG)

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