Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is the third movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1984.Incoming Late Arrival Spoiler: in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Spock was Killed Off for Real. But Nimoy changed his mind and decided he didn't want to leave the series, as working on that film was such a great experience. Thus room was left in there for him to come back, and this film was all about this. Spock himself sat in the director's chair this time and did so again for the fourth film.You see, Spock put his katra into McCoy before he died, so now the good doctor is Sharing a Body with the late Science Officer. Now, if only Spock's body could be raised as well. No wait, his body landed on the Genesis Planet, so now it's a living empty shell! The Rapid Aging down there means he has to repeatedly go through Vulcan PMS and Mate or Die. Fortunately, Saavik happens to be there. Now, the obvious thing would be to reunite Spock's body and soul, but the Obstructive Bureaucrats say no. The crew sets off for Genesis anyway, of course, where the Klingons are waiting, headed by Commander Kruge.Not actually that bad considering the whole plot is just a vehicle for bringing Spock back. In particular, the scene where the crew steals the Enterprise from spacedock, leaving the newfangled Excelsior and its smug captain in the proverbial dust, is awesome. Overall it's probably best classified as So Okay, It's Average, and about the only Star Trek film that no-one really admits to loving or hatingnote unless the people in question are the Kirk/Spock slashers, in which case the film is not only universally adored but solid proof that the Sub Text is actually just plain text..Oh yeah, the Enterprise goes down in a ball of flame in her final "F&#$YOU" to the Klingons.
Tropes seen in The Search for Spock include:
AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: This is the first Star Trek production to feature the full Klingon language, and so a lot of the word pronunciations are different to how they would sound in TNG onwards — for example, listen to how Kruge says Qapla' (with a more phonetic sound) just before Torg's boarding party leaves for the Enterprise. The most common explanation for this among fans is that Kruge just has an odd regional accent.
It was also referenced that this was modeled after World War I French naval traditions, when officers would speak English amongst themselves while the crew spoke French, so the officers could communicate amongst themselves about matters of urgency or a sensitive nature.
Inverted when Kirk imitates Kruge's Klingon command to beam someone up.
All There in the Manual: Kruge's Bird of Prey has more in common style-wise with a Romulan ship (bird like) versus a Klingon ship (boxy and utilitarian). As a way to use Prop Recycling in the original series an episode suggested a brief Klingon / Romulan treaty where they shared technology and ship designs; it allowed them to represent the Romulans by using a (previously made) Klingon D-7 cruiser. This brief alliance (the two factions are later very antagonistic to each other) is also the source of Klingon cloaking technology and the Bird of Prey ship design first seen in this movie. Incidentally, that ship style became far more recognizable as a Klingon vessel later in the franchise.
Word of God is that a dropped plot point from the movie would have been that Kruge stole this prototype bird-of-prey from the Romulans.
There's also Word of God that the initial plan was for the villains to be Romulans. In other words, the movie went from 'Romulans using a cool new Romulan starship' over 'Klingons using a stolen cool new Romulan starship' to 'Klingons using an oddly Romulan-style (including cloak and name) cool new Klingon starship' in the final movie. This changing of the plans for the movie had an enduring effect on Klingon design aesthetic for the remainder of the franchise.
The novelization reveals that Saavik and David became lovers after the events of Star Trek II, making his murder doubly tragic and his sacrifice even more meaningful (he gives his life to save the woman he loves when he realizes the Klingon is about to kill her).
Sulu's comments about how awesome the Excelsior is, as well as Scotty calling her a piece of junk, were part of a subplot concerning Sulu being promoted to Captain of the Excelsior (Styles was in command temporarily until Sulu returned from the training mission). Scotty's comments were good-natured ribbing at Sulu, saying that the new ship was a lemon.
Avengers Assemble: The scene where the crew get back together and beam aboard the Enterprise.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Spock and Sarek were always at odds with each other, but when T'Lar questions Sarek's logic in resurrecting Spock through fal-tor-pan, Sarek answers "Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned."
Be Careful What You Wish For: Uhura says this word for word to her adventure-seeking co-worker in the transporter room, moments before shoving him in a closet while she beams the crew to the Enterprise.
Bitter Sweet Ending: Yeah they get Spock back, but Kirk loses his son David and destroys the Enterprise in the process, and leaving the fate of himself and his immediate crew in serious doubt.
The destruct sequence used is the same one mentioned in the TOS episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".
And of course Spock at the end repeating his dying words from the end of Star Trek II.
A bit of a Brick Joke also: in Wrath of Khan, after the Kobayashi Maru scenario, Kirk asserts that Klingons do not take prisoners. In this film, Kruge ordered the attack on the Grissom with the specific aim of taking prisoners.
The Novelization deals with her, as well as the Novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Short story: she spends most of the time in a Heroic BSODnote She had been romantically involved with one of the scientists killed at Regula, and was only just coming out of it when David was killed.
The actress (BB) died, as did David (MB) which is why neither returned for Kirk's fantasy life in Generations
Casual Danger Dialogue: While Kirk and Kruge are fighting hand to hand on the rapidly disintegrating genesis planet, Kirk shouts that they'll both die if they don't help each other to escape. Kruge eagerly agrees and calls it exhilarating (since dying while fighting a worthy foe is the most awesome thing a Klingon could ever wish for).
Continuity Nod: Saavik is left hanging on the Genesis planet because Captain Esteban (of the Grissom) wants to do things "by the book". Having learned that lesson last movie, she's almost a Phrase Catcher, there.
A more distant one is that the destruct sequence codes shown in the film are the same as those used in the TOS episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".
Played straight with the utterly badass Klingon Bird-Of-Prey, and the Enterprise, of course (battle damage be damned).
Crew of One: Scotty automates the Enterprise's systems sufficiently to fly the ship with only a handful of people. Unfortunately, the system isn't up to the task of handling the ship in a combat situation.
The undermanned, still-battle-damaged Enterprise is basically The Little Starship That Could compared to the big, menacing Excelsior.
This was Kruge's gambit when firing upon the Enterprise when they first meet over the Genesis planet. He is convinced that he is outgunned "ten to one" and is flabbergasted that the Enterprise didn't finish him off after the opening salvo. He doesn't realize that one shot was enough to disable her completely.
Kirk: "You Klingon bastards, you killed my son." (Kirk tries to sit, missing the command chair entirely) "You Klingon bastards, you killed my son!"
This is a famous example of a Throw It In. By the script, Kirk was supposed to sit down in the captain's chair, but Shatner missed it. He stayed in character to deliver his lines, and Nimoy (who was directing this time out) felt the result was too powerful not to put into the finished movie.
Captain: What's going on?! When do I get paid? Valkris:(coolly with no sarcasm whatsoever)Soon, Captain. (BOOM!)
Saavik, knowing that the Klingons are going to execute her, doesn't even blink until David performs his Heroic Sacrifice and dies in her place.
Fake Russian: In letter, but not in spirit. Chekov actually speaks Russian for the first time. Though Walter Koenig was born in America, his parents are Russian immigrants who emigrated from Lithuania.
Fanservice Extra: All the female vulcan acolytes during the Fal-Tor-Pan ritual are wearing... somewhat sheer outfits, and apparently no bra from the looks of it.
Foregone Conclusion: Let's face it, when your movie is called The Search For Spock, its not going to end with Admiral Kirk turning to the viewers and saying "Sorry folks, we didn't find him". As William Shatner put it, if they had done so, "people would have thrown rocks at the screen."
It's Harsher in Hindsight if you read the novelization: Sulu was supposed to take command of the Excelsior following the training mission from the previous film (he had only taken the helm as a personal favor to Kirk) and his actions in helping Spock mean that he is denied his promotion until several years later as punishment.
Genre Savvy: Perhaps Kruge's only redeeming value is how efficient he is in his work. Namely, he calls Kirk's bluff when Kirk tries to get him to surrender, even though, as far as he's aware, the Enterprise could mop the floor with him.
Kruge: [more curious than alarmed] Why haven't they finished us? They outgun me 10 to 1.
Kirk: You should take the Vulcan. Kruge:No. Kirk: But why? Kruge: Because you wish it!
Averted to hell and back with the gunner who destroyed the Grissom. While there is no gore, we see him burn to death from the inside out.
Hell-Bent for Leather: The uniforms worn by Kruge and his men look like they were designed by Gene Simmons.
Heroic BSOD: Kirk when his son David is killed and arguably again with a literal My God, What Have I Done? while watching the wreck of the Enterprise burning up in the Genesis planet's atmosphere
This entire movie is a long string of HeroicBSODs for Kirk. He started the movie with the one he suffered from Spock's death in Wrath of Khan, had a short one when he heard the Enterprise was due for decommission, and the above mentioned two. Kirk's really earning the happy ending, and facing down situations he's so used to cheating his way out of.
Literally a line in the movie: "Admiral Kirk. This is your opponent speaking!"
I Lied: When the captured Maltz declares he doesn't deserve to live, Kirk promises to kill him later (let's get away from the exploding planet first). When Maltz demands he make good on it, Kirk has him taken away.
Invisibility Cloak: While cloaking technology was used in The Original Series, this movie gave it the ripple effect that has greatly influenced the way around Visible Invisibility in media. Although, here it is a plot point as Kirk recognizes something is wrong when they reach the Genesis Planet and was able to visually point out where the ship was.
Magic Countdown: The Enterprise's 60-second countdown to self-destruct lasts 100 seconds on-screen, and even that is compressed to exclude people moving around.
Possibly a Shout-Out to the previous film, as Khan's countdown was similarly extended, but Khan had valid reasons for extending it (he was fooled into thinking he was about to get valuable technical info handed over), while a computerized countdown shouldn't be altering its time.
This is even lampshaded by McCoy. "That green-blooded son of a bitch! It's his revenge for all the arguments he lost."
Presumably, another Vulcan familiar with katra transfers, like his father, was supposed to figure out what he had done after news of Spock's death and McCoy's symptoms reached Vulcan and take custody of the katra, or Spock just didn't know what a half-Vulcan's spirit would do to a human physiology.
Another common theory is that Spock's katra upload was supposed to include instructions for McCoy concerning what to do with Spock's body, but McCoy's allergy to mind melds prevented him from understanding the message.
The book confirms that McCoy's reaction was uncommon. Seems that he's allergic to mind-melds.
The Password Is Always Swordfish: The final password for the self-destruct is 0-0-0-Destruct-0. Granted, it was the fourth password of a set of four, but still.
It's implied in the Expanded Universe that 0-0-0-Destruct-1 will cause a slightly different kind of self-destruction.
All There in the Manual: There is an official guide book that states that the 1 code would cause what could be described in the TNG era as a warp core breach, with the equivalent destructive force of a very large atomic bomb, potentially obliterating the nearby Klingon ship (i.e., their only means of escape). Also, Scotty said in Star Trek: The Motion Picture that such a self-destruct would have a force of 100 megatons. About as much as overloading the impulse engines in "The Doomsday Machine". Destruct-0 "only" sets off charges in the hull to render the ship a useless hulk.
Fridge Brilliance: The bridge is destroyed by destructive charges first - which is basically the first part of the ship you'd want destroyed in a hostile situation.
Also, they've apparently been using the same password for twenty years. (With voice/biometric authentication as well, but come on.)
Scotty Time: Lampshaded when Scotty tells Kirk that refit will take "eight weeks, sir. But you don't have eight weeks, so I'll do it for you in two." Kirk asks if he multiplies all estimates by four. Scott says he has to, "how else would I keep up my reputation as a miracle worker?"
Space Clothes: Mostly averted, continuing from the previous film, but there are some glaring exceptions, such as the bar waitress's "Space leotard", and the security guards have outfits so ridiculous they look like intentional parodies of this trope.
Staff of Authority - Captain Styles of the USS Excelsior is often seen carrying a swagger stick.
Stock Footage: To a much lesser extent than most of the other 80's Trek movies, natch; all the special effects shots are new for this film, and the stock footage from the previous movie is actually justified somewhat, since Kirk is watching it on a security log.
A few shots of the Bird of Prey flying towards or away from the viewer are re-used within the movie itself. The shots are not particularly noticable, except for one where the ship's wings are clearly in attack configuration when in the previous shot they were not.
Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: The bits and pieces that Scotty pulled out of the Excelsior computer to cripple its transwarp drive.
which on closer examination are clearly copper top batteries
Take a Third Option: Kirk and McCoy on the surface, watching the Enterprise explode and burn up with all the Klingons:
Throw It In: Kirk stumbling off the chair after being told David was murdered was entirely accidental, but Leonard Nimoy felt it suited the scene, and left it in.
To be quite exact: Shatner stumbled on a previous take, whereupon the two convened and decided that the scene should include such a gesture. The recorded take was then staged, leading to the movie we now know.
Sulu as well. A towering security guard, who took exception to Sulu's sarcastic remark about his work ethic(or lack thereof) menacingly growls "don't get smart, Tiny". Cut to Sulu easily kicking his ass. "Don't call me 'Tiny'."
Trailers Always Spoil: If you listen to the DVD commentary, Harve Bennett mentions that he really wanted the Enterprise getting blown up to be a total shock to the audience, so he asked the people cutting the trailer together to please, please omit it from the trailers. What's the first trailer they come back with? "The last voyage of the Enterprise", the Face Palm must have registered on the Richter scale, though it did increase interest in the film from fans who wondered if they'd actually do it.
It actually ramped up the tension when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was billed as the last adventure for the original crew, and showed Kirk being vaporized.note It was Marta, but no one knew there would be a shapeshifter involved.
Titles Spoil: as remarked upon by Roger Ebert: "It's called The Search for Spock. What, do you think they don't find him?
However, in the Expanded Universe he's still around in the 24th century, ninety years later, having spent some time as a Federation prisoner before being released, and atones for his past failure by helping out when someone gains control of the Genesis information. See Star Trek: The Genesis Wave.
The Klingon Dictionary credits Maltz for assisting in the Federation efforts to translate and to understand the Klingon language.
The Klingon Academy PC game has an entry on Maltz in the library computer. It insists that Maltz died heroically and that there is absolutely no truth to the rumors that he survived and is currently assisting Starfleet with Klingon language translation are.
The Novelization takes things a bit differently. David explains that it was the development team, not him, who used protomatter in the Genesis device. While David did have misgivings and even verbally objected over the protomatter, Saavik berates him as he ultimately did nothing to stop his colleagues.
Spock: My father says you have been my friend. You came back for me.
Kirk: You would have done the same for me.
Zeerust: When viewing the footage of the engine room, Kirk rewinds the recording, and it looks like a VHS tape rewinding instead of instantly jumping back.
Another example is the fighter plane computer game played by the human and the alien in the bar McCoy goes to.
How many holographic arcade games do you play?
The screens, largely (though not entirely) starting with this film, are clearly CRTs. Great for making screens feature motion, but they look less like modern screens than the still-image projections and backlit photos that came before.