YMMV: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Just for a moment, let's look at the movie from Kruge's point of view. His talk about Kirk being "an enemy of intergalactic peace!", and his fears that "The Federation, in creating an ultimate weapon, has become a gang of intergalactic criminals!", both sound like loony rants. But what if he believes that? What if Kruge is doing the wrong things for the right reasons? If he is under the mistaken belief that the top secret Project Genesis is really a super-weapon, then everything he does could be interpreted as a loyal subject of the empire trying to protect his people from their sworn enemy. Remember that the Klingon/Federation conflict was always intended to be a allegory of Cold War tensions, and that this movie came out at arguably the height of those tensions.....
    • Similarly, Kruge's killing of the gunner who "accidentally" destroys the Grissom. Was it a Darth Vader-style casual execution of an underling who screwed up? Or were his actions genuine outrage at the needless slaughter of those aboard a defenceless science vessel, only made worse by the gunner's unrepentant attitude and killing of potentially valuable prisoners?
    • In his review of the comic adaptation of the film, Linkara notes that, while some may not find Kruge as memorable a villain as others, he finds a lot more subtlety and depth in his actions than others see, and believes that, after the Klingons had begun to be depicted as a race of bloodthirsty barbarians, Kruge helped move them into the more restrained and intelligent Proud Warrior Race Guy behavior they became in the rest of the franchise. He particularly points out the scene of Kruge holding his head in his hands after the Enterprise self-destructs as a powerful moment: Kruge ordered his men into a trap he did not see coming, and for it he not only got them all killed, but their deaths were meaningless. He not only dishonored them, but himself, and is in pain over his failure. When Kirk radios him and offers the secret of the Genesis Project, Kurge seizes it on the hope he can still redeem himself by completing his mission alone.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: James Horner strikes again. Special mention goes to "Stealing the Enterprise", where the orchestra just goes fucking nuts when the Enterprise starts to move.
    • Was there a more in-series triumphant moment than immediately after "We have cleared space doors"?
      • Triumphant, yet chilling, knowing what fate lies ahead for the Enterprise.
  • Ending Fatigue: One probable cause for the film's middling reputation is that it peaks way too early. The crew stealing the Enterprise is largely considered one of the greatest moments of the entire franchise...and then there's still an hour to go. The rest of the film would probably be better regarded if it wasn't in that shadow.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: On the Special Edition DVD release of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in the text commentary by Mike Okuda for the scene where the Starfleet commander tells Kirk the Enterprise is to be decommissioned because she's twenty years old, he remarks that NASA has less trouble with old spacecraft, as the Space Shuttle Columbia was still flying despite being over twenty years old. Shortly after the DVD's release, the Columbia burned up on re-entry, killing all on board. To make things worse, the shot of the Enterprise burning up in the atmosphere resembles the Columbia disaster.
    • Possibly Harsher in Hindsight, too, the scene when Kirk meets with Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura in his apartment has gotten sadder since their actors are now the last surviving TOS castmembers as of June 2015.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The Captain's Log scene towards the start, in which Kirk rests his hand upon Spock's empty chair is more somber since Leonard Nimoy's passing in 2015.
    • The destruction of the Enterprise is even more heart-wrenching after James Horner's death in a plane crash.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The buzzing sound that ensues when the Klingons jam the Grissom's communications.
  • Ho Yay: Kirk had always put his ship before everything else in his life - until it came down to a choice between his Silver Lady and his First Officer. He chose Spock. And that's not gay... how?
    • How about the whole conversation between Kirk and Sarek at the beginning of the movie, which implied that Kirk and Spock were once romantically involved.
    • Search For Spock holds the trophy for the most Ho Yay of all the films. How could it not with such gems as:
      • Kirk and Superior Officer: "But if there's even a chance that Spock has an eternal soul... then it's my responsibility." "Yours?" "As surely as if it were my very own."
      • Kirk (to Sarek): "Your son meant more to me than you can know."
      • Kirk and Sarek: "What I've done, I had to do." "But at what cost? Your ship. Your son." "If I hadn't tried, the cost would have been my soul."
      • Spock: "Jim. Your name... is Jim." (It works in context: the only thing Spock remembers is Kirk. Daww.)
      • Sarek takes it as completely unquestionable that Spock would choose Kirk to entrust his katra to.
    • Bones' scene with Spock's body. "I don't know if I could stand to lose you again" indeed...
    • And then there's Hikaru "Don't call me 'tiny'" Sulu. Oh my!
    • Let us not forget the scene where Kruge shows his underlings the Genesis presentation, followed by him whispering his plans in the ear of Maltz with an intensity which sounds like he's going to end it with "...and then you and I will have the most epic angry sex in the history of the galaxy."
  • Magnificent Bastard: Kruge. "YES!!!! - EXHILARATING, ISN'T IT!!!!!"
    • GIIIIIIVE MEEEEE GENESIIIIIIIS!
  • Narm:
    • Kruge's line about Kirk being "Enemies of Galactic Peace!" is pretty corny when you think about it. If the movie was more popular then I'm sure more people would pick up on this beaut'.
    • "The Federation in creating an ultimate weapon has become a gang of intergalactic criminals!"
    • Klingon bastards, you killed my son!!!! (though most of the audience sympathized)
  • Narm Charm:
    • Kruge, with Christopher Lloyd's rambling Doc Brown voice, especially to the nostalgic viewers who originally watched the film as kids — you can't help waiting for him to exclaim "Great Scott!" after every one of his lines.
    • Dom Irrera's standup included viewer's confusing him with Reverend Jim.
      Dom: (as Lloyd) So, you want to take the Genesis device? ... Hokey doke!
  • One-Scene Wonder: George Takei and Nichelle Nichols were at first quite disappointed at how little they had to do in the film, but quickly changed their minds after seeing their roles while stealing the Enterprise.
  • Replacement Scrappy: The starship Excelsior.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Typically considered a decent film that had the bad luck to be sandwiched between two much better ones.
  • Special Effect Failure: Due to the conservative budget compared to the first movie, a lot of the Genesis planet looks like obviously fake once it starts to fall apart.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: David Marcus, after being revealed to Kirk's son in the previous movie, ends dying here and doesn't play any role in the future. Even his death doesn't have a huge impact.
    • His death does play a small but critical role in the sixth film, The Undiscovered Country - when Kirk is on trial after being framed for the murder of a high ranking Klingon ambassador (who wanted to negotiate peace with the Federation!) the Klingons and other assorted conspirators who framed him play a very damning recording from his personal log that paints him as having a possible motive for trying to derail the peace treaty: "I've never trusted Klingons and I never will. I can never forgive them for the death of my boy."
  • Tough Act to Follow: This film is certainly not bad, but it had the misfortune in immediately following the phenomenal Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • What an Idiot: Scotty tells Kirk that the automation is burning out as he did not anticipate combat. Enlightened society or not, the Federation would likely not be too kind to seeing its military hardware getting stolen, leaving the very real possibility that they'd need to defend themselves.
    • There's really only so much Scotty could do with just the bridge crew aboard, you would think, especially after the pounding Enterprise took in the previous movie.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Christopher Lloyd as the balls-out ruthless Klingon Commander Kruge. He was prior and after that mostly associated with comedies and light dramas. But hey, he did pretty damn well playing the most brutal Klingon captain ever seen in the Star Trek franchise. Every other Klingon captain either had minimal screentime or wound up earning at least some sympathy. Kruge was a monster, and every kick he took to the face from Kirk's boot was pure audience satisfaction. He is also the only Klingon to call Kirk on his bluff when Kirk demands his surrender.
    Kruge: He's hiding something. I must have dealt him a more serious blow than I thought.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?:
    • Chekhov's pink jacket is so bad, he changes out of it after a cutaway. Leonard Nimoy points it out in the Director's Commentary.
    • Also deserving mention is the waitress at the bar McCoy goes to.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The destruction of the Enterprise, which involved blowing up models rather than just overlaying explosions. It was so successful, they used the same technique in Star Trek: The Next Generation when the Enterprise-D is (temporarily) destroyed in the "Groundhog Day" Loop episode "Cause and Effect".
    • And parts of the blown-up Enterprise 1701 models were used in the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf 359 sequence in "The Best of Both Worlds", because they were so detailed they could be shown very close to the camera without looking fake.