InÂ The Search for Spock, Kirk defies the Federation in order to find his friend. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.
Goddamn, these movies are making me emotional. ITâ€™S TOO MUCH. But letâ€™s discuss some things because SPOOOCCCCKKKK.
The Good Stuff
Right off the bat, I knew Iâ€™d have a good time because of the unexpected serialization inÂ The Search for Spock.Â Well, the title itself was kind of a spoiler, but not one that ruined the experience for me. I WAS FINE WITH IT BECAUSE IT MEANT THAT SPOCK COULD COME BACK. And yet, going into this film with this idea in mind, I didnâ€™t think weâ€™d see the eventsÂ immediately after the last film. Itâ€™s such a great touch, a welcome surprise, and a rewarding way to handle this franchise. Part of that is because of immediacy; the emotions surrounding Spockâ€™s death are still raw, and you can see it in the faces of these characters. Spockâ€™s loss is heartbreaking, and we never forget that, even as these people seek him out. And thatâ€™s fascinating to me. Even though thereâ€™s confirmation from Sarek that Spock isnâ€™t really dead, the crew never allows themselves to get excited about the possibility of resurrecting him. Itâ€™s like theyâ€™re expecting disappointment.
Of course, their muted reactions to all of this is also due to the circumstances of their mission. For the first time in the series, Admiral Kirk and his friends openly defy the Federation. Yâ€™all, THIS IS SUCH A HUGE DEAL, andÂ The Search for Spock treats it that way. Thereâ€™s a pervasive theme of sacrifice throughout this film, and the first one we witness is Uhura, Bones, Scotty, Chekov, and Kirk sacrificing their careers in order to find Spockâ€™s body and bring it to Vulcan. One of the things thatâ€™s so much fun about watching this is that this film â€“ probably more than the others â€“ feels like old friends banding together to cause mischief. Each of them gets a chance to shine in these early scenes, such as Suluâ€™s fight or Uhuraâ€™s threats. Like the show and the past movies, theyâ€™re still mostly in the background after this. (And I was a little peeved that Uhura got shoved offscreen for over an hour.) But thereâ€™s a camaraderie here thatâ€™s pleasing to watch, especially since we know how serious it is that theyâ€™ve all betrayed the Federation.
Thematically, the film explores a spiritual cycle of sorts. This really is a movie about life, aging, death, and rebirth. While I donâ€™t think the film succeeds at everything, thereâ€™s a massive scope to the underlying meaning of this journey. Itâ€™s ambitious, and for the most part, it works. The Federation is becoming younger, and its needs and goals are changing. What happens when Kirk finds out that theÂ Enterprise is being decommissioned? Well, he and his friends steal it. And when the time comes, they understand when theÂ Enterprise truly HAS served its function to them. The same goes for David, who tried to toy even further with the powers of Genesis than we previously knew. In doing so, he caused the Genesis planet to revive Spockâ€™s body IN THE FORM OF A CHILD. Alongside the planet, Spock ages rapidly. The science of it escapes me, but I understood this parallel journey. The point here is that everything ages, and everything eventually dies. I think that perhaps David was doing penance for his actions by sacrificing himself for Spock and Lt. Saavik. (I haveâ€¦ things to say about this.) He sacrifices himself, just days after Spock did so, and the cycle continues.
I felt like this film was a lot more muted in terms of acting, and thatâ€™s okay. Itâ€™s a nice middle ground between the first and second films. Thereâ€™s no moment quite like Kirk screaming about Khan. Instead, we get his building rage at losing David; we get his tearful reunion with Spock, which is FOREVER going to be one of my favorite scenes in this whole fictional universe. God, itâ€™s done so, so well, particularly by using all the callbacks to the death sequence to â€œresurrectâ€ Spockâ€™s mind. Itâ€™s a clever way to re-use something thatâ€™s gut-wrenching in order to represent his rebirth. (Wow, now that I say it like that, this really does have a lot of Christian imagery to it, doesnâ€™t it? Thatâ€™s neat!)
And holy shit, Iâ€™mÂ so into the â€œTo Be Continuedâ€ nature of the ending. I was so confused as to how they were going to deal with theÂ katra ceremony AND the destruction of theÂ Enterprise AND returning home in the span of twenty minutes, but I think itâ€™s a bold move to leave that up in the air. (Shit, Iâ€™m so excited for the next film, yâ€™all!) Thereâ€™s so much they need to deal with! Instead, we get more time at the ceremony and a longer reunion scene, and Iâ€™m fine with that.
Iâ€™m normally into dramatic scenes being played without music (No Country For Old Men is a brilliant example of this), but Davidâ€™s death scene is just so tonallyÂ weird here. It justâ€¦ happens? Kirkâ€™s reaction is where all the weight is, which is fine, but it was otherwise a very odd moment at the time. But itâ€™s indicative of the larger issue I have withinÂ The Search for Spock: the Klingon plot was SO BORING.
Aside from the shocking self-destruct sequence of the Enterprise, there was no need to ever have this plot. What does it add to the larger themes of the film? Couldnâ€™t you have the destruction of the Genesis as the main conflict and still keep a great deal of this story? Regardless of this, I still thought that Kruge was so one-note as an antagonist that I couldnâ€™t bring myself to be interested in him. The film drops a ton of brownface makeup onto white actors (STOP DOING THIS), and deliberately invokes a lot of racial superiority metaphors in the process, and YAWN. I couldnâ€™t care about this! The film borrows so heavily from the least interesting part of Klingon mythology, adding onlyâ€¦ a really weird rat dog thing??? WHY IS THAT THERE? Why does Kruge kill that evolving worm? Are we supposed to think heâ€™s ruthless and heinous because of it? Why would you introduce a villain if they arenâ€™t going to do anything significant?
Itâ€™s a huge dark spot in this film, which was quite good otherwise! Christopher Lloyd as a Klingonâ€¦ ugh, itâ€™s too weird for me, too full of bad science fiction tropes that keep this entire plot from feeling like any old episode ofÂ The Original Series. I wanted more from a film that did so many other things right.
Anyway, IÂ really canâ€™t wait to see this next one. HOW ARE THEY GETTING HOME IN A VULCAN SHIP??? Are they all going to be cast out of the Federation??? Iâ€™M SO EXCITED.
The video forÂ The Search for Spock can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– Mark Does Stuff is now on Facebook! Feel free to Like the page, which I’m running myself, for updates and SILLINESS.
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features will beÂ The Legend of Korra, seasons 2 – 4, series 8 ofÂ Doctor Who, and Kings.
– The 2015 Mark Does Stuff tour is being announced!!! Check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!