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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
After the critical and financial success of Star Trek II, a third installment was going to be tricky to pull off. How do you beat Spock’s death? Easy! Bring him back!
Star Trek III is a movie that plays it incredibly safe. Almost everything that happens seems like such a no-brainer that anyone with access to a typewriter could have written this. In fact, writer/producer Harve Bennett claims that he was able to crank out the script in six weeks (which, in Hollywood, is incredibly fast).
Even though the story is paint-by-numbers obvious, it does not really bother me. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the direction by Leonard Nimoy (one of the enticements for him to return to Spock). There is such a flair for fun The Search for Spock has that it makes the film immediately enjoyable to watch.
I particularly love the “stealing the Enterprise” sequence; it is probably my favorite one of the Trek movies. It has that rare combination of intensity, fun, and lively ness that makes the theft of the starship good cinema. Despite the not-as-good-as-Khan status, Star Trek III was somewhat game changing in regards to Trek lore by redefining the Klingons into the warrior-race they will become known for in later installments.
I also have to point out William Shatner’s performance. Granted, he is not a great actor (something Shatner would be the first to acknowledge), but he really turns in a tremendous performance when he, as Kirk, learns of his son’s murder.
Star Trek III may not have been as good as what came before or after, but it is a solid film on its own where (surprisingly) a lot of important things happen. It is done in such a low key manner that one does not fully realize how essential Star Trek III is in the grant scheme of things Trek.