Shiny Shelf

Star Trek: The Search for Spock

By Lance Parkin on 19 April 2009

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

Oft-overlooked, and clearly not anything like as good as the movies either side of it, ‘The Search for Spock’ is the movie where the ‘Star Trek’ universe we know and love was born. Up until then, ‘Star Trek’ had done very little in the way of establishing a coherent universe, but this is a movie that directly follows on from the last (something surprisingly rare in cinema, even given the vast number of sequels and series). Suddenly the characters have home lives, their actions have consequences, the Klingon language is an actual language and the Klingons look like ‘proper’ Klingons.

‘The Wrath of Khan’ seems to set up the true ‘next generation’ – Kirk’s getting on a bit and Spock’s dead, but their son and step daughter are waiting in the wings. She’ll take over as the Captain of the Enterprise, he’ll be the science officer, and – unlike their dads, obviously. Clearly and obviously – they’ll be lovers. That was never the plan, apparently, but it certainly looks like the plan. ‘The Search for Spock’ comprehensively rules that out – David is killed, the Enterprise is destroyed, Spock comes back.

Big things happen in this movie – I just listed three of them, but didn’t mention that the finale takes place on an exploding planet or the introduction of a couple of ship types you can’t quite imagine ‘Star Trek’ without, the Excelsior class and the Birds of Prey. But somehow the movie feels so much smaller than the previous one – despite the fact that was confined to less than a handful of sets. It’s very hard to put your finger on why – it’s the only one of the eleven movies that doesn’t suffer at all if you watch the fullscreen version. The script has lots of nice moments, but hardly any quotable lines of dialogue. Ultimately, it’s not a terribly cinematic movie, and that’s the problem.

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By Lance Parkin

Lance Parkin writes lots of things, including a biography of Alan Moore that's due out late next year. Find out more at his website.

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