Kirk heads back to the Genesis planet to retrieve Spock’s body so he can be buried properly and finds that he was reincarnated and is aging at an accelerated rate. He also has to fight Klingons!
I find it amusing Leonard Nimoy, the one principal actor who didn’t want to return for Wrath of Kahn, is not only back for the third effort but he returns as the director. His first task was to find a way to bring his character back from the dead and that is done using the Genesis project. The movie opens immediately after the last movie ended with the crew on their way back, mourning the loss of Spock. When they arrive home they are informed the Enterprise is being decommissioned and the crew dispersed. Dr. McCoy, who received a mindmeld with Spock in the second movie, is acting strangely because he now holds Spock’s katra.
There are definitely some things to dislike about the movie, not the least of which is the off-screen death of Admiral Kirk’s son, something that should have been more powerful than it turned out to be. But despite the shortcomings, this film works on its own merits. It is the middle chapter in a trilogy (2, 3 and 4) and possesses the sense of tragedy a middle chapter should. It is the darkest of the three, the crew at their lowest point and Spock in need of rescue, and then ending is very dark, although tinged with the same hope they left Wrath of Kahn with.
This movie is nowhere near as action packed as its predecessor nor as funny or charming as the next movie but it is further proof that the law of odds (the odd numbers suck) is not necessarily true. It should not be judged against the movie’s surrounding it and works well on its own, Nimoy showing great care with the character he has grown into.
There is an audio commentary track with Leonard Nimoy, writer Harve Bennett, cinematographer Charles Correll and Robin Curtis. They are recorded separately and it is Nimoy who has the most to say which is just fine by me. Unlike Nicholas Meyer, who was pompous and annoying on his track, Nimoy is a joy to listen to. He has a laid back manner and his tone is conversational. I loved this commentary track. There is a second track with Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor, who at the time were fans. Moore went on to write First Contact and Generations while Taylor was a writer for Voyager. They put on a more interesting talk track as they converse about the scenes, the characters and their thoughts about the entire universe. Both tracks are worth your time. The same Library Computer feature that was on the other movies is also available here.
Captain’s Log is another fantastic look back at the film with the cast and crew. Director Leonard Nimoy had a lot of great stories to tell about the making of the movie. However, the real star is William Shatner who is hilarious as he always makes fun of Nimoy. There is the antidote that they weren’t going to let Nimoy direct the movie because they thought he hated Spock and demanded that his character die. When Nimoy said that was not true, they gave him the reins to the film. Terraforming and the Prime Directive is the next feature, looking at the opportunity to discuss how this science fiction can be utilized in real life. This feature talks about how to support life on Mars. It is kind of interesting, and I understand it’s relative to the Genesis project from the movie, but it has nothing to do with the movie so it is dispensable.
Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek (HD) is another special effects featurette, the most interesting part being the destruction of the Enterprise. Spock: The Early Years (HD) is a look at the young actors who play Spock throughout his childhood. The one we hear the most from is Stephen Manley, who played the seventeen year old Spock who Ponfarred into manhood.
Space Docks and Birds of Prey is a 27-minute feature over the design and techniques used to shoot the ships in the movie (the Enterprise and the Excelsior). It is a second visual effects feature but this one seems more focused, looking at the models, camera shots and more. Speaking Klingon is a fascinating feature where the man who created the language for Klingons and Vulcans explains how he created it. He goes through the steps showing how he developed not only the words but also the grammar rules for the languages. I am amazed at the work he put into this task.
Klingon and Vulcan Costumes discusses the costume design for the movies. Star Trek and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (HD) is a sit-down interview with Harve Bennett about his contributions to the Star Trek universe. I bet you’ll never guess where they had the sit-down interview! This is interesting because Bennett is a smart guy with a lot to say about the genre. H says he originally was hired because he agreed the first movie was boring and said he could make a better movie for less money. His script ended up being Wrath of Kahn. Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 003: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer is the same sort of thing you saw on the previous discs. They are still not worth your time. Also included are photos, storyboards and a trailer.