Star Trek III: The Search For Spock is a dark, dark movie
It has been 35 years since The Search For Spock, one of the darkest entires in the Star Trek film franchise arrived in theaters.
Man, Star Trek III: The Search for Spockis a dark film.
You may not think that at first. I mean, Spock is returned to us after the tragic events of The Wrath of Khan and the crew of the Enterprise is made whole once more. But I decided to watch it again since it has been 35 years on June 1 since the film arrived in theaters and let me tell you, Search for Spock is a dark movie.
David, the son James Kirk was just getting to know, is killed by Kruge on the Genesis Planet in what is still one of the most emotional scenes in all of Star Trek. Then Kirk leaves his body there as the planet consumes itself!
Maybe his mother might have wanted to say goodbye?
The USS Enterprise, one of the most recognizable and famous space ships in all of science fiction, is destroyed, obliterated in orbit of Genesis. And not from an attack by the Klingons or Romulans, but by the hand of its captain, James Kirk.
Watching as the saucer section exploded is one of the seminal moments of my teenage years. My jaw was on the floor of the theater as the ship became a ball of fire and was destroyed. Things like that just didn’t happen in franchises like Star Trek.
Then there was the fact that Kirk, McCoy and the rest were officially outlaws, their careers in Starfleet effectively over. Sure, we knew in the back of our mind that they would likely be exonerated, but we didn’t know that for sure when Captain Styles told Kirk that he would never sit in the captain’s chair again.
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And of course, let’s not forget the utter failure that was the Genesis Project. Because of David trying to fix things in a way that is eerily similar to how his father would have, years of research is essentially for nothing. The scientists who perished on Regula I stalling Khan died completely meaningless deaths. If David had lived, the guilt likely would have been unbearable for him.
At its core, The Search for Spock is a film about death. Death of family, death of career, death of a beloved object we love. It’s a film about how much would you be willing to give up to get something back you thought you had lost forever. For James Kirk, it turns out the answer to that is a whole lot.
By the time the credits roll, the viewers and the characters have been on one incredibly emotional journey. Kirk and the former crew of the Enterprise are left in a far different place from where they were at the end of Wrath of Khan. It gives the finale of Search for Spock a sense of excitement that has been missing from all the films that would come after.
We really didn’t have any clue what was coming next.
Yes, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is one dark experience, unlike any other film or episode in the history of the franchise. That’s probably why so many people enjoy it so much. And it might also explain why The Voyage Home proved so popular. After all that death and destruction, Trek Nation needed a little levity.
So happy birthday to Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. You may not be the film I turn to when I’ve had a bad day, but you are definitely one of the better and deeper entires in the series.