Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, December 21, 2015

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Part I)

"Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"
Original Theatrical Release Date: June 1, 1984
Rating: PG
Stardate: 8210.3




So just to catch everyone up, and to remind you that you walked out the last film wanting to slit your wrists, they open this new film with footage from Spock's death scene and funeral. The picture is tiny in a sea of back, and the footage is black and white, tinted blue for extra melancholy. The picture enlarges gradually, until the footage fills the screen, and it colorizes slowly, until full saturation is reached, about the time that Kirk gives his eulogy, and stumbles over the words "his was the most... human."



It's followed up by zooming in on the Genesis planet and Spock's casket lying there among the foliage while leonard Nimoy's voice-over of the TOS intro plays. The music swells when we reach the casket and we get the title.



There's an extra-long pause in the opening credits between William Shatner's name and DeForest Kelley, because that's where "Leonard Nimoy" would have gone, and WHY DO YOU HATE ME, STAR TREK?
I can't even with this crap.
Then, at the end of what seems like a ridiculously-long opening credit sequence -



SURPRISE, MUTHAFUCKAS!
He's back, but he's behind the camera now.

Kirk's Log, no stardate given: "Limping home with my busted ship. Going in for repairs because we broke it again fighting Khan, right after it was retrofitted for new missions. A lot of the trainees have gone, been reassigned, and Saavik and David are down on Genesis, exploring."
Kirk walks around the bridge while the voice-over log is playing. He's got a bit of empty-nest syndrome, and he follows up the thought that Spock's death "feels like an open wound" and that he "left the noblest part of myself on Genesis." He pauses by the empty science station with his hand on the chair. If he had said stuff like this on TOS, I might not have bought it. But here, it comes off as earnest rather than overly dramatic.
Go home, Kirk Classic. New Kirk is the better product.



Kirk needs someone at science, so he asks Chekov to fill in. Pavel pauses uncomfortably before agreeing. Engineering is called and Kirk asks Scotty how long until they're completely retrofitted.
"Eight weeks," replies Scotty. "But you don't have that, so I'll do it in two."
Kirk smiles wryly and asks Scotty if he's always overestimated his repair times by a factor of four.



On his way off the bridge, some cute, naive little trainee asks Kirk if there will be "some kind of reception" when they get back. Kirk sees through the crap. He knows this kid wants to know if they're getting a ticker-tape parade. Even though he's smiling at this twerp, you can tell that he's in no mood to party.

We switch ships to some little clunker elsewhere in space. The people running the ship are obviously some chick and a rag-tag group of guys she hired to bring her there. They can't find the ship they are supposed to rendezvous with, so she hails empty space and gets an answer. A Romulan warbird de-cloaks right next to them.



Only it's not Romulans. Early on, there was a plan in place to make Romulans the baddies in this film, but minds were changed after the model was built. "Oh, well," they shrugged. "It's already been established that the Klingons and Romulans share ships and technology, so we can keep the model and just say it was based on that." Remember why that tech-sharing thing emerged? It was because someone on the TOS set broke the Klingon ship model and all they had left was a Romulan warbird, so they added a line about the Roms and Klingons being quasi-buddies. That's right. Someone's utter clumsiness created canon that carried over and now Klingons are flying warbirds again.
And check these Klingons out. Pretty modern uniforms, and everyone has finger-print unique forehead ridges. Noice.
Also Kruge, our Klingon captain played by Christopher Lloyd, has a targ, this creepy dog-thing.



The chick with the hair is Valkris, and she tells Kruge in Klingon that she has the information on Project Genesis. They transmit it ship to ship, and she admits that she has seen it.
"Unfortunate," he says.
"Understood," she replies, and you know what happens next.
The hapless humans she hired want to know when she's going to pay them, then Kruge gives the word and blows the little clunker to space dust. By the parting words between Valkris and Kruge, it seems implied that she's his wife or mistress or something, and he regrets having to take the action. But Klingons, man: what're you gonna do?



The Enterpise arrives at the space dock, which is also a really nice model. And ridiculously huge. Not V'ger huge, but still. We get some loveletter shots of the ship as it pulls into dock, but those don't last very long, as the E crew instantly starts scoping the tall drink of Excelsior-class parked next to them.



This is the USS Excelsior (yep, they named the class after the ship), ready for trial runs, and Sulu nearly wets himself talking about how this new ship has "transwarp" and while it's never fully explained what that is, it sounds like, in racing broom terms, this new ship is a Firebolt while everyone else is riding Nimbus 2000s.



Scotty is unimpressed.



Kirk tells him jokingly not to rag on the kids with their newfangled ideas.
We get back to more loveletter shots, but they're marred a bit by the fact that the ship is all shot to hell. We see inside of the dock viewing areas while other workers watch the ship go by. They seem impressed until they spot the damage. And who has the best reaction? Rand, y'all. She makes this face that I found kind of annoying on her when she was younger, but which is now kind of funny. Subtle, but effective.

"Are you shitting me, Kirk?"
Also, the chick to Rand's left is wearing the shirt they had on Carol Marcus in the last film. Good job, Budget.


The bridge crew is preparing to dock when Chekov spins in his chair and aggitatedly tells Kirk that he's getting a life-form reading from Spock's quarters.
"WTF?" asks Kirk. "I ordered you to seal those quarters!"
"I totes did!" protests Chekov.
"I'm not crazy! It's there!" Chekov tells Scotty in Russian. Have I mentioned how awesome it is when crew members lapse into native languages? I love that shit.
Uhura says that security Reds are reporting that the door to those quarters have been forced. Kirk rushes down there. A pair of ridiculously-dressed Reds with weapons are standing there next to the door, just kind of doing jack.



 Seriously, is this a Star Trek-Megaman crossover?

So they're armed and doing nothing and the effing captain of the ship (and an admiral!) just blindly walks into danger. Is this his idea or theirs? Because either way, it's a bad one. Rand, how do we feel about this?



Kirk turns on a light, which illuminates almost nothing, and we get spooky string-instrument music. A gravelly voice says "Jim, help me."
"You left me on Genesis. Why did you do that? Help me."
A shadowy figure in a Starfleet uniform is sitting in a chair. Kirk rushes forward and grabs the figure, but surprise! It's Bones.


"Bones, WTF? I nearly shit myself!"
"I need to go home," says Bones, who is still acting oddly. "I need to go to Mount Selaya."
"What?" asks a baffled Kirk. "That's on Vulcan, you weirdo."
"I need to go home," Bones repeats, and he collapses in Kirk's arms.
Uhura calls over the PA that they've docked completely and that some other admiral is on his/her way to do an inspection. Kirk calls back frantically that he needs a medic.


The inspection wraps up in the torpedo bay a little later, with everyone on board lined up. This other admiral gives everyone extended shore leave, except for Scotty, because they need him to oversee the final run-throughs of the Excelsior. Mostly what this tells us is, "study hard, kids, but not too hard, or else you'll end up becoming the best of the best and getting screwed out of vacation time." 
Scotty is all, "That's flattering that you want me to work overtime while everyone else gets a break, but I want to see the re-fit of my ship."
"Oh, yeah," says this new admiral. "We're retiring the E, so get your ass over to the Excelsior."
"Um, the hell?" asks Kirk. "We wanted to go back to Genesis to check it out."
"About that," says the admiral. "While you guys were away, some major shit has started over Genesis. We don't have things squared away yet, so we want you guys to keep your mouths shut about it, mmkaaay? The subject is forbidden."



Back on the warbird, Kruge and two flunkies are viewing the tapes Valkris transferred to them. The tapes include Kirk's report to Starfleet, and parts of Carol Marcus' original proposal. When it ends, he asks the two flunkies what they think of the situation, and one says that it's impressive that the Federation are able to make planets. Kruge makes fun of him by weaving some image of Klingon suburbia, then excuses him. To the other, he confides that they are going to Genesis, because he can see the potential for destruction.



In the next scene, a different class of starship approaches a planet that looks like Earth, but the title cards are kind enough to tell us that it's Genesis, and they give us the stardate (though that last part is really not necessary).This is the USS Grissom, a science vessel headed up by Commander Esteban, and it's carrying David and Saavik, who are conducting research.
Ah, but it's a new Saavik. Instead of Kirstie Alley, we got Robin Curtis. Why? Kirstie asked for more money than they were willing to pay, so they simply hired a new actress. This Saavik also plays her emotions closer to the vest. They decided to play Saavik as though she's fully Vulcan rather than a mix of Vulcan and Romulan, and it just works better. Robin Curtis actually does a pretty good job of playing a sardonic Vulcan.
Anyway, David is practically skipping across the bridge when he tells Saavik to start scanning the planet, and she replies, "Just like your father, so human." So I guess everyone knows about the Kirk-David thing. No secrets in Starfleet. Just lovely, lovely gossip.

The bridge of the Grissom is a re-dress of the E bridge, but they put pink covers on the chairs to differentiate between the Grissom and the E. The E has grey chairs. Did they use pink and grey as a subtle homage to TAS director Hal Sutherland, whose colorblindness lead to making grey tribbles pink? I doubt it. Am I going to pretend that that was the case anyway? Fuck yeah.

They begin scanning the planet, area by area, and reporting what the computer finds there. There are deserts, rain forests, and snowy areas. The funny part is that there's a snowy area right next to a very warm desert. Then they find a "metallic mass" that they identify as Spock's torpedo casing. They had not meant to shoot it down there, it had been pulled into the gravitational fields. Esteban tells his communications officer to let Starfleet know that they accidentally jettisoned Spock's casket onto Genesis.
Then something creepy appears on the screen:


So, there weren't supposed to be any animal life forms on Genesis, and now it seems that there is one. David is baffled. Esteban is baffled. Saavik is intrigued. It isn't anything the computer can identify. While they're standing around going "WTF?" David says they should beam it up to check it out.
C'mon, David. You're smarter than that. You can't let shit loose on the ship.
What's more, beaming it up isn't Star Trek.
But Saavik is wearing her What Would Kirk Do bracelet, and suggests that they beam down.
We leave it there.

Now we gather in Kirk's quarters with Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and Kirk. They toast to "absent friends" (which is very Navy of them) and talk about the E. Chekov wants to know if they're getting another ship, like if the equipment is being retired, but the crew remains together. I'm pretty sure that doesn't ever happen. Kirk admits that no one is talking to him about it. He sounds hella bitter about it, too. I guess there's some kind of conference going on, so no one in Starfleet has time to talk to Kirk about being able to go gallivanting through the universe. 
Uhura asks about Bones, and Kirk relays that the doctors think it's exhaustion and that he's resting at home.

Kirk, are you going jogging later?

The doorbell rings, and Kirk thinks it's Scotty, but -


FUCK YEAH, IT'S SAREK! SHIT JUST GOT AWESOME!
He asks to speak to Kirk alone, and the others leave.
Turns out he's pissed as hell.
He found out about the casket on Genesis thing, and wants to know why Kirk would leave him on Genesis rather than bringing his body back to Vulcan. There's some confused back and forth, but basically, Vulcans have this spirit thing called a katra, and when they die, the katra is passed to a living person to keep safe. Sarek thinks that Kirk may have the katra because he and Spock were bros and because Kirk was the last person with Spock before he died. Kirk assures Sarek that he is not Spock's personal horcrux.
"I must have your thoughts," declares Sarek.
Dude. I know you're eager to find out where your son's soul is, but mind-melding is pretty invasive. Maybe don't go demanding that shit, Sarek.
Fortunately, he then politely asks if he can, and Kirk agrees.
They get into position, and Sarek sifts through Kirk's brain. He's kind of reliving the scene while Sarek goes over those last few lines. But they determine that Kirk is not holding Spock's soul.
Kirk now feels extra guilty because Sarek has said that when a Vulcan senses death is near, he'll give his katra to someone else... and he and Spock were separated by thick glass when he died.


Sarek gets up to leave, but then Kirk gets an idea. Maybe Spock gave his soul to someone else?
They go to some computer lab or something to look at footage from that time in engineering before Spock died, and they see him mind-meld with Bones.
"Yep, that's it," says Sarek. "You have to bring the doctor to Mount Seleya on Vulcan so we can separate them."
Kirk says that it will kind of suck getting Bones to Vulcan, but he promises to do so.

We return to the Grissom. David and Saavik beam down to the surface, and they find the torpedo casing pretty quickly. They find some kind of pink thingies that look like a cross between little manta rays and those flying rubber barf pancakes from "Operation -- Annihilate!" David does a scan and says that they used to be microbes from the surface of the casing, and which were on the E when the torpedo was shot into space. he looks mildly uncomfortable when she asks how the could have evolved that quickly.


David makes the executive decision to open the casing, which sounds like Bad News Bears to me. But when he lifts the lid, they do not find Spock's decomposing body. Instead, they just find the black robes he was wearing in that meditation scene on the E. I guess he was "buried" in them. There's nothing else in the casing.
An earthquake occurs, and the wind blows, carrying with it the sound of some kind of animal cry. They begin running toward it.

Somewhere on the other side of the universe, Kirk is having drinks with the Commander of Starfleet. He wants to take the E to Vulcan. The commander tells him that there's no chance of that happening, even if Spock's eternal soul is on the line. Kirk suggests hiring a non-Starfleet ship to take Bones to Mount Seleya. The commander also puts the kibosh on that plan. Apparently, going to Vulcan is cool, but getting Spock from Genesis is not. No one is allowed to go to Genesis except for the Grissom.
"Your life and career stand for rationality, not intellectual chaos," the commander says.
Dude, what show was he watching?


Kirk is all nice to the commander, "oh well, I had to try, right?" and leaves the lounge. He is met at the lifts by Sulu and Chekov.
"Got turned down, going anyway," he tells them. 
Chekov offers to alert Bones.

And speaking of Bones...
The good doctor walks into a bar, and I wonder when he found the time to go to the cantina on Mos Eisley.


No, seriously. There's a huge array of humans and aliens, people gambling and playing games, and is that Lando Calrissian?
The waitress, who is dressed as horribly as the waitresses from "The Trouble with Tribbles", seems to know him personally. He orders a drink he doesn't typically order, and when she points it out, he gives her a line about illogic in his best Spock voice. And props to De Kelley here - he does a mean Leonard Nimoy impression. When the waitress leaves to get his drink, some weirdo sits at his table.
This guy has the syntax of Yoda, and he seriously looks like the Night Hob from The Neverending Story.



So it seems that Bones is either ahead of his friends, or they've already talked to him about hiring a ship, because he's here to do so. This guy approaches him with the offer to fly him somewhere. They argue for a bit, and Bones admits that he wants to go to genesis, and will pay quite a bit for this guy to take him there. They get too loud, and Lando Calrissian sits down next to Bones.
He's actually plain-clothes Federation security, and has been watching Bones for a while. Bones grabs his shoulder a bunch of times in a goofy attempt to pinch him, but it only makes Lando give him a WTF look.


We switch back to planet Genesis, where Saavik and David are walking from rain forest into "snow-covered cactus" territory. They follow some footprints in the snow, and report that they are picking up a second life-form. The Grisson concurs.



Back on Earth, Kirk has gone to see Bones. They tell the admiral that Bones is going to be moved soon to "the Federation funny farm." Kirk makes a "fruity as a nut cake" joke, and the guard brusquely tell him "two minutes" in return. Dude, you cannot use the term "funny farm" then dickishly not even smirk when the person you're talking to makes a similar joke. The unfunny guard lets Kirk into Bones' cell.


The fuck it's not! That's hilarious!
Kirk tells Bones that he's "suffering from a Vulcan mind-meld."


Bones then says this is revenge for all those arguments that Spock lost. These lines are fabulous, you guys.
Out in the lobby or wherever the guards hang out, Sulu gets off the lift and says that he must see Admiral Kirk immediately, because the commander of Starfleet needs to talk to him. While the unfunny guard goes to fetch Kirk, the other one behind the desk yawns. Sulu makes a "working hard or hardly working"-type joke, and the dude stands up. He's pretty tall, and he tells Sulu "Don't get smart, Tiny." What a dick.
Unfunny enters the call to find Bones laid out on the table, and Kirk decides to use the sick prisoner gag. He only gets through half of his sentence before cold-cocking the guy.


Kirk, who has drugged Bones for the journey, helps him stumble out of the cell and into that open area near the lifts, only to find that Sulu has the big guard pinned against the wall. Then he flips that asshole onto his back on the floor and phasers all of the guards' consoles like a boss. They step into the side lift and Sulu says "Don't call me Tiny" as the Megaman-helmeted Security Reds pop out of the regular lift. Going down, y'all.

Do not fuck with Sulu.

In the lift, Kirk calls Chekov and tells him they're all set. They're calling their plan operation Kobayashi Maru. Oh, Lord.

On the Excelsior, Scotty hops into a lift just as Styles, the ship's captain, hops out. The captain is turning in for the night and they make some pleasantries before the captain cheerfully says he's looking forward to breaking the E's speed records in the morning. When he leaves, the lift asks Scotty where he's going. He directs it to the transporter room.



Now we move to the Old City Space Station, where Uhura is doing an hourly checking in with someone and filing paperwork. Her uniform here is a bit different. Her skirt is longer and looser, but damn, can she still rock those boots. With stiletto heels now, too. Yowza.


Her companion is some young d-bag who probably gets starry-eyed over Kirk's Kobayashi Maru results. He complains about being stationed here, and can't see why Uhura can stand it.
She cheerfully tells him that she likes the peace and quiet, and he is stupid enough to say that that's alright for her, because she's older and her career is winding down, but he wants adventure, and to get out of this backwoods hole.
She gives him this look, and he bleeds out on the floor.


He says he wants surprises, which is fortunate, because the door opens, and in walks Kirk, Bones and Sulu. They climb onto the transporter pads, exchanging pleasantries with Uhura while she sets their coordinates. Lieutenant Adventure starts babbling. She pulls a phaser and shoves the entitled little fucker into a closet.
Eat shit, kid. Nobody tells the ship goddess that her career is winding down.

Do not fuck with Uhura.

Uhura tells her boys that she'll meet them at the rendezvous, then beams them away.

We get an exterior shot of the E in space dock, and there's a funny little bit here where you don't realize that the lights of the ship are off until the lights in the bridge dome suddenly click on. On the bridge, our boys assemble. Scotty tells Kirk that he's rerouted the functions so that a skeleton crew could fly the ship, and Kirk tells them that they really don't have to continue on with him, that only he and Bones must make this trip. Chekov says they are wasting time, and Kirk smiles and tells them to get to stations.


As they are pulling away, Chekov reports that the Commander of Starfleet has ordered him to surrender the vessel. (Poor Walter, stuck saying "wessel" the rest of his life.) Kirk tells him not to reply.
We cut over to the Excelsior, and Captain Styles is in his quarters... filing his nails. Now, I really really hate stereotypes, and perpetuating them, but this guy is a pansy.


Anyway, they let him know that someone is stealing the E. The station also goes to yellow alert, and there's a funny shot of a guy resetting the tables in an empty dining hall while the E slowly backs out of its space. You almost expect to hear those high-pitched back-up alarms.


The Excelsior powers up with orders to stop them, and Styles enters his bridge with his chest all puffed out because, you know, he'll chase down that old ship PDQ, and then he'll be a hero and whatnot.
There are a few tense moments as Scotty works to get the space doors open in time to back out of them, and no one is quite sure whether they're just going to bang into them or not. They do start to open, but no one is quite sure if they'll open wide enough and in time. Jimmy Doohan makes this fabulous face as the Enterprise pretty much slides out by the skin of its teeth.



The E pulls out and turns, heading away from the station at full impulse. And here comes the Excelsior, whose captain seems to have a "this'll be easy" attitude. The line up of matte paintings and three kinds of models is awesome in this shot.


Kirk readies for warp drive, and Styles calls him to remind him that he's gonna get into all kinds of trouble if he doesn't turn around. Kirk warps away. Styles readies his ship for transwarp, and then it literally goes splutter, splutter, splutter, putt, putt, putt. Full power available, but... well, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, and no one expects Scotty sabotage. The transwarp screen goes blank, and a cheerful "Good morning, Captain" pops up instead.

Do not fuck with Scotty.

There's a funny bit here, back on the E bridge, where Scotty likens ship innards to plumbing and tells them it was easy to "stop up the drain." He hands Bones a bunch of parts he harvested from the transwarp computer, saying "from one surgeon to another."
"Nice of you to give me a heads' up," grumps Bones.
"That's what you get for missing staff meetings," Kirk quips.
And they set sail for Genesis.

Back down on the planet in question, Saavik and David have encountered a snow storm. They follow the howling sound, scanners on and phasers drawn, when they spot the source of the sound: it's a little kid. He's naked in the snow, so Saavik puts the black burial robes on him. She tucks his hair behind his ear to reveal points and slanted eyebrows.
"Heeey, Grissom. We found that other life-sign. It's a Vulcan kid, and based on the fact that he's here, we think he might be a regenerated Spock."



WHUUUUU...?

And that's where we're gonna leave off for this week.
tl;dr: Bones is walking around with Vulcan schizophrenia, the bridge crew of the Enterprise has stolen the ship to go to Genesis, the Klingons are also on their way, and Saavik and David have found a tiny soulless version of Spock in the snow of a weird planet.

Sounds about right for Star Trek.

Fun Facts:

- Nichelle Nichols was initially unsatisfied with her smaller part in this film and considered not doing it at all. But then she read the full script and decided that her small part was awesome as hell.
- George Takei had similar complaints about being called "Tiny." He changed his mind when the film was screened and people busted up at the line "Don't call me Tiny."
- Grace Lee Whitney isn't listed in the credits as Rand. She's listed as "Woman in Cafeteria." Whatever, yo. That's Rand, and we know it.
- That little punk-ass bitch that Uhura locks in the closet is listed in the credits as "Mr Adventure."
- This film marks the first time that a cast member of Star Trek has ever directed a film or episode.


*******

I've decided to go with a "why the hell not?" policy when selecting teas of late, and to that end, grabbed up two seasonal teas, both from Bigelow. The one I tried this week is called Ginger Snappish, and featured gingerbread men on the box. I expected not to like this tea because... well, I don't really like gingerbread. The spice palette is overwhelming. But the description said it was mostly lemon with ginger, which I am willing to consume with an open mind. lemon is okay, ginger is delightful.
You guys, this tea is awesome. It tastes like lemon chiffon cake, all light and airy and lovely. No cinnamon and no god-awful clove. I was hesitant when I saw licorice root listed, but I don't really taste it at all.
Sometimes I buy a box of tea at the store and think, "Well, this will be one where the remainder of the box sits in the cupboard forever," and I kind of relegated this tea to that category in my mind, but I take it back now.
It's fabulous. If you're into lemon chiffon, you should get some.








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