Running Time: 105 minutes.
Tag-line: "Kirk must battle the Klingons to protect the Genesis Planet and save a friend's life..."
Notable Cast or Crew: William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Robert Hooks (PASSENGER 57, FLED), Robin Curtis (HEXED, BABYFEVER), Christopher Lloyd (BACK TO THE FUTURE, TAXI), John Larroquette (TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, NIGHT COURT), Miguel Ferrer (TWIN PEAKS, ROBOCOP, THE NIGHT FLIER), Judith Anderson (REBECCA, LAURA), Marl Lenard (ANNIE HALL, HANG 'EM HIGH). Music by James Horner (COMMANDO, TITANIC). Written by Harve Bennett (THE MOD SQUAD, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN). Sound FX by Alan Howarth (John Carpenter's co-composer on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA).
There's a well-known "odds and evens" rule of STAR TREK movies– that is, the even ones (WRATH OF KHAN, THE VOYAGE HOME, THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY) are good and the odd ones are bad. Well, I'm here to tell you that that's not entirely true, although perhaps it will depend on your definitions of "good" and "bad," your enthusiasm for early 80s fashion, and your general interest in character actors.
The SFX hold up, too.
I'll try to make this brief, so without further ado, here's SEVEN WAYS THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK SURPASSES ITS SHAMEFUL REPUTATION:
(spoilers ahead, but then again, it doesn't really matter)
#1. Noted alcoholic Dr. McCoy being forced to order water at a bar, because he's sort of being possessed by quasi-deceased fuddy-duddy Spock. (Oh, the indignity!)
Also of note: this bar features a "Tribble" cameo:
a golden glitter glo-lamp (pictured in the second screencap), XANADU-meets-THE APPLE-style sci-fi disco barmaids, and some smoove lounge jazz. ...A+!
#2. Miguel Ferrer, celebrated portrayer of sleazebags and arrogant dicks, appears in a (very) bit part as the First Officer of the U.S.S. Excelsior. In the universe of this movie, if the Enterprise is the band of scrappy misfits, the Excelsior is the equivalent of the pompous rich kids' baseball team.
And even in the future, Ferrer still has a legendary stink-face.
#3. As I promised: John Larroquette as a sensible, semi-compassionate Klingon.
It's hard to tell it's even him under that makeup. The whole thing is kinda bizarre (apparently Laroquette was a big STAR TREK fan), and for that I must applaud it.
#4. Dame Judith Anderson, dragged out of retirement to play a Vulcan high priestess– Wait, whuutttt?!?
Best known to me as the icy and terrifying "Mrs. Danvers" in Hitchcock's REBECCA,
she was an accomplished film and stage actress who here lent some weight to religious gesticulations on a set that looks straight out of THE NEVERENDING STORY (that's a compliment, by the way).
While STAR TREK has a long, rich tradition of taking Shakespeare actors and placing them in costumes with varying degrees of silliness, I feel as if this deserves special mention.
#5. Rockin' leather jackets.
Lookin' like a bunch of kool dads who escaped a late 70s sitcom, Shatner, DeForest Kelley, and George Takei partake in the unauthorized commandeering of the decommissioned Enterprise, which, in the STAR TREK universe, is definitely a crime. But they do it in style– specifically in those rockin' leather jackets. Later, just to amplify his bachelor-pad-badassery, Shatner pops his collar... TO THE MAXX!
He's definitely ready for "the popped-collar zone."
#6. An unexpected Christopher Lloyd performance!
He's no Khan– who could be?– but he does a fine job, and I'm a bit surprised that his performance isn't mentioned more in the annals of sci-fi character work. He gives complexity to a character who, though brutish, is not merely a brute. Also, he gets a nice scene where he strangles a tentacle to death.
Lloyd throttles an ersatz Sarlaac to the minor delight of his henchmen.
The beauty of Lloyd's performance reaches its natural culmination when...
#7. We are entreated to the majestic sight of a grief-stricken William Shatner kicking Christopher Lloyd in the face until he falls off a cliff ledge... and into a volcano.
"...ENOUGH OF YOU!"
To be fair, he had it comin'. And that, ladies and germs, is worth the price of admission. Three stars!