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HTF REVIEW: "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (with screenshots)


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#1 of 45 Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 13 2002 - 12:39 PM

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Star Trek III: The Search For Spock






Studio: Paramount
Year: 1984
Rated: PG
Film Length: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English



A dying planet. A fight for life.


By the end of Wrath of Khan, it looked
pretty certain that Leonard Nimoy would never
again be part of the Star Trek franchise.
Miraculously, Leonard Nimoy agreed to let Spock
return to life if he got to direct his first
feature film...thus, the Search for Spock
began.

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If you want to side with popular opinion, the
best of the original Star Trek series movies are
all the even numbered ones. I tend to side with
that opinion, as Star Trek III: The Search for
Spock
doesn't manage to capture the magic of
its predecessor. The story is weak, there's no
grand villain here, and Kirstie Alley is so
greatly missed as Saavik (replaced by Robin Curtis).
Though the movie is not one of the better films of
the series, perhaps it can be said that it is the
best odd-numbered film of the bunch.

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The film pretty much picks up where Wrath of
Khan
left off. Admiral James T. Kirk (William
Shatner) has returned from his adventure, shattered
after the death of his trusty and logical side-kick,
Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Meanwhile, Dr McCoy (DeForest
Kelley) is beginning to act strangely.

At this low point, Kirk receives a visit from
Sarek, Spock's father (Mark Lenard.) Together the
two of them learn that McCoy's trouble is a result
of a mind meld performed by Spock just prior to
his death.

Posted ImagePosted Image

In the meantime, a Klingon named Kruge (Christopher
Lloyd) has come to possess a copy of the information
on the Genesis project and is on his way to the
planet to discover its secret and try and make a
weapon of his own to help the Klingon Empire. While
the Klingons race to Genesis, Kirk attempts to
convince Starfleet to let him use the Enterprise
to pick up Spock's body and return it and Bones to
Vulcan. Kirk's attempts prove to be unsuccessful
as Starfleet has absolutely quarantined the planet
until further notice.

The choice before Kirk now is whether to obey
Starfleet and condemn his two closest friends or
to rebel and save them.


How is the transfer?


What immediately strikes me about this transfer
is that it's unordinarily sharp. Not that it's
a bad thing, but it tends to look more coarse than
the smoother transfers I have seen with the previous
Star Trek films. Perhaps the upside to such a sharp
transfer is that colors are strikingly bold here,
with nice vivid reds and deep blacks. There is far
better color representation here than I have seen
on other Star Trek transfers. The downside is that
the sharpness brings out more grain in the picture
than I would have preferred. One small scene that
seemed to have a problem was towards the beginning
of the film where female Vulcan Valkris is talking
to Kruge via transmission. The scene is lit in dark
reds surrounded by smoke which gave off little bits
of artifacts. Otherwise, I am rather pleased by
the overall transfer.

Posted ImagePosted Image

A rather aggressive 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is well
distributed across the 5 channels starting with
James Horner's triumphant score. What I really
enjoyed most about this mix was that the rears do
a wonderful job of bringing out the smallest
details of a scene. Take for instance the scene
early on where Kirk is pleading to the Starfleet
Commander that Spock must be saved. While all the
dialogue is happening in the center channel, you
can hear conversations from distant Starfleet
officers in the rear channel. It's this dedication
to detailing sound that makes watching this film
that much more enjoyable. Ambient effects also are
nicely placed such as the howling winds of the
Genesis planet that blow across the rears to fronts
and then back again.

Posted ImagePosted Image

The soundtrack gets some nice LFE support in
giving life to the ship's engines. There is
this hum that constantly reminds you that you
are aboard a very powerful vessel. There's also
some really nice bass response as the Genesis
planet ages in surges. You'll also love the
amount of bass dedicated to the bird-of-prey
flyovers.


Special Features

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Star Trek III arrives in a 2-disc Special
Collector's Edition. Upon inserting the DVD,
you'll be greeted with a new digital motion menu
that hovers over the planet Vulcan as the
bird-of-prey comes in for a landing.

There are two commentaries provided on this
DVD.

The first is a full-length audio commentary
by director Leonard Nimoy, writer/producer Harve
Bennett, director pf photography Charles Correll
and Robin Curtis. As the commentary begins, Nimoy
reflects upon the ending of the previous film where
no-one expected the Spock character would return.
With the success of Wrath of Khan, Nimoy
explains how desperately the studio wanted the
character back. Nimoy wanted to create a rather
operatic movie with lots of emotion, looking at
the themes of death and resurrection. Harve
Bennett talks about using his television mentality
in creating a flashback opening so that anyone
who did not see the previous film would immediately
be drawn into this one. Up until this commentary I
never even noticed pink chairs on a secondary
starship -- but there they were, and Nimoy explains
why they were added. Robin Curtis talks about
being cast for the role of Saavik, including her
one-on-one meeting with director Nimoy (that
included many callbacks). We also learn here how
Nimoy really defined the Vulcan culture in this
film, carefully exploring the roots of his character.
The commentary is quite nice, rolls along very
fluidly, but I highly suspect that none of these
people were in the recording session together making
this a lesser group effort.

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Of course, my favorite commentary is the text
commentary
by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda.
They are the authors of The Star Trek
Encyclopedia
, and I can't begin to tell you
how much cool information is provided within
the subtitle portion of the picture. The best
part of reading this text is that Michael and
Denise seem to be having a lot of fun with it all,
pointing out all the little goofs that are going
around the main action sequences. Want to know
what that little CAUTION sign says in the
transporter room? Well, you'll find out right here!
I sure hope that Paramount continues to include
this feature on all future Star Trek releases.

Posted Image

Disc Two begins with the same motion
menu as disc one, but almost in reverse as we
stop at the high cliffs of the Vulcan planet where
our menu choices are laid out for us.

Although I have often complained about Paramount's
lack of including trailers on their single-disc
editions, one of the most impressive things the
studio has done is included Subtitles for
their supplemental materials. If you wish to view
the supplements with the aid of text, be sure to
select Setup before you begin.

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Harve Bennet talks about the success of Star
Trek II
as we begin watching Captain's Log.
In fact, the film was so successful, that within
three days of its opening, Paramount chief Michael
Eisner asked Harve to start writing the third film.
In separate interviews, a rather hefty William
Shatner sort of embellishes upon the prospect of
Leonard Nimoy returning. Leonard talks about a
rather interesting conversation he had with Eisner
about what was exactly described in his contract
as far as returning to do another film. It seems,
from listening to Nimoy's interview, that his fellow
cast members weren't very enthusiastic about having
one of their own direct a Star Trek film. Most
of the feature was filmed on soundstages, as
Director of Photography Charles Correll talks about
the challenges of creating a Genesis planet where
everything shakes and falls apart. If you think
that's interesting, wait until you hear about the
fire on the Paramount stage. Christopher Lloyd
(who looks like Abe Vigoda) talks about capturing
the essence of his Klingon character as Robin
Curtis (Savaak) jokes about Lloyd having some
problems using a communicator prop. Intertwined
with all these great stories are tons of B&W stills
from the set, many of Nimoy behind the camera.
(length: approx. 26 minutes)

Terraforming and the prime directive
brings together an author, a NASA research
scientist and a Director of the Planetary
society to describe the logic behind Star
Trek III. I think many of you may find yourself
getting a little lost within in all this scientific
information, but some of you may opt to hang in
there to find out how Star Trek grapples with the
social and philosophical ideas of dealing with
other environments.
(length: approx. 25 minutes)

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Let's take a look at The Star Trek Universe...

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With more money available for this production,
Space Docks and Birds of Prey introduces us
to the ILM effects team that brought aboard new
visuals and ship designs that added a grand new
scale to the film. Not only do we get a detailed
look at the original space dock model used in the
film, but we learn how Japanese influence led to
the design of the Excelsior. In an interview
with Leonard Nimoy we learn how much influence he
had on designing the Klingon bird-of-prey ship.
This is a nice featurette that dwells not only
in model designs, but putting together many of the
various model effect shots including the destruction
of the Enterprise itself.
(length: approx. 27 minutes)

In Speaking Klingon, we meet Mark Okrand,
the creator of the Klingon and Vulcan dialogue.
We learn that the Klingon dialogue was harder to
create because it wasn't an overdub, but rather
something that had to be created from scratch.
With marker in hand, Mark puts together an entire
chart of sounds that became the Klingon language.
This remains interesting for its first few minutes,
but after a while, you find yourself noticing that
its just going on for too long.
(length: approx. 21 minutes)

Posted Image

Klingon and Vulcan Costumes introduces us
to Maggie Shpak (hey that sounds like Spock) who
with her partner is responsible for making many
of the insignias and jewelry that is found in
the Star Trek films. She describes how the
jewelry really defines what that character's traits
are. Costume Designer Robert Fletcher is the
man responsible for giving the knobby foreheads
to the Klingon characters and shows us some of his
original sketches that weren't initially liked by
Roddenberry. You'll have the opportunity to look
at some of the Klingon jewelry as well as Starfleet
insignias designed for the film.
(length: approx. 12 minutes)

I don't know if this is meant to be an easter
egg
or not, but click on the lower Vulcan
formation between the two towers to see a 6-minute
piece that features Supervisor of Visual Effects
Ken Ralston who discusses the different types of
visual tricks used in the film from models to
matte paintings to puppetry and pyrotechnics. It's
kind of cool to see that a lot of this stuff was
pure experimentation and whose results were often
surprising.
(length: 6.5 minutes)


Let's now go into the archives...

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There is a whole handful of original storyboards
here (10 in all) that give a very detailed look
at the original concepts used for filming. From
the Main Titles right through the film's
final Katra Ritual, you'll be amazed how
detailed these storyboards were and how vital
they became for properly coordinating each filmed
segment.

There are two sets of Photos for you
to browse through using your remote. The first,
Production Photos, takes us through
approximately 25 black and white/color photographs
of shots taken on the set. The Movie
presents us with approximately 25 color production
stills from the film itself. Unfortunately, there
isn't anything devoted to the promotion of the
film here by way of poster art.

Posted Image

Again, I have to give some points to Paramount
on this release. Not only have they included the
film's original theatrical trailer, but
they have included the upcoming teaser trailer
for Star Trek Nemesis which looks like
it's going to be amazing!


Final Thoughts

Posted Image

Star Trek fans rejoice! Paramount continues
to give first-class treatment to these Special
Collector Edition releases. Though in many cases
the transfer is the same as the original DVD
releases, there is no denying that the wealth of
supplements make the repurchase of these discs
tempting -- after all, wasn't that exactly
what the studio was hoping for?


Release Date: October 22, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 45 Adam_WM

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Posted October 13 2002 - 12:46 PM

This one will live long and prosper in my DVD collection! Thanks Ron!
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#3 of 45 Kenneth Cummings

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Posted October 13 2002 - 12:50 PM

Even so I yet to get a single Star Trek DVD, if a good deal comes along for this and Khan (which my brother end up buying, because he likes the flim), I might up getting it. Otherwise, just wait if the week is slow or not. But great review Ron, and glad you continue to post them after all these years.

[edit] Not to nitpick, but on Spork, you have a captial P! *gets smited*
I need a new signature.

#4 of 45 Kevin M

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Posted October 13 2002 - 12:52 PM

I am so glad I waited for Paramount's Star Trek SE series to begin before I spent any money.


Not to offer a counter-nitpick Kenneth, but it is spelled "Spock" not "Spork". Posted Image
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#5 of 45 george kaplan

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Posted October 13 2002 - 01:23 PM

Sorry to be dense Ron, but I can't tell from your review: Is this the same transfer as the existing dvd or a new one?
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#6 of 45 SteveGon

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Posted October 13 2002 - 01:47 PM

Ron, thanks for the review. I'll be picking this one up and I can't wait for the ST IV SE!

#7 of 45 Neil Joseph

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Posted October 13 2002 - 02:08 PM

TRhanks for the review Ron. I like it when a review has specific examples regarding sound and picture quality issues and not the usual talk.
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#8 of 45 Dave Scarpa

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Posted October 13 2002 - 02:26 PM

I'm always surprised that this film get's grouped into the Odd number Film theory. I've always enjoyed this movie. It had the TV show's sensability and adventurous spirit. It had one of the Best turns from Deforest Kelly. Christopher Lloyd was Christopher Lloyd but he was an OK Villian. And for me going as far back as My Beta Video of this Movie (Beta Hi FI !) the films climatic ending was always demo material for me to show off my system with the wonderful sense of envelopment as the Genesis planet disinegrates around you.

Am I right that the original Trek releases were Single Layer? I would think that a Dual Layer release would help the picture a tad.

I'm dissapointed that no new footage is included, but I'm not sure that this film had any. I hop any film that does have extra stuff, like maybe the skyjumping scenes from Generations, make it into at least a Deleted scene section.

I Look forward to this next week.
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#9 of 45 Clinton McClure

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Posted October 13 2002 - 03:32 PM

It would appear, Jim, that I've got all of Spock's marbles..... and a copy of this DVD too! Posted Image

#10 of 45 Robert Crawford

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Posted October 13 2002 - 03:56 PM

Sorry to be dense Ron, but I can't tell from your review: Is this the same transfer as the existing dvd or a new one?

George,
I believe it's the same transfer, but with a new dvd master over a dual layer disc instead of the original single layer disc which would enhance the quality of the dvd presentation.




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#11 of 45 Travis D

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Posted October 13 2002 - 04:03 PM

I feel so bad that I haven't bought any of these yet. I'm waiting in the dark for the eventual big box set with Star Trek's 1-10. (yes, I meant to include Nemesis in that.)

Don't worry Paramount, if some of the individual sales numbers are lower than expected, just wait 'till you put that set out... It'll be huge.
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#12 of 45 GlennH

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Posted October 13 2002 - 07:12 PM

Quote:
I believe it's the same transfer, but with a new dvd master over a dual layer disc instead of the original single layer disc which would enhance the quality of the dvd presentation.
The dvdfile.com review confirms this to be the case:
Quote:
...this new two-disc deluxe set features what appears to be the same transfer as the previous release. However, now spread out over a dual-layer disc as opposed to being compressed all on a single layer, this new version does boast what looks to be a bit more detail and sharper colors. In all other respects, however, they are comparable.


Thanks for the review Ron. I never got the bare-bones release and I have this one on preorder.

#13 of 45 Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 13 2002 - 08:47 PM

I agree that it seems to be the same master.

I originally made note of that in my Final
Thoughts
.

Appreciate you guys reading my reviews.

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#14 of 45 David Coleman

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Posted October 13 2002 - 10:34 PM

Seems like this title is going from a "non-buy" to a "must buy" for me! I've always liked this one but have sometimes fallen into the "odd number theory" as this is the only "odd numbered" one i like.

#15 of 45 Jeff

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Posted October 14 2002 - 12:24 AM

Does the previous release suffer from the sharpness "issue"?

I hope the artifacts are kept to a minimum. I find it's so much easier to see artifacts when there is too much sharpness involved. First Contact really suffers from artifacts and I hope ST III SE is not nearly as bad.


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#16 of 45 Steven_J_H

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Posted October 14 2002 - 03:01 AM

Nice review, Ron. I will be picking this up.

#17 of 45 Steve Spin

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Posted October 14 2002 - 09:05 AM

In several press releases it says the soundtrack is in 6.1 EX. Has this changed?

#18 of 45 Craig_T

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Posted October 14 2002 - 10:28 AM

I think I'm gonna pass on upgrading this one. Since the transfer is basically the same as the old disc, and there are no real cut scenes included. Many of the extras seem pretty dry, and DVDFile claimed that during the last featurette "those still awake will likely want to be lobotomized." Plus I'm still having nightmares where I'm forced to listen to that hardcore trekker on the Wrath of Khan DVD. You know, you know, you know, you know who I mean? I'm definitely going to upgrade Part VI though, which desperately needs a new release.

#19 of 45 Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 14 2002 - 10:33 AM

The box only indicates 5.1 and that is currently
the limits of my system

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#20 of 45 Blu

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Posted October 14 2002 - 11:07 AM

I am wanting this one. I get chills when I see the Enterprise destructing in the sky.
Christopher Lloyd is very very good as a Klingon as well!!!
I really enjoy pretty much all of the Trek films and always hope they get better. Nemesis looks amazing!
Hope it sets the high water mark for Trek films!