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

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 13, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    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
    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.
    The film pretty much picks up where Wrath of
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    Special Features
    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
    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.
    Of course, my favorite commentary is the text
    commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda.
    They are the authors of The Star Trek
    , 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.
    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.
    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)
    Let's take a look at The Star Trek Universe...
    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)
    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
    (length: 6.5 minutes)
    Let's now go into the archives...
    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
    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.
    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
    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
  2. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Oct 25, 2001
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    This one will live long and prosper in my DVD collection! Thanks Ron!
  3. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
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    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*
  4. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Feb 23, 2000
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    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". [​IMG]
  5. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
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    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?
  6. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Ron, thanks for the review. I'll be picking this one up and I can't wait for the ST IV SE!
  7. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    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.
  8. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

    Apr 8, 1999
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    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.
  9. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

    Jun 28, 1999
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    Central Arkansas
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    It would appear, Jim, that I've got all of Spock's marbles..... and a copy of this DVD too! [​IMG]
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    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.

  11. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

    Feb 15, 2001
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    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.
  12. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

    Sep 28, 1998
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  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein
    I agree that it seems to be the same master.
    I originally made note of that in my Final
    Appreciate you guys reading my reviews.
  14. David Coleman

    David Coleman Supporting Actor

    Jan 5, 2000
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    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. Jeff

    Jeff Supporting Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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    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.

  16. Steven_J_H

    Steven_J_H Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 30, 2002
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    Nice review, Ron. I will be picking this up.
  17. Steve Spin

    Steve Spin Extra

    Nov 4, 2001
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    In several press releases it says the soundtrack is in 6.1 EX. Has this changed?
  18. Craig_T

    Craig_T Second Unit

    Feb 17, 2001
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    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. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    The box only indicates 5.1 and that is currently
    the limits of my system
  20. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

    Oct 6, 2001
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    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!

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