by Michelle Erica Green

Grade: B
Production: Paramount, 1984
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Video Summary:

As Kirk struggles with the knowledge that the Enterprise is to be decommissioned, he learns that not all of Spock was lost during the battle with Khan and the creation of the Genesis planet. Spock's katra, his living spirit, has been placed inside the mind of Dr. McCoy, who is slowly going insane. In order to save both his friends, Kirk realizes he must return to the Genesis planet, which is developing in ways creator David Marcus never expected.

But a vicious Klingon commander has discovered the existence of Genesis and is determined to possess the new technology for his empire. While Kirk disobeys Starfleet orders to return to that region of space, Commander Kruge destroys a starship and takes David and Saavik hostage...along with a young, regenerated Spock. Kirk risks everything he has to save what he most values -- his friends.

Best For Ages:

6-8 - This film is somewhat violent for younger viewers, but the brutality is never gratuitous, and the end justifies the means.

8-12 - Like the rest of the STAR TREK films, this installment will be easily accessible and entertaining for pre-teens.

12 & up - Those unfamiliar with the franchise may find this movie slow and a bit hard to follow; for fans, however, it's a pivotal event in the history of Star Trek.

Parental Advisory:

Educational Value: As is typical on Star Trek, scientific skills and creative solutions are not only praiseworthy but necessary for survival. In addition to the human values of loyalty and compassion, both Klingon and Vulcan language and culture evolve in THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK.

Entertainment Value: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK lacks some of the battle-based excitement of other Trek films, but its dark humor and planet-bound adventures are appropriate to the subject matter. There aren't spectacular space battles or time travel, but viewers won't forget the dramatic visual image of the Enterprise burning up in a planetary atmosphere.

Violence: A Klingon brutally murders Kirk's son David. Kirk destroys the Enterprise with many Klingons aboard, then kills his alien adversary.

Sex: Spock enters pon farr, the Vulcan mating fever, and Saavik offers to help. Children and adults who have never seen the episode "Amok Time" will miss the implications of this event.

Profanity: Very mild language and innuendo.

Emotional Intensity: McCoy believes he is going insane when Spock's living essence manifests in his mind. Kirk enters a mind-meld with Spock's father to understand what has happened. David is killed in a hostage situation as Saavik watches helplessly. The crew watches as their ship explodes.

Questionable Behavior: Starfleet officers lie to their superiors, steal one starship and sabotage another. David admits to using an experimental, unstable substance in a scientific project, jeopardizing the research and many lives.

Mature Themes: Death and the possibility of reincarnation impel this film. Kirk and his crew risk their lives and livelihoods to save one friend. David chooses to die rather than risk Saavik's life.


The darkest of the Trek movies, THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK opens with a demoralized Kirk learning that he may lose his starship and his remaining good friend. Even before he finds Spock, however, he has learned how far his crew will go for him, as Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu commit sabotage and violate orders to make a rescue mission possible. But the worst is yet to come. Kirk will lose the son he barely knows before he can regain the man he once described as his brother.

Despite a wide range of law-breaking, all done with good humor (Scotty swears at a turbolift, Uhura makes a young officer sit in the closet), THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK is one of the most moral Trek installments produced. Kirk must weigh the prestige of his career and the dignity of Starfleet Command against his responsibility to his friend, going against even the Vulcan's own dictum that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The choice requires sacrifice and some bloodshed, but it's clear all along that he's fighting for a higher cause than selfish needs.

Younger viewers may be confused by the science of reincarnation in this film, but since kids are accustomed to seeing the dead return to life in fairy tales like SLEEPING BEAUTY and SNOW WHITE, they usually accept the events. Older viewers may be puzzled by references to previous Star Trek episodes if they're not familiar with the series, but it's hard for anyone not to be moved by the reunion at the end.

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