On Saturday, the day after Leonard Nimoy’s passing, we watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This is the definitive “trilogy” of the Star Trek movie franchise, and all of it focuses on either the character of Spock, or the actor who plays him – Leonard Nimoy. Strangely though, upon watching these movies for the umpteenth time, it occurs to me Nimoy has very little screen time in two of them – Star Trek IV being the exception.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is mainly about Kirk, grappling with his mortality. His heroic actions aside, Spock is the focus at the end when he sacrifices his life in order to save the Enterprise after Khan detonates the Genesis torpedo. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the perfect science fiction, space opera, adventure movie. It has thrills, epic space battles, the naval tradition, philosophical debate, ambition over substance, wit and humor, and of course, pathos and catharsis.
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock is, essentially, a placeholder movie to get us to the fourth installment. It is a much smaller movie, on a smaller scale but it looks great. This is a more intimate story that deals with the lead characters as people, not members of Starfleet. They openly defy orders, steal the Enterprise, and blow it up. KIrk loses his son and his ship. He makes the ultimate sacrifice and changes the rules.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is just plain silly, but it’s fun. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise went back in time a few times before, but never on this scale. An alien probe causes ecological chaos on planet Earth while trying to communicate with an extinct species of whale. Naturally, Kirk and Spock decide to travel back in time to retrieve these whales, bring them to the future so they can, in McCoy’s words, “tell this alien probe what to go do with itself.”
Nimoy used these movies as a springboard for his directorial career, and as me and Andrew noted, his later work was comprised of unusual choices: Three Man and a Baby, The Good Mother, Funny About Love, and the inexplicable Holy Matrimony, featuring recent Oscar winner Patricia Arquette.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP