Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Movie Poster Image
Stirring but sad science-fiction enterprise.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There is a continuing theme throughout about how to react with courage and resourcefulness in a seemingly hopeless situation. Themes of loyalty, sacrifice, friendship, and love run throughout.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though it means unthinkably rebelling against Starfleet, the main characters go above and beyond to save their comrade. Starfleet is racially and species-integrated. While many female characters are secondary, there is one standout female Vulcan character .


Phaser and photon starship battles, hand-to-hand combat with casualties, and characters evaporated by death rays. Planets and spaceships blow up.


"Bastard" is uttered in the famous line, "You Klingon bastard, you killed my son!"


Star Trek itself is an enormous commodity.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, toasts, and a 23rd-century bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Trek III: The Search for Spock includes plenty of violence, with hand-to-hand combat (and a knifing), in addition to the usual bloodless phaser fire. There's quite a sense of sadness and loss, too, and a certain heroic starship is destroyed. Kirk and the rest of Spock's friends disobey direct Starfleet orders -- a real first, in a very military discipline-oriented series -- in order to carry out their personal rescue mission.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAllAges August 13, 2020

Wonderful next chapter!

Not as brutal as Wrath of Khan in content, and still a wonderful film. Best seen right after II and before IV!
Parent Written byCooldee April 21, 2010
Teen, 13 years old Written byTrueRatingExposed October 18, 2018
not as good as wrath of khan but its ok
Teen, 14 years old Written byArwen Baggins September 6, 2020

Get your Disappointment in a box! Includes a confusing plot and comes with a few annoying plot holes too! Limited edition!

First of all I am a big fan of the original series. I have seen the second and fourth movies which are pretty good. This movie was a huge disappointment.

Ever... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the prequel to STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) gave his life to save the lives of his crewman aboard the USS Enterprise in the finale of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and got the equivalent of an old-time burial at sea, his body fired off in a missile casing. Returning to Earth after Spock's sacrifice, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) learns that not only is the starship Enterprise to be decommissioned and scrapped, but that Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly) appears to be going insane. Spock's father, the Vulcan ambassador, explains that just before Spock died, he downloaded his mind/soul into McCoy. Only by reuniting McCoy and Spock's body in a ritual on Spock's home world can both be at peace. Because Spock's makeshift coffin came to rest on an unstable planet, spawned out of the top-secret Genesis experiment in the last film, Starfleet forbids Kirk from carrying out this highly personal mission (this is the first time in the series that Starfleet itself becomes an antagonist). Kirk resorts to stealing the Enterprise -- with the help of his faithful bridge crew -- even though it's practically committing mutiny.

Is it any good?

The main problem with this movie is that viewers lacking prior exposure to other films in the series might be confused about the setup. But for followers of the classic TV cast and science-fiction fans of all ages, it's a great ride. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock ties in snugly with its predecessor Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the next one in the series, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Put end-to-end, these three practically amount to one super-sized episode. In other words, Trekkie heaven.

Some of the Khan themes seem to have gotten lost in the interim -- there are no more hang-ups about old age for this James T. Kirk, who suddenly doesn't need glasses and brawls enthusiastically. When thunderbolts rip across the skies of an unruly planetscape because someone's having a really, really tough day, it hits mythic, almost Wagnerian-opera notes. But those are minor complaints, in a space-adventure movie that has all the expected stupendous visuals, but also characters that are just as compelling. We know and care for these people, and really root for them as they risk everything for their friends. In a lot of science-fiction spectacles the actors are pretty much stick-figures, but in any given Star Trek movie or series, they're charming, funny, perceptive, touching, pained, smart -- in other words, just as interesting as the futuristic stuff. Even with planets exploding around them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Spock's code of self-sacrifice for "the needs of the many" and how Kirk reverses that, deciding that "the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many." What are times when sacrifice is appropriate?

  • Though the idea of resurrection from death is tangible throughout the film, only the enigmatic Vulcan mystic-logic culture attaches overt religious significance to the idea of an enduring "soul." The human characters, meanwhile, keep their beliefs to themselves, despite their "emotions." Do you think this is a deeply spiritual film, as many fans do?

  • Which elements of the Star Trek universe are possible and which are purely science fiction? Is there any technology that they have in Starfleet that is similar to something that exists today?

Movie details

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