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For the Love of Spock (2016)

Filmrise
DVD Released: 3/14/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/7/2017

Do we really need more information about Star Trek? Since the franchise premiered over 50 years ago, it has been analyzed, categorized, and romanticized. The amount of books, documentaries, (I would imagine) term papers, and, more recently, on-line discussions/arguments, not to fiction fan-fiction about the shows and movies would no doubt fill many libraries. From analysis of the stories to the show's symbolism, there are those who can't get enough of the series, but it all has to end somewhere. But, what if a project came from someone who wasn't a fan, but family? That's what we get with Adam Nimoy's documentary For the Love of Spock.

In the grand scheme of things, For the Love of Spock is about Star Trek. The film provides an overview of the history of the original series and the subsequent movies, offering some information about the show's creation, it's cancellation, and it's eventually resurrection on the big screen. None of this will be news to fans, but it's not really the point of the movie. The film is a love letter from Adam Nimoy to his father, Leonard Nimoy, who essayed the role of Mr. Spock. The film gives us brief journey through Leonard's early years, but it's main focus is from 1966 -- the year that Star Trek premiered -- through 2015, when Leonard died. The movie takes an unflinching look at Leonard's behavior as a parent, while also exploring the trajectory of his career, which took him from the small screen to the stage and then to the movies. But, through all of this, millions of fans always saw him as Spock, while Adam simply saw him as Dad.

Anything involving Star Trek has a tendency to be very polarizing. Those who are fans really get into it and those who aren't can't understand what all of the fuss is about. I can certainly see some of receiving a similar reaction. Make no bones (McCoy) about it, this is a Star Trek documentary. Through archive interviews with series creator Gene Roddenberry and modern-day comments from Writers like D.C. Fontana, but movie looks at the origins of the show and the effect which it had on its loyal viewers. We see Adam attend a Star Trek convention, we see memorabilia, and the piece explores the now familiar themes of multi-culturalism and exploration which imbued the show.

One gets the feeling that Adam had to add those things because A) they would be expected and B) in the event that someone watching this movie was not familiar with Star Trek, some kind of background was necessary. However, the movie is also a biography of Leonard Nimoy, and as it's made by his son, it definitely has a personal feel. It's this angle that should open For the Love of Spock up to a wider audience. While the Star Trek facts most likely won't be news to fans, the intimate look at the Nimoy family should be. There are no secrets here as Adam, along with his sister, Julie, speak pretty frankly about Leonard being an absentee father when he was working, how they ran his fan club, and his drinking. We hear how the relationship between Leonard and Adam suffered over the years, and the heartache which Adam experienced. While some may see this as idle gossip, the point here is to show how Leonard Nimoy built a career on playing an emotionless character, when all the while he had a series of ups and downs in his personal life.

Of course, for some, the appeal of For the Love of Spock will be the personalities that Adam Nimoy has lined up for the film. Not only do we get interviews with living members of the original series cast, along with some of the writers, but also JJ Abrams, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, and Karl Urban from the recent movie series. Fans of The Big Bang Theory will remember the episodes where Adam Nimoy stopped in to interview Sheldon for this documentary, and we get to hear from Jim Parsons, as well as others from that show. Unlike some other Star Trek projects, this one really shows how the series continues to pemeate culture (pop and otherwise) to this day. Again, some of the material here may not be new, but the sheer emotional honesty of For the Love of Spock makes it a worthwhile watch for Star Trek fans, both hardcore and casual.

For the Love of Spock warps onto DVD courtesy of Filmrise. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The project is made up of modern-day interviews, archived interviews, and clips from the TV series and movies, so the overall video quality varies at times. The only time we see any true issues are with some of the old interviews, but this had nothing to do with the transfer. The clips from the original series look very good and show the great use of color on that show. The modern-day interviews are very sharp and clear. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. Obviously the most important things here are the interviews, and they sound fine. We get some scattered stereo and surround effects from the movie clips.

The For the Love of Spock DVD contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Adam Nimoy, Producer David Zappone, and Film Critic Scott Mantz. "Leonard Nimoy's Boston" (29 minutes) has Leonard and Adam touring Boston as Leonard discusses his childhood and reminisces. "On Set with The Big Bang Theory" (9 minutes) gets a little meta as it takes us to the taping of The Big Bang Theory on which Adam appeared to interview Sheldon for the documentary. This features further interviews with the actors and the show's creators. "Tribeca Panel" (15 minutes) offers a panel interview shot in April, 2016, with Adam Nimoy, Mantz, Zachary Quinto, and Zappone. "Trivia Time - Jason Alexander" (4 minutes) has the actor showing off his Star Trek knowledge. The extras are rounded out by a TEASER (1 minute) and a THEATRICAL TRAILER (3 minutes).

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long