In an earlier post, I noted that the most essential aspect of Star Trek is the trinity of Kirk, Spock & McCoy. Those three are a simplistic reflection of one state of humanity; logic (Spock), emotion (McCoy) and the balance (Kirk). In Star Trek II, this is perfectly illustrated, and thus it makes for one of the best Star Trek films.
Let’s look at the other five films in the series, and you’ll see their failure or success relies on this one aspect.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is not Star Trek, it’s Gene Roddenberry trying to serious science fiction and doing a mediocre job. The characters are just shadows of who they were in the television show, and Spock & McCoy were reduced to tertiary characters. Kirk being the primary, Decker and Ilia being the secondary characters, two characters who are boring-as-fuck, while also serving as the mould that would one day become Riker and Troi. The film seems much more interested in canonizing the Enterprise than it does with carrying the tradition of the television series onto the big screen, something it exceeds at wonderfully.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has no purpose to be reexamined as I just did it… It’s in the archives. There’s a search, you’ll find it.
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock can’t seriously be considered to follow the wonders that is this trinity, as Spock is barely in the film. McCoy is not McCoy, but a strange Bones-Spock hybrid, that while providing some comic relief doesn’t stay true to the character. Hence failing.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is one of the best Star Trek films ever made. In this film, Spock is all logic, very reluctant to embrace any of his Human heritage. He’s embodying his primary characteristic 100%. McCoy however is on a romp, he’s grown to trust Spock and lets his emotions run free on this adventure. Kirk has to play the situation quite balanced with his cards close to his chest in this very foreign arena… the 1980s… UGH! There’s no key role that Spock and McCoy have to do to guide Kirk, but their form is top notch in this romp, and the comedy is gold.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, is pure garbage. Not worth examining, then I might have to watch it.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is my favourite of all the Star Trek films. Spock and McCoy seem to serve two distinct role in this film (in relation to Kirk). Spock is his guidance and mcCoy is his guidance on Rura Penthe. On the Enterprise, Kirk needs Spocks logic to prevent his racism and hatred from controlling him when he needs to be diplomatic to the Klingon delegation. On Rura Penthe, Kirk needs guts and wits about him so that he can survive this penal colony and get back to the Enterprise.