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‘For The Love of Spock’ (review)

for-the-love-of-spock-posterProduced by Joseph Kornbrodt, Kevin Layne
David Zappone, Kai de Mello-Folsom
Directed by Adam Nimoy
Featuring William Shatner, George Takei,
Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Chris Pine,
Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana,
Jim Parsons, Jason Alexander,
Neil deGrasse Tyson, J.J. Abrams

Entertaining, informative and occasionally quite moving documentary on actor Leonard Nimoy, as well as an appreciation of his most famous (and beloved) portrayal, Star Trek’s Spock.

From its fascinating home movies at the start of the film to its many celebrity insights to analyses of Spock’s immediate – and enduring – appeal, For The Love of Spock is indeed a labor of love. The film was directed – and interviews conducted by – Nimoy’s son, Adam, and the film examines Adam’s at-times rocky relationship with his dad.

While Nimoy was unwavering in his giving his fans attention, it sometimes led to his neglecting his family. Adam and his sister did resent this, but ultimately their love shines through, and For The Love of Spock is a seemingly unflinching but ultimately greatly affectionate look at their dad and his famous alter ego.

We learn of Nimoy’s fledgling career in the 50s and 60s, his landing of the role of Spock, his – and Gene Roddenberry’s – refining the role after every actor sans Nimoy was recast after the FIRST pilot. We hear of initial negative reactions to the show by both critics and contemporaries (Nimoy’s longtime friend, actor Barry Newman, warned Nimoy that his role as Spock was a “treadmill to oblivion”).

Trek fans will note many familiar faces in the doc: Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, George Takei and William Shatner (who never does address the reason he and Nimoy weren’t speaking at the time of his death, alas). Also, newer Trek alum, such as Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana and a very respectful Zachary Quinto, who has played Spock in the most recent Trek films.

For The Love of Spock dives into Nimoy’s directing career, his work as a stage actor, and yes, his musical career (fear not; “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” is represented here).

While there are certainly many tidbits here that longtime fans may be well-aware of (the origin of the “live long and prosper” gesture, for one), there were more than a few anecdotes and observations that seemed fresh to this lifelong Trek fan.

But the main selling point is part of the title: the love on display here, the respect for Nimoy and the character of Spock, and the participants’ personal anecdotes and interpretations of his universal appeal are always interesting, often emotional and sometimes revelatory.

Despite some well-tread ground, For The Love of Spock is simply a must for Trek fanatics, but it may be just as exciting for casual fans and newcomers. It’s ultimately an intriguing look at one man’s life and legacy, through his personal life and his career; simultaneously an involving character study and a valuable pulling back of the curtain on showbiz.

And damned if it didn’t make me tear up. Ahem…more than once.

For The Love of Spock arrives in select theaters and
On Demand on September 9th, 2016

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