After 50 years of Star Trek, what more could there possibly be to say? As it turns out, quite a bit.
Originally envisioned as a profile of one of TV’s most fascinating characters, the focus of For the Love of Spock pivoted somewhat when Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy died last year. The famous Vulcan still gets plenty of screen time, to be sure, but director Adam Nimoy—Leonard’s son—wound up expanding the documentary to include a finer look at his famous dad, and their sometimes prickly father-son relationship.
With plenty of archival footage including family photos and home movies, For the Love of Spock may be a deeply personal film, but it’s also one that pretty much anyone can identify with. Like all families, the Nimoys experience love, strife, responsibility, resentment, and, ultimately, struggle for that most elusive of familial aspirations, redemption.
Even so, the film never strays far from Mr. Spock, the enduring and undeniably endearing intellectual compass of Star Trek. While all the usual suspects are here—William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban—there are many surprising interviews with non-Trek stars such as physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and spaceflight engineer Bobak Ferdowsi (NASA’s famed Mohawk Guy), who make clear that Spock’s keen sense of logic and inquisitive nature have been inspirational across all fields of scientific endeavor.
Trek-wise, there are real no bombshells here, and no radically new information which hasn’t been passed around countless conventions and the Internet. However, one does walk away with a new understanding of both Nimoys, as well as the experiences and personality nuances which helped create an unforgettable character.
For all the guest stars, in the end it’s the footage of Leonard Nimoy himself which is the most affecting part of the film. From his birth in Boston to his later years struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, For the Love of Spock is a bittersweet yet eminently intriguing profile of a man who ultimately did live long and, yes, prosper.