THERE ARE Star Trek movies just about everyone can enjoy—like this summer’s Star Trek Beyond, or that one with the whales—and then there are Star Trek movies only Trekkies turn out for. For the Love of Spock is the latter—even though this documentary about the late, great Leonard Nimoy isn’t technically a Star Trek movie, it’s hard to imagine anyone signing up if they aren’t already invested in, say, Spock’s struggles with pon farr.
Directed by Leonard’s once-estranged son, Adam, For the Love of Spock is split into chunks: One segment deals with Nimoy’s early career; another charts his creation of Spock; others deal with his life after Trek (including his sincere, if dubious, forays into poetry, music, and photography) and frank discussions of conflicts and addictions. For better and worse, Spock goes broad—for each sequence about Nimoy’s directorial efforts or work ethic, there are weird trips examining the Nimoy family’s personal fashions, or inexplicable attention paid to reflections from the cast of The Big Bang Theory.
The market for Trek tie-ins is huge, and those tie-ins are usually awful—in some ways, Spock parallels 2011’s significantly worse Trek Nation, in which Rod Roddenberry, son of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, examined his own relationship with his father. But here, the younger Nimoy comes across as both earnest and troubled—however scattered Spock is, it finds a through-line in Adam both eulogizing and appreciating his father. It helps when other family members and Trek dignitaries swing by: Spock boasts interviews with William Shatner, Walter Koenig, DC Fontana, and Nicholas Meyer, alongside J.J. Abrams, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, and Zachary Quinto. (The less said about former Star Trek Voyager guest star Jason Alexander’s unasked-for Kirk impression, the better.) There are tributes from astronomer Amy Mainzer, and NASA’s Bobak Ferdowski, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. By the end, Spock is a strange but welcome experience for Trekkies. It goes without saying that each of us was saddened by Nimoy’s passing last year; The Love of Spock reminds us we weren’t alone.