PLAYING AT SIFF | 'For the Love of Spock' revealing but clunky

Perhaps no figure looms over the sci-fi cannon as much as Spock, first officer on the starship Enterprise in the “Star Trek” canon. These days it’s easy to take for granted the ubiquity and revery around Spock, but fifty years ago viewers marveled the upright, logical alien gracing their television screens. And it was all thanks to Leonard Nimoy.

As Adam Nimoy, Leonard’s son, says at the beginning of “For the Love of Spock,” the documentary was originally intended as a way to celebrate the fiftieth “Star Trek” anniversary of the show by looking at the impact Spock had on the cultural landscape. But when Leonard died, Adam knew that his project had to talk about his dad’s legacy as well. After all, who would Spock be if he didn’t have Leonard Nimoy at the helm?

According to the fleet of folks interviewed in the film, no one. Leonard Nimoy was the only person to stay past the ill-received initial pilot of “Star Trek,” the one who captured the hearts of audiences almost immediately after the show started airing. He imbued Spock with a restrained warmth, pushed for changes to the character and minority cast members to be included in reboots, informed now iconic Spock moments from his own experiences. “For the Love of Spock” touches on all of this: The origins of the “live long and prosper” hand gesture, the swagger-logic yin-yang of Kirk and Spock, the pointy ears that almost had to go to oblige the Bible Belt—all part of the big picture that is Leonard Nimoy, gifted actor and caring man.

But the movie also leaves some room for him as a complicated father figure. Though Nimoy was a remarkably public figure for most of the latter half of the 20th century, director Adam opens up more of his home life than fans may have previously seen. The documentary moves chronologically through Leonard’s life, ultimately touching on his divorce, addiction, and even trouble with his son.

But when it moves it’s clunky. It jumps between chapters without any love for transitions or linked events; the film feels like a memorial service, letting memories and affection guide its course rather than tight editing or direction. “For the Love of Spock” often comes off like a memoir written by someone else (which it technically is). Beyond the sequential order of Leonard Nimoy’s life it has no clue how to connect all the chapters of his impact. Adam never manages to naturally insert himself in the story, so his presence bounces uncomfortably in front of and behind the camera, like if someone has invited you into their home, only to stop you at the doorway.

And so viewers are left with little vignette views into periods of his life, haphazardly timed, sometimes with footage of Leonard Nimoy on set or in an interview, other times with an interview of a star or coworker of Nimoy’s to speak to his legacy. It’s the sort of narrow focus and access that could thrill long-time Trekkies—or at least, long-time Trekkies who haven’t picked up enough of these anecdotes over their many years of fandom. At a little over an hour and a half, “For the Love of Spock” doesn’t fully feel like a slog thanks to the love and warmth that Nimoy clearly left behind. But viewers will most likely feel the full length of the movie.

For those most-devoted Nimoy and “Star Trek” fans may delight in the retrospective on Nimoy’s career. For the rest of us it may be more like bittersweet dregs.

“For the Love of Spock,” screens Sept. 9-15 at the SIFF Film Center.