It is the 23rd century. Admiral James T. Kirk is an instructor at Starfleet Academy and feeling old; the prospect of attending his ship, the USS Enterprise–now a training ship–on a two-week cadet cruise does not make him feel any younger. But the training cruise becomes a deadly serious mission when his nemesis Khan Noonien Singh–infamous conqueror from late 20th century Earth–appears after years of exile. Khan later revealed that the planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded, and shifted the orbit of the fifth planet as a Mars-like haven. He begins capturing Project Genesis, a top secret device holding the power of creation itself, and schemes the utter destruction of Kirk.
Well, the best of the Star Trek films. True, a lot of people have recently declared Star Trek Frist Contact the best. There are others who love whales and political correctness declare Star Trek The Voyage Home the best of the Trek films. Out of all the Star Trek films; only two deal with the human element of Star Trek as well as the original TV series did and that’s Star Trek 2 and 3. This is the one Star Trek film that I would recommend to people who don’t like or watch Star Trek. It’s probably one of the best Science Fiction movies of all time.
People will complain that it’s too violent and dark. But that’s a part of life. Anytime you deal with the darkest human emotions of hate and revenge; you will have starships being fired at and people dying. To say that in the future humans will be 100% peaceful is silly and naive. Themes of life and death are explored very well in this movie without getting preachy about it. Shatner and Nimoy are allowed to expand their characters and bring more life to them. Shatner turns in his best Trek performance since “The City on the Edge of Forever”.
The special effects are good, but don’t overshadow the story like they did in the first movie. Instead they service the story, as special effects should. The score is great; probably the best of all the Star Trek movies.
The uniforms have been toned down and no longer look like pajama’s from the first movie. I suppose if you really want to sum up this movie, it should be that this movie brings out the best from the TOS and makes a wonderful movie experience. Also it shows the potential that is in Star Trek that none of the other movies have been able to reach.
In the genre, there is simply nothing better, and there never will be.
Author: budmassey (email@example.com) from Indianapolis, IN
28 March 2004
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wrath is based on one of the best episodes of The Original Series of Star Trek. The episode, Space Seed, introduced Kahn Noonian Singh, a genetically engineered super-warrior from the 20th century who survived in cryogenic freeze until the crew of the Enterprise found his derelict space ship and revived him. Alas, his instinct to conquer survived as well, and only after an epic struggle is Kirk able to deposit Kahn and his band of supermen in permanent exile on a garden planet.
Fifteen years later, a cataclysm has left that planet barren, and Kahn bitter about his plight, when along comes the Enterprise, not knowing they have returned to Kahn’s home planet. Kahn escapes and the game is on.
This is undoubtedly the best of the Star Trek movies, and in fact, the best of everything that was best about Star Trek TOS. There is heroism, epic conflict, a fully satisfying story, and deliciously over the top acting by Shatner, Nimoy and, the main course, Ricardo Montalban, reprising his original role, with all the menace and drama of, say, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar winning turn as Hannibal Lechter.
The writing is great, and why not, it was by Harve Bennett, by way of Melville, and Roddenberry’s unforgettable characters, as indelibly etched on our psyches as any fairy tale of our youth, were never brighter, more heroic, more magnificent. In the genre, there is simply nothing better, and there never will be. It took decades to hone and refine these characters, for us to come to love them, and for them to reach the point in their palpably real lives to reflect with self-doubt and angst on lives that we accept as being as real as our own. This isn’t a movie, it’s a documentary, and a time capsule, and a worthy monument to the best cast in the best Sci-Fi Western ever made.
Revenge is a dish that is best served cold!
18 May 2000
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a classic action film. It has heroic characters, a nasty villain and a sweeping adventure that is both engaging and entertaining. This is top-notch filmmaking, which just happens to be told via Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi world of Star Trek.
Acting: Shatner and the Enterprise crew are all in top form. It just so happens that this is the best material they have ever been given to perform and they execute it with class and style (a quality later incarnations of Star Trek lack). Also, Ricardo Montablan is the ultimate Star Trek villain as Khan Noonian Singh.
The special FX are also well-done. In this age of CGI it is refreshing to see the ingenuity and creativity of old-style model effects being used so effectively. And just to make this statement even more clear: ST II has THE BEST space battle sequences in film history. That’s right, the best. It’s not about the scope of a battle that makes it fun to watch, it’s all about the pacing! This film exhibits the best cat and mouse battle in my mind and its well worth your time.
Go see this movie.
One of the better “Trek”s….
Author: Mister-6 from United States
25 November 1999
I’ve always held a special place in my heart and mind for this second installment in the “Star Trek” movie series. Mostly, because this is a movie that appeals to both places.
Not only is this movie loaded with the original characters from the series, it also touches on such subjects as revenge, family, duty, age and, of course, sacrifice. That was the best thing about the series – that it touched on topics that were (pardon the expression) universal, no matter the species.
Everyone is uniformly fine right down the line, especially Montalban’s Khan (returned from the “Space Seed” episode of the original series); all hatred, vengeance and single-minded of desire to see his enemy laid out before him. Namely, Kirk.
Alley is rather fetching as Saavik and it’s a shame she wasn’t carried over to the next film. I can’t help but, seeing her on TV anymore, to expect her to raise an eyebrow in contemplation. Buttrick makes a complex character out of David, the son Kirk never knew he had. Hurt feelings and resentment meld somewhat explosively with a new-found father/son relationship.
And what can one say about Spock, Bones, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and Scotty? They are characters all of us grew up with and, pivotal to the plot at hand or not, it’s always good to see them.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, I won’t discuss it in great detail. The story is simple enough (scientists find way to rejuvenate life on dead planets; Khan finds escape from prison planet, vows revenge on Kirk), but there is one plot point that will, if you are unfamiliar with it, blow you away. Suffice it to say, never has friendship been elocuted so well in this or any movie before or since.
Ten stars and a special Kobuyashi Maru simulation for “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan”. Watch it: it’ll make you feel young again.
STAR TREK, Done Right!
Author: Ben Burgraff (cariart) from Las Vegas, Nevada
25 November 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN was another miracle moment in a franchise that has had more than it’s share of such moments.
Paramount never intended to make a sequel to STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (a philosophy it would continue to embrace, after each film!), and, when, after intense lobbying by Gene Roddenberry, a few ‘Trekkers’ in the studio hierarchy, and a lot of fans, the studio finally caved in, they reduced the budget, dramatically, almost daring the production team to create a film of quality.
In an inspired move, Harve Bennett, a television veteran, was brought in to executive produce, and his sensibilities, honed on the budgetary restraints of the small screen, helped to get the most out of the available funds.
A director of the stature of Robert Wise was out of the question, but Bennett and Roddenberry were impressed by young Nicholas Meyer, and his one directorial effort, the cult SF favorite, TIME AFTER TIME, and the 37-year old leaped at the opportunity to tackle another SF film. Contrary to popular belief, Meyer was NOT familiar with the series, but he quickly immersed himself with the series’ episodes, then looked at Harve Bennett’s script outline, and the two of them then hammered out a shooting script. Gone would be the sterile, monochromatic future envisioned in the first film, replaced with warm colors, frequent references to classic literature, and the sense of camaraderie that had made the original series so popular.
Both men had been impressed by Ricardo Montalban’s charismatic Khan, in the episode, ‘Space Seed’, and agreed in bringing back the superhuman, yet sympathetic villain for the film. Leonard Nimoy provided the film’s theme; with rumors of a possible new TV series still circulating, the actor, not wishing to be subjected to the weekly grind, suggested ‘killing off’ Spock, in some heroic fashion. Bennett loved the idea, although he wisely left a ‘hook’ in the script, in case Nimoy changed his mind, and he and Meyer could now address both the passage of time, and death, issues that were relevant, as the original cast were beginning to show their years!
William Shatner, after the stinging reviews of his stilted performance in ST:TMP, needed a strong script to provide ‘damage control’, and he got it.
In perhaps his finest performance, he dominates the screen, whether ruminating on his own mortality with McCoy, explaining how he ‘beat’ the Kobiyashi Maru scenario by cheating (“I HATE to lose”), discovering that after years as an interstellar lothario, he is a father (and by the one woman he truly ‘loved’), playing ‘cat and mouse’ with Khan, or facing the death of his best friend, Spock. Both decisive and likable, Shatner’s Kirk is the glue that holds ST:TWOK together, and he is brilliant.
Leonard Nimoy, getting every actor’s dream, a chance to ‘die’ onscreen, gives Spock a poignancy that is, ultimately, heartbreaking; DeForest Kelley, excellent as Dr. McCoy, not only offers righteous indignation over the implications of the Genesis Project, but projects such an obvious affection for both Kirk and his ‘sparring partner’, Spock, that, far more than in the first film, you can see the nearly symbiotic link between the three leads. The rest of the original cast, despite small roles, still have far more to do than in the first film, and are obviously enjoying themselves (except, understandably, Walter Koenig’s ‘Chekov’, when the parasite is put into his ear!).
Of the other leads, Ricardo Montalban lustily chews up the scenery as an ‘Ahab’-influenced older Khan; a pre-‘Cheers’ Kirstie Alley gives Vulcan Lieutenant Saavik far more sex appeal than did her successor in the role, Robin Curtis; Paul Winfield makes the most of his brief role as Chekov’s new boss, the doomed Captain Terrell; and Bibi Besch provides a combination of intellect, toughness, and affection playing Kirk’s lost love, Carol Marcus. The only disappointment is Merritt Butrick, as Kirk’s newly-revealed son, David; in a poorly-written role, he has little to do but gripe about Kirk, before and after he discovers their relationship.
The film score was composed by 29-year old James Horner, who was told not to incorporate any of Jerry Goldsmith’s themes from ST:TMP; he later admitted that he sneaked a bit of it in, anyway, along with Alexander Courage’s original TV themes. While lacking Goldsmith’s grandeur, the music is evocative and sweeping, and Horner would return to score STAR TREK: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK.
Despite budget restraints, ST:TWOK had terrific FX (particularly during the Mutaran Nebula sequence), and was able to reuse the space dock and voyage sequences from ST:TMP quite effectively. The space battle scene between the Enterprise and Reliant is one of the best sequences in the entire ‘Star Trek’ film series.
ST:TWOK was a HUGE success, both with critics and fans, vindicating Gene Roddenberry’s faith in the franchise, and the decision to use Meyer as the director. And in a twist worthy of Scheherazade in ‘The Arabian Nights’, Spock’s death created such an uproar that Paramount HAD to keep the series alive, just to resolve the issue.
From a one-shot film deal, a THIRD film would be produced!
Light Years Ahead of Star Trek The Motion Picture
Author: marxi from Louisville, Kentucky
20 June 2003
When Star Trek The Motion Picture was released, the masses flocked to it. Unfortunately, the first film outing for the crew of the USS Enterprise was about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Never underestimate Trekkies! This Second Star Trek movie was even more greatly anticipated than the first. Reluctantly, I went to see it. I was pleasantly surprised. Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, in my estimation, is everything the first one should have been, and then some!
Captain Kirk, now an admiral, is experiencing some sort of mid life crisis. And of course, he ends up back in the command chair when a routine inspection and review of the rookie crew on the Enterprise runs in to unexpected trouble. The crew of the USS Enterprise is in fine form in this outing, and much of the camaraderie of the original TV series is recaptured. And when and old adversary of Captain Kirk shows up with revenge in his heart, this movie gets rolling. It has twists, turns and surprises aplenty. The ending is truly a surprise.
Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan is a wonderful complement to the original TV series and stands on its own as a very good space adventure film. I’d rate it a 89.5/100. If you want to see what all the full about Star Trek is, Star Trek II is a great place to start.
Captain Kirk Vs. Captain Ahab
Author: The_Other_Snowman from United States
4 August 2008
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
“Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” is everyone’s favourite Trek film, even if they’re not big fans of the show. Nicholas Meyer, the writer/director, is competent in an efficient, workmanlike way, and the movie zips along at a fine pace but with barely an original bone in its body.
Khan, from the original series episode “Space Seed”, hijacks a starship with a plan to kill Captain Kirk. Kirk’s having a midlife crisis, and has just met the son he never knew he had, who happens to be a scientist who’s created a MacGuffin with limitless destructive potential. Kirk is full of angst, and talks a lot with Spock and McCoy, so some of the feel of the classic series is preserved. Everyone quotes liberally from Shakespeare and “Moby Dick”, with a little Dickens thrown in, to the point that they might have written the entire script by perusing Cliff’s Notes and skimming Horatio Hornblower novels.
The redesigned Starfleet uniforms signal a change in the way our heroes will be portrayed in future films. They are no longer exploring representatives of an idealistic utopia, but servants of a futuristic military.
The space battles that make up the bulk of the film’s action are dazzling, in a modest way, but the main characters spend most of their time on the bridges of their respective ships, pressing buttons and talking. You can plainly see that the budget was not very impressive.
This movie might be noteworthy in that it’s the only Star Trek film to have no aliens in it, besides Spock. It’s got action and excitement, and those timeless themes of loyalty and honor or something equally wishy-washy, but there’s nothing in here to really make you think, which is what the TV show always tried to do, even when it was being silly.
EDIT: I recently watched “The Wrath of Khan” again, and found that I was wrong on a couple points. First, the pacing is leaden. Only James Horner’s music creates any sense of excitement while the story slogs along. Second, there is hardly any chemistry among the three leads. In fact, Kirk and Spock only share two or three important scenes, and are separated for the rest of the film. Spock’s famous final sacrifice is rendered nearly meaningless. Most of the actors appear lifeless; Shatner’s performance in particular is shockingly wooden, and he mumbles his dialog. Was anyone really asking for a subdued, realistic performance from William Shatner?
Author: DarthBill from United States
15 April 2004
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Middle aged Admiral James T. Kirk is suffering a mid life crisis while overseeing the trainee crew of the Enterprise who are under the watchful eye of everyone’s favorite Vulcan, Spock. Then Khan (Ricardo Montalban), the villain of the episode “Space Seed”, escapes the planet turned wasteland where Kirk left him and his people, hijacks the USS Reliant and goes after Kirk with a death wish. But where does Project Genesis, created by an old flame of Kirk, Dr. Carol
Marcus (Bib Besch) and her son David (the late Merritt Butrick), have to do with all this?
A lot flashier and more adventurous than the first film, it none the less touches upon ethical topics such as taking control of the power of creation, good intentions turned into horrible weapons, the usefulness of our elders, and the self destructiveness of obsession followed by sacrifice. Ricardo Montalban is a memorable villain, full ham, fire, gusto and cold malice. Besch and Butrick are fine. Kirstie Alley makes her memorable debut as the lovely Vulcan babe Saavik and it’s a part she plays well (too bad they couldn’t hang on to her). The original cast of course, play their parts the way their fans expect them to play them and they play their parts fine. The late Paul Winfield is also good in his role as the ill fated Captain Terrell.
Special effects are pretty good, with two well executed space shoot outs, the second and more memorable one taking place in the Mutaran Nebula. The death and funeral of Spock is very touching, and the film is also highlighted by some very beautiful music by James Horner. Shatner brings out a lot of sympathy from his Kirk in this entry.
Moby Dick in Space
Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
12 March 2008
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
“The Wrath of Khan” isn’t a science fiction film as much as it’s an old-fashioned adventure story dressed up in vintage science fiction tropes. The plot: the crew of the Starship Enterprise, led by the now iconic Captain James T. Kirk, find themselves embroiled in a deadly cat and mouse game with Khan Noonian Singh, a genetically engineered superhuman. The story is pure pulp, but don’t be put off. Director Nicholas Meyer’s work here is fabulous, and his screenplay beautiful.
Meyer, a great writer with a fondness for literary classics, bathes his film with references to everything from “Moby Dick” to “The Sea Hawk”. As a result, the film has a very nautical feel. Spaceships trade massive broadsides, our cast’s uniforms, dialogue and behaviour are now informed by that of the 19th century British Navy, and the film’s climactic battle feels like a cross between a U-boat suspense film and Herman Melville’s famous whale hunt.
Meyer has long had a special fondness for 19th century novelists. His first big splash came in 1974 with “The Seven Percent Solution”, a Sherlock Holmes novel that hit the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, stayed on the charts for 40 weeks and resurrected the Holmes pastiche craze the way “Wrath of Khan” jolted new life into Star Trek.
He followed that up with two sequel novels, “The West End Horror” and “The Canary Trainer”. The former had Holmes and Watson brushing shoulders with Bernard Shaw, Gilbert and Sullivan, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and other Victorian theatre dudes. The latter gave a Holmesian spin to Gaston Leroux’s “Phantom of the Opera”.
So Meyer delights in weaving nods to great literature into modern narratives. His first directorial success was the time-travel escapade “Time After Time”, a fun romp which featured H.G. Wells pursuing Jack the Ripper across modern San Francisco. He takes a similar approach with “Khan”, retooling Melville’s “Moby Dick” and placing Ahab’s lines on the lips of Khan, the film’s larger than life villain. A worn copy of the book even appears on Khan’s shelf, alongside King Lear and the Bible. In the movie, a character called Spock also gives Kirk a copy of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” for a birthday present.
Several years later, when Meyer returned to direct “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (the last featuring the original crew and arguably the second-best film in the franchise) he gave it an Agatha Christie-style “cosy” murder mystery, Shakespeare-quoting Klingons (and a Shakespeare influenced title), named a Klingon prison asteroid after the penal colony that held Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, and had Spock both quote Sherlock Holmes and refer to the coolly logical Great Detective as “one of my ancestors.” Meyers sure does love classical literature.
But woven into “Khan’s” cat-and-mouse plot are also meditations that humanise the larger-than-life James T. Kirk. Here, at last, our long-time galactic hero faces the fact that he’s not the young space cowboy he used to be.
Early in the film we’re introduced to the Kobayashi Maru, a “no win scenario” in which every star ship captain must face death. Kirk, we learn, is the only person to have ever beat this “no win scenario”. How? He reprogrammed various computer simulators, thereby changing the rules of the game. As a result, the film has a beautiful tension. On one hand we have the Captain Kirk who repeatedly wins all scenarios, who knows only success, who can’t deal with defeat, who always finds a way to break the rules and change the terms of engagement. And on the other hand, we have Kirk’s confrontation with his own mortality, his need for glasses, his unscheduled reunion with an ex-lover and his estranged son. This tension, between life and death, immortality and mortality, success and failure, is epitomised by the “Genesis” device, a super weapon in the film which has to power to both create and destroy.
Shortly after Khan’s first attack on the Enterprise, which leaves a new crew-member dead, Kirk swallows the bitter pill that his own failures almost brought about their destruction. He goes on to find a brilliant way out of this particular “no win scenario”, of course, but the consequences of his escape nevertheless force him to confront the holes in his armour. Our ageing admiral and crew may descend to self-parodying plastic action figures in some later entries, but in this movie they’re allowed to be vulnerably human, as themes of pursuit, age, death, and regeneration appear through the phaser fire.
On the other side of the fence, we have Khan. Here’s one mightily ticked-off arch villain, quoting 19th century literature and Klingon proverbs while slitting throats and placing space bugs in people’s brains.
Give him an eye-patch and it’d be “Arrrr! Avast ye!” all the way. Miraculously, though, Meyer keeps it all under control. Even that moody old bird Pauline Kael devoted extra column inches to praising the way these two classically trained actors chewed scenery and bounced off one another in “Khan”.
If nothing else, “Khan” reminds us that sometimes, somehow, a Hollywood picture comes along and proves the creaky old notion that talent counts more than production dollars. There’s got to be some moral in the fact that the Star Trek movie with the smallest budget (by far) and fewest resources is still the dominant favourite and the only one that doesn’t feel, one way or another, like a factory-line franchise product designed solely to provide money for the stockholders.
8.9/10 – “Khan” has everything you could ask for in a good adventure film: sympathetic, well-drawn heroes, a terrific villain, exciting outer-space showdowns, wow factor, smart direction, a fine tuned script and a touch of reflective depth (the Enterprise crew finally faces up to age and mortality, and questions about the wisdom and consequences of playing God are hinted at). Oh, and the music is awesome as well.