Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Post  BoG on Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:55 pm



STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN starring
WILLIAM SHATNER  Like a Star @ heaven  LEONARD NIMOY  Like a Star @ heaven  DeFOREST KELLEY
and RICARDO MONTALBAN as Khan  Like a Star @ heaven  introducing KIRSTIE ALLEY as Saavik
also starring BIBI BESCH * MERRITT BUTRICK * PAUL WINFIELD as Terrell
co-starring JAMES DOOHAN * WALTER KOENIG * GEORGE TAKEI * NICHELLE NICHOLS
JUDSON SCOTT * IKE EISENMANN * JOHN VARGAS * JOHN WINSTON
Directed by NICHOLAS MEYER


This isn’t really a sequel to Star Trek the Motion Picture (1979), which was the first Trek film to hit the big screen after the famed TV series, Star Trek (or TOS). Star Trek II is more like a re-start. More, it’s actually a sequel to the TOS episode, Space Seed, which introduced us to Khan, Kirk’s greatest nemesis. Everyone, from the studio to the fans, was dissatisfied with how the 1979 film turned out and many placed the blame on Gene Roddenberry. New producer Harve Bennett checked out all the classic episodes and... well, guess which episode made the strongest impression on him? Bennett wrote the first treatment for the 2nd Trek film.


The director, Nicholas Meyer, soon came on-board and put the final script together, stitching together the best elements of various written attempts. Meyer was known as a good writer (his previous effort and 1st directing job was Time After Time-1979, a classy time travel tale) and the resulting screenplay was the equivalent of a great page-turner of an adventure novel.
The story takes place about 15 years after Captain Kirk had marooned Khan and his followers on a desolate planet in Space Seed, which means it jumps ahead a good dozen years after the events of Star Trek the Motion Picture. Therefore, our well-known characters, especially Kirk, are feeling the drawbacks of middle age. Kirk would soon be feeling regrets, as well. He and his usual officers (except Chekov) accompany a bunch of cadets on a routine training mission, in the also-aging Enterprise. Chekov, meanwhile, is now first officer aboard the starship Reliant; he and his captain, Terrell (Winfield), make the mistake of beaming down, in ignorance, to Ceti Alpha 5, Khan’s current home.

And that’s how you begin a rip-roaring space epic of revenge and rebirth. Only about 20, a third, of Khan’s followers are still alive, but that’s enough for Khan to take over the Reliant. For those unfamiliar with Khan, he and his people are genetically-enhanced specimens of humanity, both physically and intellectually. The actor, Montalban, did what Shatner & Nimoy should have done prior to the 1st Trek film: he watched the original episode to re-capture Khan’s frame of mind. This worked. The older Khan seethes with superhuman rage & determination, and Montalban electrifies the screen, just as he did in the original episode. His becomes one of the most memorable villains of the eighties - grand, tragic and certainly larger-than-life. Shatner, as Kirk, also rose to the challenge and his confrontations with Khan, even through a viewscreen or a communicator, are sensational. The scene where Khan orders another character to execute Kirk is Meyer and the actors at their very best.

Besides Khan, we were all introduced to another memorable character, Lt. Saavik (Alley), a female Vulcan/Romulan who lent an exotic allure to the proceedings; this was Alley’s film debut (the character’s ancestry wasn’t spelled out in the film, but was in the novel adaptation). Meyer’s approach to the whole story was to transplant a sense of adventure on the high seas to outer space. Kirk was the aging yet still formidable ship’s captain (though he was really an admiral) matched against Khan, the aged yet dangerous, maniacal space pirate.  The duel and the very real sense of history informing most scenes made it all quite exciting. Meyer also had Khan quoting passages from the old novel Moby Dick in many scenes, adding to the epic stature of the conflict. These also called to mind better TOS episodes such as The Doomsday Machine and Obsession.



Meyer also lent a more militaristic flavor to Starfleet, moving away from the feel of TOS and the first film, though it was suitable for the action aspects here: we see some lengthy battles in outer space, more than was ever viewed before, and pre-configuring future space battles in the films. The uniforms also changed sharply from the previous film, now stressing red (the color of battle?). Spock seemed to embrace his human half by this point; both Nimoy & Kelley as McCoy were back to their old selves, albeit older. This isn’t perfect: the other regulars, except Chekov, were shortchanged due to the introductions of many new characters. Besides the ones already mentioned, there was Kirk’s old flame (Besch), Kirk’s son (Butrick) and Khan’s henchman (Judson Scott, who was uncredited due to a demand by Scott’s agent at the time). Doohan did have a good scene involving his nephew (Eisenmann, whose backstory, like Saavik’s, was not detailed in the film but in the novel).


When looking at the larger picture of the entire Trek franchise, we also see that this film established a pattern for the remaining films in moving away from the central theme of exploration. There was a focus and a tone to TOS which was never captured in the films; the films concentrated on intrigue, chases, thrills and fun. The notion of strange new ideas and new ways of looking at things was lost, a by-product of the first film’s poor reception and Meyer’s unfamiliarity with Star Trek fundamentals.
In fact, due to Meyer’s approach, I felt less the feeling that I was in a future time than when I watched a classic episode, as though 20th-century persons & attitudes were simply transported into the 23rd century in the film versions of Trek. We got the old characters back in this one but the ideas and futuristic scope were lost. This was, perhaps, unavoidable - it’s what happens when the format is changed, from weekly episodes to big films every 2 or 3 years. For good or bad, Meyer’s influence dominated all the films with the TOS characters, especially the 3rd & 4th films, which formed an informal trilogy with this one.

Still, for this one film, they got almost everything right in terms of providing entertainment and even a pulse-pounding experience. They even threw in the concept of a Genesis Device, which provided a very early view of computer FX in a startling sequence - and the closest we got to new concepts in this one. The climax was a shocker for many fans, but pointed towards the plot of the next film, Star Trek III:The Search For Spock (1984). Nimoy intended for Star Trek II to be his final essay of the role but enjoyed working on the film so much, he changed his mind. And, of course, he ended up directing the next film, as well.
It is very cold in space.”


I must admit, this remains my favorite Star Trek film. For what it set out to do - presenting a bombastic, thrilling and nearly mythical adventure - it succeeded brilliantly. James Horner’s score is terrific, fitting the tone perfectly. They tried to copy this film’s style in some of the later films; in some, such as Star Trek First Contact (1996), it worked out pretty well; in others, like Star Trek Nemesis (2002), not so much - it got a bit stale by then.  BoG's Score: 9 out of 10
Extra Trek Trivia: for details on deleted or excised scenes, such as backstories on Saavik and Scotty's nephew, click here > http://movie-memorabilia-emporium.blogspot.com/2013/09/star-trek-ii-wrath-of-khan-cut-scenes.html
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The Wrath Behind the Scenes

Post  BoG on Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:17 pm


ABOVE: Chekov's ear - greatly enlarged...  Surprised   and, Director Meyer clowning around with Shatner  Twisted Evil


More Trek Trivia: this film set a new record for opening weekend gross at that time - 1982 - over $14 million
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