Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


Dir: Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Time After Time)
Regular Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett
Additional Cast: Ricardo Montalban, Kirstie Alley, Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Paul Winfield
USA, 1982

Originally Seen: Memory is hazy, but logic would dictate that first viewing would be during the theatrical release

Revisited: January 17, 2009

Reason to Revisit: For the Countdown to Star Trek Movie Marathon

This film rocks. All the things I didn't enjoy about Star Trek: The Motion Picture can be forgiven with the return to what makes Star Trek work. Revived is the great chemistry of the Trek Trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Humour returns with some rockin' one liners as well as a more jovial air amidst the darker tone of the film and a plot are filled vengeance. Those are the opinions of a dedicated Trekkie, but speaking from more of an arms length, what really makes the film so strong is the content. Oh my, I don't think I've ever said that before! I liked the plot? Weird. Anyway, it works. The brilliance is in resurrecting a plot thread from The Original Series (TOS) episode Space Seed, which introduces us to the character of Khan one of, if not the greatest, villain of the Star Trek Universe. Khan is intelligent, cunning and charismatic which puts him as a great adversary to Kirk. Viewing of the film is enhanced by familiarity of the episode and character but by no means is it necessary.

Watching it for the first time in a long time with a very focused attention, I noticed so much more about the film then you get from a superficial viewing. Sure, I squirmed, cheered, laughed and got emotional at the same parts I always do. But this time I noticed the foreshadowing, the irony and the greater message of the film as a whole. That is one of the reasons that makes the majority of Star Trek so rewatchable. Upon every viewing there is something new to discover.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is in the running to be my favourite of the series. I'm thrilled that I picked up the film collection as the
remastered version is beautiful with clear sounds and rich colours. A huge improvement from seeing it on TV or from an ancient VHS tape.

It is with a sad heart to share that Ricardo Montalban, who played the brilliant villain Khan, passed away last week. He will be missed.

Shannon's Overall View:
I love this film
I watch it repeatedly
I highly recommend it, to Trek and non Trek fans alike

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© Shannon Ridler, 2009


Joseph said...

I always loved how Kirk and Khan are never within punching distance of eachother throughout the whole film.

I would definitely consider it my favorite Trek film.

Jenn said...

I just love your comments on the film! Khan is the perfect foil to Kirk. Joseph is quite right when he points out that they never get within punching distance. It is purely a battle of charisma and ego in this film, but you can still feel the tension and suspense!

Reed said...

Shannon, I heartily agree with your comment about what makes Star Trek so re-watchable.

I always thought that "Space Seed" was an ordinary Star Trek TOS episode. This is the episode on which Wrath of Khan was based. Trekkies didn't rate "Space Seed" highly until after Wrath of Khan.

I've always been disturbed that a genetically enhanced being such as Khan would still exhibit revenge in his behaviour. Sure, I understand that his wife was killed on the planet. But I would hope that intelligence would win over "primitive" behaviour.

Note that Asians have historically seen revenge as an integral part of their culture, and they haven't seen "revenge" as a "bad" thing. It is somewhat interesting, although totally coincidental, that Khan is East Indian.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I never noticed that Joesph! I wonder what would happen if there was hand-to-hand combat, one of the few things missing from Trek formula of goodness.

Jenn - wow, charisma and ego - that sums up so much of the film! Loved your review btw!

Reed, interesting that "Space Seed" wasn't highest rated til after Khan. I can see that with one exception: You *know* Khan has the ability to out-smart/out-do Kirk. That is unusual. And, he won over at least one member of the crew, which is again unusual.

I think the revenge is his one failing, but also something that keeps him human and also a tyrant. It keeps it all about him.

Interesting note about the cultural reference to revenge and not being seen as a 'bad' thing. In the Trek world, they seem to tack this on to Klingon culture but not human. I watched the TOS episode "Obsession" recently which tactfully deals with this in terms of human vengeance.

Sacred Suzie said...

This is definitely my favourite although now I tend to avoid the ending but I love watching Ricardo! For me, this is how I think of him. All passion, intelligence and fire.

You're right Shannon, the cast chemistry is very strong in this one which it wasn't in the first at all.

Reed Farrington said...

Regarding the cast chemistry, Shatner and Nimoy tried to add character interaction in the first movie, but their efforts weren't appreciated by Roddenberry or anyone else. Shatner was again accused of trying to hog the spotlight and making the movie more about Kirk.

During the first movie, I think there was pressure from executives who thought that movies dealt with spectacle whereas television shows dealt with character interaction.

It's interesting that people say Wrath of Khan managed to capture the character interaction even though it was written by Nicholas Meyer who was a Trek newbie. I wonder if Shatner and Nimoy had more influence.

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