Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

One of the best of the series

Lower budget than some of the other sequels which aren't as good

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  June 4, 1982

MPAA Rating:  PG

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Yeah, I’m strong and I’m pissed…want to make something of it?

James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is getting older, and he isn’t taking it well.  When Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield) are sent to investigate a planet for the possible life giving Genesis experiment, they encounter a ghost of the past in the superhuman known as Khan (Ricardo Montalbán) and his clan of warriors.  Khan wants revenge on Kirk and will stop at nothing to get it.  Getting a distress call from the Genesis project led by his former lover Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch), Kirk and a rookie crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise find themselves in the fight of their lives to stop Khan and his men…and not everyone will be coming back.

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KHANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Directed by Nicholas Meyer, Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan received positive reviews after the tepid reviews toward 1979’s Star Trek:  The Motion Picture.  The movie is the first part in the Star Trek “trilogy” that has a continuing theme through Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home and all three movies can often be found packaged together.

Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan is often considered the best of the Star Trek films.  While Star Trek: The Motion Picture was more cerebral and visual, Star Trek II returned to more adventure and action as its central theme and much of audience preferred that to the high science-fiction story of the first film.

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I’m gunning for you Khan!!!

The film also creates a direct bridge to the past by revisiting a classic Star Trek episode.  Ricardo Montalbán’s Noonien Singh Khan first appeared in February 16, 1967 in the twenty-seconnd episode of the first season of Star Trek in an episode called “Space Seed”.  There Khan and his crew were marooned on a planet by Kirk…this of course comes back to haunt him in this clever sequel which has some weight.  There is also some debate to the muscular Montalbán (who was starring on Fantasy Island at the time) with some claiming he was wearing an artificial chest piece…but Montalbán and others claim it was all his…apparently Mr. Roarke had some muscles!

The movie was also a means to kill off Spock which Leonard Nimoy had grown tired with.  In the most emotional scene of all the films, Kirk and Spock find themselves separated by glass as Spock succumbs to exposure to radiation.  There was a lot of debate over this death and fan objections.  It ended up being written in a way that Spock could return (with the whole Genesis planet and the mind-meld), but if this had been the end of the series, it would have been a nice way to go out.

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So you want me to do that Vulcan hand thing…not going to happen Spock

Despite being one of the best films of the series, there is some goofiness to it.  The film is shot at a much lower quality than the first film or even the following film.  The lower budget met borrowed and limited sets and set pieces.  It isn’t ideal, but it still looks decent.

One of the things they reused is the Klingon ships from the first film in the opening scene which I love but shows some cheesiness.  Saavik (Kristie Alley) is shown piloting the ship with the classic crew including Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Sulu (George Takei), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley) all on-board.  So everyone who is in class goes through this “Kobayashi Maru” training and all the people on the ship have to act each time…you have people getting electrocuted and falling down all for a simulation?  I’m glad Starfleet puts so much effort into their training scenarios.

Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan is definitely my favorite of the “original” Star Trek films, and up there with my other favorites including the new Star Trek and Star Trek:  First Contact.  The movie is fun and has some depth.  Star Trek II also started the joke that every other Star Trek film is the “good film” since many saw Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock in 1984 as a poor follow-up while Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home in 1986 as a better film.

Preceded By:

Star Trek:  The Motion Picture (1979)

Followed By:

Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock (1984)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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