Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

star trek ii the wrath of khan poster 1982 movie
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

star trek ii the wrath of khan ricardo montalban

Feel my wrath!

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.

Directed by Nicholas Meyer, Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan a science-fiction action film.  Following Star Trek:  The Motion Picture in 1979, the movie received largely positive reviews.  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.

star trek ii the wrath of khan captain kirk yelling william shatner

The KHAAAAAANNNNNN heard round the universe!

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.

The film 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-second 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!

star trek ii the wrath of khan enterprise nebula

Surprise, suckers!!!

The movie was a means to kill off Spock which Leonard Nimoy had grown tired of.  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.

After the response to the first film, this movie seems to have a lower budget.  The visuals and the quality of the film just are not at the level of the much more high-tech Star Trek:  The Motion Picture.  For the most part, it is not distracting, but I wish that the movie had the opportunities that the first film had.

star trek ii the wrath of khan spock death live long and prosper leonard nimoy william shatner

Spock, you’re putting me in an awkward situation…I don’t want to do that whole “Live Long and Prosper” thing

Despite being one of the best films of the series, there is some goofiness to it.  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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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