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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Originally Aired: 1982-6-4

Synopsis:
Exiled by Kirk, Khan returns to seek revenge on the man who banished him and his followers to a dying planet 15 years ago. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 6.39

Rate movie?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 130 4 3 6 7 4 12 18 42 79 174

Problems
- How could Chekov remember anything about Khan? And how could Khan remember anything about Chekov? Chekov wasn't aboard ship in TOS: Space Seed...
- Why didn't McCoy do an immediate medical scan of Chekov and Terrell as soon as they mentioned having alien creatures placed in them?
- How are they talking during transport?

Factoids
- This film establishes that starfleet has kept the peace in the Federation for about 100 years.
- This film was nominated for the 1983 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- The simulation at the beginning.
- Kirk to Spock: "Aren't you dead?"
- Khan sticking the little alien parasites in Chekov's and Captain Terrell's ears.
- Spock and Saavik speaking to each other in Vulcan about Kirk.
- Chekov under Khan's control.
- McCoy: "Who's been holding up the damn elevator?!"
- Spock: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
- The overview of the Genesis Device.
- McCoy: "According to myth, the earth was created in six days. Now watch out, here comes Genesis! We'll do it for you in six minutes!"
- Khan: "Ah Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the old Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? Well, it is very cold in space."
- Khan attacking the Enterprise.
- Kirk using the Reliant's access codes to drop the shields on Khan's ship.
- Captain Terrell killing one of the people down on the planet. I love the vaporization effect.
- Kirk: "Khan!!!"
- The revelation that David was Kirk's son.
- Kirk declaring that he made it through the training scenario by cheating.
- Kirk egging Khan on.
- The battle in the nebula. Wow!
- Spock Vulcan neck pinching McCoy and mild melding with him.
- Genesis device exploding.
- Spock: "I have been and always shall be your friend."
- Spock's "death."

My Review
This film is a wild ride and a fan favorite. One of my favorite details is how well they handle the aging actors; everybody was getting old in the 1980s. One of the first things the film does is have all the characters lament about their ages. Gives it a sense of realism. Just about everything in this film is spectacular. I only take off points for the fact that Spock's death was contrived in that it's incredibly obvious that he will be brought back to life. The film would have been far more moving if it weren't for the blatantly obvious setup for his resurrection in the next film. Besides that, there are a few other problems as well. For example, there's the obvious problem with how Chekov would have remembered Khan and visa versa. And then there's the Genesis device. It is, quite literally, a plot device. Plus, this film implied that the Federation will abandon all its research on Genesis due to the events of this film. Why would they do that? Clearly the Genesis device did exactly what it was supposed to do! Finally, Khan's overzealous devotion toward killing Kirk was a little overdone. Especially with regards to the Shakespeare references. That said, these things do little to trample on such a great film. With a little more polish, this film could have earned a perfect score.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Greg Bonkowski on 2006-05-04 at 2:53pm:
    Simply the best Trek film ever!!! Khan!!!!!!!!!!
  • From jaylong on 2007-04-12 at 10:59pm:
    "he tasks me..."

    love it
  • From JR on 2008-07-22 at 7:31am:
    "How could Chekov remember anything about Khan?"

    I don't see this as a problem. He could have read about it somewhere, or maybe the other people at the Enterprise at the time told him about it after he came onboard. I assume the events in Space Seed were logged and submitted to Starfleet, and their computers already had a file on Khan with pictures. Now, Khan knowing Chekov, that's the real problem.
  • From Lennier on 2009-02-14 at 10:31pm:
    "Space Seed"'s stardate is 3141.9.

    "Catspaw" (an episode with Chekov) has a stardate of 3018.2.

    I like to think that this means that "Catspaw" takes place before "Space Seed". Therefore, Chekov could very well have seen Khan, and vice versa.
  • From Kevin Lopez on 2009-04-06 at 12:43am:
    it wasn't blatantly obvious that he was going to be brought back to life at the time: Nimoy was tired of playing Spock and wanted his character killed off. He later changed his mind and directed films III and IV. Your criticism is unfair.
  • From Kethinov on 2009-04-06 at 5:24am:
    I stand by the critique. It's clearly a trap door. Whether or not Nimoy did or did not plan to ever play Spock again, it was clear the writers wanted the option of bringing him back conveniently. Sort of like how Data only "half" died in Nemesis. He could easily be brought back via B4.
  • From S. M. Willis on 2010-01-05 at 7:54pm:
    Melville, not Shakespeare. And Milton.
  • From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-25 at 7:26am:
    Having reviewed all of Voyager, most of TNG, and much of DS9, I am now turning to the Star Trek movies to revisit them as well. Of course, I saw them all in theaters as they were released, and have seen them again since then.

    Annoyingly, Star Trek, The Motion Picture is not available on any streaming media accessible to me. If anyone knows how to find this film on the internet, please post a comment as well.

    Several issues on ST: TWOK:

    1. The Genesis device creates daunting scientific issues. First, there is the little matter of conservation of energy. In order for life to exist, energy must be inserted into the system. Living things do not live on nothing. Ultimately, the source of all energy for living things is light. Either animals eat plants (which are simply a form of light energy fixed into hydrocarbons), or animals eat other animals, who in turn eat plants. Ultimately we are all burning energy from light, in the case of Earth, the Sun. However, on Regula 1 we see a "Genesis Cave" which is filled with living things, all of whom are illuminated by a light source (which we conveniently never see). What is the source for this light? Regula 1 is an "airless, lifeless hunk of rock" according to the dialog earlier in the film. Similarly, when the Genesis device explodes in the Mutara Nebula, it forms a "Genesis Planet" which is clearly illuminated. In one shot we see a star behind the planet, a star which clearly wasn't there before. The Genesis device created a star? That would be a trick even greater than converting inorganic matter to living matter!
    2. Another daunting scientific issue has to do with the nature of biological evolution. Star Trek seems obsessed with the concept of evolution, as I have stated in other posts, and has a very unscientific view of this concept. The Genesis device has issues in this area. Specifically, evolution would require a process of billions of years for life to develop which would be adapted to the particular conditions in which it exists. The Genesis device does not seem to involve any adaptation whatsoever. Instead, life simply occurs instantly which is perfectly adapted to the aesthetic and functional requirements of humans. Given that even on Earth life adapts in incredible diversity (from the ice worms that exist in sub-zero conditions in the arctic, to the bacteria that thrive in the incredible heat and pressure of the ocean near thermal vents), it seems remarkably convenient that Genesis device life would somehow adapt the environment to human life, rather than adapting the life to the environment.
    3. Continuity issue: In TNG: Sarek, the Enterprise crew is shocked when Sarek displays emotion by weeping during a musical performance. Yet Lt. Saavik displays emotion by weeping openly during Spock's funeral, and no one seems all broken up about it. (BTW, according to iMDb, Kirstie Alley's performance as Lt. Saavik was her first appearance on screen anywhere.)
    3. Continuity issue: When Dr. Marcus (the mother) gives her presentation to the Federation in support of the Genesis Device project, she states that she is hopeful that the Federation will "fund" the project. According to numerous episodes of TNG, the Federation has eliminated the need for currency.
  • From AnotherTrekFan on 2012-08-16 at 5:05pm:
    @Jeff Browning:

    1. Light source inside the cave is easy - Starfleet put it there. There's dialog that establishes Starfleet hollowed out the tunnels, so it's not a stretch to believe they hung some solar-analog light source inside the cavern.

    Now for the star that suddenly appears, I had always taken it that the star was formed from the nebula via the device (which was intended to be detonated over a planetary body) being detonated inside the nebula. The scenes immediately following the detonation clearly show the nebula changing and contracting. Granted that further pushes the bounds of believability, but we are talking about a Sci Fi franchise that posits ubiquitous faster-than-light travel and near perfectly efficient energy generation after all. ;)

    2. This is technobabbled-away in the next movie. There's some dialog in ST3 about the use of something caused "protomatter" which caused the quick developmental evolution of life on the planet.

    3. Regarding Saavik's tears, it's established off-screen (and it might be non-canon) that Saavik is half-Vulcan and half-Romulan.

    3(b). There are references to money throughout TOS, especially in "The Trouble With Tribbles" where the bartender, Jones, and Uhura all haggle over how much it will cost to buy a tribble. The removal of money obviously happened at some point between this movie and the TNG era, probably when replicator technology became mature and ubiquitous -- because why do you need money when you can just replicate everything?
  • From Strider on 2012-08-27 at 12:33am:
    According to Nimoy, he was not at all tired of playing Spock. He simply appreciated the power of a good story, and was willing to walk away if he didn't get it. And of course, the hope implied by the Genesis planet. But he argued with writers time and time again, both in the series and the films, to make sure the stories were worth telling and that Spock's character was treated according to his character. He won some, he lost some.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-22 at 11:48am:
    ‘10’. Nothing better contrasts the problems with Roddenberry’s original vision for Star Trek with the franchise running on all cylinders (by discarding elements of that vision) than in watching ‘The Motion Picture’ and ‘Wrath of Khan’ back to back. Wrath is a more militarized, ‘Horatio Hornblower’ action oriented atmosphere where plot matters because the opponent isn’t some whizz-bang super entity. It just works…better. It’s the difference between a ‘5’ and a ‘10’

    Some slight problems with some of the tactical elements, naturally. Enterprise should not be able to survive Reliant’s original point blank fire with the shields not fully deployed. Reliant’s fire is also not efficient – she’d have hit the warp engines and the bridge first. (Of course, that kills Kirk outright and disables the ship). When chasing Enterprise at the end, Reliant would have fired dozens of photon torpedoes to prevent it entering the nebula, not just one. And with the Genesis device, Khan has no motive to enter the nebula since he knows, with the power of that device, Kirk must come to him. Why do super-smarties never act super smartly in movies? Also, with Khan able to control Reliant’s crew there really wasn’t any need to for communications silence in the original ambush. Simply have the Reliant’s captain hail Kirk, maintaining all of Saavik’s regulations as he closed in for the kill. No yellow alert and, moments later, no Enterprise either.

    This movie appears to be the origin of the (annoying) tendency in sci fi to present capital ship engagements as boring affairs where massive hulks, apparently incapable of movement, fire away at each other from spitting distance. Even in Sink the Bismarck the HMS Hood and the Bismarck had the common courtesy to be firing at ten miles distance! One slight downside to an otherwise worthy SF outing.

    Star Trek #3 robbed Wrath of Khan of its full dramatic impact; the denial of Spock’s death would make this movie an ‘8’ and not a ‘10’. Yes, the writers were presumably leaving Nimoy the option of returning through several plot devices but at the time of Wrath of Khan Spock was dead. Leaving the theatre for the first time, the loss was real. They didn’t introduce the interesting Saavik for nothing, one assumes. (As soon as Nimoy signed on for III, Saavik was redundant and, apparently, Kirstie was sidelined by salary negotiations and replaced by a horrible substitute of the character that can only be explained by the producer’s complete indifference to Saavik if Spock were to continue). So I give it ‘10’ upon the memory of the original ending’s impact, not the campy plot of #3 that robbed Wrath of some of its power.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-17 at 12:42pm:
    It had been probably 25 years since I last watched this. It actually holds up quite well. I give it 8/10.

    Not unlike the TOS episode Space Seed, this one combined some excellent action/adventure ideas with some strong characterization to create a fun film.

    Sure, Khan's dialogue is a bit overblown, and there are certainly things to nit-pick, in terms of the science fiction, but it's overall a good film that has plenty of interesting shifts and turns throughout.

    One thing that strikes me is how they story writers didn't manage to work in a face-to-face confrontation between Khan and Kirk. It probably would have felt contrived, the film may have been weakened by it, but it's something that almost seemed missing.
  • From as140 on 2016-06-03 at 7:38am:
    "I only take off points for the fact that Spock's death was contrived in that it's incredibly obvious that he will be brought back to life."

    But you are wrong on that point. They really intended to kill of Spock. They just kept this solution in case people demanded them to bring back Spock, which they did.

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