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Trekking to the Stars: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982)

 


I'm back again, summoned to adventure and wonder by the glittering orbs of gaseous light in the heavens.  This week, I warp speed my way into "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

Admiral Kirk is overseeing the training of new cadets.  The USS Enterprise is now a training vessel.  Kirk's future seems calm and dull as he feels age creeping up on him.

But an enemy from his past is about to return to the stars to hunt him down... and Kirk may lose all that he holds dear...

After the critiques brought forth about "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", Paramount decided to go in a more action/adventure direction that was closer in tone to The Original Series than the first movie.

I loved that they actually dipped into Star Trek history to find a story to connect this movie to the show.  The episode, "Space Seed" was an amazing episode, and deserved to be the inspiration for this movie.  It certainly brought the action that the first movie was missing.  It was also much more emotionally grounded in that it focused on Kirk's reaction to aging, and dealing with losing those close to him.  The TV show dealt with what it mean to be human, and so did this movie.

The movie was tightly paced as well, with a wonderful balance and flow to it.  It had action, adventure, drama, suspense, pathos, and humour in equal measure.  "Wrath of Khan" moved from scene to scene nicely and smoothly.  I couldn't help but focusing on what was happening- losing track of time.

Khan was a fascinating character in "Space Seed", and became even more interesting in this movie.  He was strongly written, with just enough mystery, that you wanted to know more about what happened to him after being exiled on Ceti Alpha V.  He was an excellent antagonist for Kirk.  I loved that he wasn't a black and white sort of character.  He was nicely complex, and his motivation of revenge not unentirely understandable.  Definitely one of the best Star Trek "villains".

Kirk, and Spock are developed wonderfully in this movie. Their interactions and relationship are explored marvelously, and used in a great fashion to make us examine our thoughts about friendship, and death.  These two themes combined are expressed beautifully in the form of Kirk's eulogy at Spock's funeral service.  I have watched "Wrath of Khan" multiple times, and that scene STILL wrings tears from me.

While William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy bring their A-game to their performances, Ricardo Montalban steels the show as Khan.  He chews the scenery just enough to make his character's descent into madness entertaining, while brining an almost theatrical dignity and regalness to Khan.

It is generally felt by most fans that "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is one of- if not THE best "Star Trek" movies.  I'm inclined to agree.  I watch this movie pretty damn often.  I'm giving it a "Good".

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