We leave the disaster that was The Motion Picture behind and move onto the follow-up Star Trek movie that came three years later. I am still not entirely sure how the makers managed to get another film following the horrible first movie, but manage it they did and what a job they made of it. Now considered a classic in many circles, especially by Star Trek fans themselves, I give you Star Trek II : The Wrath Of Khan.
Bizarrely enough, the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry was not involved with the production of the Khan movie. The movie was strangely a much SMALLER budget affair, and harked back to the roots of the original series itself with an exciting, punchy script by Nicholas Meyer and it played out more like an extended episode of the show rather than a movie. The reboot of an old adversary as the antagonist was a small stroke of genius aswell.
**HERE BE THE SPOILER ALERT** – You Have Been Warned!
We see a young Vulcan Lieutenant, Saavik – played here by Kirstie Alley, attempting to find her ships’ way out of a sticky situation with a number of Klingon cruisers. This attack promptly sees the bridge crew being blown to smithereens and it is revealed to us that it is all a test. The Kobyashi Maru – a test which has only seen one officer pass, James T Kirk. This part of the story is of course to introduce us to Saavik and how she deals with testing situations that are life threatening, which is the purpose of the test in fact. Moving on from this, the entire crew depart on a simple training mission to enable them to experience the workings of a real starship, and what better one to do it on that on the Enterprise of course.
While all this is going on of course, over on Ceti Alpha V, Captain Terrell of the ship Reliant and Commander Chekov have encountered a band of exiled men and women whom the crew of Enterprise encountered 15 years previously. Their leader is the evil Khan Noonien Singh portrayed brilliantly by Ricardo Montalban. He and his fellow fugitives are augments – genetically enhanced so that they have super strength and hyper intelligence. Their kind was banished from Earth following the Eugenics Wars in the late 20th century. After revealing the death of his wife, Khan tells Terrell and Chekov that he will avenge her death and the fact that Kirk left them all marooned on this now uninhabitable planet and he places slug type creatures in the Starfleet officers ears in order to control them and make them do his bidding in an attempt to get to Kirk.
What follows is a game of cat and mouse between Enterprise and Reliant and it will take all of their wits and cunning do out-think the other. The beauty of this film is that there are a number of different storylines. The Khan thread is of course the main one, but aside from that there is the character developement of Saavik and also an experiment called Genesis which is a way of creating life on dead planets in a matter of days to make them habitable. This sideline story will have a profound effect on the outcome of this movie and will serve as the main thread for the next one.
I am not going to give away the ending of the movie because that would be just cruel, but I think that if you have seen this film, then you will agree that it is one of the most memorable in science fiction history and was in fact quite moving in places, which is something I hadn’t really realised before. Being older now, I can appreciate the emotional effects of movies much more now and this certainly heightened my viewing experience this time around. The film itself is shot very nicely and has some very good special effects put to use. My wife and I have now introduced our nearly 5-year-old son Xander to the world of Star Trek and we decided to start him on this movie as I feel he would have found the first one quite boring (as do we all really). Upon the credits rolling for Wrath Of Khan, he proclaimed, “that was GOOD!” so I guess he’s hooked. I do love my little geek. He especially enjoyed the battle scenes.
The movie itself still stand up to today’s scrutiny and it outclasses some of the later movies in the Star Trek series. The producers just seemed to get everything right here, a classic revenge story, an antagonist that we were already familiar with, good action and an emotional response on many levels. It’s hard to give this anything less than top marks and it is ironic that the show’s creator had nothing to do with the movie itself.
Star Trek – The Wrath Of Khan Stats
Budget – $11.2M
Worldwide Box Office – $96.8M
Film Length – 113 Minutes
Score On Rotten Tomatoes Review Site – 91%
IMDB Rating – 7.7
Smurfin’ The Web Rating – 5 Stars