johnlink ranks STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)

KHAAAAAAAAN!  I’m not sure there is another one-word exclamatory uttering in the history of cinema that I had heard referenced so much without actually seeing the source. Great stuff.  Anyway… here’s the sequel to the decidedly underwhelming first STAR TREK picture. Interestingly, this is actually more of a sequel to a 1967  episode from the original series than it is to the first flick. I really didn’t know anything about STAR TREK II going in (other than, you know, KHAAAAAAAN!). Not to embarrass myself or anything, but I knew so little about this movie that I actually thought Khan was a Klingon. Perhaps my mind made that leap because, well, if you take the ‘ling’ out of Klingon, you get…

I watched STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) on 4.14.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

Common wisdom holds that the second STAR TREK movie is much better than the first. I had always heard this, and trusted it. But after seeing just how average the first one was, how like a glorified episode it felt, I was really worried about hating STAR TREK II.

As it turns out, the second film IS much more enjoyable than the first. Simply, it feels more like a movie, more like an event. The uniforms get a cool makeover, the ships look great, the effects have made a leap forward (even if they are archaic by today’s standards), and the characters pop much more vividly. The story is also more conducive to the big screen, with Khan seizing a ship in an effort to exact his revenge on Kirk

In retrospect, the first film almost felt as if it wanted to transcend being just a STAR TREK movie. Director Robert Wise was paining to try and be 2001, but STAR TREK is no 2001. The second film knows much better what it is. And that’s not to say that STAR TREK isn’t a great franchise. On the contrary, when looked at on the whole, STAR TREK probably has the richest history (and staying power) of any visual-medium sci-fi series. STAR WARS may have made more money, but STAR TREK has survived multiple series and multiple movies without taking too much of a quality hit (at least according to the fans I’ve talked to).

This movie does all the things it needs to do to achieve a high ‘movie’ score with me. It has enjoyable characters, a solid villain, some tense action, and a few unexpected happenings. I do wish that Khan and Kirk got together at least once. Instead, the entire conflict is played out on communicators and video screens. I was hoping for that face-to-face payoff. It didn’t ruin it for me, that would be too harsh a criticism, but I did feel like potential was left on the table.

The Kirk/Spock/McCoy trifecta was as effective as ever, and they felt much more settled in here than they did in the first.  Much of the auxiliary crew is wasted (except for Chekov), but it doesn’t really pull any enjoyment away for me. I did appreciate that the age of these guys is embraced more fully. Perhaps Kirk getting a pair of reading glasses on his birthday is not a subtle way to say ‘I’m getting too old for this,’ but it made me laugh anyway.

There is an unexpected twist towards the end of this. Sure it gets negated in the next film, but the moment itself was not played with lightness. Probably some of the best Shatner acting I’ve seen. Perhaps that isn’t saying much, but the last scene with he and Nimoy in this film is very solid.

I loved seeing the Kobayashi Maru test which was so prominent in JJ Abrams STAR TREK reboot. When I watched that new film, I had no idea that they had pulled the source right from KHAN. Newly equiped with that insider knowledge, I geeked out a little bit… which sort of made me realize how STAR TREK fans must feel about this movie, in general. I’m a guy who has never seen the original Khan episode, so I don’t know the back story. Perhaps that makes me ill equipped to properly review this movie, save for the fact that more people who newly come to this movie now would have not seen the episode than did see it.

After watching the first movie, I wasn’t sure how far I’d get into this series. After watching KHAN, I know I have at least one more in me…





~ by johnlink00 on April 15, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)”

  1. […] ST2 link here […]

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