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I'm Chris. I'm 22 years old and I'm into a large variety of music, from Metal in its many forms (mostly the extreme ones) to Goth and Postpunk, Reggae, Jazz, Prog, Techno, Ambient and Film Scores. This is where I rave about albums I really like, and other stuff.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

 Released: June 4, 1982
Director Nicholas Meyer
Produced by: Robert Sallin, Harve Bennet (executive)
Screenplay: Jack B. Sowards, Nicholas Meyer (uncredited)

"Can I cook, or can't I..."

I'm sure that's what went through Nicholas Meyer's head when he watched the final edit for this. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, while not an inherently bad film, was a less than ideal start to the Star Trek movie series. It just took a bit too long to make its point, and the story wasn't exactly A-grade material. Put it up against the smash hit A New Hope that came out a year prior, and the winner is obvious. For the next film in the Trek series, I'm sure they realised they had to step up their game a little bit and come out with a film that would make an impression. In that they succeeded, and also created a film that is still regarded by many as the definitive Star Trek feature.

I have never seen Space Seed, the original series episode featuring Khan that serves as a backdrop to this movie. I'm not as big a fan of TOS as I am of TNG, DS9, and so on. If you have seen that episode then you'll know exactly what's going on from the beginning. Thankfully this film is successful enough that it doesn't require you to have seen the episode to get into it, though it may help if you have an idea of just who Khan is to explain the connection between him and the rest of the characters. Put simply, the film center's around Khan's obsession with revenge on Kirk that untimately proves to be his undoing, while Kirk survives and is free to save the galaxy and spout one liners another day. At the center of all this lies Genesis, a world-creating device of unimaginable power which Khan sets his eyes on, that provides the foundation for the film after this one, and the one after that in part, too. This is the first film to introduce many elements that would become synonymous with the Trek features, including the distinctive red uniforms (not like the “space pyjamas” of The Motion Picture). Ricardo Montalban gives an unforgettable performance as Khan, subtly menacing and explosive when needed, without ever going over the top. If you want to see a top actor doing a classic villain role, watch this. He and Kirk face off in their respective ships in one of the most memorable space battles in film history. Like a classic submarine fight, both ships are effectively running blind in a nebula and almost collide with each other in one instance. Its a tense, dramatic battle scene that leaves both ships crippled. In the end, a certain crew member sacrifices himself so the Enterprise can escape to safety, while the Genesis device goes off aboard Khan’s stolen ship and creates a new world which becomes the focus of the next film in the series. The rest of the cast is on top form, the screen chemistry between these people (especially the classic Bones, Kirk and Spock trio) is undeniable and just a joy to watch...and isn’t Kirstie Alley just stunning? There are some good awkward moments between Kirk, his ex wife, and son that he didn’t know about. James Horner’s score is one of the most memorable of the movie series, and there are some great visual effects from stunning matte paintings to charmingly dated CGI that was doubtless the absolute cutting edge in its day.

Unlike some, emptier sci fi, The Wrath of Khan is really classic character drama in a futuristic setting, topped off with some great action and the moral/political take on things, the reflection of the human condition that defines classic Trek in the minds of so many fans. This film is the first part of the classic 3 film series of Treks II, III and IV that are basically one big story arc. This is the film that was so good, so classic, that they ripped it off like you wouldn’t believe for 2013’s style over substance Star Trek Into Darkness. I just got hold of the newest 2009 DVD edition of this film, remastered in 1080p from the original print, which apparently needed a bit of restoration work as it wasn't in great shape after all those years. Before this I was accustomed to the lower quality of my VHS copy, I have to say the difference is remarkable and I have never seen this film look so good. The bonus features on this DVD version are decent, though not as good or comprehensive as on the 2003 2-disc special editions. The trade off is the much improved picture quality. If you want to know just what this remarkable cultural phenomenon is all about, you could pick a much worse place to start than Star Trek II.

My rating: 5/5

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