Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (PG, 113mins) Directed by Nicholas Meyer ****½
“Don’t be upset, Admiral. It’s logic. The needs of the greatest number prevail.
“The needs of the few.”
“Or this one. I have never passed the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
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It was the scene that shocked even the most sober of star trek fans around the world in 1982, leaving them sobbing into their popcorn, as two old friends said goodbye.
Sure star wars had encased that adorable Han Solo scoundrel in carbonite, but it was Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, the logical, half-alien mind that a generation had grown up watching for hikingthe original three-season mission between 1966 and 1969 (and its endless repeats on Saturday morning television in the years before Khan’s Wrath had been released).
Even though we had endured previous cinematic horrors like boat downit was a trauma of another kind, from which some viewers struggled to recover – at least until 1984 Search Spock came along and basically undid all the great work on this fabulous movie.
As a longtime fan of the original hiking and passionate about many of its offshoots, I still regard this Nicholas Meyer-led adventure as the finest hours of Gene Roddenberry’s creation (JJ Abrams obviously did that too as he tried to recreate it in 2013 Star Trek Into Darkness).
In fact, it’s one of the most thrilling and greatest sci-fi movies of that fertile decade for the genre of the 1980s – equaled and beaten only by a handful of classics like Back to the future, aliens, blade runner, Fly, The Terminator and The empire strikes back.
Along with that last title, it’s one of two features that I can quote extensive verbatim sections of dialogue (although not as long as I could when I was 9), especially the heart-pounding last 20 minutes and heartbreaking, from the moment William Shatner’s Admiral Kirk shouts his nemesis’s name to Leonard Nimoy’s signature once the strains of a bagpipe amazing Grace have moved away.
Only now have I found out that Khan Noonien Singh, Ricardo Montalbahn’s peerless “genetically superior tyrant”, REALLY quoted Moby-Dick when he growled defiantly, “From the heart of hell I stab you; for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath on you,” which only adds gravity to the already Shakespearian story of revenge.
It is Montalbahn’s physical threat and his very real sense of threat that gives Khan’s Wrath its propulsive storytelling and addictive quality that keeps you coming back again and again.
If 1979 is heavy The film barely bothered to hide her 2001: A Space Odyssey inspiration among the different spatial sequences in the colors of the rainbow, then Khan closely followed in the footsteps of star wars empireemphasizing action and character moments, rather than world-building.
It features one of the very first cinematic sequences created entirely using computer graphics (the Genesis device explained), boasts of having nightmarish, mind-altering “ears of ears” and has began the series’ seemingly pervasive penchant for crippling or destroying the Enterprise.
As Kiwis we loved that Khan and his cohorts were left behind on Ceti Alpha V on a ship called Botany Bay, while I found it hilarious that Square pickets‘ (a short-lived and hugely underrated high school sitcom starring Sarah Jessica Parker) Johnny Slash (Merritt Buttrick) had been cast to play Kirk’s son and was immediately taken with the new character Lt Saavik, the ear-protected Spock’s Vulcans, played by an actor I had never heard of called Kirstie Alley.
JJ Abrams essentially revisited The Wrath of Khan with his 2013 Star Trek adventure Into Darkness.
I’ll be honest, in some ways, Khan’s Wrath is such a chaotic movie. It is incompatible with its source material (the original 1967 series episode Space seed), claiming that Chekov had already met Khan, reuses existing footage from the first film to cut costs, and even features Chippendale dancers as some of Khan’s henchmen, but it’s hard not to be captivated and captivated from the start. at the end, that finale taking you through a range of emotions that few other movies can match (helped immensely by a moving James”Brave Heart, Titanic”Horner’s score).
Forty years later, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan is always a wonderful entertainment.
Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan is now available for rental on iTunes, GooglePlay and YouTube. A special 40th anniversary screening is also scheduled at the Roxy Cinema in Wellington on March 27 at 7:30 p.m.