Opening with a marvellous and wholly unexpected Kobayashi Maru situation (no spoilers) we are introduced to our characters, some well known and some not.
The Wrath of Khan is the second film in a series that has now reached 11. Many loyal fans still regard this as the best one to date. Unlike The Motion Picture, the first film, Khan does not need to reintroduce characters, and can get straight to the point of telling a rousing tale of revenge, courage and terrible loss. This it does without time to get your second breath.
Director Nicholas Meyer made some significant changes to the style and overall look of the Star Trek universe, but not so much as to alienate loyal ticket buying fans. As a result the film looks the same, we're still in Star Trek land, but at the same time it looks fresh and new. The new military like costumes look great and became the benchmark costume for the next 9 films. Deciding that Khan needed to be a straightforward action adventure, was a decision that saved the franchise, another Motion Picture I believe would have killed off any chances of a third film. Deciding to give viewers plenty of action in a thought provoking script that acknowledges the crews expanding waistlines, gives the film an added quality often missing from "science fiction" films.
With a fraction of the production budget of the first film, the director wisely spent some time getting the story right and then doing the best he could with the resources he had to hand. The result is a very satisfying 112 minutes of fabulous science fiction entertainment with an intelligent script and cutting edge special effects. Watch out for the Genesis effect video sequence, this full minute sequence is one of the first uses of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)in a major motion picture. So successful was it that it was used again in Star Trek 3.
As you would expect the screen performances from all concerned are very good, but extra praise must be given to William Shatner who gives his best performance, by some margin, in any of the seven Star Trek films he made. The always excellent Ricardo Montalban gives a powefull and almost Shakespearean performance as the bitter and possibly mad Khan, whose single minded pursuit of Kirk destroys his ability to use his intellect sensibly, and eventually to his downfall.
Paving the way nicely for Star Trek 3, the ending is a little neat and tidy and feels like an afterthought, but is beautifully done.
on 13 August 2002
The Wrath of Khan is the favorite Trek film of many fans (myself included) and after the wonderful job that was done on the directors edition of The Motion Picture, I was looking forward to the ultimate Trek Directors Edition. Well........
It's not quite there. The DVD is packaged in the same way and The Motion Picture and has the same kind of layout. Thought and attention has gone into the animated menus, with diferent animation being offered on each of the two disks.
The fist disk contains the feature and as before offers an audio commentary by Nick Meyer (Director) and text commentary again provided by Michael Okuda. As it is just Nick Meyer on the audio, there is something lacking from the commentary. On the Motion Picture we had input from four angles (Director, Actor, Special Effects...), but here we have a single point of view from someone who is not the most exciting of speakers.
On the second disk there are some great documentarys with new content shot just for this release in addition to the original interviews from 1982 when the film was first shown. Also here are the storyboard archives we have come to expect, but missing is one of the features that was so good about the Directors Edition of The Motion Picture. There are no comparisons between the original release and this edition. There are not even any deleted scenes.
And this is where the problem lies. The Motion Picture was always seen as a flawed masterpiece, and the Directors Edition gave Bob Wise the chance to go back and do what he didn't have time to complete before. With Wrath of Khan, it was already a fine movie. There have been no special effects touch ups, no added CGI just the insertion of a few additional lines of dialogue here and there. In all, the movie is about 8 mins longer than the original that was released on DVD last year.
Make no mistake, the film is still a fine movie, but you cant help but feel that it is a missed opportunity. There are a number of scenes that have been added that help explain a few things (such as Scottys emotional response to a particular engineer that is killed, we now discover it was a family member), yet there are scenes that are conspicuous by their abscence. The main one is the scene where Spock reveals that Saavik (Kirsty Alley) is Half Vulcan/Half Romulan explaining some of her emotional outbursts. The scene exists (and is even available on the internet) yet it was not included here.
The Wrath of Khan is a fine film, and the added features (5 hours in total) make it an essential purchase, but if you are expecting the kind of makeover that The Motion Picture received you will be disapointed. Think of this as an extended version and you will be quite happy with a slighly more rounded movie that is still the best trek film to date.
on 26 December 2001
I love this film. It stands out as one of the best ST movies, well paced, well acted and with some beautiful special effects. The Wrath of Khan, however, pales next to my annoyance at the poor quality of this DVD, which seems to have taken forever to be released.
The picture quality is hardly better than VHS in places, whilst the sound is often decidedly ropey. Why do Star Trek fans have to tolerate such poor releases of their favourite films? Don't even ask about extra features - one trailer does not go a long way towards justifying the extra cost of buying the movie in DVD format.
I should be giving this film five stars - as a movie it deserves them - but the DVD transfer is so poor that it has to be three.
on 21 May 2009
Usually regarded as the best Star trek movie by fans, it's an assessment that's hard to disagree with. Everything that was wrong about The Motion Picture has been corrected with this sequel. It never drags for a second, the chemistry between the regulars is spot on (probably the best it's ever been actually) the dialogue, acting, direction, special effects and sets are wonderful, the new costumes for the crew are a vast improvement on the horrendous outfits they had in the first film, and it has the best musical score of any of the Trek films. Bringing back the character of Khan from the TV series episode 'Space Seed' was a masterstroke and Ricardo Montalban gives a magnificent performance virtually stealing the whole film. The movie is really exciting, edge- of- the- seat stuff and to top it all it has the trump card of killing off Spock right at the end in a superbly emotional scene that brings a lump to the throat no matter how many times you see it. The only critisicm I could possibly make is the rather niggling continuity error of Khan remembering Checkov who wasn't actually in the original episode that featured Khan, but I'm sure some fan/author has probably come up with a reason for that in one of the millions of Star Trek novels written (I'm not that an obsessive Star Trek fan, thankfully). Overall, Star Trek II is by far the best film in the series, and a magnificently made and exciting space action, science fiction film in it's own right. This DVD edition contains a few additional scenes plus some excellent bonus features, and the picture quality is superb, making this the best version of the film to buy.
on 5 November 2009
To all those who gave this disc a poor rating ,I agree with one of the other reveiwers .
Get yourself a desent set up & you will see how good this tranfer is ,watched it last night & it is very good much better than the video & the Dvd though I still find some of the acting some of the best over acting ever what a joy !
on 20 February 2014
This is by far the best of the Star Trek movies,I saw it as a 16year old in 1982 at the cinema,and Ricardo Montabalm although he never comes face to face with Kirk,is one of the finest villains in cinema history in this.He is nasty and out for revenge.What makes this is its a kind of a follow on from an episode of the original series where kirk defeats Khan and maroons him on a planet.Quite by accident 15 years later Commander Chekov makes the mistake of beaming down to the wrong planet where Khan is waiting,From then on the persuit of Kirk commences with Chekov under Khans influence aided by little creatures placed in his ears.You get to meet Kirks son in this one and its the one where SPOCK dies?????or not????...enjoy the best SEQUEL ever!!!
on 16 March 2013
There is an endorsement on the front cover of the US edition, (which I have), which says that this is, 'the greatest Star Trek there will ever be'. I think it's a little difficult to argue with that. It has to be said that after this one, the Star Trek films fell apart because fans could not accept the death of Spock. Big mistake listening to them and bringing him back. The only reason Leonard did this was because he was going to be given a great exit. But having said that, that is not the only reason that this film stands out.
I simply had to write a review of this film after seeing the blue ray release of it. This film is thirty two years old, and yet, it looks like it was made yesterday, and that is no exaggeration. The clean up and the restoration work that has obviously gone into this film is quite staggering. The sound is amazing, clear as crystal, and the colours and textures have to be seen to be believed. You would honestly not believe that this movie was made at the beginning of the eighties.
I watched it with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and he could also not believe the quality of the print and then I told him when it was originally released, 1981. He really got into it too and I am not surprised.
Funnily enough, I think that it being a Star Trek film you might have certain expectations, especially after the deeply flawed original Motion Picture, but if it is just seen as a science fiction film and you put aside the fact that it is one in a so called series, then I think it has every right to be called a science fiction classic, and not just a Star Trek classic. Why is this film possibly so great? Many reasons, perhaps, but not least of which is one of the all time great villians in cinema history, Khan. What a powerhouse performance indeed from Ricardo Montalban. He's mad, he's scary, he's smart, he's a definite match for poor Kirk, who doesn't have a clue what he's about to come up against. Of course, little does Kirk know the terrible price he will have to pay at the end. Great script, great production values, pacy and taught direction and a brilliant villian, what more could anyone need? There is however, just one tiny, tiny, tiny little gripe I have, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the print or anything like that. It's to do in fact with the director I suspect, Nicholas Meyer.
There is one scene in the film which I always liked, and it is actually the end of a certain cut scene, but in order for it to make sense, the bit I liked was trimmed also. After a scene in the medical bay after Khan's first attack, there is an extended scene where we get more personal about Scotties' nephew, and that was cut, since they wanted it to be about the loss of personnel only, and it got too personal, but that is not what I am griping about, after that, there is a little exchange between Kirk and McCoy, and McCoy assures his Admiral that it may not be over, 'You gave as good as you got'. Kirk then enies that and says something back about what he knew about the ship and that's the only reason they're alive. I liked that exchange, but it was cut, and that annoyed me. Now, I don't care if a director feels the need to trim his film down, but for heaven's sake, I paid £14 for this US edition, and I say they could at least have INCLUDED both the uncut edition and the other one, just to give us the choice of which to watch. I do wonder now if it is on the UK edition, and if it is, I may even get that one too, but I shouldn't have to do so. (If anyone does know if it's on the UK edition, please tell me).
Anyway, that personal gripe aside, this film will be out there and enjoyed for generations to come and it is as far as I'm concerned, not just the best Star Trek film ever made, but one of the best science fiction films ever made, period. It's lasted this long and is still talked about, (not the ones that came after, I hasten to add), and the only other one which for me is nbearly just as good, was Star Trek: Nemesis, the best one the Next Generation crew did. If you haven't got this and if you are even a small fan of science fiction, do yourself a favour and get this. Epic space adventure and drama doesn't really get a lot better than this.
on 15 January 2009
Old Skool Trek fans have always considered this to be the finest Trek film...and I'm very inclined to agree. While The Motion Picture was fine for what it was, it didn't quite engage fans or the public at large. And so an injection of new creative talent was drafted, in the form of Nick Myer and Harve Bennett. The result is a very fresh film, which still holds up remarkably well almost 3 decades on.
Where Star Trek II excels is that is really brings the characters to life: it makes them very human and very vulnerable and therefore immediately makes the film a lot more accessible and revelant. Star Trek II is a meditation on life, death and the twilight in between. It explores dealing with aging, making peace with the past (or not, in Khaan's case) and dealing with consequences. So, like TMP it deals with themes, but it does so not at the expense of a gripping and involving story, filled with incident and action.
The basic premise revolves around a game of cat-and-mouse between Kirk and Khaan, the latter brilliantly brought to life by Ricardo Montalban, who truly seems born to play the part of the sophisticated, ruthless "super-man". It's brilliantly structured, well-directed and genuinely visceral. To the film's credit, it doesn't just ruminate or TALK about its theme of life and death - it actually SHOWS it, in powerful detail...in the form, of course, of Spock's heroic death. Never have the stakes seemed quite as high as they have here, and never have our heroes had to pay such a shocking price for victory. From the action-packed climax to the devastatingly moving finale, this is an emotional powerhouse and one that still works even though you know with hindsight that Spock will be alive by the end of the next film.
It's a tremendous film on just about every level - action-packed, tense, emotional and gripping, with a notably brilliant score by James Horner. Just buy it, watch it, treasure it! Though there were other very good Trek films, I don't think any of them quite hit this level of brilliance.
on 18 October 2008
For your average hollywood studio executive, sequels must be hard. How can you basically take the first movie, expand on it and still create that first sense of wonder that connected to the audience in the first place? Well, luckily for the producers of STAR TREK II they were coming off the stone cold, steely and frankly, quite dull STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE - so, in essence - the only way was up.
However, that doesn't really cut it. Even if 'The Motion Picture' was a resounding success, 'The Wrath of Khan' is still not only a perfect sequel, but also a perfect film. It can stand on it's own and even if you are not a 'trekkie' (I don't really consider myself one), there is plenty to enjoy in what isn't just another addition to Gene Roddenberry's space opera - but, an actual movie with feeling and characters you really care about.
I won't bore you with the story. In a nutshell, it's the usual ''evil renegade tyrant seeks revenge on our favourite band of star trekkers and a very important cast member who bites the bullet near the finale'' - but, its the way the story unfolds that is the kicker. The screenplay is by far one of the better ones for this movie franchise. All of the characters are clearly defined and the villains suitably evil. The visual effects are still wonderful 20+ years on and the cinematography, production and costume design are near perfect and for James Horner's score - well, its still as fresh and majestic today as it was when the movie first came out.
However, the real draw of this movie (for me, at least) is its dedication to the characters. The three way character arc for Kirk, Spock and McCoy is wonderful on this outing. It all really feels like these guys know each other, hang out together and would die for each other. Which, ahem - gets me to my next point: The finale. If you haven't seen the movie, please skip this next part - however, if you have I am sure you know what I mean. The death sequence still brings tears to my eyes even now, and the way that William Shatner holds the scenes is marvellous; both heroic and helpless at the same time. The fantastic idea of having a glass shield between Kirk and Spock is a stroke of genius, thus taking away from Kirk the last chance to ''touch'' his friend before he dies. It almost sums up their entire friendship in that single scene - its a poignant and sorrowful sequence.
The movie is full of these great scenes; the Kobayashi Maru segment that underpins the entire movie, the creation of the genesis planet, Shatners' near classic ''Khaaaaaaaaan'' speech, I could go on there are so many wonderful moments too numerous to mention. All in all, a great movie. Star Trek or not.
The blu ray presentation is wonderful. As usual, the Trek special editions boast an excellent transfer with enhanced sound and the usual array of documentaries (Shatner is a hoot on all of them. I still don't know if he is joking or being serious. He is a gem) and a great audio commentary from director Nicholas Meyer who truly is THE ''Trek movie'' director. At such a great price, this one is the one to own. Recommended.
on 20 March 2016
Disregard JJ Abrams' efforts. Star Trek didn't need reinventing or reinvigorating, it needed to be left alone. That's why we have Blu Ray / DVD / VHS - so we can look back at how things were whilst waxing nostalgic & weeping rose-tinted tears into out warm beer. We don't need constant refreshes of our past. We certainly don't need lens flares in our face every thirty seconds.
The reality is that you have just two choices for the very best of Trek on celluloid. Either you go with the Next Generation's second effort, 'First Contact', or this one. I like both, but Khan edges it. It has everything: the original crew, the original Enterprise (albeit the motion picture refit), James Horner's lush score, and Ricardo Montelbán chewing scenery left and right as he seeks vengeance on Kirk for the wrongs visited on him 15 years earlier in the series episode 'Space Seed'.
Nicholas Meyer was wise to make Shatner play Kirk as a man on the cusp of a mid-life crisis, and it's that battle with the inevitabilities of ageing and mortality that helps give 'The Wrath of Khan' the emotional resonance that carries it clear of Picard versus the Borg. And, of course, there's *that* ending. Quick, pass me another tissue, my beer's getting wet.