Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Year: 1982

Production: Paramount

Director: Nicholas Meyer

Starring: the lead players from the Star Trek tv series, along with Kirstie Alley, Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Ricardo Montalban

Screenwriter: Jack B. Sowards

Based on a story by Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards. Novelization (1982) by Vonda N. McIntyre

114 minutes; Color


This was the 2nd (and very much cheaper) movie incarnation of Star Trek, the first being Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Montalban plays Khan, the villain, resurrected from the tv episode Space Seed (1967), who thinks he is Captain Ahab. Project Genesis, a terraforming project that can be used as a weapon, is about to be set off by Khan. Kirk meets his alienated son. Chekov is mind-controlled by an alien earwig in his ear. Spock sacrifices himself for the greater good. The whole melodramatic, sentimental mishmash is muddily photographed in flat tv style, but, mystifyingly, many fans liked it better than its much more considerable predecessor.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

A lackluster sequel to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Going rather less boldly than they used to on tv - and considerably less so than cherishably megalomamac villain Khan (Montalban) - the veteran crew of the starship Enterprise creak out of contemplaiive retirement to find several of their stray space seeds bearing thorny fruit.

Literally, because Meyer's film plays essentially as a sequel io the "Space Seed" tv episode of 1967, with Khan's cosmic renegade blasting back inio understandably wrathful action from his prison-planet exile, and metaphorically, with Admiral Kirk discovering the corny upshot of his youthful wild oats living with lost love Besch on a threatened planet. If Freud finds his way between the comic-strip frame lines here, courtesy of the familial traumas that ensue. he turns out to be in good company - Khan's instrument of revenge turns out to be a destructively wielded Genesis device. while his chosen transport, the commandeered USS Reliant, provides a blatant acronymic link with Cold War polarities. Meyer directs flatly, aping a primitivism that the teleseries didn't possess, and even falls to invest Spock's climactic self-sacrifice with any sense other than that of a teasing hook for yet another sequel. Montalban, hyping up some half-forgotten characterization of an Indian Chief into a slyly convincing space savage, is the only possible reason for seeing the movie. "It might just be a particle of pre-animate matter caught up in the matrix" reads one damage report aboard the Enterprise, but the problems run much deeper than that.

In the wake of the film's commercial success a further sequel, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, was announced.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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