Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Film review of the sci-fi blockbuster starring William Shatner

Star Trek II William Shatner scream
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Science fiction

image four star rating very good lots to enjoy

Film review by Jason Day of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the science fiction action blockbuster starring William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban.

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Synopsis

Review, by @Reelreviewer

Am I a closet Trekkie?

Reviewing this movie – the sequel to the original big screen franchise of the 1960’s TV series – I rapidly realised I was enjoying it. A LOT!

Which was much the same feeling I had when watching the other ‘Trek’ movies on this blog: Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) – 3/5 stars, so worth watching – and Star Trek Beyond (2016) – 4/5 stars, so very good – so, why am I not pounding the floor at the nearest ComicCon?!

Firstly, while I love a good flick, in the unforgettable words of Alfred Hitchcock after actress Ingrid Bergman requested acting advice, they are only movies. I’ll go to the cinema, I’ll enjoy them on DVD or digital at home – that’s enough to make me cinematically self-actualise.

Secondly…come on! Would I ever swan around a public event wearing a black tee-shirt emblazoned with Chewbacca, R2-D2 or a slogan such as ‘Geeks do it on their knees’?!

No. I would not!

Still, I frequently find myself rather liking – sometimes, liking quite a lot – the movies you will find featured at such events. And I have been known to recommend them to other people.

This sequel picks up many years after an episode in the aforementioned 60’s TV series. Then Starfleet Captain – now Admiral – James Tiberius Kirk deposited Khan Noonien Singh as punishment for a transgression, with other members of his kin including a beloved wife.

More than a decade later their paths cross again and, thankfully for us, the acting of both men passes the test of time.

This is Montalban’s film, of course. With a whiff of old school Hollywood enshropuding him – and a rather unfortunate Peter Stringfellow, cockerell haircut – he owns the movie with what seems like minimal effort.

It is a graceful, poetic turn full of calm and rushes of guttural fury. It is the hallmark of a fine performer that they can modulate and flow between the extremes of emotion their character feels. Montalban excels here.

Despite all of this, he nabs a line of dialogue that is only the second most memorable in the movie. Lifted from Melville’s Moby Dick, he tells Kirk: “From hell’s heart, I stab at thee!”

It’s better dialogue than the most famous line, as Kirk screams at his nemesis: “Khaaaaaaaaaaaaan!”, giving rise to umpteen memes and parodies.

Forgive the rather cold, stilted feel to the movie, away from the above’s interactions. The series, after a shaky but financially impressive start with the first two movies, was finding its feet. Later additions to he franchise would see the actors take more control over the productions, resulting in some interesting takes on Star Fleet’s most recognisable vessel and staff.

Cast & credits

Director: Nicholas Meyer. 1hr 53 mins (113 mins). Paramount Pictures. (12).

Producer: Robert Sallin.
Writer: Jack B. Sowards.
Camera: Gayne Rescher.
Music: James Horner.
Sets: Joseph R. Jennings.

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo Montalban.

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