Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan (1982)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Considered by many fans to be the best of the Star Trek movies, Khan features a strong plot, increased tension, and a sharp supporting performance from Ricardo Montalban.


Movie Info

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is fondly regarded as being the closest in spirit to the 1966-69 TV series that spawned it. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) escapes the tedium of a desk job to join Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley) on another space mission. While boldly going where no man etc. etc., Kirk crosses the path of his old enemy Khan (Ricardo Montalban), who as any die-hard Trekker can tell you, was the chief antagonist in the 1966 Trek TV episode … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Jack B. Sowards, Harve Bennett
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 11, 2000
Runtime:
Paramount Pictures

Cast


as James T. Kirk

as Scotty

as Dr. McCoy

as Chekov

as Dr. Carol Marcus

as Dr. David Marcus

as Capt. Clark Terrell

as Saavik

as Preston

as Beach

as Joachim (uncredited)

as Bridge Voice

as Radio Voice

as Crew Chief

as Radio Voice

as Starfleet Cadet

as Starfleet Cadet

as Starfleet Cadet

as Starfleet Cadet

as Starfleet Cadet

as Starfleet Cadet
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (7)

There is something comfortable, even old-shoeish, about the new film, a sense, appropriate to its theme of coming to terms with middle age, that all aboard are pleasurably rediscovering their best selves.

Full Review… | May 3, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Star Trek II is a very satisfying space adventure, closer in spirit and format to the popular TV series than to its big-budget predecessor.

Full Review… | May 19, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

If only director Nicholas Meyer had grasped the implications of his tale more fully and enthusiastically, this might have become a classic piece of cornball SF poetry, but as it stands the tepid acting and one-set claustrophobia take a heavy toll.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The net effect, between embarrassed guffaws, is incredulity: a movie at once post-TV and pre-DW Griffith.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Although I liked the special effects in the first movie, they were probably not the point; fans of the TV series wanted to see their favorite characters again, and Trek II understood that desire and acted on it.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

It was Star Trek II that put the franchise on the right track as the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's 60s television series was harnessed to spectacular effect.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan

I never did understand how this film was so much more successful and popular than the first. Quite clearly the film has gone for a slightly more silly plot losing a lot of the straight laced sci-fi from the first. I suppose you could say they lost the aspiring '2001' type sequences and went back to the more well known cardboard cutout type effects of the old Star Trek show...shame.

Now I realise the slow building straight faced Star Trek we got in the first film was frowned upon but its hard to see what the fans actually wanted in a big screen version. There were complaints that the original was just an outstretched TV episode with fancy visuals, yet this sequel (in my opinion) was even more of an outstretched TV episode with lousy visuals. As we all know this movie is a sequel or follow up to the original TV episode 'Space Seed' where Kirk and co battled against the deadly super strong Khan and his boy band of super studs.

I've always thought this idea was a brave one personally. Although the original TV episode did do well when it was first shown that was way back in 1967, who knew if anyone would take to seeing an old Khan doing the same kind of thing he did once before. Obviously the gamble paid off as we now know but wow talk about risky...if you ask me.

So you gotta give it to the creative teams behind the film. I mean lets face it, if you hadn't seen the original TV episode then you would be a little stuck as to what's going on. So technically the director has already, possibly, excluded most of the target audience as I'm sure many would not have seen it being too young. Of course many would have but back in the old days you couldn't just catch up on an old TV episode and watch it easily, so if you wanted to watch 'Space Seed' again back then you might have been stuck.

That aside I think the film looked pretty poor also, the effects looked a lot rougher (which is saying something) than the first movie and in general the grandiose feeling you got in the first film seemed to have been sucked away. What you had left was a quite cheap looking and very generic film, the only thing that looked spruced up was the character uniforms.

The models were still solid visually don't get me wrong (although they were reused from the first movie), but they were set against some really bad bluescreen space backdrops. Its such a shame because they are very obviously models with stark black lines around their edges giving the game away, plus they clearly looked exactly the same as the previous movies models which was dull. I think the effects team struggled throughout with this movie as you can see various methods used to create the entire illusion which kinda looks like a muddle at times. For the time these effects were decent and did the job but these days its quite shocking how dodgy they can appear but I guess that's to be expected.

The whole production was a cheap affair really with so many props reused or cannibalized from a cancelled sequel TV series idea (sequel to the original series). Whilst certain sets such as the Enterprise bridge were redressed and reused as was the Klingon bridge set. Heck even the old costumes were kinda Frankensteined and reused to save money! but admittedly the new naval inspired look was perfect for the franchise. On the flip side Khan's people were kinda dressed like a band of warriors from the Mad Max universe...or any group of savages you'd see in any apocalyptic sci-fi movie really.

For me the franchise went backwards in terms of visuals with this outing, it was kinda cool how they explored and expanded an old TV episode but the whole thing is so basic looking. I liked the slow strategic galleon/submarine type starship battle between Kirk and Khan in the nebulae, this was obviously the highlight of the movie and created perfect tension. Sure it was basically submarines in space but it worked well. Apart from that there was nothing really that stuck out for me as a big kickass moment (apart from that raging scream courtesy of Kirk).

There is of course the small subplot of Spock's death which at the time stunned everyone. Yet this was clearly a setup for the next sequel, to turbo charge emotions and get people back into the cinemas again. It was pretty clear that Spock would not die for good and he would come back in the next movie, no way they would let one of the most popular characters get killed off. So in all honesty that shocker never really affected me, sure it was sad seeing Kirk choke up at the funeral, a real tearjerker I'm willing to admit...but it was also kind of a cheap tactic really.

Of course a sneering seething Ricardo Montalbán really helped the film with his portrayal of the dastardly Khan but he doesn't do much does he. I still don't really understand why he blamed Kirk for the death of his wife. In the TV episode after Khan is defeated he happily agrees to be marooned on Ceti Alpha VI to rule as a king on his own planet. OK so things went tits up with the neighbouring planet causing massive troubles but that's got nothing to do with Kirk. Khan was happy with Kirk's original decision so...you can't blame Kirk surely, you agreed Khan.

The movie is really all about the main trio of Spock, Kirk and McCoy, everyone else is there of course but they don't get much screen time. Even back then it was clear that the team were cracking on age wise with Shatner at 50 years of age. Despite that the movie is most definitely a solid Star Trek entry offering thrills and spills of a nautical theme...dare I say Hornblower in space. Its nowhere near as visually epic as the first movie and I did miss those Kubrick-esque shots as I've already said, but it does have that classic Star Trek feel even though its somewhat missing the classic technical babble. I still think its a pretty basic and generic concept overall but I guess the original TV series had both action based plots and thinking based plots to cover all angles.

phubbs1
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

½

And this is coming from an adamant "definitely not a fan" of the original series.

Kevin Cookman
Kevin Cookman

Super Reviewer

This is the second movie in all of the "Star Trek" movies, and it's considered the best(I've only seen this and the first one). This is miles better than the first movie, and really showcases a great story, with great characters. A guy I work with recommended I watch an old episode called "Space Seed" first. It's not mandatory, but it's a great thing to do, because it gives a great set up, and you get to see why Khan and Kirk hate each other. The effects are very dated, and the acting is just awesome. Awesome, because it's all overacted, which for a movie like this works well. When Kirk yells Khan, it's just awesome. I like the Abrams movies better, but this makes me want to continue with the old movies to see where it all goes. Good movie that's still good 30 years later.

Everett Johnson
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan Quotes

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