Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Reviews
In 1982, audiences weren't expecting much from this franchise, after the TV series was unceremoniously canceled years earlier and the first film was such an uncharacteristic slog. Maybe the cool sets, practical effects, corny posturing and brilliant score were of no surprise. Maybe even the great correlation and juxtaposition between our hero and villain may have been inevitable, with Khan and Kirk basically being two sides of the same bloated-chest coin. However, to get a Star Trek film that's such a dark and powerful metaphor for the hardships of war must've been a watershed moment, especially within the Spock-Kirk arc.
What especailly surprises me is this film's status as a bonafide classic of the genre. Like other so-called "Trekkers", I love it, but how much of that is helped by my pre-existing fandom? Wrath... makes the decision not to waste time with character introductions or clunky backstory exposition; it assumes our knowledge of these things. Instead, it allows its strong script to stand on its own. The humor-injected dialogue, the consistent character moments, the straightforward plotting, and the wide-reaching themes connect us to these characters, whether for the first or hundredth time.
My only complaint about Wrath of Khan comes in the slow build of the first act. There seemed to be a lot of references to how long it had been since they were on the Enterprise and how old they were getting. It was a bit of nostalgic reflection that might suit fans, particularly at that time, but felt a little drawn out to me. I know the trope of the over-the-hill guys pulling together for one last hurrah, but knowing they would do this several more times in the movies kind of weakened that scene for me.
Otherwise, once Moby Dick in Space gets going, I was hooked. Most of the space battles and action sequences are actually fairly brief, yet I was tense through every single one. I loved the interactions between Kirk and Khan, as they kept trying to outdo one another, and pushed one another's buttons. The sequence where the Enterprise crew hacks the shields was so well done I was clenching the arms of my chair in anticipation.
I have to say, considering everyone in the world seems to think Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek film, I kind of expected to find it disappointing and unable to live up to the hype. Yet this truly is one of the greatest Star Trek films of all time. I haven't had a franchise movie impact me on such a visceral and emotional level in a long time. This one accomplished that and then some. It's a movie I was thinking about for hours afterwards, and will probably seek to add to my collection.
After the lukewarm reaction to the first film, fan response to The Wrath of Khan was highly positive. The Wrath of Khan was released in North America on June 4, 1982. It was a box office success, earning US$97 million worldwide and setting a world record for first-day box office gross. The film's success was credited with renewing interest in the franchise. Mark Bernardin of Entertainment Weekly went further, calling The Wrath of Khan "the film that, by most accounts, saved Star Trek as we know it"; it is now considered one of the best films in the series. The film's pacing was praised by reviewers in The New York Times and The Washington Post as being much swifter than its predecessor and closer to that of the television series. Janet Maslin of The New York Times credited the film with a stronger story than The Motion Picture and stated the sequel was everything the first film should have been. Variety agreed that The Wrath of Khan was closer to the original spirit of Star Trek than its predecessor. Strong character interaction was cited as a strong feature of the film, as was Montalbán's portrayal of Khan. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and Derek Adams of Time Out complained about what were seen as tepid battle sequences, and perceived melodrama. While Ebert and TV Guide felt that Spock's death was dramatic and well-handled, The Washington Post's Gary Arnold stated Spock's death "feels like an unnecessary twist, and the filmmakers are obviously well-prepared to fudge in case the public demands another sequel". Negative reviews of the film also focused on the acting, and Empire singled out the "dodgy coiffures" and "Santa Claus tunics" as elements of the film that had not aged well.
After the lackluster critical and commercial response to The Motion Picture, series creator Gene Roddenberry was forced out of the sequel's production. Executive producer Harve Bennett wrote the film's original outline, which Jack B. Sowards developed into a full script. Director Nicholas Meyer completed the final script in 12 days, without accepting a writing credit. Meyer's approach evoked the swashbuckling atmosphere of the original series, and the theme was reinforced by James Horner's musical score. Nimoy had not intended to have a role in The Motion Picture's sequel, but was enticed back on the promise that his character would be given a dramatic death scene. Negative test audience reaction to Spock's death led to significant revisions of the ending over Meyer's objections. The production used various cost-cutting techniques to keep within budget, including utilizing miniatures from past projects and re-using sets, effects footage and costumes from the previous movie. Among the film's technical achievements is it being the first feature film to contain a complete sequence created entirely with computer-generated graphics.
I didn´t grow up with the Star Trek tv-show, however I had a Mr. Spock action figure from the tv-show as a kid and when "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" came out in 1979 that did catch my attention with more action figures. That film was a tedious and slow paced vehicle and not that intriguing as far as I remember. So I never saw "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" when it came out in 1982. The film is sort of a sequel to the episode "Space Seed" from the original series as Khan returns with a plan of vengeance against Captain Kirk and his crew. Yes, there´s somewhat a nostalgic feeling to it even if the film also carries a campiness like the tv-show did. The top moments are the battle of the mind between Kirk and Khan and Spock's sacrifice at the end. Moments that stands out. And it´s nice to see a young and beautiful Kirstie Alley as Vulcan Lieutenant Saavik. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is ok in my book, but not something that sticks to me like it does to a Trekkie.
Cinematography - 30% - 25/30
Acting/Characters - 15% - 14/15
Production/Costume Design - 10% - 8/10
Effects (Visual/Sound) - 8% - 6.5/8
Music - 7% - 7/7
Final - 90/100