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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982)

January 15, 2012

My hero, The Nostalgia Critic, has set January as ‘Star Trek Month’, where he’ll review all the not so good odd numberd films. Well, in honor of that, I’ve decided to review one of the best even numbered Star Trek films and that is Nicholas Meyer’s “Wrath of Khan”.

The first Star Trek film, “The Motion Picture”, is not a favorite among fans. The slow pacing is notorious for that films failure, I myself use that movie to put myself to sleep when I can’t sleep. But, then came along “Khan”, not only was it known to be the most superior Trek film in the entire Trek-pantheon (until Abrams came along), but it’s also a damn good movie, with what many film critics praise to having one of cinemas great on screen villains…Khan Noonien Singh, played brilliantly by Ricardo Montalban.

The film begins nearly 20 years after the events of episode 22 of season 1 from the original series. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is overwhelmed about his old age; the prospect of accompanying his old ship the Enterprise, which is now a Starfleet Academy training ship, on a two-week cadet cruise is not making him feel any younger. But the training cruise becomes a deadly serious mission when Khan reappears after years of exile holding for ransom, the power of creation itself, the Genesis Device, a tool developed to creat a whole new world in the span of hours.

There’s a reason why “Wrath of Khan” is considered a masterpiece by Trek fans; it features a strong plot, the themes of man vs. nature and man vs. man, an increased amount of cinematic tension, and it’s sharp supporting performance from Ricardo Montalban. His speech given to Kirk about how revenge is a dish best served cold, will leave chills down your spine. Montalban gives this some over-gratifying delight about being bad. His character has been marooned for nearly two decades, all that time thinking about one thing, revenge. And now when he’s finally free he gets to experience it, my friends you can see the villianous passion.

The movie dared to take the Trek series to new grounds; making it darker, grittier, less light-hearted, and taking an even bigger risk, killing off a beloved crew member…Spock…that is until he’s brought back to life in the third movie. Still, when Spock gives his life to save the lives of hundreds of others, lying in that chamber slowly loosing every inch of life, I defy you all to not shed a tear. It’s a heart-breaking scene, and his funeral is just as gut-wrenching.

I’m not a ‘Trekkie’, but I do enjoy these Star Trek films. They’re a different kind of escapist than the Star Wars series, both series are well respected in their own rights, and if I may be so bold, to go where no man has gone before, “Wrath of Khan” is the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Star Trek franchise.

GRADE: A

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