Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Review 81 - Movie no.2

The One with Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan (again).

This film is correctly considered by 99.9% of Star Trek fans as the ultimate Trek Story, the one that all other films and episodes should aspire to be. It had the right balance of action, humour, issues and big themes. And, unlike The Motion Picture, it feels like a Trek film.

This forms the 1st part of a trilogy of films that evolved naturally over the years and this also gives it strength, something the Next Gen films sadly lack. While they feel episodical, this has the arc of characters continuing and having impacts on future films (except ST 5 possibly).

The story is relatively simple. Khan, who we all know from Space Seed, has escaped his planet and is hunting down Kirk. But really, that is the thinnest of ice on top of a deep lake of themes and emotions.

It was touched upon in TMP, but Kirk is once again a man adrift, back to his desk and missing the stars. More than that, he feels his age and that life is passing him by. Everyone bar him seems to know that his first, best destiny is as a star ship captain, but he seems blinded by the career path his success as Captain has taken him.

Kirk is then haunted by mistakes of his youth, when Khan appears, having acquired the Reliant. This is the first Federation ship we have seen that isn't Constellation class, and great credit must go to the designers for creating a ship that keeps the theme of nacelles and saucer, yet re shifts everything else. This became the template for ships even to this day.

Khan is an excellent villain (yes, he shouldn't recognise Chekov - move on) and his first attack on the Enterprise is exciting and still looks impressive even now, plus the build up is as tense as any two fighters in a ring.

Scotty loses his nephew here, in some lovely scenes that gives his character background and family. Khan is after the genesis device, a missile that can bring life to a planet or devastate a world in the wrong hands. Kirks ex is in charge and who else but his Son, David. I can imagine what the shock would have been like in '82, but even now as I type it, it's weird and shocking to think of Jim's son. It changes his character so much.

The themes of aging, unsure of where you are mid life, old enemies and friends coming back to haunt you and finding your family are all examined excellently in this film and would continue through the next two as well. This film is Life or simply Living your Life and the more miles you have on the clock, the more baggage you have.

Bones as always has some great lines and he come across as the only one of the trio to be content and not anguished (though he still likes a drink!). Chekov has some great scenes with Khan, though Uhura and Sulu are rather sidelined, but still get decent lines.

Saavik is a new character and played with real warmth and humour for a Vulcan by Kirstie Alley. This was her first role and is excellent casting. She does tend to steal a lot of scenes though and it's a shame she didn't come back, but that's hardly her fault. A worthy addition to the Star Trek crew. (speaking of which, nice to see Kyle get a scene)

The final Battle in the Mutara Nebula is amazing and once again the effects till hold up. It's ingenious to handicap the ships and turn it into a submarine battle. This leads to Spocks death, saving the ship.

Spock is brilliant in this film and couldn't be more different to TMP. His scenes with Kirk, Saavik and Bones are a joy to watch and I still get a little teary with Kirks farewell speech and the music playing (kudos to Shatner for his acting)

I seem to write for ages, yet barely say anything about how good this film really is. The uniforms are far better than those god awful PJ's and the whole tone set the standard for Trek in the future for years after it and beyond. Have no doubts that this film is at the centre of Star Trek and everything Trek should try to channel it's vision.

A joy to watch.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 230/410

No comments: