Monday, March 6, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #44: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982)

Movie Stats:
Released 1982 (USA)
American, in English (minimal translated alien language)
Director - Nicholas Meyer
Stars - William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban, and many others

Plot Summary:
The familiar crew from the original Star Trek series face an old foe in a battle over a project that could either save or destroy the universe. Shatner stars as Admiral James T. Kirk, Nimoy as Captain Spock, and Montalban as Khan, Kirk’s nemesis who’s bent on revenge.

Violence; extremely minor blue language.

Bad Stuff:
It’s really cheesy. The dialogue, in particular, is frequently bad. Example: “Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? [pause] It is very cold in space!” I mean, really.

Anachronisms, a big sci fi pet peeve of mine. For example, Kirk uses reading glasses. I’m pretty sure that, by the 2300s, we’ll have eradicated sight problems, at least for someone as high-ranking as Kirk. We kind of already have (LASIK) in the late 20th/early 21st centuries.

For a guy considered one of the biggest villains in Trek-verse, Khan is kind of a weak character. Supposedly a super genius and yet [SPOILER-y] quite easily tricked by genetically inferior people. There was never a moment when I felt like he might win [SPOILER]. He’s also such a ridiculous ham that it’s difficult to take him seriously.

Good Stuff:
One of the joys of original Trek is seeing how the cast interacts with each other. They had a really good vibe that’s fun to watch.

I liked that it explored the idea that our decisions can come back to haunt us later in life. It was a surprisingly poignant message for what is essentially an action film.

It contains one of my all-time favorite scenes in cinema (“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”).  Gets me misty-eyed every single time.

It’s got a great soundtrack.

The Verdict:
If you can believe it, I’d never seen this in its entirety before, even though I love Star Trek. Partway through, my husband came in and asked, “So how much do you hate it?” I replied, “I don’t hate it at all.” Yes, it’s ridiculously cheesy and I think Khan is a poorly characterized villain, but it’s also fun and I feel that both the overarching story (the crew needs to stop the bad guy) and the underlying story (the aging crew must face the consequences of decisions they made when they were younger) are well-written. IMO, the movie could’ve done with a little fine tuning. I would say it deserves a less cheesy remake, but they already did that (Star Trek: Into Darkness) and the result was by far my least favorite of the new film series. Perhaps it’s best to leave Khan where he is.

I give it 3.5 stars.


Patricia said...

But how would we know if anyone was reading and/or smart if they didn't wear reading glasses.

Matt is currently watching all of the Star Trek universe in chronological order. I wonder if he's going to include the movies.

balyien said...

Also, is he going to watch the cartoon? I believe that came between the original series and the first movie. If so, that's a big commitment! Lots of stuff to watch.

Your comment about glasses made me LOL.