Thursday Night Movie Club
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
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Release Date: 4 June 1982

Director: Nicholas Meyer
William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
DeForest Kelley
James Doohan
Walter Koenig
George Takei
Nichelle Nichols
Bibi Besch
Merritt Butrick
Paul Winfield
Kirstie Alley
Ricardo Montalban
Ike Eisenmann
John Vargas
John Winston
Judson Scott
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan movie poster Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan movie poster Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan movie poster
Starship Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanWelcome and kudos to directore Nicholas Meyer! If done correctly, the Star Trek franchise can easily make the quantum leap to the big screen. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is everything the first film wasn't!

Taking a page from the classic television episode "Space Seed" concerning Khan and his genetically engineered followers, Meyer asks the interesting question, "What if...?" At the end of the television episode, Captain James Kirk (William Shatner) shows mercy towards Khan (Ricardo Montalban) and his followers. Rather than face charges, Kirk decides to maroon Khan on an unihabited planet where they can make their own living, and making their own rules by which to live. Kirk wonders what it would be like to return to the planet fifteen years in the future to see what Khan has built. Fifteen years later, Khan and his followers have been completely forgotten by the Federation.

Ricardo Montalban and Judson Scott in Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanShortly after being marooned on Ceti Alpha V, neighboring planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded causing the ecosystem of Ceti Alpha V to become a barren wasteland. Khan has barely kept his people alive while his hatred of Kirk festers. Salvation arrives in the form of the U.S.S Reliant. The Reliant is working as a scout ship for Project Genesis headed by Dr. Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch). Khan learns of Project Genesis. He plans to hijack the project under the guise of the Federation, a tactic Khan hopes will lure Admiral James T. Kirk into a trap.

Admiral Kirk is in the throes of his own mid-life crisis. He has been an admiral for way too long. He feels his age creeping up on him. He is resigned that captaining a starship is for the young. His next "exciting" mission is a ship inspection of none other than N.C.C. 1701, The U.S.S. Enterprise now under the command of Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

William Shatner on the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanWhen the Enterprise receives a frantic, garbled call from Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch) regarding the Federation stealing Project Genesis, Kirk has no choice but to assume command of the Enterprise and head out to find out what is going on. Arriving on the scene, Kirk learns a painful lesson about not sitting in the captain's chair for a long absence. Kirk ignores Starfleet regulations as quoted by Vulcan Lt. Saavik (Kirstie Alley). The Enterprise is heavily damaged. Kirk is stunned seeing the face of the man who demands Kirk's surrender... Khan! Kirk is caught with his proverbial pants down. With this reality check behind him, Admiral Kirk once again becomes the formidable "Captain" Kirk... and the cat-and-mouse game is afoot!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan only gets better and better from here to the last frame. Kirk and Khan exchange as many wonderful verbal jabs as they do exchanging phaser blasts. Nicholas Meyer has crafted a funny, tender, suspense-filled, action thriller. This film is not science fiction. This is a good, old-fashioned revenge tale. Khan's obsession with avenging himself on Kirk causes him to start quoting Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick". Montalban delivers these quotes relishing pure hatred of Kirk. Khan becomes a despicable, evil human being but with a twinge of sadness towards what he lost, his wife. He blames Kirk for what amounts to a natural phenomenon of nature. Khan knows full well that Captain Kirk is not responsible for looking in on Khan and his followers. That job is left to the Federation. Khan needs to put a face on his hatred, namely James Kirk.

William Shatner as Admiral James T. Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanRicardo Montalban is wickedly wonderful reprising his role as Khan. Khan may be genetically engineered to be smarter and stronger, but brains are a poor substitute for experience! Kirk beat him once. Now Khan's revenge-filled madness grows as Kirk continually outthinks/outmaneuvers Khan. William Shatner has much more to do in this film. Like Montalban, Kirk joyfully leaps back into the captain's chair. Shatner gets the best line of the movie. He taunts Khan, "I'm still here, old friend. You've managed to kill everyone else around me but like the poor marksman you are, you keep missing the target!"

DeForest Kelley reprises his role of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Except for aging, Kelley jumps right back into the character. When he learns Project Genesis can create a new planet with new life in less time than it took God, McCoy goes on his usual rant expounding on the dangers of the project. Spock stoicly listens to McCoy's raving responding with his usual line warning the good doctor to control his emotions.

Director Meyer begins the film with a tease. Lt. Saavik is in control of the Enterprise on a mission. They receive a distress signal. A Federation ship has lost power and drifted into the Romulan Neutral Zone. The Enterprise is the only ship to mount a rescue. The Romulans take this as an act of war and destroy the Enterprise. Admiral Kirk calmly walks onto the wrecked bridge and announces the simulation is over.

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy star in Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanSaavik was taking the Kobyashi Maru test. All graduates from the Academy take the test. It is a no-win scenario. The test shows how someone reacts to extreme danger. Meyer brings Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan full circle by returning to the Kobyashi Maru for the finale of the film. Khan's ship is severely damaged. His crew is dead. Surrender is not an option. He detonates the Genesis device. The Enterprise's warp drive is off line. There is no escape. However, there is one possible solution that involves making the ultimate sacrifice.

Welcome back Star Trek! We've missed you.