Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


Shortly after Khan and his followers are marooned by Captain Kirk on Ceti Alpha V, a planet that is harsh but livable, Ceti Alpha VI blows up shifting orbits of the planets. This turned Ceti Alpha V into a wasteland where little life is able to survive. Khan had over 100 people from the Botany Bay but was left with a few dozen after 15 years.

Captain Terrell and Commander Chekov of the USS Reliant are surveying planets that are lifeless for a science experiment known as the Genesis Project. They beam down to what they think is Ceti Alpha VI after they detect a life sign and are captured by Khan. Khan puts an eel local to Ceti Alpha V that temporarily makes people vulnerable to suggestion and then takes over the Reliant.

Meanwhile the Enterprise is training a new crew of cadets to take over when they get a distress call from the Genesis Project saying that Kirk ordered it handed over to Starfleet. The leader of the Genesis Project is an old girlfriend of Kirk's Doctor Carol Markus and her son David who is also Kirk's son, though David does not know this.

The Enterprise bumps into the Reliant on the way, gets into a fight that severely hurts both ships but the Reliant still has warp and is able to get to the research outpost first. When the Enterprise gets there, the researchers are dead and the Genesis device gone. They do find Captain Tarrell and Commander Chekov. Kirk realizes that some people transported down to a moon to find it full of life. Captain Terrell is then revealed to be a double agent but kills himself instead of killing Kirk. Chekov is able to fight the eel and it is expelled.

The Enterprise beams them back up and one final fight occurs leaving the Reliant dead in space. Khan eager to seek his revenge turns on the Genesis device. The Enterprise doesn't have warp power yet so is able to get away. Spock realizes this and sacrifices himself to repair the warp drive letting everyone get to safety.


The Wrath of Khan is always said to be the best Star Trek movie ever made. The last time I watched it was over 20 years ago. Watching it again, I have to agree. While it has it's flaws, the characters were more believable and the humor was back on par with the TV series.

The amount of emotion that Lt. Saavik showed surprised me. She wasn't as cold of a character as Spock tends to be and even at Spock's funeral she shed a tear. Played by Kirstie Alley I discovered that she is half Vulcan and half Romulan which is odd since they only found out that Romulans were similar to Vulcans 15 years prior in "The Balance of Terror". But ignoring that it explains he reactions in the show and does give her  character extra dimension.

One cliche that many movies and TV shows use more often then you would think is the revival ending. A death at the end of a movie creates a final piece of tension, usually occurring as the protagonist is beaten or the issue of the story resolved. But many movies don't want to end on a sad note, and will bring back the character, many times using some unexplained, or supernatural reason. Examples of this is the Matrix (both first and second movie), Harry Potter, Hancock, etc. While Spock does get revived, it isn't until the next movie leaving the ending of the Wrath of Khan leaving us all with a real emotional response instead of one that is just taken away with a revival.

Khan himself was not as deep a character as I remember. He had a singular focus, getting revenge on Kirk. Even when he had obtained the Genesis device and his second in command tried to convince him that they won and they should leave, he risked everything to get his revenge. I don't know if it was blind rage that was Khan's undoing or just shortsightedness. In "Space Seed" it is clear that Khan is smarter then Kirk and maybe even Spock, and they mention this a few times in this movie, yet Kirk repeatedly out-thinks Khan. I feel it was Roddenberry's way of showing that sometimes experience outweighs natural talent.

There is a scene in the movie where Kirk made a tactical error by not following protocol which resulted in Khan in command of the Reliant attacks the Enterprise when it's shields are down. Khan then makes the mistake of asking for all information Kirk has on Genesis which gives Kirk the time needed to find the command codes for the Reliant which he uses to remotely lower its shields. In playing Star Trek: The 25th Anniversary game I used a similar tactic to lower the shields of another Federation ship to transport over.

In previous viewings, I always assumed that the Genesis device was used on a planet to convert it into M class as you see in the computer documents. But I noticed this time around that it appears that the nebula that Kirk and Khan was fighting in was what becomes the Genesis planet.

This movie will be the only piece of Star Trek content I am going to experience twice. In May, William Shatner is coming to my area to host a showing of The Wrath of Khan which I got a ticket to.


"Ah, Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space." - Khan

"Go? Where are we going?" - McCoy
"Where they went." - Kirk
"Suppose they went nowhere." - McCoy
"Then this'll be your big chance to get away from it all." - Kirk

"I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on... hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her. Marooned for all eternity, in the center of a dead planet... buried alive. Buried alive." - Khan
"KHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! KHHHHAAAAaaaaaaaaaaan! khhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaan!" - Kirk

"The needs of the many outweigh" - Spock
"The needs of the few" - Kirk
"Or the one." - Spock

"I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution? I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper." - Spock

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