Movie Club: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    After we did the original Star Wars trilogy in the summer, it's now the turn of Star Trek to get some Movie Club focus, and there were three films that led into each other as a trilogy, so the choice was simple, we're doing those.

    This means that this week we're starting the trilogy with Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one), and anyone is welcome to add their thoughts about movies already discussed on their respective threads.

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these movies, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    Happy late 35th birthday to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I've seen and enjoyed the movie.
  3. thezaxfactor

    thezaxfactor Staff Writer and Moderator Staff

    I recently caught the Director's Cut in theaters. I'd forgotten how tight and deft of a script it is—really not a bad scene in the whole movie, and so much strong dialogue. Shatner gets a bad wrap for overdoing it as a performer, but his delivery (and masterful use of those eyeglasses!) throughout really gives the film its emotional core.

    I was most struck by the themes of aging and mortality, which I guess didn't hit me as hard when I first saw this film as a teenager and felt immortal. It's hard to imagine seeing it without knowing what happens in the following film. I'd love to hear from people who first watched them in order and remember the impact of the film's ending.
    LiamABC likes this.
  4. The Drifter

    The Drifter Berbill

    Good choice. I saw Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in theaters back in '82. I was a pre-teen, and at that time was a mild ST fan - The Original Series was being re-run on TV then, & I enjoyed the show.

    I liked how ST II tied directly into TOS by bringing the Khan character back from the original iconic episode Space Seed. Very epic film, and I liked how Khan wasn't depicted as purely evil (in either the original episode or the film). You could see his reasoning for wanting revenge on Kirk, even if you didn't agree with his way of thinking or motivations.

    Also liked the more sinister & alien appearance of the Klingons in the film; in the original series they were depicted as just dark-skinned humans, but in the films they were shown as having much more alien features with the facial ridges, etc.

    In fact, out of all of the Star Trek films with the original cast (from the TV show), I attest that II is the best, hands-down.
    LiamABC likes this.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I've been a fan of Star Trek for about twenty five years now. I first got into it through the original series, repeated on BBC2 in 1992-4, and saw most the original films during the same timeframe. The Wrath Of Khan was the second one I saw. The first, oddly enough, was The Voyage Home (which we'll be doing in a couple of weeks). But I digress.

    In 2013, just the day after my 31st birthday, my best friend and I went to the cinema to watch the then-new Star Trek film, Into Darkness. We both left the cinema feeling a little bit short-changed, and were in full agreement that this new film was little more than a remake of Wrath Of Khan. Disillusioned, we went back home where we put on my DVD of Wrath Of Khan, and enjoyed that film, on the small screen, infinitely more than Into Darkness on the big screen. That says it all really.

    If you look at the five decades plus that Star Trek has been a thing, it's worth noting that its entire history is littered with second chances. The first pilot, "The Cage", with an almost completely different cast (save for Leonard Nimoy as Spock and Majel Barrett in a different role, the unnamed "Number One"), was not approved, but the network liked the idea enough to let Gene Roddenberry make a second pilot. That second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" which introduced Kirk, Scotty and Sulu (McCoy and Uhura didn't appear until the first season proper), won them the commission for the series. It's the same with the movies. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released in 1979, although technically a hit, was artistically a disappointment, and it could easily have been the death-knell for the franchise, despite its cult popularity. The only way to save it was to make another movie that pulled out all the stops . . . and that's exactly what we got.

    Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan is quite simply, the movie you put on to convert non-Trek fans. You show me someone who says they don't like Wrath Of Khan and I'll show you someone who's not to be trusted.

    The plot is fairly basic, Khan, the villain from the classic episode "Space Seed" seeks revenge on Kirk for abandoning him there 15yrs previous. But that's fine. Everything fits together. The only tiny niggle is the fact that Khan recognises Chekov despite the latter not being in the episode - as "Space Seed" was in season 1 and Chekov didn't appear until season 2. But that doesn't mean that the character wasn't on the ship already, so we can let it pass.

    The way Khan is discovered by accident - it works. They couldn't just have him appear out of nowhere, they had to bring him in in a way that made sense. The Genesis idea worked well for this. Of course, the Ceti Alpha system must be in quite a remote corner of space, considering that a planet in it exploded and nobody in Starfleet had noticed in fourteen and a half years! Then again, if you're looking for somewhere to test a dangerous device, you don't want to go anywhere too heavily populated, so it probably is quite remote.

    Khan himself is a great villain. Of course, "Space Seed" was one of the highlights of the original series to begin with, and he was great in that. Here, we see what 15yrs of isolation have done to him. There are several times in this film that Khan quotes from Moby Dick, to emphasise his obsession with defeating Kirk. Actually, this isn't the first time Moby Dick has been an inspiration in Star Trek, two second season episodes, "The Doomsday Machine" and "Obsession" both have similar themes (two great episodes, especially the former). It wasn't the last either, the TNG film First Contact has a similar theme running through it. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that despite all this, and their numerous conversations over the monitors, Kirk and Khan are never in the same room together in this movie. Khan never leaves the Reliant, Kirk never boards it.

    In the late 90s I read a few Trek actors' autobiographies, including James Doohan's, "Beam Me Up Scotty" - he talked about some scenes from this movie being cut. These scenes were restored in the Director's Cut, and so Scotty gets a bit more screen time. The scenes elaborate on the relationship between Scotty and cadet Preston, who we learn is actually Scotty's nephew. The inspection scene in engineering is extended, as is the scene in sick bay in the middle of the movie.

    The interplay between Kirk, Spock and McCoy is the best it's ever been. When they are initially talking about the Genesis weapon, that is a classic moment between the three of them. Also, did you notice Spock's line to McCoy, "you must learn to govern your passions, they will be your undoing" - considering the course that Spock's logic leads him to at the end of the film, the tragic irony here is a thing of beauty.

    Of course, it's famous for its ending, the death of Spock. Apparently Gene Roddenberry was dead set against the idea, and leaked it to the fans by way of protest. The writer, an uncredited Nick Meyer (who also directed the film) was able to get around this very cleverly by using the training sequence at the start. Still, fans were worried at the thought of Spock dying . . . until they saw it, and then they were moved. The response was, "OK, we knew you said you were going to kill off Spock, but we didn't think you'd make it so good!" And it is. Spock's death is a jaw-dropping moment. He sacrificed himself to save the ship because he knew it was the logical thing to do. He freely acknowledges this to Kirk in his final moments. That doesn't make it any easier on his friends though. And the funeral scene at the end is a great tribute.

    If this film had flopped, Star Trek would have been no more. But it was a hit, and well-deservedly. Everything about this movie is top class. The story is great, the effects are great (a little dated now but still great), and the acting is great. I can't say enough in praise of this film. I've just watched it, and talking about it, I want to watch it again!
    The Drifter likes this.
  6. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I should point out I am not much of a Star Trek fan. I have always been a bigger fan of the original Star Wars trilogy.
    This was my first time watching TWOK fully. I have seen a few minutes of it over the years.
    These are a few criticisms I have of the movie.
    I think the story would have worked better as a feature length/multi part episode rather than a movie as I didn't find the plot that exciting.
    The end scene seemed rather drawn out. It really should have just ended with Spock going into space.

    This was vastly superior to the 2012 Star Trek movie, which is the only other Star Trek movie I have seen fully.
    Khan was a great villain and in my opinion stole ever scene he was in.
    Kirk and Spock were also great characters.
    I enjoyed the references to characters from the original series etc.
    Overall I did enjoy the movie and I am interested in watching some more of the Star Trek movies.
  7. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    The original Star Trek series in the 60s, like most TV of that era, didn't really do multi-part episodes. Execpt for "The Menagerie", which was conceived as a way to make use of the unaired first pilot "The Cage". The episode where Khan first appeared, "Space Seed" is well worth watching, one of the show's highlights.

    The end scene, lingering on the torpedo that landed on the Genesis planet, was filmed after the main body of the footage - it was part of the setup for the next movie. Not that they knew they were getting a next one at the time, but just in case.

    Sure, the plot is a little basic compared to what we get today, but it's more about the characters. The plot just looked after itself, it didn't need any bells and whistles.
  8. PKELL

    PKELL Barbarian

    I was never a major Star Trek fan, but I've always been a huge fan of this movie, if that makes any sense. This was the first piece of Star Trek media I ever watched and its amazing I didn't become a major Trekkie after this because I've always loved the film.

    Why does it work so well?

    Thematically, it is the strongest of the Trek films. The first film mistakenly tried to hide the fact that the actors were aging. This film embraced it to great effect. It tackled themes like life and death, getting older and how to cope with that, and ghosts from the past coming back to haunt the present.

    This movie also showcases some of the best moments for its characters. I have never liked Kirk more than in this film. He's charismatic and likeable, but also more fragile than I've seen him in any other piece of Trek media. Spock is fantastic and has the film's finest moment, as well as one of the franchise's most memorable quotes. And then there is Khan, wonderfully played by Ricardo Montalban who steals every scene he's in. This Captain Ahab/King Lear style villain is a pure joy to watch.

    I also love the approach to the film, opting for a "Horatio Hornblower" style naval adventure. Khan and Kirk NEVER at any point in the film meet face to face, but their rivalry and specifically, Khan's hatred for Kirk is felt in abundance.

    Much like how Empire Strikes Back was the best Star Wars movie, its the second film that became the gold standard for Star Trek as well.
    LiamABC likes this.
  9. The Drifter

    The Drifter Berbill

    Good points. When I first saw Wrath of Khan in '82, I had not yet seen TOS episode it was spawned from, i.e. "Space Seed". I don't think it's a requirement to see SS in order to enjoy ST II, but it does help to know where the Khan character was first seen in the ST universe.

    Going along with this, it's interesting that while "Space Seed" somewhat portrays Khan as an insane megalomaniac, ST II shows more of a 'human' side to him. I.e., you actually feel sorry for the character in ST II - something I don't really remember feeling as much when watching "Space Seed".

    Also wanted to note that as a kid growing up in the early '80's, my only real exposure to R. Montalban was in the insipid TV show "Fantasy Island" (he's best known for his role there). So, seeing him in a far superior & dramatic role as "Khan" in ST II really opened my eyes to his acting range. In fact, IMHO his portrayal of Khan (especially in ST II) is his best role.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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