My Favorite Movies #22 – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II - PosterStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

1982

Directed by Nicholas Meyer

Quick synopsis… To escape his desk job, Adm. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) returns to the USS Enterprise, assisting Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in a training mission for Starfleet cadets. But the inexperienced crew is put to the test when escaped villain Khan (Ricardo Montalban) steals a powerful weapon and comes after the admiral seeking revenge. Now, Kirk must use all his wiles and whip the cadets into shape if they hope to defeat Khan’s deadly traps.

  • If I had been old enough to appreciate anything about movies in 1982, I’m sure I’d have been asking how on earth Star Trek: The Motion Picture got a sequel.
  • But, man, am I glad it did.
  • If you want a sequel that’s better than its predecessor, this is it.
  • We open on the bridge of the Enterprise.
  • But, what’s this? Why is Kirstie Alley in the captain’s chair?
  • Oh… it’s the Kobayashi Maru, the simulator designed to see how potential command crew will respond to a no-win scenario.
  • When the beloved crew of the Enterprise is “dead,” Admiral James T. Kirk ends the simulation.
  • Kirk gives Lt. Saavik (Alley) a lecture about the importance of being prepared for no-win scenarios.
  • “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life…”
  • It’s Jim’s birthday and he’s obviously struggling.
  • Dr. McCoy confronts him about what’s really bothering him.
  • Deep down, Kirk regrets accepting the promotion to admiral and giving up command of the Enterprise.
  • Elsewhere in the quadrant, the starship Reliant is looking for an appropriate lifeless planet in accordance with the Genesis Project.
  • I’ve never understood why this is a difficult search.
  • The galaxy is full of lifeless planets, right?
  • Anyway, they’re checking out Ceti Alpha VI, which may have some limited lifeforms that could be transplanted.
  • To comply with project guidelines, Commander Chekov and Captain Terrell must beam down to the planet’s surface to investigate.
  • At first they don’t find any life, but then they come across the wreckage of a cargo ship.
  • They head inside to investigate further and Chekov realizes that this is the remains of the Botany Bay.
  • But it’s too late.
  • As they attempt to leave, they are stopped by Khan and his followers.
  • Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) is a genetically engineered tyrant… basically Star Trek‘s answer to a super man, with enhanced strength and intelligence.
  • He might be the perfect villain.
  • Back during the original Trek series, Khan and his people were exiled on Ceti Alpha V, which, at the time, was a thriving planet where they could establish a decent colony.
  • Apparently, six months after they were marooned there, Ceti Alpha VI exploded and severely altered V’s landscape and ability to support life.
  • When Khan realizes that Chekov and Terrell thought they were on Ceti Alpha VI, he’s curious about why they’re really there.
  • This is where the nightmares begin.
  • Khan utilizes that horrible slug creature’s babies, which he forces into Chekov and Terrell’s ears.
  • These things wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex, which makes victims susceptible to suggestion.
  • As the creatures grow, the victims become insane before they die.
  • Seriously… nightmare fuel.
  • Now bent to Khan’s will, the tyrant asks them why they’re there and where he can find James T. Kirk.
  • The admiral is boarding the Enterprise for an inspection and a training mission.
  • It’s just supposed to be a spin around the solar system, but then they get a broken message from Dr. Carol Marcus, head of the Genesis Project at space station Regula I.
  • Khan has taken over the Reliant and has forced Chekov to demand of Marcus that she turn over everything they have regarding Genesis, claiming that Kirk gave the order.
  • It’s up to Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to investigate these false claims.
  • En route to Regula I, Kirk shares with Spock and McCoy what Genesis is.
  • It’s a process where the Genesis device is introduced (detonated) on a lifeless planet or moon, reorganizing the lifeless matter into that which can support life.
  • McCoy brings up the question, what if Genesis were used on a world that already has life.
  • It would destroy the life that is there to make room for the new Genesis matrix.
  • Near the space lab, Enterprise meets Reliant and is attacked, unprovoked.
  • It isn’t until the Enterprise is dead in the water that Khan reveals that he has taken command of the Reliant.
  • Khan intends to swing back around and destroy Enterprise, he just wanted Kirk to know who it was that beat him.
  • Kirk begs Khan to spare the crew and let him beam over since it’s him Khan really wants.
  • Khan agrees, but only if he transfers everything they have about Genesis first.
  • Kirk acts like he’s complying, but instead he figures out how to remotely drop Reliant‘s shields.
  • They’re able to get their own shots in before both ships manage to limp away.
  • Kirk and crew make their way to Regula, but there’s no response from the lab.
  • They find a lot of dead bodies, left behind by Khan and his people when they couldn’t get their hands on Genesis.
  • Khan also left Chekov and Terrell behind, seemingly no longer under Khan’s control.
  • Carol Marcus, her son David, and a handful of other scientists were able to beam below the surface of the planet, where phase two of the project was built.
  • Before following the scientists, Kirk and Spock communicate in code regarding how long it will take for Enterprise to make repairs as well as retrieve the away team.
  • As soon as Kirk and crew meet up with Dr. Marcus and her team, Terrell and Chekov reveal that they are, indeed, still under Khan’s thrall.
  • They give Khan the Genesis device and are ordered to kill Kirk.
  • Terrell can’t comply and turns the phaser on himself instead.
  • Chekov’s slug creature then crawls out of his ear… for some reason.
  • Kirk reveals to Khan that he’s still alive, but Khan seems content now that Kirk is marooned… buried alive.
  • KHAAAAAAAAAN!
  • Kirk is given some time alone with his old flame, Carol, and we discover that David is Kirk’s son.
  • This isn’t news to Kirk, but David had no clue.
  • Carol had asked Jim to stay away, because she wanted David in her academic world, not chasing his father around the galaxy.
  • Carol then shows Jim the Genesis cave, where Saavik asks him how he did on the Kobayashi Maru simulator.
  • Kirk is the only cadet to ever win the no-win scenario.
  • He cheated.
  • He doesn’t believe in a no-win scenario.
  • Thanks to Kirk and Spock’s communication in code, Enterprise is ready to beam them out of the planet and make a run for the nearby Mutara Nebula, where both ships will be on equal footing.
  • Kirk taunts Khan to get him to follow them into the nebula.
  • It’s kind of nerve wracking, with neither ship able to see the other.
  • They both manage to do a lot of damage to each other.
  • While Khan is a tactical genius, he has no experience fighting in three dimensional space.
  • Kirk exploits this and disables Reliant.
  • With his dying breath, Khan activates the Genesis device, which begins counting down.
  • Enterprise needs to make a quick getaway, but warp drive is still down.
  • Spock goes to engineering, which is flooded with radiation thanks to damage from Reliant‘s most recent attacks.
  • McCoy tries to stop him from going in to restore power to the warp drive, but Spock disables him with his famous Vulcan nerve pinch, then performs a quick mind meld, telling McCoy to “remember.”
  • Spock sacrifices himself to restore the warp drive, allowing the Enterprise to get away just in time.
  • Genesis explodes inside the nebula, forming a new Genesis planet in a matter of minutes.
  • Kirk is called down to engineering, giving him a chance to say good-bye to his friend.
  • Spock tells Jim not to grieve, that his choice was logical.
  • “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.”
  • Spock is given a burial in space and his coffin is shot toward the new planet.
  • Enterprise leaves to rescue the Reliant crew, whom Khan marooned on Ceti Alpha V.
  • David has a nice heart-to-heart with his father, repeating his own words from earlier, that “how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.”
  • He also tells Jim that he’s proud to be his son.
  • We are then shown Spock’s coffin on the surface of Genesis before hearing Spock’s voice…
  • “Space: the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life forms and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
  • I freakin’ love this movie.
  • What’s amazing is that William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban were never on set together for their scenes.
  • As much as they interacted in this movie, it was never face to face.
  • But those interactions are so incredible.

Next week’s movie, coming in at #21 on my list, is a classic ’80s film about a boy who befriends an alien life form. I am, of course, talking about Mac and Me. Just kidding. And if you made it all the way through this post to get that tiny joke about that crappy movie, God bless you.

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