Starring: William Shatner, Ricardo Montalban, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley, Bibi Besch, and Merritt Butrick.
Directed by: Nicholas Meyer.
Released: June 4th, 1982.
James T. Kirk and the rest of the USS Enterprise crew return in the second Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan, to battle Khan Noonien Singh (played by Ricardo Montalban), a tyrannical villain who is genetically engineered and had previously appeared in the Star Trek television episode “Space Seed”. In this film, Khan manages to escape from exile after 15 years with the intention of acting out his vengeance on Kirk. But that’s not all he’s after, there’s an incredible machine called Genesis which is capable of terraforming planets… literally. This device can reorganize matter in such a way to turn an inhabitable world into a habitable one and Khan has set his sights on it.
Simply put, this is perhaps the best Star Trek film in the entire franchise. After the boredom that was the first movie, 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, director Nicholas Meyer delivers things in a swashbuckling fashion that’s akin to the very same likable atmosphere of the original television series. Even musical mastermind James Horner (who went on to give us fantastic memorable film scores for Aliens and Titanic to name a few) hits this theme right on the money in many moments throughout the film.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan presents a stronger and far more interesting story-line than that of the original. In fact, it has everything in which Star Trek: The Motion Picture didn’t have, which is why the sequel works on so many levels, including a memorable villain. The main problem behind Star Trek: The Motion Picture was that it was overly influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey, thus undermining its own image and themes. However, this sequel is far closer to the feel of the television series.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan also contains one of the best one on one space battles ever depicted on screen. The entire third act, mostly set within a colorful nebula which renders the ships of both Kirk and Khan incapable of radar and targeting, is highly suspenseful and entertaining to watch. Speaking of the third act, the climax does indeed deliver a big bang, but on a very sad note as we lose one of the most important characters of the film. Nevertheless, this is not only the best Star Trek film, but also a staple in science fiction cinema itself.