When it comes to science fiction franchises there are what you could call two major players. One is a series of movies that take place in a galaxy far, far away. Otherwise known as Star Wars, these science fiction movies are based on pure fantasy and have little or nothing to do with reality. The other player takes voyages across the galaxy to boldly go where no man has gone before. Now consisting of six television series and thirteen movies the science fiction phenomena Star Trek is known by pretty much everyone in the world. Where Star Wars as mentioned is pure fantasy, Star Trek has always tried to take a more realistic approach and predicts a positive future for all mankind. The fun thing is that Star Trek fans usually don’t like Star Wars and vice versa. There a lot of hilarious sketches on YouTube where the two camps take pot shots at each other. However, I love science fiction in general, and have always loved both franchises. So that’s why today I’m continuing the Countdown to the Last Jedi with what by many is considered the best Star trek movie to date, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The Federation starship USS Reliant is on a mission to find a suitable planet for a topsecret project called Genesis. If succesful the so called Genesis Device will be able to turn a lifeless planet into a fertile one, ready to be colonised. Arriving at a possible planet that might qualify for the project, the Reliant’s captain, a man called Clark Terrel together with Commander Pavel Checkov beam down to the surface. To their astonishment they find what seems to be an abandoned cargo ship. Upon entering the wreck, Checkov sees a name that makes him stop dead in his tracks: Botany Bay. It brings back memories of his time aboard the starship Enterprise fifteen years earlier. The Botany Bay was the name of the ship that was commanded by the infamous Khan Noonien Sing, a genetically engineered tyrant. The Enterprise under the command of captain Kirk was barely able to defeat this criminal mastermind. In the end though, Kirk won, and marooned Khan together with his crew on the surface of the planet Ceti Alpha V. Checkov screams at Terrel that they must leave immediately. But just when they are about to, they get surrounded by a group of unknown assailants. When their leader reveals himself, Chekov is shocked to find out it is Khan. Still alive, and out for revenge against the man that took everything from him: Kirk. The captain of the Enterprise will soon find out that revenge is a dish best served cold…..
After 25 years this movie is still just as awesome as when it was first released. There is so much cool stuff in this film, that it’s almost impossible to mention everything. I’m going to make an effort anyway. For one thing it’s the original crew that will always hold a special place in my heart. No matter what you say about William Shatner, I think nobody can deny how truly terrific his role as Kirk was. And in this film I think he did the best job out of all the movies and tv episodes. In the beginning of the film we see a Kirk that is feeling old and finds himself bereft of energy. Having accepted a promotion might have possibly been the worst decision of his career. It is only when he returns to the Enterprise, and is forced to take command, that he comes alive again. This change is remarkable and portrayed perfectly by Shatner. But it’s also the enormous rollercoaster of emotions that the captain goes through in this film, that makes it so fascinating. Laughter, anger but also sadness because of the death of a major character and close friend of Kirk, will absolutely strike a chord in you, I guarantee you that.
But Kirk is ofcourse nothing without his two close friends Spock and Bones. It’s the comedic banter between the three that always puts a smile on my face. There are so many great moments with them in this film, both heartbreaking but also very funny ones that will have you bursting out with laughter. But let us not forget there is also the villain Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban. Perhaps the best, but certainly the most interesting enemy that Kirk has ever faced. The natural charisma, and pure evil wickedness of this character are a joy to behold. As much as you grow to hate him, you also don’t want him to die, which is always the sign of a great bad guy. On a fun side note, we also see a very young Kirstie Alley play the role of Spock’s protege, Saavik. It’s always funny to see someone play a completely different character than what they are used to. She pulls it off very nicely though, and Saavik plays a pretty important role in the unfolding of the plot.
And what a great plot it is. Sure it is your basic revenge story, you will get no argument from me there. But it also contains so many layers and great lines, that it’s so much more. Above all it is a story about friendship. The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. That line really bears great weight in this film especially near the admittedly very heartbreaking end. Another recurring theme is the fact that you are only as old as you feel. Always continue doing what you love to do, for as long as you can. Before you know it, time will be up. This being a 25 year old movie, one might argue that the special effects do not hold up so well. But even those I think are still very good. All in all what we have here is a remarkable and solid science fiction adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone. You don’t even have to be very familiair with the franchise in general to watch this movie. I have been wracking my brain to find something negative about this film, but I really can’t find it. I’m going to leave you with the trailer from those days. Coming up next for this countdown feature will be Tron Legacy. Thank you for reading as always!
I give Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan a 10 out of 10 score.