Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Oh happy sigh.  I watched Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan late last night, and the world is right again.  I did not realize how badly I needed to rewatch that to ease the taint of the new movie from my mind.  You know, maybe I’m just too old for these reboots.  These reboot movies clearly aren’t made for someone like me, but I’m really starting to feel like I come from a different era.

I’ve never reviewed Wrath of Khan or any of the ST movies here.  Not because I don’t love them, but because they are big screen movies, and I have a strong aversion to watching them on a television screen.  So I haven’t seen them in years.  Particularly my two favorites of all the ST films:  Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country.  Those just have to be watched big screen.  I saw both a fair number of times on the big screen during their initial theatrical runs, enough that I can still pull up what they should look like.

I love Wrath of Khan.  I can still remember the anticipation when that movie was about to be released.  We’d had the failure of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but this new one was directed by Nicolas Meyer, who my family already loved for Time After Time.  We were all excited for the new film.  I remember all the news about Leonard Nimoy wanting out of Star Trek, and the suspicions that Spock was going to be killed off.  I remember the theater was sold out,, and my family couldn’t even sit together.  I was in the back on the left.  I remember loud the audience was, cheering and laughing and clapping.  I remember crying during Spock’s funeral.  I remember how awesome the genesis cave looked on the big screen.  Today, it would be all CGI, but it was a gorgeous matte painting that I still adore.  On repeat viewings I couldn’t wait for that moment.  That, and the very end shots tracking through the vegetation of genesis planet to the torpedo.  (Yes, I have this thing for landscapes.  LOL!)

This was the ST movie my family had been waiting for.  It was a return to everything we loved about Star Trek in the first place, but with natural growth and aging, and with a great character arc for Kirk. And Ricardo Montalban was back as Khan, and even better than he was in the series.  I absolutely love how in the confrontation within the nebula, there are no final words spoken between Khan and Kirk.  Khan activates the device, Enterprise figures it out and turns to flee, and Khan just watches them go, grinning, knowing they won't make it.  No dialogue could ever make that better than how it plays out.  This film was also my introduction to composer James Horner, and this score remains my favorite Horner score to this day, despite how many other awesome scores he has written.  This one just hit it out of the park.  And for me, how much I love a movie is often tied to how good the music is.

The only things I didn't like about this film were Carol and David Marcus.  And I like the characters, I simply didn't like the actors portraying them.  They didn't work for me then, and they still don't today.  The actors don't seem to fit in that world. 

And then, after I finished watching Wrath of Khan, I just happened to check Ain't it Cool News (a favorite site), and found this review of Into Darkness that I just love.  This neatly sums up so much of my feelings and what bothered me so much about the new film and why it doesn't work for me.

And after watching Wrath of Khan again, having my love of Star Trek renewed, I can only echo Kirk's last lines... I feel young.

Favorite parts of Wrath of Khan:

“Where’s the override?”
We will!”
The genesis cave
Kirk taunting Khan to get him to follow the Enterprise into the Mutara Nebula.
“Yours is the superior...”
Whole Mutara Nebula and Genesis Countdown finale.

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