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Star Trek II - The Wrath of Kahn (1982)
Still in charge of the Enterprise space fleet, though solely administratively, Admiral James T. Kirk prepares to train new crew and team to replace the "aging" Enterprisians. But when sudden mayhem emerges in lieu of Chekov's alien planetary explorations (leading to the discovery of former nemesis, Kahn), Dr. McCoy and Captain Spock convince Kirk to resume control of Enterprise and set out to destroy his nemesis, the wrathful Kahn, once and for all.
The cast includes: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Mark Lenard, with Bibi Besch, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo Montalban, and Paul Winfield.
Directed by: Nicholas Meyer. Written by: Gene Roddenberry and Harve Bennett.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action.
Rated: PG for violence and language.
"Revenge is a dish that is best served cold…It is very cold in space."
"Star Trek II-The Wrath of Kahn" commences with Lieutenant Saavik (Kirstie Allie) testing her potential piloting skills during a staged training scenario which, to her and Admiral James Kirk (William Shatner) dismay", she fails to complete successfully. With Admiral's opinions that the former crew of the Enterprise Starship is too old for "gallivanting around the galaxy", he hopes that he can discover a new, younger crew to potential replace the Starship's veteran crew. Still, the vets are not so easily convinced, nor are they too happy with their being dislodged for younger faces. So too it seems, is Enterprise fleet and, coincidentally Admiral's doctor and friend, Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley), neither convinced that either admiral or his crew are too old for the galaxy hopping days of old.
Meanwhile the Star-fleet crew has come across a potential "alien" particle and set out to investigate. While trekking across an unknown windy-desert planet, Paul Chekov (Walter Koenig), Captain Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield), and crew stumble upon deserted cargo carriers- with no evidence of its ship, the "Botany Bay", to be found. After a quick panic attack, the crew attempts to hurriedly veto their excursion until a sudden meeting with "alien desert rats" stops their escape. There the Starfleet will encounter the notorious Kahn.
So the story goes, Kahn and his crew, from the Botany Bay fleet, were marooned 15 years ago. But the story goes back even further, the Enterprise allegedly discovered the Botany Bay crew after its being lost in space for almost 200 years, only to maroon the crew to the desert planet, by order of Admiral Kirk. Though Chekov asserts that there was life and a "city" to which Admiral left the crew, yet Kahn, the genetically constructed man, reconfirms that the planet, though life-filled, occurred an unfortunate natural disaster that laid the planet to waste and left he and his crew for dead.
But more surprises allegedly lay in waiting, an indigenous life form from the planet's original "City 5". However, the form is extremely dangerous, and as such, responsible for the destruction of many of Kahn's original fleet, including his wife. As a "gift" to old time friends, Kahn infects Chekov and Terell with the alien's offspring, sentencing them to a slow and painful death.
Meanwhile back on Enterprise, Admiral Kirk and several of his crew have rejoined the hulls of their former ship, joining Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and several other familiar faces in the process. In the meantime, Admiral Kirk reinstates his role as head command of the Enterprise and the ship engages in another adventure, with both old crew and cadets-in-training on board the now "active" Enterprise, to guide and partake in the adventures about to ensue. At last, Lieutenant Saavik will have her chance to navigate the Enterprise…
As the Enterprise heads out into space, Star-fleet's Chekov phones the Enterprise to request permission to come aboard and use the Enterprise's medical facilities for inspection of material from their current "Project Genesis", as orders from 'Admiral Kirk' (read Kahn). So the vengeful conspiracy ensues. Meanwhile Dr. Carol Marcus (Bebe Besch) is outraged and phones Kirk to express her anger with having lost control over the Genesis Project. But what is Project Genesis? As Admiral Kirk explores, he learns that Project Genesis is the attempt to 'clone' life from lifelessness, generating biological organic life from dead matter, so that uninhabitable planets can be "turned" into life-sustaining ecosystems able to support life and act as a reservoir for the ever increasing multi-planetary population growth. Though Dr. McCoy seems immersed in skepticism, still, some people seem enticed by the project of literal "genesis", or as McCoy refers to it, "universal Armageddon".
While Captain and Dr. McCoy argue over the logical/moral implications of Project Genesis, Kahn and his crew chase down Enterprise and engage fire on the ship. All seems doomed for Enterprise and Admiral Kirk, with Kahn placing deadly ultimatums on the fleet and particularly James Kirk. Still, Admiral Kirk manages to outmaneuver Kahn and open fire on Kahn's ship, heading off into the black abyss of sky for safety while Kahn and his men recalculate their method of vengeance.
As Admiral Kirk and his crew head to Dr. Marcus' ship to search out the potential damage, what he discovers is a slaughterhouse, with only Chekov and Terrell left behind. Of course Dr. Marcus herself is nowhere to be found and neither is planet Genesis. But as soon as Admiral Kirk finds Dr. Marcus, and "her" son David, Chekov and Terell turn against Kirk, by ways of the alien predator preying inside their heads. Of course more death ensues, and Kahn steals Project Genesis in the process. After the mayhem ends, Dr. Marcus introduces Admiral Kirk to his son, and together the two men partake in attempting to end Kahn's wrath once and for all. But the surprises aren't over for Admiral Kirk as Dr. Marcus shows him, and the rest of Enterprise crew, the surprising product of Project Genesis. As any Sci-Fi movie would have, some turn of fate lands Admiral Kirk and crew back on the Enterprise ship and ready to head out into space to wrest the wrath of Kahn once and for all…
As rumor goes, only after the relentless lobbying by Gene Roddenberry, an interminable fan base (read Trekkies), and a few powerful supporters did this sequel get under way. Despite its daringly low budget, a "Trekky rookie" Meyer, unfamiliar with the series, did his best and arguably succeeded at pulling off the sequel vision of the Star Trek adventures in this adventurous interplanetary action-tale about Admiral James Kirk's midlife crisis and its head-to-head confrontation with former nemesis, Kahn. Via Meyer there are additions to the sequel that stand out as qualifying successes: frequent references to literary classics, there is a color scheme other than the monochromatic coldness of steel-on-space silver and black, and there is once again the unifying of the Enterprisians, camaraderie at its best.
Ricardo Montalban returns as the vengeful, albeit charismatic and compelling Kahn who is part eye-candy, part nemesis, part justified victim. Bringing back an "enemy of old" perfectly resonated with the film's thematic issues of life and death and the concept of again past the "Golden Years". Here, heroes (Kirk) and nemeses (Kahn) alike, figures that should have been long forgotten many moons ago, are resurrected and become central figures in a plot where the veterans take the seat and lead the good guys to victory. As such, Shatner was credible, though far from mesmerizing. But this is a sci-fi film, and a bit of the manufactured and contrived is to be expected in the dramatic performance. Though one critic goes so far as to assert, "In perhaps his finest performance, he dominates the screen, whether ruminating on his own mortality with McCoy… playing 'cat and mouse' with Khan, or facing the death of his best friend, Spock. Both decisive and likable, Shatner's Kirk is the glue that holds ST:TWOK together, and he is brilliant". I would argue that he is doable, solid, and believable. But I believe the word "brilliant' indicates a strong bias for the Star Trek series and a blindness to Shatner's true acting talent. All the same, he was more than fine and any true Trekky will find themselves thoroughly grateful for his much-improved comeback performance.
As far as the acting from the rest of the cast goes, DeForest Kelley plays a great Dr. McCoy who "offers righteous indignation over the implications of the Genesis Project" and "projects such an obvious affection for both Kirk and his 'sparring partner', Spock". Here McCoy is, as noted by many critics, elevated to the position of the third lead, standing alongside rather than behind Spock and Kirk. Kirstie Alley is sexy, alluring, and the perfect fit for the power-hungry, loyal Lt. Saavik who plays the alluring temptation as well as the competent Lt.. Likewise, Paul Winfield, whose part is short and sweet should be recognized for the more sweet aspect of his performance. He's compelling even if for only a brief few minutes. So too is Bibi Besch that perfect combination of aging grace and beauty which only ripens and improves with time, like her intellect, making her the perfect match for Kirk as his unrequited love.
As far as cinematography and music goes. The score, left in the hands of a young James Horner resonates like any other sci-fi film, with hints of the prequel Star Trek film and melodies from the original series lingering here and there. Still, the music is appropriate and sweeping in scale like the "epic-ness" of the plot. Direction, costume, and cinematography wise, the film was on a low budget and needs to be evaluated as such. That said, even without the grandeur of a large budget and expensive technology, "Star Trek II" manages to pull of some fairly believable, and frequent at that, special effects which are so appropriate for both the genre and content of the film. According to one critic, "the space battle scene between the Enterprise and Reliant is one of the best sequences in the entire 'Star Trek' film series".
"Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn" received the Academy of Science, Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films' Saturn Award for Best Actor (William Shatner) and Best Director (Nicholas Meyer). In addition, the film received another 8 critical film nominations.
William Shatner plays Admiral James Kirk, head commander of the Enterprise.
Leonard Nimoy plays Captain Spock, Balkan Captain of the Enterprise.
DeForest Kelley plays Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Head Doctor for Enterprise.
Walter Koenig plays Pavel Chekov, the fated Enterprise Starfleet patron.
Bibi Besch plays Dr. Carol Marcus, Admiral Kirk's former flame, and head doctor of the covetous Project Genesis.
Kirstie Alley plays Lt. Saavik, Enterprise's aspiring Lieutenant.
Ricardo Montalban plays the notorious nemesis, Kahn Noonien Singh.
James Doohan plays Enterprise's Cmdr. Montgomery Scotty.
Paul Winfield plays Captain Clark Terrell, Chekov's ill-fated head command.