The Enterprise crew are back in this 1982 sequel, this time to do battle with Khan (Ricardo Montalban); a genetically enhanced tyrant exiled by Kirk (William Shatner) 15 years previously, now hellbent on revenge. Talk about holding a grudge…
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is generally considered the best film in the franchise, and one can see why; it has excitement, emotion and a superb villain in Khan, none of which were all that present in The Motionless Picture.
It has more pace, sentiment and action than its predecessor, and feels like a well-rounded movie rather than a stretched-out episode. But it retains the original’s intelligent sci-fi, great visual effects and Shatner’s unique intonation. “I don’t believe in a no-win scenario,” says Kirk; he’s clearly never been up against Meryl Streep for an Oscar, or leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Shatner is on particularly good form in this film, alongside an impressive Leonard Nimoy and a strong ensemble cast; there’s will.i.am as Captain Terrell, Thunderbird Scott Tracy as Bones McCoy and Dolph Lundgren’s dad as Khan.
The Wrath of Khan nicely wraps up themes of friendship, loss and ageing in the form of Moby Dick in space, or Möbius Dick as in Futurama; the book sneaks into one of the film’s early scenes and Khan even quotes Herman Melville’s prose, suggesting that he read the novel whilst in exile. Maybe if he’d just read Bridget Jones or something then none of this would have happened.
Khan had clearly misplaced his copy of the literary classic when he came up with his kiss-off, “Revenge is a dish that is best served cold. It is very cold… in space”, which sounds like a rejected line from Moonraker. But as a satisfying sci-fi adventure, Star Trek II khan’t be beaten.