Revisiting 1982 – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

It is time for the fifth entry in my year-long series in which I revisit some of the most classic films to be released 30 years ago in the year 1982 (the year of my birth).

I’m changing around my plans for this month.  I was originally going to do Conan the Barbarian, but, after it was announced that it’s screening at the Bell Lightbox in July, I thought I would wait for the chance to see it theatrically.  After reshuffling my planned schedule, I have decided that this month’s film will be Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  As always, there may be SPOILERS in this discussion.

Let’s Begin.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The Wrath of Khan is generally considered to be the best film of the Star Trek film series.  It was most definitely a huge improvement from the somewhat lackluster Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

One of the major themes of this film involves James T. Kirk coming to terms with his age.  After trying somewhat to hide William Shatner’s age in the first film, in this film they bring it front and centre that Kirk is no longer the youthful captain from the 1960s TV series and is instead a somewhat unhappy middle-aged admiral. The events of the film, which include meeting his son, end up giving Kirk a renewed view of his life and the film concludes with his saying that he feels young.

Then of course there is the major shock of the film in how Spock sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise.  While the scene was probably impactful at the time, today you cannot see the scene in the same way, since you know that Spock is ressurected in the aptly titled Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  In some ways, it would have probably been better for the overall story if Spock remained dead.  I guess that’s what happens when you decide to kill off popular characters.

Now, I can’t talk about this film without mentioning Khan Noonien Singh, played by Ricardo Montalbán.  I have yet to see the original Star Trek episode “Space Seed,” which featured the original appearance of Khan, however the film does feature another background information about the character to bring new viewers up to speed.  Khan is arguably the greatest of the Star Trek villains and in this film he has a blind desire for revenge against Kirk for imprisoning him many years ago.  The most interesting thing about Khan is that, even though he is one of the most vile villains in the Star Trek film series, he and Kirk never have a face-to-face encounter and instead interact with each other through communicators.  He is most definitely a very memorable character.

Before concluding, I would like to briefly talk about a young Kirstie Alley, who plays the Vulcan Lieutenant JG Saavik.  This was Alley’s first film role, long before she became well known for her role on the TV series Cheer.  Saavik returns in the next two Star Trek films, however a salary dispute with Alley resulted in the role being recast.

That concludes my discussion on The Wrath of Khan.  I’m excited about the next two months of this series, since I will be seeing my film picks theatrically at the Bell Lightbox.  I’ve already mentioned that Conan‘s screening in July, but first I will be seeing the debut of John Rambo in First Blood next month.  Can’t wait.

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).