Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The Star Trek movie reviews continue! You can check out my review/summary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture if you dare. Today, I will tackle sacred ground. The Empire Strikes Back of the Star Trek universe.
I loved this movie when it came out. As a matter of fact, when I went to see Star Trek: First Contact (the one with the Borg) with a group of people, they were all excited when we left the theater, gushing all over the movie. Then I said that I did like it a lot, but I still liked The Wrath of Khan better. I think that if any of them had phasers, I would have been dead. Or if there was a radioactive chamber nearby, I would have been thrown into it.
Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Wrath of Khan. So, will this movie stand the test of time for me? Let’s watch and find out.
KHAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!! Well, now that that’s out of my system, let’s begin for real, by watching the trailer:

Star Trek II was not only a movie sequel, but it was also a sequel to one of the original series’ television episodes – “Space Seed” from season one. That was actually a very good episode. To summarize that episode, the Enterprise comes across a ship called the SS Botany Bay, which is just floating around. When the landing party boards the ship, they discover its crew to be in suspended animation. They find the tube that the leader is in, and they try to revive him. But, he is struggling, so they beam back to the Enterprise with him, and put him in sick bay.
Then, one of the coolest scenes of the whole series occurs. The leader wakes up and attacks Dr. McCoy by grabbing and putting a scalpel to his throat. Then McCoy (my favorite Trek character) says that the most efficient way to kill him is to slice his carotid artery just under his left ear. The leader is impressed with McCoy’s bravery, and introduces himself as Khan.

Khan and his crew were genetically modified men and women from 200 hundred years ago. These superhumans were supposed to be perfect. Instead they became warlords and tried to take over the world, sparking a war. At the end of the war, several of the superhumans were unaccounted for. Until now.
Khan convinces Lieutenant Marla McGivers (who has the hots for Khan) to let him get back to his ship so he can get the rest of his crew. They do so, and Khan comes back and takes over the Enterprise. Kirk and Spock regain control of the ship. They hold a trial for Khan. Kirk decides that Khan and his followers should be exiled, and picks Ceti Alpha V, a world that Kirk believes would be a perfect place for Khan to start his kingdom over again. Khan, impressed with the idea, claims he is up to the challenge and accepts Kirk’s offer. Instead of a court-martial for Lt. McGivers, Kirk allows her to go into exile with Khan. Spock notes that it would be interesting to see what Khan makes of Ceti Alpha V in 100 years.
Ah, happy ending for everybody, right? Apparently not so much.

The movie starts on the bridge of a ship, with most of the Enterprise crew on board. However, instead of Kirk in command, we have Kirstie Alley.

I should also point out that the crew has way better uniforms in this movie than they did in the last movie. They are on a rescue mission. Things go awry very quickly. There are explosions all over the bridge, and each of our favorite characters are dying one-by-one. Psych! It’s not real! It was a training simulation, for Alley’s Lieutenant Saavik, called the “Kobayashi Maru”. Kirk makes his grand entrance when the simulation is over, and he and Saavik discuss how this was designed to be a no win situation to test the character of Starfleet officers.

Next, we find out that it is Kirk’s birthday, and he’s not too happy about it. He is a downer at his “party” consisting of Spock, McCoy, and a lot of whining. McCoy suggests that the good ole Admiral Kirk get command of his own ship again instead of running these training sessions.

Cut to Chekov making a starship log entry on board the USS Reliant. They are on a mission to find a lifeless planet so an experiment can be performed. So, they are headed to Ceti Alpha VI to make sure there is no life there. If successful, then the “Genesis” experiment can be done there, which would make an uninhabitable world habitable so colonies can move there.

Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield) beam down. They come across come across a cargo carrier. They go inside and look around. Nobody is there. Chekov finds a seatbelt that says “SS Botany Bay”. “Botany Bay. Botany Bay.” Chekov is wracking his brain trying to figure out why that sounds so familiar. Oh shit! He remembered (even though any Trekkie worth his salt knows that Chekov was not in the “Space Seed” episode. He did not appear until season 2).

They get the hell out of Dodge, but walk right into a circle of people that may or may not be Sandpeople from Star Wars.

They are back in the cargo carrier, and the leader reveals himself to be Khan. He doesn’t know Captain Terrell. But he somehow remembers Chekov. They must have seen each other off camera. We’ll go with that.
Khan fills in Captain Terrell (and anybody who hasn’t seen the “Space Seed” episode) on what happened. Then the rest of us find out that Ceti Alpha V was fine when they got there. But Ceti Alpha VI exploded, and threw their new planet out of orbit and messed it it, making it a desert wasteland.

And that damn Kirk never even bothered to check up on them to see if they made progress. Geez, get over it Khan! Do you know how many ladies Kirk has been with, and never called them back!?

Then Khan displays his super human strength by grabbing the conveniently placed handle on Chekov’s space suit, and lifting the 80 pound Chekov up in the air!

Next is the scene that freaked me out the most. This is where Khan puts a slimy eel bug in Chekov’s and Terell’s helmets, and the bugs go in each of their ears. The bugs will allow Khan to control these Starfleet officers’ minds.

Gross, gross, gross, gross!

Back to the Enterprise. The crew, including Saavik are heading out of space dock. It was about 45 minutes faster than it took them in the last movie! Yay!

Khan uses Chekov and Terrell to take over the space station Regula I where the Genesis device is being developed. As they approach Regula I in the USS Reliant, Chekov lets the scientists Dr. Carol Marcus, and her son, David, that they are coming under the orders of Admiral James T. Kirk. They get all pissy.

Carol goes and calls Kirk to ream his ass. But, he doesn’t know about any orders about taking Genesis. The transmission is jammed before Kirk can explain that he didn’t do it.

So Kirk decides to take the Enterprise to Regula I to see what is going on.

The Enterprise is finally approaching it’s destination. And the come across the Reliant, who is not answering the Enterprise’s communication. The Reliant then fires on the Enterprise, crippling the ship.

Now the Reliant contacts the Enterprise – to discuss the terms of their surrender. On screen.

Khan wants Kirk to beam aboard, and he wants the plans for Project Genesis. Oh, and he has 60 seconds.

That’s the amout of time Kirk needs to hatch up a plan to get out of this. They figure out a way to take control of the Reliant’s controls, and lowers their shields and disables their ability to fire back. The Enterprise then lays the smackdown on the Reliant.

The Enterprise reaches the science lab Regula I. They find dead bodies on the space station, and come across an alive Chekov and Terrell.

There are people missing, including Dr. Marcus. They look at the last place somebody beamed down to, so Kirk and the gang beam down to the same place – deep insode a planetoid that the space station was orbiting around. Not long after they get there, they are attacked, and Kirk gets in a fist fight with David. The first fist fight of the movie series!! Then Carol comes out and puts a stop to it. Obviously, she and Kirk have had a history together. All of a sudden Terrell and Chekov pull a phaser out on everybody. They are being controlled by Khan.

Khan tells them to kill Kirk. No-can-do. Terrell fights the urge, and ends up shooting himself.

Then Chekov keels over and passes out in pain, and that freaky worm thing falls out of his ear in a bloody mess.

Khan beams the Genesis machine up to the reliant. He tells Kirk that he is going to leave him buried alive. That’s when we get the classic KHAAAAN!!

Now we have some downtime, which leaves time for some catching up between Kirk and Carol Marcus. In the process, we find out that David is Kirk’s son.

Kirk gets a hold of Spock who is still on the Enterprise, and has him beam them all back up to the ship.

Both the Enterprise and Reliant are heading towards a nebula which renders the shields useless, and knocks the targeting systems off track.

Kirk out-battles Khan which disables the Reliant. Just about everybody, except for Khan, are dead on the Reliant.

Khan says “Screw you guys,” and activates Genesis, which will reorganize all the matter of the nebula, and everything around it, including the injured Enterprise. Basically everything will be destroyed, then rebuilt into a new planet.

The Enterprise needs to get it’s warp drive fixed in order to get out of there.
Spock goes down to the engine room to fix the warp drive. McCoy tries to stop him from going into the warp drive room since the radiation will kill him. Spock Vulcan nerve pinches him, and performs a mind meld, telling him to “Remember”.

Then he goes into the warp drive room, fixes the drive and saves the day. The Enterprise escapes just in the nick of time.

Kirk tells Scotty that he did a great job. Instead of Scotty answering, it is McCoy, who tells Kirk to get his ass down there pronto! Kirk goes down, and sees what happened. This was one of the saddest scenes for me in the whole franchise, as Kirk and Spock say goodbye to each other as Spock dies.

They have a funeral for Spock, and shoot his coffin off to the new planet that Genesis just created.

David has a heart-to-heart talk as David has finally warmed up to his father, and says that he’s proud to be his son.

As we wrap up, the Enterprise is off to Ceti Alpha V to pick up the rest of the Reliant crew that was marooned.

And we see Spock’s coffin on the Genesis planet. The End. Or is it?

Well, I still liked that movie a lot especially after The Motion Picture. I do like the newer movies better, but this one was very good, and still ranks right up there.

Do you have any thoughts or memories about this movie?

6 thoughts on “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”

  1. Great summary of the classic film. As an English teacher I feel obligated to say that the Wrath of Khan is a take/retelling of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Many think that this comes later in the series with the whales, but nope. If you look at the bookshelf on the Botany Bay, you will see a copy of Moby Dick. The book is about the obsessed Captain Ahab risking the lives of others for a personal vendetta against the whale that took is leg. Sound familiar? Many of Khan’s lines are actual lines by Ahab from the novel.

    Great job and keep up all of this awesome 80s stuff.



    1. Thanks so much, Robert! I think I have heard the comparison with this movie to Moby Dick. And I did notice the book as was just watching this.
      I am looking forward to the next one. My Star Trek III article is going to be part of a blog-a-thon sponsored by Forgotten Filmcast. Many, many bloggers are each going to cover a movie from 1984. I can’t believe The Search for Spock is already going to be 30 years old this year!


  2. This is best Trek film, without a shadow of a doubt. While I do like the new versions, in terms of story and consistency, you can’t beat Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Spock’s death gets me every time 😦


    1. Yes, and I still stand behind the fact that this one was better than “First Contact.” After watching this again, I feel that it stands the test of time. The only thing about the new movies was towards the end of “Into Darkness” where they paid “homage” to this movie. It was done a million times better in “Wrath of Khan.”
      And yes, Spock’s death gets me every time too. What emotional year that was. We had this and “E.T.” out around the same time. The only thing missing is “Field of Dreams”, and it would have been a trifecta of hankie-fests!


      1. The more I think about Star Trek into Darkness the more it disappoints me and fails to live up to expectations.

        I’m not really bothered about the film referencing Wrath of Khan, it just didn’t do anything purposeful with it.

        Spock’s death works because most us grew up watching Nimoy and Shatner. There’s history. Trying to do the same in Pine/Quinto and the crew barely knows each other doesn’t have the same impact.

        That’s why Wrath of Khan will always stand the test of time, no matter what age you are, you will cry at Spock’s death!

        82 was also a good year for Blade Runner, First Blood, Tron and The Thing – awesome movies!


      2. You hit the nail on the head! I mean, sure there is a lot of awesome action in Into Darkness, and the chemistry is very good among the cast. However, it really seemed like they were trying too hard to force an emotional response out of the audience. Like you said, the crew barely knows each other, and we don’t have the long history of this new cast that we had with the original crew.
        It’s the emotion that makes Wrath of Khan so great.
        Wow ’82 WAS a great year for movies! Almost as good as ’84. Do you happen to be writing up something for Forgotten Film Cast’s blog-a-thon? I’m going to be covering The Search for Spock for that event. I just rewatched it recently, and I forgot how great that one was too! Star Trek gets a lot of crap for the odd numbered movies, which is very unfair. What’s your opinion about that? I’m really looking forward to covering The Search for Spock.


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