Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 35th Anniversary

The 451st film I have seen in theaters…

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The 35th Anniversary screening of the Director’s cut.

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15 years ago, Captain James T. Kirk marooned a group of genetically engineered super humans on the planet Ceti Alpha V, there to live out their lives posing no threat to the universe. Now, they have escaped. Their leader, Khan Noonien Singh, will stop at nothing to exact his vengeance on Kirk, setting his sights on a super-weapon that could unleash Armageddon.

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William Shatner turns in his best performance as Kirk in Star Trek II. He finally stops being the heroic fearless captain and allows himself to grow up. This is a Kirk who is 50 years old, is looking at the end of his career, and is taking stock of what he has accomplished, and what he has left to offer.

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Leonard Nimoy plays Mr. Spock. As always, he is logical, dependable, indispensable. Spock makes the ultimate sacrifice in this film, offering his life for his shipmates. The fact that he eventually comes back does nothing to diminish the power of these scenes. Nimoy passed in 2015.

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The emotional heart of the crew, DeForest Kelley is back as the irascible Dr McCoy. He expertly voices the ethical implications of a device as powerful as Genesis. His interplay with Spock is a key component of this series’ success. He passed in 1999.

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James Doohan returns as Mr Scott, chief engineer. The Director’s cut helps his character out immensely as the young midshipman who loses his life in Khan’s attack is revealed to be his nephew. Heartbreaking stuff, good acting. He passed in 2005.

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Walter Koenig is Commander Chekov, now stationed on the USS Reliant. He falls victim to the infamous Ceti Eel giving all us little 80’s kids a tremendous scare. More great acting, in a film full of it, is delivered by Koenig.

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Nichelle Nichols and George Takei return as Uhura and Sulu. The script doesn’t have very much for them to do in this film. Sulu has a few cute comments, but nothing major.

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Introducing Kirstie Alley as Saavik! Her first film. She had a more emotional take on Vulcans than Nimoy did, explained by Saakiv’s 1/2 Romulan heritage. She would not return for the sequels.

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Bibi Besch plays Dr Carol Marcus, former lover of Kirk and father to his son. This was a memorable performance, particularly her conversation with Kirk on Regula. She passed in 1996.

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Merrick Butrick plays David- Kirk’s son. A strong youthful man, his vigorous defense of his ideals was immediately effective. This guy was a strong actor. He sadly passed in 1989.

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Paul Winfield, seen here blasting some poor bastard to hell, plays the mind controlled Captain of the Reliant- Terrell. His work fighting the mind control was very well acted. He passed in 2004.

montalbanI saved him for last because no one could possible follow him (sorry Cumberbatch). Ricardo Montalban was an acting powerhouse. So many of his lines in this movie were absolutely ridiculous. Like, truly silly. When he delivers them, though, it is transformed. The man oozed gravitas, a rare quality in modern actors. He has precious little screen time in the film, but his powerful presence is always felt. We lost this awesome man in 2009.

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This is one of the all time classics. When I heard they were holding 35th anniversary screenings- there was no debate. I was going to see it.

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The writing and directing of this movie was terrific. Nicholas Meyer is a man who should be praised by Trekkies to the end of time. His voice  is a big reason we have had any Star Trek after 1979. He would go on to write for Star Trek IV, and return to direct Star Trek VI. A coincidence that he is involved with the best films of the original cast? I think not. Meyer is currently working on a top secret Star Trek project. I have no idea what it is, but I have complete confidence in the man to deliver something great.

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Meyer gets a lot of credit, deservedly, but it is truly Harve Bennett that saved Trek. Star Trek The Motion Picture cost 45 million, but was not well received. Most fans were somewhat disappointed by the 2+ hours of the cast staring at pictures of clouds on the viewscreen.  When Paramount decided to make another film, they went to Bennett. He was known as a TV guy who could make movies on the cheap. He sat and watched all 79 episodes of Star Trek. He was looking for a story, and found it in “Space Seed”. He made Wrath of Khan for about 11 Million. A quarter of the first film’s budget. It is still regarded as the best Star Trek film. Harve was THE MAN. He passed in 2015.

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This amazing score by James Horner, who would go on to score classic films such as Titanic, is my favorite of all the Star Trek scores. The main theme was beautiful. The thunderous horn fanfare when Khan attacks is amazing. This truly is as good as it gets. We lost him in 2015.

I am honestly not sure what I can say further about this movie. It is one of the few I can recite every single line of. It is currently #4 on my top 10 film list. It will probably always be a top 5 for me. This is part of the cinematic pantheon that made me the geek I am today. I’ve finally seen it on the big screen. Awesome.

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