I said in last week’s post that Wrath of Khan might be the most overrated of the films, but having watched it again I am not too sure.
In some ways it is not much more than an over-inflated, two hour episode from the original series, drawing as it did from the episode Space Seed. But it is also, perhaps, the most iconic and influential of the film series entries.
To start with, it opens with the Kobayashi Maru training scenario, something that has become cultural short hand for a no-win situation. I saw it applied to Elon Musk’s situation with Twitter just last week in a major publication.
And then there is this.
Just go Google “Kirk Khan meme” and see how many entries you get.
So, for cultural impact, its bona fides are clearly established.
But is it a good movie? Yes?
I mean, it is much, much better than Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it was also the one from the TOS films that I had seen most recently… possibly the only one I had seen this century… and my fuzzy memories from that viewing were not ones of enthusiasm.
And it has the same starting problem. Why did they make Kirk an admiral only to have to spend time at the start of every film finding an excused for him to take over, commandeer, or steal the Enterprise? They always come up with something, and we have to have that scene reflecting on being old and missing command of a ship. I guess that pads out the run time a bit.
Overall though, despite my misgivings over whatever that last viewing entailed, it was pretty good. I enjoyed watching it.
In being essentially a two hour long TOS episode worked to its benefit. It got in some of the classic aspects of the show, including two larger than life performances out of Shatner and Montalban as the egos of their two characters clashed on screen. We had ships fighting, silly space maneuvers, engineering problems, handy close by cosmic anomalies to hide in, some decent uniforms for the crew… both crews, because Khans space rogues were quite the site, and Shakespeare quotes… though not in the original Klingon.
We also got to see Kirk having consequences from a past relationship!
Yes, they had to also work us with the Kirk/Spock relationship. But after years of the Trek stories in paperback where every budding author couldn’t seem to resist working in some sort of “Spock must wrestle with his human side and his relationship with Kirk” aspect, that is hard to get worked up about.
It was good, kept my attention, had decent effects, a silly but enjoyable plot line, and few dragging moments that felt like they could have been trimmed from the script. Overall, I’d watch it again.
So that is two of the films down, and in the hope that we’ll keep watching, I’m going to start a stack rank of them by quality or enjoyment or whatever metric is within me. It is easy at this point, with only two films under our belts.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The next on the list is Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Spock’s Brain entry in the series, if you know what I mean. I haven’t see it since it came out. We’ll see how it rates.