STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
The Director's Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 116 Minutes
Release Date: August 6, 2002
Star Trek: The Motion Picture first
debuted in 1979, it proved the franchise still had legs.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan showed that those legs were ready for
the long run.
fans proved with our box office dollars that we were ready for more Trek, but
may have also demonstrated with grumbling that we were expecting something a
little more from the series that had captured our imaginations for the previous
decade. No one really knew what to
expect from the first sequel, but it turned out to be something better than we
fresh talent involved might have helped. Harve
Bennett proved a formidable producer, and by re-watching all the original
television episodes, found just the idea he was looking for in “Space Seed”.
Nicholas Meyer had only one director’s credit under his belt at the
time and actually had little familiarity with Star Trek when he signed
on. Without a Trekkie’s experience, he instinctively tapped
into the most important aspects of the show, and gave them new life in this
the veterans were all back as well, from creator Gene Roddenberry to his
indelible cast, led by William Shatner as Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, and
DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, plus the rest of the favorites we all knew and
loved. Added to the mix were one
other formidable veteran, Ricardo Montalban, and one fresh faced newcomer with a
bright future, Kirstie Alley. All
of these elements together brought The Wrath of Khan an absolute wealth
of raw materials with which to build a story.
“Space Seed” came an idea and a terrific character called Khan (Montalban).
He was a genetically engineered super being who was picked up in space by
the Enterprise and subsequently, along with his followers, tried to usurp the
ship from Kirk. The uprising
failed, and Khan and his people were left alone on a healthy planet to live out
their lives as they saw fit.
unforeseeable disaster struck along the way, leaving many of Khan’s people
dead (including his wife). Embittered
and enraged, Khan and the rest of his followers seize a chance encounter with
the Federation as a means of hunting down and destroying Kirk and the Enterprise
once and for all.
is a film that remembered everything that was great about the original series.
Gone were the sterility and talkiness of the first picture, and back were
the heart, humor, and the faith in well established characters.
The Wrath of Khan gave us suspense, action, excitement, and one of
the most intensely dramatic finales in any Star Trek story…and
amusingly enough, it did it all with the smallest budget of any of the
key to the success of the picture was the imagination of its creators, which
didn’t cost a dime. The
filmmakers had the courage to add their own mark to the Star Trek lore,
and their visions carried on far into the future of the franchise.
Kirk’s son, for example, or the impenetrable Kobayashi Maru test.
The Wrath of Khan even invented the concept of a Neutral
Zone between the Klingons and the Federation…can you imagine what the course of Star Trek would have been like
fans embrace the second film as the best of the series…if it isn’t THE best,
it’s certainly one of them. The
Wrath of Khan built an empire upon the first movie’s simple foundation,
and arguably was the keystone that insured that Gene Roddenberry’s vision of
the future would live to see the future.
The difference between this director’s cut and the original theatrical
version is about 4 minutes total. The
changes are mostly cosmetic, simply adding a line or two here and there to
already existing scenes. The extra
footage neither detracts nor adds to the impact of the original.
the twenty year age of the picture, Star Trek II comes across well, but
not without problems. Having owned
the movie on laser disc before, I can say that the DVD is an overall
improvement, offering brighter colors, more detail, and (yes!) anamorphic
widescreen presentation. Some of
the darker scenes are a tad murky, and show a bit of aging artifacts in the form
of a few spots and some shimmering. Still,
the representation here is good, and perhaps better than normal given the state
of most 1980s movies on disc. Trekkies
should be pleased enough.
the main problem with the audio is the age.
Though the 5.1 mix makes good use of all surround stages for effects and
impact, the center channel of dialogue sounds a bit thin, like a 20 year old
movie. The .1 channel is used very
sparingly, not even kicking in until the Enterprise launches from space dock.
Dynamic range is medium but selectively effective, and the music sounds
quite good. A worthy effort
overall, given the limitations of the original source material.
pulled out all the stops with this double disc set and certainly treated the
movie like the fan favorite it is. Disc
One contains both Nicholas Meyer’s audio commentary and text commentary by Star
Trek Encyclopedia author Michael Okuda (as with the DVD for Star Trek:
The Motion Picture). While
I enjoyed listening to Meyer, I have to say that Okuda’s text is the real
treat, filled with trivia, inside info, history and perspective…it just flat
out adds to the enjoyment of the film, especially for Trekkies who have seen it
over and over already!
Two contains a terrific new documentary “The Captain’s Log”…BRAND NEW
interviews with Shatner, Nimoy, Montalban, Meyer and producer Harve Bennett.
I enjoyed it immensely…especially the bones Shatner still has to pick
with a few people twenty years after the fact!
There are also featurettes on the design of the movie and the visual
effects, which was quite interesting…some of the picture’s most memorable
visuals were actually achieved quite simply and inexpensively.
There is also a trailer, storyboards, a short collection of original 1982
interviews with Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley, and finally, “The Star Trek Universe”,
featuring exposition by ST novelists Greg Cox and Julia Ecklar.
in all, a superb features package that fans will cherish!