A Year in Star Trek Movies: The Wrath of Khan

My History with the Film:
The Wrath of Khan is widely considered the best Star Trek movie. I remember renting it while I worked at Blockbuster and I was blown away by how much better it was compared to the first film. The first film is almost psychedelic and is a slow burn in comparison to Wrath of Khan which is arguably an action film with likeable characters and a heightened pace. I fondly remember it being called the Star Trek film even non-Star Trek fans can enjoy.

So, what led me to giving Star Trek another shot after my debacle with the first film? Well, I met a guy named Eric while working at Blockbuster. Eric became sort of my nerd mentor. He took me beyond my casual fandom and introduced me to the inner workings of all things nerdy. He took me to get my first box at a comic book store. He taught me about Terry Gilliam films and anime. But most importantly, he taught me about Star Trek.

He explained the movies, how they were set up with the casts, and what to expect. He explained the different series and really gave me that baseline knowledge that I needed to wade into the Star Trek universe. And so with his encouragement, I took home a copy of the Wrath of Khan and couldn’t wait till our next shift to discuss it.

What the Film is About:
Admiral Kirk along with the crew of the Enterprise rush to stop a madman who has stolen a weapon of mass destruction.

What I Liked About It:
-The tonal shift is impressive. Where The Motion Picture was a slow, slog of a movie that never seems to really go anywhere, The Wrath of Khan starts off with action in the first scene and rarely lets up. This is a huge improvement and made for a much better film.

-The characters are actually likeable in this film and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Ricardo Montalban (Khan) and Kristie Alley (Saavik) were both great in their roles.

-The film has a great scene that reminds you a lot of a World War II submarine battle. It’s slow, calculating, and suspenseful.

-The film has almost horror aspects at times which I really enjoyed. Stuff like the creatures they put into the ears. It really created tension and heighten the stakes early on. It made Khan a villain you knew you couldn’t side with.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I struggled to buy the whole Kirk has a son storyline. I mean, character wise it doesn’t seem to be that much of a stretch but it really didn’t seem to serve any purpose in the script.

Thoughts:
The differences between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan are immense. It’s hard to even compare the two films because they seemingly have so little in common. Outside of the characters, actors, and the ship there isn’t much that links the two films.

The Wrath of Khan is fun. It’s a superior film in every way over its predecessor. It might lean a bit on the action side but it really works for this film. You get to see everyone at their best and Kirk has a true nemesis to battle.

I enjoyed Wrath of Khan a lot. While I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit the film again, I can say that this film firmly made me excited to continue this little project I’ve begun.

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