The crew of the Enterprise return for their second outing on the big screen. After the disappointment of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it’s fair to say that the future of the franchise on the big screen, possibly anywhere, hung in the balance. It focuses on a tale of revenge, as Khan Noonien Singh seeks his revenge on James T Kirk for his actions that Khan perceives to have caused his wife’s death.
The Wrath of Khan is very probably the most celebrated of the Star Trek films, and is proudly held aloft by Trekkies as some of the very finest of what Star Trek has to offer. (Personally, as a child of The Next Generation as opposed to The Original Series, my own favourite is First Contact, but that’s another review.) Frankly, it’s hard to disagree with them.
The performances here are excellent all round, with Shatner at his very finest, bring the most dimension to Kirk that he ever managed. He’s funny, without being farcical. He’s smart, without seeming overly knowing. He’s conflicted, without ever dragging the film down with ponderous reflection. (Plenty of other Star Trek films and series for that.) DeForrest Kelly is marvellously grumpy as Bones, and Leonard Nimoy is ever magnificent as the stoic Spock.
The script, however, is what makes Wrath of Khan stand out from the crowd. For the first time, the crew of the original Enterprise got a story worth telling. Powerfully emotional, genuinely witty, with a personal intimacy that many of the Star Trek films have lacked, it is a truly engaging watch. More than this though, Wrath of Khan is one of the few Star Trek films that stand up on their own, as entities independent of the franchise and all of the backstory that comes with it.
A true classic. Endlessly parodied and ripped on, Wrath of Khan represents the finest that the crew of the original Enterprise have to offer. B+.