Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Oldie Movie Corner........ie: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount Pictures, 1982)

If you've ever seen the Star Trek episode 'Space Seed' from the first series, then you'll have a pretty good idea who Khan is. He's the evil super person-type of guy who tried to bump off Kirk and nick his ship (Boo!). But, Kirk and his crew prevailed and exiled him and his followers to Ceti-Alpha V (Hurrah!). Now, this film is a (near enough) continuation of that story, picking up 15 years after said events. Ceti Alpha VI exploded 6 months after our villain and his men were exiled and shifted the orbit of Ceti Alpha V and turned it to a barren sand planet (think Arrakis in DUNE, only without the big worm things and other people and you're nearly there). Khan finds out about Project Genesis from Terrell and Chekov (who's been trasnferred to the Reliant after the events of Star Trek:TMP) after they beam down and find the cargo ship S.S Botany Bay and, eventually, Khan. Khan seizes control of the Reliant and goes in search of Regula I, and thus Genesis, with his men in tow. Cue loads of excellent space battles, wars of words between Kirk and Khan, and Kirk shouting Khan's name quite loud.

Right, where do I start with this, apart from it's the best Star Trek movie ever (followed very closely by the new Trek Movie). Everything seems to gel nicely. Nicholas Meyer, even though being a first time Trek director, does a thoroughly great job with this film. Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves, whereas in TMP, there's no fun atmosphere. The script is top notch, with Khan getting some excellent lines, indeed (I'll chase him round the moons of Nebula, around the Antarris Maelstrom and round Perdition's flames before I give him up!), and Ricardo Montalban seems to relish slipping back into Khan's disturbed shoes, and delivers these lines with aplumb. I can't imagine anyone else playing Khan and, if they did, they wouldn't do it with as mich conviction as Ricardo does. Khan does seem to be the devil in disguise You look at him and you think he's harmless. Give him an inch, and he'll make you 'armless'. Another thing is that he can go from normal to evil just like that. Take the Botany Bay scenes. He introduces Chekov and Terrell to his men then goes about torturing them (Here's my men. Now, tell me what I want to know or I'll get the pincers and twist your nipples!....ok, he doesn't really say that). I'd rather have him on my side than against me. William Shatner does his usual job of being Kirk brilliantly. He doesn't overact at all and seems to make Kirk more sincere, fearing about becoming old (he gets a pair of glasses from McCoy at the start of the film. Cheers, Bones! Make him happy about becoming 50, why don't you?) and wondering about our, and his, mortallity. It's these themes that seperates it from the normal Trek movie. And the rest of the regular cast do their jobs brilliantly, even (then) newcomer Kirstie Alley, playing Saavik, Spock's protigue.

The special effects, even though they are models, are superbly done, and no scenes show it more than in the Motara Nebula at the films climatic finale. The sight of two Starships duking it out with no shields and no working visual, which also knackers up the targeting of the phasers and torpedoes,  makes the scenes even more intense. It does make you think you're watching an old WWII movie of two rival subs, or old sailing ships from the 18th century, fighting beneath, and on, the waves for supremacy. It was this feel that Meyer wanted, and I think he achieved it very well. Another special mention must go to the Ceti Eel effects. They look so real, you'd think they were, even the ones they put into the helmets.
The music, done by James Horner, again ramps up the tension at key scenes (mainly battle scenes) and his subtle tones add atmosphere to pivital parts and it sets the mood to the rest of the film. I've currently got the soundtrack on my iPod, and I can't stop listening to it. It does have hints of Battle Beyond the Stars in it, and you can hear the nods to WoK in his next film score, KRULL.

Even if you don't like Star Trek, you can just put this film on, and just enjoy it for it's battles and the mind games played by Khan towards Kirk. Khan's one clever villain, and the film wouldn't be The Wrath of Khan without him. It would be 'The Wrath of Another Character that Isn't Khan but will fit in quite nicely!'