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Review Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): Template for a good Star Trek film!

genre: science fiction, adventure, drama

For many fans, The Wrath of Khan is the best film in the franchise. While I do think that this second film with the original cast is a big step-up, I don't think it's the best.

Don't get me wrong, it's a damn good film. Almost everything is improved upon compared to The Motion Picture. But it's very flawed when it comes to the characterization of Khan for example. I do remember having seen quite a few episodes of the original series, I for the life of me can't remember this character. So I don't have any connection or investment in him. I do have to give credit to the cast and the makers that despite this oversight, you do get a sense of what Khan should be about. Ricardo Montalban is very menacing and unreasonable. He himself utters some Moby Dick quotes, and a copy of that book is shown in the film. Khan's thirst for revenge is out of proportion and unnecessary, since he already had gained an enormous advantage on Kirk and the rest of the crew. But of course this does create a compelling drama. 

More interesting are the dynamics between the crew members, in particular Kirk and Spock. I must admit, even knowing the famous scene by heart, I got choked up as if I had seen it for the first time. Most people make fun of William Shatner and the way he acts, but seriously, when his heart his hurt, you feel it too. This also becomes apparent in the scene with his son David. Anyone who can impact you in that way, is a good actor and should never be mocked!

Khan as a villain is very much overrated. He basically is the villain of the week who puts certain events in motion. Yes, Ricardo Montalban makes the most of it with what he is given and should never be understated. But in the grand scheme of things, he is not that important. The film itself did start a trend where events have a lasting impact in the sequels. Even if you wanted to, you can't quite skip the parts because they are essential to the main story and character arcs. The parts on their own do offer that something unique to make them stand out but combined it's a Shakespearean drama of the highest order. So yes, The Wrath of Khan is a must-watch for sure!

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