Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Whenever talk turns to Star Trek, invariably someone sings the praises of The Wrath of Khan. It's annoying, in part because for 31 years now, the idea has persisted that a Trek movie must be patterned after this one in order to be successful and interesting. That single-mindedness flies in the face of what has made the franchise so successful and interesting over the years on TV, and I hate the idea of reducing Star Trek to an action franchise with phasers.

That said, just as every other time I've ever watched The Wrath of Khan, I'll be damned if I can say I wasn't completely captivated by it or that I can find anything really wrong with it. Sure, I can nitpick some things (not least of which being why the Reliant was in the Ceti Alpha system in the first place), but taken as an overall narrative, it's hard to find fault.

Acknowledging the aging of Admiral Kirk was a wise move. For one thing, it gives the character new growth. Shatner gives probably his finest performance in the role in this one, as a Kirk with a midlife crisis. He's not a superhero. He's just a guy, same as any other, only he's had extraordinary adventures. This makes it easier to relate to Kirk - and by extension, the entire series. The camaraderie between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is solid as ever, which also serves the story directly as well as being a hallmark of the franchise. I think it's this aspect that has allowed The Wrath of Khan to continue to resonate with viewers, who grow into those themes after they've already appreciated it as an action/revenge film and as the touching drama in which we lose Mr. Spock.

This was the first time I'd seen the movie in a few years; I don't have any record of having watched it since I started using DVD Profiler in early 2009. I've recently gone through the entire original and animated series, and I have to say I found the film especially poignant in that context. Fans, as well as various film-makers, keep focusing on a Star Trek movie needing an antagonist to rival Khan, but what they have so often overlooked is that it isn't even Khan who is Kirk's real enemy in this story. It's himself: his aging, his ego, his shortcomings. These are the things that make Jim Kirk a real person, and why we care about him more personally this time than in most of the TV episodes or other movies.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#123/1591)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad --> #123
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad wins this handily. Psych! Khan all the way.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > Barbershop --> #123
I dig Barbershop, but I love The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > Knocked Up --> #
I bet Carol Marcus watched Knocked Up over and over and over again, alternately weeping and crying throughout.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers --> #100
The Two Towers is the only LOTR movie I fully loved, and while I *am* put off by some of the Wrath of Khan worshipers, I do love and respect it enough that I have to pick it here.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > The Untouchables --> #50
Two of my faves here. Going with The Wrath of Khan this time because it has the more satisfying finale, but next time I watch The Untouchables I'm certain to find reason to pick it instead.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan < Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country --> #50
I just re-watched The Wrath of Khan and can concede it's the more personal story with a tauter plot, but still I simply have more love for The Undiscovered Country.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > Skyfall --> #36
I loved Skyfall, but it *is* derivative of The Dark Knight and that flaw costs it the win against The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > The Matador --> #30
The Matador has my favorite Pierce Brosnan performance yet, and I adore it, but it lacks the heft to best The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan > Dick Tracy --> #27
I love everything about Dick Tracy, but it doesn't take me to the same emotional places as The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan < The Sting --> #27
Brilliance > poignancy. I hate you, Flickchart.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #27/1591