HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut)
HTS Overall Score:89
“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is one of the few “Star Trek” films that actually is not only a great “Star Trek” movie, but a great film in general. It’s widely considered the “Godfather Part II” of the series, following a decent TV series and a financially tepid first film and was almost going to be the last movie of the franchise. I guess that’s one of the reasons why Nicholas Meyer decided to end the film with what is considered one of the best endings in Trek history. “The Wrath of Khan” manages to learn from the mistakes from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and crafts one of the best science fiction films of all times, and easily my favorite of the Trek series. Khan was one of the most memorable villains of “Star Trek: The Original Series” and his inclusion was even copied for the reboot series with “Star Trek Into Darkness” (one of the most disappointing Trek movies since “Star Trek V”) and imprinted onto me since I was a 6 year old boy watching over my brothers shoulders and being terrified of the mind controlling ear worms.
It’s been some time since the events of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and many of the U.S.S. Enterprise members have gone their separate ways. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is now an Admiral in the Federation, while Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has taken over command of the Enterprise and is training cadets to become the next generation of explorers. The U.S.S. Reliant is out on a routine patrol mission near a desolate planet when they find out that the planet is NOT so desolate. Going down to the planet’s surface, Captain Terrell (Paul Winfield) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) make a terrifying discovery. This uninhabitable planet is actually the same planet where Kirk marooned the vicious 20th century super soldier, Khan (Ricardo Montalban) 15 years ago. Taking ahold of the Reliant and luring the Enterprise out their location, Khan sets a trap for his old Nemesis and ends up crippling the Enterprise almost beyond repair.
However, Kirk has never failed yet, and he doesn’t plan to today. Turning the tables on Khan, Admiral Kirk ends up wounding the wolf, causing him to limp away to lick his wounds and giving the crew of the Enterprise time to devise a counter strategy. Things go from bad to worse when Khan finds out that below their very fleet, on a desolate moon base there is a federation science project called Genesis, which can create the ultimate life in the galaxy or be used as a weapon to end it as well. Desperate for the upper hand, Khan grapples with Kirk for control of Genisis, pitting man versus superman in a battle that will tear the Enterprise limb from limb, and will allow only one side to come out alive.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71994[/img]“The Wrath of Khan” is easily the strongest of the early Trek films, and maintains that status to this day. Nicholas Meyers took control of the movie and chose to tweak the storyline a bit and learn from the mistakes of the past. Instead of being so intent to turn the film into a 2 hour long recreation of the TV show, he expanded on the premise and turned it into something so much more. Character development was already there, and the building blocks were in place, and the resulting chemistry between the leads was established in times past. Shatner is not the greatest actor on the face of the planet, but he like John Wayne. So iconic in his delivery and fan love that he is irreplaceable. The interactions between himself and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock are the highlight of the film, and the ending death of Spock is one of the most powerful moments in all of Trek history. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, is a line that reverberates through my mind whenever I think of the film.
The only downside of the film comes from the fact that Khan was a villain that was only seen once or twice in season 2 of “The Original Series”. He was a legendary character, but one that had aged 15 years and may have been forgotten by the general populace. However, Montalban’s Shakespeare spouting Khan is about as legendary in his performance as can be, and even if you don’t know who Khan was in the series his acting and deliciously evil villain routine makes it so you can’t take your eyes off of him. The strength of the series comes with a little bit of nuance, as Khan is suave and debonair madman, able to quote Shakespeare and classic literature at whim, but also embodies much of that classic literature with elements of Moby Dick present in his persona (ironically the book is present in Khan’s collection on the planet. An act of foreshadowing that is not lost on the viewer if he pays attention).
Rated PG for violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=72002[/img]Being the crown jewel of the original films, “The Wrath of Khan” was the only film out of the original Blu-ray boxset that received a really really nice transfer that was free from the DNR that plagued the rest of the films in the series. As good as it was, it also had a weird teal blue color grading applied to it and looks substantially darker than the heavily brightened and red pushed HDTV broadcast that many got used to (as well as the old DVD master). However with this new release that teal push is gone, giving way to more natural skin tones (as natural as they could be with the heavy makeup applied to some of the “alien” actors, giving their skin tones a lightly olive gray tinge). Fine detail is just as magnificent as the old release was, and this time the grain pattern feels a little tighter and some of the special effects have been given a bit of an upgrade. Watch the phaser burst when the two worm controlled Starfleet officers get vaporized. The vaporization looks better in the color department and some of the blending of special effects and the real world changes look more natural and realistic. Black levels are still as dim as the old blu-ray master was, but I honestly can’t tell if that was how the original negative looked, as all I can compare it to was the much older and heavily brightened TV version that has been floating around for over a decade. Long story short, this new edition is more natural looking, cleaner looking and with just a hint more fine detail than the old theatrical edition in the boxset.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=72010[/img]The audio mix appears to be the same 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track found on the other releases of the film and as such it carries with it the same flaws and benefits. “The Wrath of Khan” sadly has the weakest audio track out of all the Original series films and it is a bit tepid on Blu-ray considering all of the fantastic audio tracks we’ve witnessed from the long lasting series and films. Dialog is strong and clear, with no abnormalities of imperfections, but it is just mixed a bit timidly with not as much LFE and surround presence as I would have liked. Especially considering it is one of the more action packed films in the Kirk Lineup. James Horner’s score is wonderfully replicated with tons of auditory clarity, but it lacks a bit of depth and force that would have really made this track shine. It’s a decent audio track, but one that sadly fizzles a bit when compared to the rest of the franchise.
• Theatrical Cut/Director's Cut choice
• Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer (Director's Edition & Theatrical Version)
• Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)
• Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda (Director's Edition)
• Library Computer (Theatrical Version)
• The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan (NEW)
- Captain's Log
- Designing Khan
- Original interviews with DeForest Kelley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalban
- Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- James Horner: Composing Genesis
• The Star Trek Universe
- Collecting Star Trek's Movie Relics
- A Novel Approach
- Starfleet Academy: The Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI
• Farewell: A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban
• Theatrical Trailer
I can still watch and re-watch “The Wrath of Khan” more than any other film in the series, barring maybe my love affair with “Star Trek: First Contact”. It’s the movie I use to wash the taste of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” out of my proverbial mouth and the addition of the director’s cut makes it that much sweeter, as the director’s cut is easily my favorite version to watch. The new Blu-ray carries with it an improved video track as well and some heavy duty extras that add some inventive for those of you who have the original boxset already. If you’re a very casual fan of the series than upgrading over the boxset may not be as appealing, but for those trekkies out there, this is a much desired released and well worth the asking price. Highly recommended.
Starring: William Shatner, Kirstie Allie, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban
Directed by: Nicholas Meyer
Written by: Gene Roddenberry, Harve Bennett
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French DD 2.0, Spanish, Portuguese DD Mono
Runtime: 113 minutes (theatrical) / 117 minutes (Director's Cut)
Blu-ray Release Date: June 7th 2016
Buy Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut) On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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