Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was inspired by an episode of the original Star Trek series, “Space Seed,” which aired during the first season. At the end of that episode, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) sent Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) into exile on Ceti Alpha V. In the film, directed by Nicholas Meyer, the genetically engineered, genius Khan has escaped from Ceti Alpha V and he commandeers the starship Reliant to carry out his plan to destroy Kirk. Along the way, Khan also manages to steal the Genesis device, developed by Kirk´s former flame Dr. Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch) and their son, Dr. David Marcus (Merritt Butrick). Genesis, originally designed to create life out of nothing, can also be used as a weapon since it destroys existing life in order to create its own “matrix.” Essentially, Star Trek II boils down to Kirk and Khan chasing each other around the galaxy; Kirk using his vast experience with Starfleet ships and Khan using his superior intellect to try and outwit each other.
Shatner and Montalban both do their fair share of chewing up scenery and it’s fun to watch the two men try to out-overact one another. The two actors never actually stand face-to-face, which at times seems like the only thing keeping the confrontation from becoming a physical fight. Though Kirk dominates the movie, the rest of the crew is along for the ride, including Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and “Bones” (a wonderfully grumpy DeForest Kelley). Look for a young Kirstie Alley as Saavik, a Vulcan Starfleet cadet who learns a few things from Kirk and Spock about being “human.”
The best-made of the original ten Star Trek films from a purely technical perspective, The Wrath of Khan’s structural superiority impresses, even when the emotional overtones devour the screen. One has to acknowledge the wonderful performance of Ricardo Montalban, some fifteen years after “Space Seed” for recapturing not only the essence of the character but the small mannerisms that defined him in his initial television appearance.
Director Nicholas Meyer’s contributions to the film, aside from his sure-handed direction, are well-documented. The Original Theatrical Cut of The Wrath of Khan runs 112 minutes and was originally released on Blu-ray in 2009. The Director’s Cut comes in at 116 minutes and this marks its first appearance in high definition. Most of the changes are small scene additions, made in advance of a 2002 DVD release. Most of these were seen during the film’s original TV broadcast on ABC. However, one small change was made to the Director’s Cut on the disc at Meyer’s request, smartly, seamless branching allows the viewer to experience the scene both ways.
Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, this new 4K scan looks absolutely fabulous. It simply doesn’t get any better than this. Fine detail is top notch. You’ll see all the little things—skin texture, fabrics and patterns. Grain is subtler, contrast is improved and shadow delineation impressive. Colors are vibrant and look appropriate throughout.
The audio track is essentially the same 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix that was available on the 2009 theatrical cut Blu-ray. While it’s certainly not up to what you would get from an atmos mix, it still does a fine job of carrying the material.
English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are included.
The following extras are available, much of which has been ported over from previous releases:
- Audio Commentary by Director Nicholas Meyer (Director’s Cut)
- Audio Commentary by Director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda (Director’s Cut)
- Library Computer (Theatrical Version)
- The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan (HD, 28:21) A new documentary featuring Nicholas Meyer and others regarding the pre-production, of the film.
- Captain’s Log (SD, 27:21)
- Original Interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and Ricardo Montalban (SD, 10:57)
- Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (SD, 18:15)
- James Horner: Composing Genesis (HD, 9:33)
- The Star Trek Universe: Ported over from previous releases of the film, these cover props from the films and writing expanded universe novels as well as an information piece on the world where Khan is found at the beginning of the film.
- Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics (HD, 11:05)
- A Novel Approach (SD, 28:56)
- Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 002: Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI (HD, 3:07)
- Farewell (HD, 4:43)A tribute to Ricardo Montalban from director Nicholas Meyer.
- Storyboards: Main Title Concept, Kobayashi Maru, Ceti Alpha V, Regula I, Chekov and Terrell Find Khan, Admiral’s Inspection, Khan’s Revenge, Kirk Strikes Back, Finding The Genesis Cave, The Mutara Nebula, Sneak Attack, Genesis, Honored Dead.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:21)
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