Captain's Blog pt. 20: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released in 1982. I never realized until getting this post together just how long of a shadow that year cast over my VHS-watching for the rest of the 80s. Tron, Poltergeist, E.T., The Road Warrior, The Thing, Blade Runner, The Beastmaster, The Last Unicorn, Rocky III, and The Dark Crystal were all released that year - not to mention Zapped with Scott Baio, which has the distinction of being the first thing I ever saw on Laser Disc at my buddy's house - and while many of those became ongoing re-watch favorites, for at least the middle part of the 80s the one I watched more than any other was:

As a result of familiarizing myself so thoroughly with the pan and scan home video release back then, I'm always struck at the scenes added back in (Scotty's extended scene in Sick Bay, Scotty's nephew arguing with Admiral Kirk re: the readiness of Engineering, McCoy's arguing with Spock, etc.) when I catch it on cable or see it on disc nowadays. Of these restored scenes, the McCoy-arguing-with-Spock scene works well, but the Scotty/ Scotty's nephew scenes are tonally "off," so it's understandable why they were cut.

I will never understand why Scotty first brings the boy to the bridge instead of Sick Bay. More on this when we get to "The Nick Meyer Approach," though.
At that time I was completely unaware of the behind-the-scenes drama that attended the making of the film:

- Despite its hefty box office receipts, Roddenberry's perceived lack of control over the production of The Motion Picture and his failure to play well with others prompted Paramount to put veteran TV producer Harve Bennett in charge of the sequel. Roddenberry was given the ceremonial title of "consulting producer." His contract made it clear that no Trek could be produced without his name attached, but this ultimately became the sum total of his involvement in the movies: Roddenberry In Name Only.

- Harve Bennett settled into his new job by watching every episode of TOS back to backHe picked "Space Seed" as the story to revisit and began soliciting scripts. Eventually, Nicholas Meyer was hired to direct. Says Mr. Meyer: "I'd never seen Star Trek. Although I did know a guy who watched it dropping LSD for 54 days straight in college. So, I don't know... maybe there's something there."

Nick succeeded in getting a script together from the various attempts (Jack Sowards' being the closest to the end product's) that was palatable to Harve Bennett, Paramount, and to Shatner and Nimoy (who was lulled back to the franchise by being promised "a great death scene.") The only one to whom it wasn't acceptable was Roddenberry, who quickly learned how sidelined he had become when he threatened to walk and it was made clear to him that walk or not, Wrath of Khan was proceeding as planned. Says Harve: "Gene's notes (were highly defensive.) This will ruin Star Trek kind of stuff. I saved a lot of them, but I don't ever want to make them public, because they're very painful. No matter what we came up with (...) he'd counter by pitching a story about the crew (time-traveling) to stop the JFK assassination. That story came up 4 times as substitute for whatever we were planning to do, II, III, IV and V."

(Gene's campaign to get the Trek/JFK story made is the butt of many jokes, and admittedly it's difficult to see it translating well to the screen. But in his defense it's tough not to think of Stephen King's 11/22/63 and how well that story works. Maybe a Trekkified version of 11/22/63 would have been just as good? We'll never know, of course, I'm just saying: it may sounds ludicrous, but who knows? This is a show that had Captain Kirk and Abe Lincoln fist-fighting a rock monster, after all; there are always... possibilities.)

What was Gene's problem? First, the paramilitary look and feel of the story. Harve Bennett again: "Gene always said Trek wasn't military, but in TOS, there was a great deal of violence. (...) In his statesmanlike personal growth, (he'd) begun confusing his own idealism - which was wonderful - about a peaceful future with Star Trek. In my mind, Star Trek's vision was very different and very specific. Parameters will change, technology will change, but human nature will most definitely remain the same. (...) Will 400 years of technology elevate (human nature) into bliss and karma? (...) Gene made that assumption in his later years, or at least that was the basis of his objections to the things we were trying to do."

Taking Roddenberry's side of it for a minute, perhaps he saw the violence/ standard conflicts-making on TOS as a compromise born of television production necessity and was pushing for something less beholden to current storytelling models. I agree with Harve that TOS doesn't quite live up to Gene's idealism, here, and Gene's stance on this was famously restrictive to the writers he hired for TNG. But staying on his side for a second, there are elements of Wrath of Khan which make little sense for tactical combat in the 23rd century. For example:

The first battle between Reliant and Enterprise is staged like a broadside-battle between Age of Sail ships.
Even the development of this battle, later in the film, when it draws attention to itself re: Khan's "two-dimensional thinking," bears more resemblance to Napoleonic War combat than something from the future.
As Nicholas Meyer said over and over, he was making "Hornblower in outer space." That's fine, of course; Roddenberry characterized the show exactly the same way, many times. But perhaps Gene's objection was less that Trek was being military and more the way "the future navy" was portrayed.

Personally, I think Meyer managed to keep his Hornblower-allusions in check just enough with Wrath of Khan, excepting this rather silly 18th-century-esque photon torpedo bay sequence, but he took it to ridiculous lengths in The Undiscovered Country. Put another way, Wrath of Khan feels like a Hornblower story successfully-enough adapted to the Trekverse, whereas Undiscovered Country feels like a film that is determined to be Hornblower-esque, Trek, logic and legacy be damned.
Regardless, Roddenberry was out, Bennett was in, and there was little Gene could do but accept the situation as gracefully as possible.

Gene dealt with his second objection less graciously. He leaked the news of Spock's death to the hardcore fans - a real dick move, really, though I have a certain amount of sympathy for his position. The fans immediately sent thousands of letters of protest to media outlets and to Paramount, and Bennett and co. had to work overtime placating the fans and begging for a chance - something that further soured Roddenberry's relationship with the new regime. (Ultimately, though, it led to re-arranging the script for the better.)

"Aren't you dead?" Nice fake-out. The audience breathes a sigh of relief, and the impact of Spock's actual death is all the more powerful for it.
I was young enough for this to be pretty much my first "big death." It's certainly survived in my imagination as the standard of comparison. (Coincidentally, the other big deaths of my childhood were Jean Grey's and Elektra's; all three were brought back to life.)
Most fans adopted a "wait and see" attitude and while saddened by Spock's death, were ultimately delighted with the film itself. David Gerrold relays the absurdity of some of the boycott hysteria in The World of Star Trek: one fan went to see the film five times but got up and left the theater right before Spock's death each time. That's a particularly curious way to "vote with your wallet."

Let's get to the film itself. In addition to "Hornblower in outer space," Meyer refers to it as an "adventure movie that was about friendship, old age, and death."


It's certainly successful on those counts. Also as a tale of obsession and revenge, i.e. the "wrath" of the title. Montalban is exceptional as Khan.

His desire for vengeance and liberal quoting of Moby Dick all make sense in context of the story, (as does the film-framing quotations from A Tale of Two Cities; Meyer is considerably less successful, again, trying for this sort of thing in Undiscovered Country) and you can't help but feel sympathy for his position. Kirk deposits the Botany Bay crew on Ceti Alpha Five at the end of "Space Seed," and, as Khan relays to Chekov and Captain Terrell, no one ever bothered to check up on their progress. As a result, all of the hardships they experience (including the death of Khan's wife, former Starfleet officer Marla McGivers) metastasize in the pursuit of vengeance against James Kirk. Kirk, then, has two figures from his past re-surface, Khan, and his son David. Twin sons of the same father, twin results of  youthful decision-making, coming home to roost.

Shatner's bellowing of "KHAAAN" is perhaps the most enduring bit of the film. No less amusing, though, is Khan's reaction shot, as Kirk's fury (an affectation as part of the misdirection in play - Kirk needs Khan to think his fury has overcome his reasoning - but let's be clear on something: reading this as a ploy in no way satisfactorily explains Shatner's over-the-top-ness here; this is vintage Shatner madness, ruse or not, and thank goodness) echoes over the comm link:

He's enjoying this in an equally over-the-top way.
The film enjoys the reputation of still being the best Trek of them all. Is it? I'll save my how-the-films-rank thoughts for that eventual post, but I love this movie. The score, the editing, the performances, pretty much everything is airtight. Hindsight allows us to see it as only the first part of a trilogy of stories, and as such, it certainly sets everything up (and how.) But even had Search for Spock and The Voyage Home never been made, this would remain a powerful high water mark for the Trekverse. (Perhaps especially if they had never been made; if this, say, was not a box office hit and the franchise left to die, what a farewell this would be.) A few stray observations:

- I'm not sure it's entirely logical for Starfleet to employ live explosives during its Kobayashi Maru exercise:

But, I applaud their commitment to realism.

Much has been made of how Chekov would recognize Khan, since Walter Koenig was not in TOS episode "Space Seed," but okay, maybe he familiarized himself with the ship's adventures before joining the crew. Meyer himself says he was aware of the discrepancy and considered putting Uhura on the Reliant, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle frequently contradicted himself in the Sherlock Holmes books, i.e. "continuity doesn't matter so long as the audience is engrossed and enjoying themselves." To a certain extent, I agree; on the other hand, it's such a flip attitude. Here and elsewhere, he uses his veneration of Sherlock Holmes and Horatio Hornblower to justify any Trek decision he made, as if the source material for his reasoning is so superior to Trek as to be an answer in and of itself.

EDIT: Personally, I never cared much, either way (and it is entirely possible that Meyer is being cheeky, here, and I shouldn't take his comments so literally.) Whether or not Chekov was on the ship during "Space Seed" has little bearing on whether he would recognize Khan. It matters, certainly, for whether Khan would recognize Chekov. But I'm fine with any of the suggestions offered in the comments or elsewhere. I also agree more or less with Meyer's point; he knows him because it makes the scene better. That's not a good rule for storytelling, but it's not a bad exception, every now and again.

Less simple is why he and Captain Terrell don't just beam back to the ship from inside the Botany Bay once Chekov realizes where he is. Did I miss something? Did Pavel just panic? Why rush back out into the sand storm?

Of course if they had, we wouldn't get this admittedly-awesome shot of Khan and the gang in the swirling sands, ready to capture them. Again, when confronted with what looks best on screen vs. what makes the most sense, Meyer chooses the former every time. Case in point, Saavik:
Or rather, Saavik's tears at Spock's funeral:

Nicholas Meyer addresses this on the commentary track: "I remember somebody came running up to me and said, 'Are you going to let her do that?' And I said, 'Yeah.' And they said, 'But Vulcans don't cry,' and I said, 'Well, that's what makes this such an interesting Vulcan." Cute, except it contradicts everything we'd heretofore learned about Vulcans. There really isn't any valid excuse for Saavik to cry, here, except, of course, it looks better on screen. Considering the depths to which Meyer's "Who the hell cares" attitude descends on Undiscovered Country, this is a foreboding remark. But in the context of Wrath of Khan, all right, fine, who cares:

Kirstie Alley is an appealing Saavik, but Robin Curtis (who replaces her in Search for Spock and The Voyage Home) plays the character much more Vulcan-like. We'll get to that film in turn, but it certainly shows the difference between the two directors re: Vulcans.

EDIT: Okay, everyone seems to be remembering Saavik's half-Romulan-ness as something other than an explanation after the fact. I have the novelization for this on audiobook and will huddle over that like a man with an Enigma machine when I get to it. I will say it was my distinct impression from the commentary track and from reading Meyer's book that he didn't even know what a Romulan was, but it's entirely possible he was being cheeky, there, as well.

The other additions to the main cast work well:

Bibi Besch as Carol Marcus.
Paul Winfield as Captain Terrell
And Merritt Butrick as David Marcus.
And although they don't get much to do as they will in the other parts of this trilogy of stories, the rest of the cast is fun to watch as well:


Of the recurring cast, I guess this is Chekov's big moment in the films, isn't it? He's used for something more than comic relief/ light touch/ Captain Kirk, Jr., here, and as mentioned elsewhere, the moments where he and Terrell are brought under the control of the Ceti eels imprinted themselves on a generation's nightmares. The sequence aboard Regula One is also gruesomely effective, particularly the Captain's grim business of lowering the strung-up corpses:

The effects of this film still hold up pretty well. Industrial Light and Magic had to basically start from scratch, as Doug Trumbull's company refused to share any of the work they'd done on The Motion Picture with them.


The Genesis Device is a fascinating idea:

and the simulation of its effects are still fun to watch:


Additionally, I always laugh at this next part because I was convinced as a kid that this dawn of the star beyond the Genesis planet was the impact of Spock's burial tube.


and I always wondered how the tube remained intact or didn't level any of the foliage on the surface, with an impact like that...! Obviously, I mistook the star beyond the planet as the impact, but as a metaphorical set-up for Star Trek III, it works well. Michael Eisner likened the death of Spock to the crucifixion and insisted the film needed the Gethsemane resurrection. Bennett (and Nimoy) agreed, but Nicholas Meyer hated (and continues to hate) the non-finality of Spock's death.

The film was a huge hit. Charles Bluhdorn, the notorious chairman of Paramount's parent corporation, Gulf and Western, personally phoned Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer with his congratulations. (Bluhdorn was aka "the mad Austrian of Wall Street," and Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls contains several colorful anecdotes of his interactions with Barry Diller, Don Simpson, et al.) 

Given his obstructionism during all aspects of production, Roddenberry was not phoned, by Bluhdorn or by anyone. I can't help but feel for Roddenberry, here. Trek was finally an unreserved success. (The box office receipts of The Motion Picture notwithstanding, its reputation would take awhile to improve; it was considered the misstep that Khan corrected at the time and by the studio brass/ most fans.) Yet he had to watch through the window, uninvited to share in the spoils of the party to which he had dedicated so many years of his life, so much of his soul.

Sadly, this was a situation that would be repeated on Trek's next four big screen iterations.


  1. Man, that's funny. I thought the same thing about the Genesis sunrise. lol

    As for Checkov and Khan recognizing each other, I think we have to assume Checkov was a junior member of tghe crew during "Space Seed." Remember, Khan recognizes him, too. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

    And while it wasn't mentioned onscreen, Saavik is half-Romulan. Her tears look out of place but it's easy enough to explain if Meyer had had someone make note of Saavik's heritage somewhere in the film.

    Good post, brother.

    1. I read about Saavik's half-Romulan-ness, but I'm not sure exactly where that appears. (I think the comics? Or some other non-canon source?) It definitely is not mentioned in Wrath of Khan or Search for Spock, at least to my knowledge, so it's still an issue as far as the actual films/ canon is concerned. It's not a big deal (practically every Vulcan who appears in Star Trek finds a reason to be overly emotional about something or not) but Robin Curtis plays the character - under Nimoy's direction - in a more true-to-Vulcan form.

    2. One also has to wonder just WTF is wrong with the Reliant's sensors. They think Ceti Alpha V is Ceti Alpha VI. How can this be? Didn't anyone (Kyle?) take the time to count the really big spherical objects as they entered the system? That is inexcusable.

      And to Jeff's point about the Enterprise never being back to normal again, it's worth noting that the phaser shot that takes out the Reliant's warp nacelle is also the last one the Enterprise ever fires. From there on out they stick to torpedos. Kinda a momentous occasion, really.

    3. I was reading this post, and preparing myself in advance for chiming in to note Saavik's half-Romulanness. But I see others beat me to the punch.

      My understanding is that that comes from the novelization, which was based on early drafts of the screenplay. Saavik was, if I'm not mistaken, the child of a Vulcan mother who had been raped by a Romulan father. Which begs a fascinating question: since the filmmakers clearly intended for that to be the case at some point, but eventually dropped it (probably due to time constraints and to not detract unduly from the main plotlines), can it be considered canon? I think it's clearly in the subtext of the way Kirstie Alley plays the role, so for me, it's totally there.

      I also remember reading at one point in time that Valeris in "The Undiscovered Country" was intended to be Saavik, but Meyer was unable to get Alley to reprise the role, and didn't want Curtis. Again, I think that is blatantly obvious...once somebody points it out. Valeris is SO un-Vulcan in that movie, you can practically feel the role being written as a half-Romulan Saavik who has decided that emotionlessness ain't all it's cracked up to be.

      Either way, Kirstie Alley is hot as balls in that movie, and remains my favorite female Vulcan ever. EVER.

  2. It must be that I "filled in the blank" myself years back, but I assumed that Chekov couldn't beam back up because of the atmospheric conditions on the planet.

    It always seemed, and still seems, strange to me that nobody checked on Khan and Co. I don't care so much for the humanitarian reasons - he was a war criminal and tried to kill Starfleet personnel, so screw him - but just as a dangerous figure from history, you'd think Starfleet would have a ship swing by every so often. You never know if some fringe group would seek him out for some nefarious reason.

    It also seems strange that no sign of Ceti Alpha VI being unstable was picked up by the Enterprise. It was, basically, doing survey work.

    Chekov recognizing Khan was something I remember being a bone of contention back when the film was released. I figured he was onboard the Enterprise and hadn't been promoted to the bridge yet. Still, it would have been nice symmetry for Khan to first encounter someone he had screen time with in TOS.

    I need to mention perhaps my favorite repeated word in film history: "Admiral? Admiral! Admiral..." Awesome reading of the line.

    Khan reacting to Kirk's KHAAAAN! is epic. My second favorite Khan moment is his "I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on...HURTING you..." My friends and I threw that at each other constantly back then.

    I actually liked the Age of Sail nature of the battle. The Mutara Nebula technobable explanation was fine by me, and the subsequent battle seemed appropriate, given the Moby Dick motif. It struck me as a way to make the encounter timeless and personal. Your mileage may vary, of course. In other contexts, such as the starship combat fiction I love to read, I have little patience for sailing ship imagery. But here, it works for me.

    I laughed when you mentioned wondering why Scotty brought his nephew to the bridge instead of sick bay. I remember wondering exactly the same thing when I first saw it.

    The poor Enterprise takes the beating it would never recover from in this movie. We never get to see it functioning at its best, ever, in the movies. It's such an ignominious end for my favorite movie spaceship.

    I didn't know all that about Roddenberry's truculence. I knew a little, but I'm surprised how obstinate he was. Also, his insistence that Starfleet wasn't a military organization just can't hold up for any length of time. There are just too many dangers and hostile aliens, even in his vision of things, to keep up such a pretense. It's his vision, of course, and I'd like to have seen how he would have steered the franchise post-TMP. But boy, did I like the uniforms of WoK as compared to the leisure-suit pjs of TMP.

    Am I misremembering, or wasn't Saavik half-Romulan? I assumed that's where the tears came from.

    Paul Winfield is good in this movie. His attempt to resist Khan's orders is something else. I still get a chill at the self-disintegration, with the brief sight of this skeleton as his body flares away.

    Man, I thought I was the only one who was affected by the scene with the bodies on the space station. Everything about it gave me shivers, from McCoy matter-of-factly talking about rigor mortis, to them lowering the bodies.

    I can state without hesitation that WoK is my favorite of the movies, by far.

    1. Looks like Joseph and I were posting simultaneously, addressing two of the same points.

    2. Both the Mutara Nebula and Khan's man-out-of-his-time-ness are good enough covering fire for the Age of Sail aspects of the battle in TWOK. It's still a bit much for me, though. understandable, sure, forgiveable, definitely (at least in TWOK,) but Meyer's subsequent shrugging off such details (in his book, on the commentaries, and most especially in TUC) irritates me.

      I say this as probably even a bigger Hornblower fan than HE is, by the way.

      If someone did a Hornblower movie where suddenly Hornblower and Lt. Bush beam to shore instead of using the longboat, it'd be about the same level of wtf-ness as we see in TUC. Like I say, here in TWOK, it's just under the radar enough, there to be seen, but not overpowering.

    3. As for the Scotty bringing his nephew to the bridge thing, I have an explanation. And even as I begin typing it, I cannot tell you for sure if this comes from the novelization, or from some other apocrypha I've remembered down through the years, or if it's just some bullshit I made up my own self. It could be any of the three, honestly, but I think the explanation works either way.

      Scotty's nephew was on a starship for the first time, and had never seen the bridge, and as he was dying he made a last request of his uncle: before I die, I want to see the bridge of a starship.

      Works for me. But it's not in the movie at all, so in terms of what you actually see, it makes ZERO sense.

    4. "I thought Mister Spock might use his Vulcan voodoo to resurrect the wee lad." - Scotty

    5. That would have been marvelous.

  3. I thought I honestly had nothing to offer for this entry. Unlike a lot of Trek fans, the films are something I never got around to.

    That said, here are two popmatters trek articles, one detailing the films that might have been:


    And another about about a bit of trouble with the upcoming "Into Darkness":


    All i'll drop by way of hints is simply this:

    Eddie Murphy, Star Trek Star!?????????


    1. Undoubtedly, the market/ promotions are undergoing a tremendous sea change now. For Into Darkness, for example, the current Trek overseers met with countless overseas market executives and re-wrote/ re-edited the film several times based on their findings.

      I admit: the idea of turning Trek into a bottom-line what-works-best-for-international-profits vs. its own premises troubles me. I concede that it's more or less inevitable. But it does make me much more sympathetic to things like the New Voyages or other cast-involved "fanfic." We shall see, of course. The bottom line, though, is that whatever one thinks of the Abrams film (and I enjoy it,) it's a product now. Undoubtedly this has been true for some time, to be sure, and I don't accuse Abrams et al. of just being mercenaries. But, now more than ever, the bottom line is less "squeezing as much money out of this thing as we can" and more "let's change whatever we have to change to make sure each of these Trek movies hits that billion dollar mark, and we'll listen to what international audiences want to see over anyone who's ever been involved with Trek."

      Inevitable, but a little troubling/ sad.

    2. "I admit: the idea of turning Trek into a bottom-line what-works-best-for-international-profits vs. its own premises troubles me."

      Just reading over that made me think, "Oh gosh." My next thought I'm loath to post in case it somehow works it's way into the offices of Time Warner or some place like that.

      I thought, pretty soon it's be just films based around brand products, and then I had a horrifying idea of an endless string of Disney CARS movies which are all just hour and a half long commercials for Toyota one day, Ford the next depending on who shoveled out more money.

      What makes it all the more disgruntling is Tinseltown has on occasion tried to monopolize, going so far as to pass laws limiting funds to Indie filmmakers and studios.


    3. For better or for worse, "Star Trek" has always reflected the era i which it was being made. The Abrams movies have been no different in that regard, and that's true on multiple levels. It may not be deeply philosophical, the way some Trek is; but these are not deeply philosophical times, and there's just no getting around that fact.

      Even if I disliked the Abrams movies -- and I don't (granted, I haven't seen the second, and won't for another, oh, 14 hours) -- I would have no choice but to be glad for their existence. Because whether they reflect what one wants from Trek or not -- hell, even if they are a bastardization of what one wants from Trek -- they have kept Trek relevant. Not just new Trek, either. I'd argue that every single one of the series, even the animated one, currently enjoys vastly more cachet than it had had prior to the 2009 movie coming out. People who didn't know who Kirk and Picard were in 2008 knew who Sisko and Janeway and Archer were in 2010.

      So from my perspective, even if I thought the new movies were garbage, I'd have to say they were good for Trek as an overall entity.

      As for the rampant productization and whatnot...I can live with it. Moviemaking is an expensive endeavor even when it's done cheaply, so not only does it make sense for it to be a product, it always has been a product. Always. Don't blame the people making the product; blame the people buying it, who are the ones who ultimately control all of that.

      And those people are currently obsessed by "Duck Dynasty" and "The Walking Dead," so it's weird times we're living in.

  4. Kirk's solution in "Space Seed" to just strand Khan there, and not bother to inform Starfleet, bears no scrutiny. It's a dumb, dumb decision. BUT...only in the context of "The Wrath of Khan" itself. The natural assumption based on "Space Seed" would be that Starfleet either arranges for the planet to be monitored or (deciding that Kirk's decision was improper) sends a different ship to bring everyone in for incarceration and/or rehabilitation. It is inconceivable that one of those things wouldn't happen. But, without it, you have no movie...so I can roll with it.

  5. More points for me to make:

    * You left off "Conan the Barbarian, which also came out the summer of '82. What a glorious summer!

    * As others have pointed out, there is simply no defense for Roddenberry's insistence that Trek should be free of military themes. Did he forget "Arena" and "Balance of Terror"? But this speaks to a larger problem with the original series, and with Roddenberry's vision overall: it simply doesn't work. And it never did work. When you really start breaking it down -- as they are doing on the wonderful podcast Mission Log currently -- the original series' philosophies are wildly inconsistent from episode to episode. Sometimes, even within the same episode. And yet, that flexibility is a big part (I think) of what has enabled Trek to persist from one generation to the next. "The Wrath of Khan" and its militaristic themes were merely one iteration of that.

    * I love "The Wrath of Khan," but Nicholas Meyer just sounds like a douche.

    * Great point about "11/22/63" serving as a bit of retroactive evidence that Roddenberry's Big Idea about Trek and Kennedy might have had some merit to it.

    * I'd kinda love to see the alternate-universe version of this movie wherein Marla was still alive. That would have made for a fascinating dynamic. But if she was alive, maybe Khan would have been tempered a bit...?

    * My explanation for the why-does-Khan-recognize-Chekov thing is simple: Chekov WAS on the ship at the time of "Space Seeds," and Khan met him, but we did not see that scene. I think that works well enough.

    * It seems a bit criminal that Bibi Besch did not return as Carol Marcus. And I utterly loathe what got done with David Marcus in the next movie.

    * The animation for the Genesis-device simulation is early work by Pixar. How cool is that?

  6. I added a couple of edits to reflect the additional info re: Saavik and Chekov.

  7. I like that explanation for bringing Peter Preston to the bridge. Also acceptable, a deleted scene where Scotty hurls the body at the ground and breaks into his tirade from "Day of the Dove."

    I DID forget Conan the Barbarian. And probably a few others, to be sure. 1982 was a banner year for sci-fi/fantasy.

    I've always felt that singling out Kirk's decision to leave a genocidal tyrant in charge of his own world after he tried to take over the ship and murder him was a bit unfair. It's but one in a long string of decisions that would require substantial mop-up from Starfleet. In this way, Khan/ David serve as amalgams of Kirk's essential decisionmaking. And having to outwit himself and sacrifice his friend to get out from under it. But, mission accomplished: Kirk's story arc in TWOK is pretty moving stuff. Shatner's finest moment.

    David's immediate death in TSFS kinda' undercuts it, but... next time!

    1. Yep, all that bad decision-making definitely plays into the subtext of the movie. And it gives it a lot of power it wouldn't otherwise have. As a result, the movie works emotionally even when it doesn't make a huge amount of sense logically.

      I can live with that.

    2. Kirk's worst decision in this movie by far is not raising the shields when the Reliant is approaching. Saavik even suggests this. It's in the regs, for Christ's sake! We know that at least 2 people died because of this decision (Preston and Spock). What is Starfleet's reaction? Give Kirk shore leave with the rest of the crew and pretend nothing happened.

      And maybe the turbolift malfunctioned and deposited Scotty and his nephew onto the bridge instead of sickbay? The ship had just been hammered so maybe the lifts weren't working properly? I know it's weak, but it's all I have.

  8. Also, I couldn't agree more about the essential nature of movies (product.) Hell, the Soviets knew that in the 20s when they had eliminated the profit motive from their filmmaking. You can't do it. For Trek, like I said, part of me hates seeing it become such an international-market-driven thing (and for all I know, it'll have no bearing on Into Darkness; I fully expect to enjoy it. And Abrams and co. can fully expect me to pay to see it at least twice and realistically, in other venues, many times that, as they have been able to rely on my converting income to Trek product for many a year, now) but I don't resist. It happens with or without me.

    And alas, Duck Dynasty. One of the many barnacles that cling to the mast of consumer culture. Trek will hopefully never become a reality tv show. (Tho, I'd watch it.)

    1. Ye gods, what would a Trek reality series be like?

      Scratch that query. I guess we've kinda/sorta got the two "Trekkies" movies to answer that question. And they're both kinda fantastic, in their own weird ways.

  9. My local theater is going to be playing this. Have you ever heard of the Alamo Theater? If not.. look it up!! I am excited to check it out there!!


    1. Here in Chicago? Nice!

      I saw it once in 70mm, and it was a great time. The print was a little faded, but it was still gorgeous.