[Star Trek Day] Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Director: Nicholas Meyer

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Bibi Besch, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo Montalban, Merritt Butrick

Screenplay: Jack B. Sowards

113 mins. Rated PG for violence and language.

 

I won’t begin to act like I’m a genius when it comes to Star Trek. I got into the movies in high school and the show a bit more during my college experience, but I’m no expert, but I recently heard that September 8th is considered Star Trek Day (the first episode aired on 9/8/1966), so I figured we would talk about what is considered by many to be the best of the Star Trek films, The Wrath of Khan.

It’s been fifteen years since the crew of the starship Enterprise marooned the treacherous Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!) on Ceti Alpha V after Khan attempted and failed at taking the ship, and now, the crew of the starship Reliant have been taken captive as Khan seeks vengeance upon the Enterprise and especially its former captain, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner, Aliens Ate My Homework, Batman vs. Two-Face). Khan blames Kirk for the death of his wife. As Khan sets his trap into place, the Admiral takes control of the Enterprise once again and sets off to answer a distress call, unaware that he is about to enter a situation he has never faced with a foe he never expected to see again.

The Wrath of Khan is, to my knowledge, the first time a film in any series was made as a direct sequel to a television episode, and the first time I watched it, I had never seen Space Seed, the episode in which we are first introduced to Khan, and I would guess a great many casual fans would not know that Khan has been there before, which is a testament to director Nicholas Meyer (Vendetta, Company Business) and screenwriter Jack B. Sowards (Desperate Women, Cry Panic) in crafting a standalone story that is also enhanced by the show which came before it and the film which preceded it. It’s a captivating screenplay and story that tackles the task of saving a franchise and shepherding it into the future without forgetting the past.

This sequel also excels at the most important element in the difference between television series and movies. When you have a weekly series, especially one as episodic as Star Trek, you have your team and they go on an adventure, but by the end of the episode, most everything has turned out okay. Now, this is not always the case, but most of the time, in these procedural shows, it is. In the case of Star Trek, though, and transitioning from television to film, there’s a bigger budget, there needs to be a bigger scope, or audiences are going to question why they are dropping serious money to see something on the big screen that they should be able to see at home. So spectacle is key, something that Wrath of Khan handles quite well. The other notable change for the series is now that you have an event series with only one story every year or two, you need that story to be very important. It needs to be something that forever alters the story, and by the end of Wrath of Khan, this story has had an effect on the Enterprise and its crew.

I need to give specifically high marks to Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Adventures in Zambezia) as Spock, James Doohan (Skinwalker: Curse of the Shaman, The Duke) as Scotty, and Kirstie Alley (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Look Who’s Talking) as Saavik, a new recurring character in the franchise. Everyone is quite solid in the film, especially these three. Add their work to Montalban’s scene-chewing performance and you have a good recipe for excitement. I even have to say that Shatner’s work as Kirk is great here too. He doesn’t do anything really different here but he has just honed his character over his time in Star Trek to the point where he just captivates the screen.

Overall, The Wrath of Khan is a great entry point for anyone looking to get into Star Trek but finds the daunting task of three live-action seasons, two animated seasons, and a not-so-great first film. It’s filled with dazzling characters, real tension, and stunning visuals. This is a Trek film for people that don’t normally call themselves Trekkies. Seek this one out. Happy Star Trek Day!

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Robert Wise’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, click here.

[Stephen King Day] The Shining (1997)

Director: Mick Garris

Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Steven Weber, Wil Horneff, Melvin Van Peebles, Courtland Mead

Screenplay: Stephen King

273 mins. Not Rated.

 

Yep, it’s Stephen King’s birthday again, and today we are going to talk about The Shining. No, that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. No, the other one. Yes, there was another one, this time directed by King regular Mick Garris (Critters 2, Bag of Bones).

Jack Torrance (Steven Weber, Batman vs Two-Face, TV’s Wings) has just been given the job of caretaker at The Overlook Hotel during its winter hiatus. He is planning on spending the winter the famous hotel, keeping it safe and secure until the snow melts. Joining him for the season is wife Wendy (Rebecca De Mornay, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, I Am Wrath) and son Danny (Courtland Mead, Little Rascals, Recess: All Growed Down). When the snow starts in, Jack begins to unravel the mystery of The Overlook’s past, from murders to mafia ties, and as he does so, he begins to be tormented by his alcoholic past as he himself unravels. Son Danny begins to see horrors of his own due to a special gift that he shares with the head cook of The Overlook, Dick Halloran (Melvin Van Peebles, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Peeples). Halloran tells Danny to ignore these visions, that none of them can hurt him, but Danny begins to learn that there are things at The Overlook very capable of hurting him and his family.

The Shining is by no means a perfect film. Some of the pacing is off, the visual effects are often laughably bad (even though the practical effects work well enough), and there’s a cheapness to the film that permeates the sets. De Mornay and Weber are quite good in their roles, but the young Courtland Mead just cannot do justice to the Danny Torrance character from the book. Van Peebles is also horribly miscast and just doesn’t fit the Dick Halloran character at all.

On the other side of that coin, The Shining is an incredible adaptation of Stephen King’s source novel. I hate to compare this to the other adaptation from Stanley Kubrick, but this film captures King’s novel, while Kubrick’s film is a terrible adaptation that makes for a terrific movie, and in that way, I like them both for what they offer, but being such a fan of King’s book, I find myself pulled more to this version of the story, purely for what it offers me. I’m definitely in the minority here, but I prefer the 1997 miniseries, even if I acknowledge it as a lesser film in many ways.

Overall, 1997 version of King’s tale is heavily flawed from a technical standpoint, but it is truer to the King novel. I love this version but I can understand why it has disappeared from the memory of many others due to its comparison to the 1980 film.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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