Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

dir. Nicholas Meyer

Series - Retrospective

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Combining high-toned literary allusions with thrilling old-school action sequences, the second cinematic outing for the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise transcends the Star Trek universe while still hitting those Trekkie sweet spots with the force of a photon torpedo.

"KHAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!" — Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner)

Released five years after the glacial 2001-isms of Star Trek: The Motion Picture paralyzed the cult TV series' attempt to mount a movie franchise, The Wrath of Khan attempted to whip the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise back into fighting trim. The chosen sparring partner was a familiar foe: Khan Noonian Singh, the genetically engineered megalomaniac from the series' "Space Seed" episode — played once again with rich, Corinthian relish by the teasingly bare-chested Ricardo Montalban, who deserved an Academy Award (if not a Nobel Prize) for his deliciously glowering villainy — who is out for vengeance on Capt. Kirk (inimitably played, as always, by The One They Call Shatner) for marooning him on a barren planet fifteen years earlier. Combining high-toned literary allusions (notably Melville and Shakespeare) with thrilling old-school action sequences, The Wrath of Khan transcends the Star Trek universe while still hitting those Trekkie sweet spots with the force of a photon torpedo.