Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Released: 1982
Grade: B+

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) on IMDb


Captain Clark Terrell and Commander Pavel Chekov have been searching out suitable locations to test out the newly developed Genesis Device, which should create life where there was none before. Terrell and Chekov end up investigating a planet they think is dead. After beaming down to the planet, they soon find the remains of the Botany Bay – the marooned spaceship of Kirk’s exiled nemesis, Khan.


If this isn’t the best of all the Star Trek films, it’s definitely in the top 3. The script is brilliant, and Ricardo Montalban is outstanding as Khan. No Star Trek actor has ever delivered lines like Montalban, and he brings a great deal of depth to the character. I’d say there has never been a deeper, more developed, more threatening or better Star Trek villain in any of the films, and possibly not in any of the TV episodes, either.

It’s interesting that Montalban actually re-watched the original episode in which he starred to get back into character, and also to improve his performance in the film. I’d say it worked. Aside from Khan, this film also develops Kirk, McCoy, and Spock, and all of this is done well.

However, I thought the dialogue could have been a little bit better. Some of the same phrases were repeated a few times too many, which gave the film a contrived feeling. But the goofiest part could be when William Shatner yells “Khan!” into his communicator about three times. It’s especially goofy considering this entire time Kirk knows they’re not actually stranded on the Genesis planet.

One bit of dialogue that has become extremely famous these days is when Khan asks Kirk if he’s aware of the old Klingon proverb that revenge is a dish best served cold, and then he tells him it’s very cold in space. It’s great writing, but it actually is also quite problematic. Khan shouldn’t be familiar with the Klingons. He was on Earth until the late 1990s and then was put into space in cryogenic stasis. Then Kirk revived him in the episode Space Seed, but by the end of this episode, Khan was exiled on a planet that would not have had any connection to the Klingons. So I’ve always wondered how Khan could have come across this proverb.

Of Note

Leonard Nimoy wasn’t sure he’d want to be back for another film, so they wrote his character out of it. The mind meld scene with Dr McCoy was added to the film just in case he’d change his mind later.