Sunday, September 13, 2009

Star Trek: Wrath of Khan (1982)

TOP 100 FILMS: #89

During a training exercise Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) must take command of the Starship Enterprise from Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) as an old, and very intelligent foe, Khan (Ricardo Montalban) has returned to take his vengeance.

When I first posted my top 100 films last fall, this was the pick that got the most question marks. I stand by it, and shall till the end. As a film there's not much that stands out about Wrath of Khan, except that it's the epitome of all that there ever need be in a science fiction film. Death, sacrifice, witty remarks, horribly cheesy acting, dialogue that makes you laugh, and visuals that open your imagination... it's a truly perfect science fiction fan, and I'm a science fiction geek (and proud of it).

Ricardo Montalban is the very definition of the villain, cunning, oddly muscular only in the chest, and yet vulnerable due to the blindness of their ambition. The Enterprise crew represent the greatest range of morality, from extreme rationalists to moral dependents, and how the use of both can bring about world saving consequences. At the same time there's the knowledge that Star Trek, as a series whole, contained lots of social messages that can be echoed even today. For example, Spock is the son of mixed species (human and Vulcan), an allegory to the struggles of those birthed to mix raced families.

Overall though Wrath of Khan is more than just that, it set out the defining plan that would both aid and plague all future Star Trek series (easily one of the biggest in TV history, possibly only rivaled by UK's Dr. Who). It's the king, the head hancho, the best the series has to offer, and by all accounts the most fun and heart wrenching you can imagine. The characters suffer real pain, family struggles, and we learn of the true morals sacrifices they must make, for the greater good of all.

It's not a perfect film in terms of technicality, but I never claim to be an expert on that at all. I love stories that truly captivate the mind, open its imagination, test its morality, and Wrath of Khan does exactly that. So in that way, it's one of my all time favorite films, a feeling that will be echoed throughout the remaining films in my top 100.

I can't promise much for non sci-fi fans when it comes to Wrath of Khan, I can't guarantee you'll think of it any more than a 6,7, or 8 rating. And yet when push comes to shove, I couldn't in all honesty put together a my top 100 list together without it. I have no intention of just spitting out critical consensus top 100 films... I can copy/paste as well as anyone, but that's why it's my list and I hope that's why you enjoy reading my journal (all 2 of you).

1 better thoughts:

Rick "The Hat" Bman said...

Just ran across this review of yours and I have to say that you have pretty much summed exactly how I feel about the movie. It has its flaws, cheesy acting is probably the biggest but it is still just a wonderfully amazing piece of science fiction. It is a story with a lot of heart and it will always rank among my favorite films.

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