The best one is back!
This article is more than 2 years old
Our scientifically ranked best Star Trek movie is returning to theaters for a brief run, as a celebration of its 40th anniversary. That movie is, of course, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and it will be back in select theaters September 4th through 6th. The original film was released in June of 1982, so it is a couple months past EXACTLY 40 years, but if we potentially get the chance to see William Shatner do that bug-eyed vengeful scream up on the big screen, that can be forgiven. Tickets for the event will doubtlessly sell out quickly, so if you are interested, check out Fathom Events now. The actual re-release is being presented by the original studio of Paramount Pictures, along with Turner Classic Movies.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was the followup to 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was largely considered a disappointment at the time. When the first film was released, the original television series had been off the air since 1969. While there had been an animated television series in the meantime, all attempts to get another live action series into orbit had failed. Eventually, the resurgence of science fiction blockbusters like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind convinced studios that there was an audience out there for the original cult television show. Academy Award winning direct Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music) was brought in and the original television cast was brought back. However, the slow pace of the film and lack of action sequences turned off audiences, though the special effects to animate the enormous alien cloud of V’ger, the antagonist of the film, were groundbreaking for the time.
After the lackluster critical reception, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was considered disappointing (even though it had the highest box office grosses of any Star Trek movie until the 2009 reboot). As such, the concept for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan were heavily retooled to engage fans. Ricardo Montalban was brought back from the original series as insane genetic superman Khan Noonien Singh, and director Nicholas Meyer was hired on the weight of his time travel science fiction film Time After Time. Original show creator Gene Roddenberry was also pushed out of active creative control, and costs were cut across the board. But perhaps it is that very desperation and necessity to keep the franchise alive that brought an intensity and darkness to the film. Where the previous film had largely taken place in vast space sets and sleek USS Enterprise rooms, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan had apocalyptic sand storms, a bug that controls your mind and the death of Spock (Leonard Nimoy). As previously mentioned, it also had William Shatner screaming his lungs out, and that counts for a lot.
It will be great to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan back on the big screen, considering it has left the biggest cultural imprint of any of the films. While we are currently in a boom time of new Star Trek television programs and a new Star Trek reboot sequel is in the works, The Wrath of Khan deserves to be back in theaters.