Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Wrath of Khan: An Obsession

I remember first seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when I was a little girl. I saw it again when I was a teenager but I recall being sort of distracted (probably 'surfing the web' or whatever we did back in 1999) and then again after I started dating the man I would eventually marry. I've watched it quite a lot since then. Star Trek II is on my list of rainy day movies along with The Princess Bride, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Buckaroo Banzai. I start it up whenever I get depressed--which is a bit ironic since it always makes me cry.

I know that there are some dodgy things about Star Trek II. I know that Khan looks a bit silly. I know that Kirk has aged. I know that the Moby Dick quotes aren't exactly subtle, especially when paired with the fact that Khan literally has the novel sitting on a shelf in the Botany Bay. I know the effects haven't held up all that well. I know that Shatner's overacting (I call this "Shatting") is the thing that's most often remembered about Wrath of Khan.

Here's the thing, though: Khan is so cool, he rises above that ridiculous frosted mullet. The man oozes charisma right up until he goes full Ahab. Kirk has aged but that's the point. He's not as young as he used to be. He has to face his own mortality--and that of his friends. The quotes from Moby Dick and A Tale of Two Cities come at the best, most heartbreaking times and they're totally justified by the theme and story. The effects might not be all that amazing but they remind me of a simpler time--a time when the explosions looked real because they really were blowing up real models on real sets under real lights.

And, there's one more thing: I truly feel that Star Trek II should've been the end of The Original Series. When Kirk and Bones are standing on the bridge (you know the part) and Bones asks Kirk how he feels and Kirk replies, "Young. I feel young," it's not just good--it's great. It's a true moment, full of true emotion, between true friends. And, that's pretty much it. That's all you need. It's a prefect ending. It would never get better than this.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there are more movies. I'm glad that Wrath of Khan was successful enough to spawn those movies. I'm glad we got to spend all that extra time with our TV friends. I'm just saying that, sometimes, it's best to walk away. I'm saying that maybe the people behind the movies should've stopped chasing that white whale because, in the end, Star Trek II was a far, far better thing than they had ever done before--a far better resting place than they had ever known.

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen this. But Moby-Dick is my favorite novel. (Because I'm a crazy person, remember?) So I will have to Netflix this for sure!

    Is the Shatting too off-putting?


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