After the slow and stately pace of Star Trek's first big screen foray, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN was a breath of fresh air for Trek fans in 1982.
Fast paced, FUN and a hell of an adventure, the film opens with our cast of favorites together, but decidedly older as they face new trainees and their own advancing years.
Kirk (William Shatner, thankfully relaxed after his humorless performance in the first film) has taken a promotion to Admiral and already misses his old job. McCoy (DeForest Kelley in his best appearance as Dr. McCoy) provides humor and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) waxes logically about the passage of time.
Early in the film, we and the crew and drawn into a new mission when a banished criminal named Khan is discovered by accident where he was abandoned by Kirk more than a decade before as punishment for his crimes.
Director Nicholas Meyer (Time After Time, Star Trek VI) perfectly blends comedy, suspense and real drama as Khan commandeers a vessel and heads for a planet at the center of the Genesis Project.
Genesis is run by Kirk's former flame Carol (Bibi Besch) and Kirk's son, David, who the Admiral has not had any contact with since he was born.
Khan's thirst for vengeance merged with the Enterprise Crew and Kirk's family makes for high stakes.
Ricardo Montalban is terrific as Khan, spewing Shakespeare quotes and perfect bad guy lines with equal bravado and style.
The film's final half hour, detailing a long and exciting space battle that plays more like a world war II fighter face off and some powerful consequences of the "needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few" are some of the best moments in the entire film series.
Leonard Nimoy is terrific throughout, as is James Horner's music score and Harve Bennett's smart and witty screenplay.
This was the Star Trek movie that really kicked off one of film's all time biggest series, with half the budget and twice the box office success (and ten times the fun) of the original Star Trek:The Motion Picture in 1979.
Kirstie Alley made her debut as a Vulcan trainee and she's great, along with Paul Winfield as a Federation Captain and the rest of our Trek regulars.
Meyer figured out the power of giving each of the Trek cast a special moment in each film for the first time here and it plays perfectly. Some hilarious, some touching and all terrific.
For non-Trek fans, its a great adventure. For Trek fans, this is as good as it gets!
"KHAAAAAAAAN!!!" gets an A+.
Followed two years later by "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and famously and successfully rebooted as "Star Trek: Into Darkness" in 2013.