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Home » Culture and Criticism

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Submitted by on October 8, 2008 – 1:03 AM20 Comments

It's a surprisingly boring movie — too long, too many broody discussions about confronting death.It lacks tension, and the campiness that gives the duller episodes of TOS a shot in the arm isn't consistent here.Yes, Shatner's furious, echoing bellow of "KHAAAAN!" is funny, and so is the Mad Max Beyond Khanderdome wardrobe on Montalban and the rest of the Khanettes, but ordinarily, the franchise's self-serious moments play as unintentional humor.ST II is just too slow.

But there is one moment I quite liked, just before Kirk and Spock's climactic "farewell, non-sexual life partner" scene: Bones has to restrain Kirk from entering the chamber, insisting that doing so will contaminate the whole room with radiation.He's consistently at odds with Spock, but he understands how Spock's death will devastate Kirk, and the way DeForest Kelley plays the line is really rather lovely.All the fireworks happen a minute later between Shatner and Nimoy (although Shatner is, for Shatner, more understated than I'd expected), but Kelley is the one I noticed. Nice scene for an actor who's usually forced by the scripts to sound one of two grumpy notes.

Overall, though, a disappointment — neither good enough nor bad enough.

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  • Drew says:

    I think that I have never actually seen this movie all the way through. I think I was traumatized as a child by the brain-eating earwhig, or whatever the hell that thing was, towards the beginning and didn't want to finish watching (although I do remember bits and pieces of the ending).

    However, I do remember enough of it to agree with you about Khan's wardrobe, particularly Montalban's faux pecs, and Shatner's yell, which are almost worth the price of admission by themselves.

  • John A says:

    Another future band name:

    "Montalban's Prosthetic Chest"

    According to Leonard Nimoy, Khan's pecs were actually 100% Montalban.

  • Glark says:

    This is Dirty Dancing for boys. Stop ruining it. I am going to punch a Vulcan baby in the ear.

  • Missicat says:

    hmmm…makes me wonder exactly how Leanard Nimoy knew that?
    The ear crawly things still give me nightmares. AAAHHHH!!!
    I agree, the KKKKKAAAAAAAHHHHHNNNNNN!!! does make it an instant classic!

  • RJ says:

    Those freakin' slug-thingys upset me for years; my parents would put this movie on right before bed. *gah*

  • Sandman says:

    Hah! You don't mess with a baby Vulcan. It'll teethe right on your subclavical nerve cluster. "Dirty Dancing for boys," hee. True.

  • Dorie says:

    Glark is right. You are wrong. This movie is awesome. That is all.

  • rayvyn2k says:

    I adore you, Sars, but I have to disagree. Oh, not with anything you've written here…every word of which is true.

    But, I LOVE it. Love Spock's death scene, love Khan's death scene, loved it all.

    Except the costumes…gotta say, didn't really love those.

  • John A says:

    Glark please post the childhood photo of yourself as Spock ftw.

  • Glark says:

    A better nerdy band name would be The Prefix Code.

  • liz says:

    Oh god!!! I've seen this movie exactly once, on the big screen when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade & I was so revulsed & freaked out by the ear thingies!! I used to get a lot of earaches as a kid, so I think that was why. But I'm glad I'm not the only one. Ugh, that thing really freaked me out. I think I slept with my hands over my ears for weeks afterwards.

  • Michael says:

    Ditto on those ear slugs. Khan must have been the second best villian of the 80's, right after Darth Vader but just before Judge Smails.

  • Sandman says:

    "According to Leonard Nimoy, Khan's pecs were actually 100% Montalban."

    And that's less disturbing than the possibility of prosthetic Khan cleavage how, again?

  • Seth L says:

    Glark, you are my hero. But you were already.

  • LLyzabeth says:

    I'm a little meh about the movie myself, but…it's because I read the book first. Seriously! Has anybody else read this thing? My sister will back me up on this one (back me up sis) it's one of the few books I've ever read that really and truly made me cry. Twice. What? Oh shut up…

  • Kathryn says:

    Llyzabeth's sis here, and yes indeed, the book made me cry. And it wasn't even SPOCK'S death that did it. The author took the minor character of Scotty's nephew (a relative of a main character? Might as well have painted a target on the kid's chest), and turned him into the best friend of that Vulcan chick and then KILLED HIM. And the Vulcan chick was SAD. Heartbreaking. The movie itself just didn't measure up. And also, we were about twelve at the time…

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Shatner looks very pissed off that I'm paying a booking fee, huh?

    I loved the old Star Treks- cheezy effects, bad monsters, tightly-clenched overacting & all. So I loved this movie. Can't help it.

    That really can't be Montalbahn's actual chest…

  • Robin says:

    Not a boy, but I'm totally with Glark on this one. Cheese & all, I adore this movie. Then again, I also took course on a 'Star Trek' in college. I think my tastes are a little suspect.

    @ Llyzabeth & Kathryn–OMG, I loved that book!! I spent my entire childhood reading 'Trek' books (yes, really), and Vonda N. McIntyre's books & adaptations were some of my favourites. I loved the subplots and secondary characters she added (Scotty's nephew, waaaaaaaah!). As I recall, her adaptation of 'Trek IV: The Voyage Home' was pretty awesome, too.

  • kerry says:

    Are at least two of you people honestly implying that it's not possible to be able to tell the reality of a naked-chested co-workers pecs without feeling them? Because come ON.

    Also Spock's death makes me cry every time. Shatner can be very, very good sometimes.

  • oldtrekkie says:

    Gee wiz, still find the myths about the late Ricardo's 'fake ' chestpiece. Uh, no. If you happen to be old enough (I am) or bothered to look up anything before your time (funny, there was a time when we were introduced as much to things before our time as we were things of our time) then one would find a plethora of movies with the bare chested Montalbaln, etc and he ALWAYS had pecs.
    Besides, Director Meyer, and virtually everyone in the cast confirmed this was his real chest. Most people were simply too used to him suited up in Fantasy Island.
    I can't fully agree with your assessment though, 2 and 6 were really the only decent TOS movies (and even then they didn't quite capture TOS) . They were pretentious fun and both happened to be directed by the already skilled Meyer (imagine that). What little 4 has to offer is all Meyer (Who co-wrote and the Frisco scenes are him-shades of Time after Time).

    Otherwise 3-5 are dreadful because it's the lunatics running the asylum, The original cast took over creative control and it was no longer about the cast within the larger realm of star fleet, but it was old jokes and a kind of stifling conservative creativity that was only about the original cast and that was too much ham to go around.

    I also agree, really it's Kelly who consistently impresses the most although Shatner is sometimes underrated (and sometimes he deserves the barbs, like In his own 5. The most unforgivable scene being his sticking out his macho chest to the camera while wearing his GO CLIMB A ROCK tee).

    Still, as lacking as TOS movies were, it was surprising that they were actually good compared to the god awful Next Generation movies that followed.
    Trek is dead and the new upcoming Trek movie looks 90210 Trek. good grief.

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