Review – Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

This is the second of our series of looking back to past Trek films and seeing what they can teach us about how to make Trek work again on the big screen. 

In the wake of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP), which did solid business but was very expensive, Trek’s future remained uncertain. At one point there was even a rumor (reported in the New York Times) that Trek would return to the small screen with a new series involving all the leads. In the end Paramount decided to keep going with feature films, but make some big personnel changes. They bought out Roddenberry’s remaining interest in the Trek property, and handed the reins over to veteran TV producer Harve Bennett (best known for producing The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman). Bennett tells the story about how Gulf+Western CEO Charles Bluhdorn gave him marching orders “to make a movie that isn’t boring for less than 45 f—ing million dollars.” Coming from the low budget world of TV, Bennett assured Bluhdorn he could make 3 movies for that amount, and he just about did. Bennett then set off to learn everything about Trek and got to work on what would be the first of a trilogy of successful Trek films.

Bennett hired Jack Sowards to write the script and began a process of several drafts, none of which seemed to be just right. It was at thispoint that Bennett brought in Nicholas Meyer, author of the Holmes meets Freud pastiche ‘The Seven-Per-Cent Solution’ and writer-director of Time After Time, about a time-traveling H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper. Meyer, who had never watched Star Trek, signed on as the director and also became an uncredited screenwriter. Bennett and Meyer picked the pieces they liked from each of the drafts (like Khan, Kobayashi Maru, and Kirk’s son) and then Meyer put the pieces together into a new script and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (TWOK) was on it’s way.

Meyer (with Nimoy left) and Bennett (with Shatner right)…the new masters of Trek

Moby-Dick… In Space!
The film opens with a bang, literally. We are quickly reintroduced to most of the Trek crew, along with a new face: the Vulcan Lt. Saavik (Kirstie Alley, in her first major performance). Intercepting a distress call from the freighter Kobayashi Maru, the Enterprise has a run-in with the Klingons that kills everyone and leaves the ship a shambles…only to be revealed as a simulation under the supervision of Admiral Kirk. Considering that news of Spock’s death had already leaked out to fans, the Kobayashi Maru simulation was a brilliant red herring on Meyer’s part, allowing fans to breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the rest of the movie (or so they think).

We then get down to the film’s central message, about our mortality, by way of aging and death. Admiral Kirk is having a bit of a midlife crisis; he’s back behind a desk again, the Enterprise is a training ship full of raw young cadets, he needs reading glasses, and it’s his birthday. McCoy, as in the Original Series, plays the role of Kirk’s conscience. McCoy encourages Kirk to get back his command, a marked change from TMP, where Kirk’s obsession with getting back the center seat caused McCoy to question his command fitness. Meanwhile, out in space, the starship Reliant is surveying planets for Project Genesis, a powerful new way of terraforming planets. Due to an error in planet counting, Commander Chekov runs into Kirk’s old nemesis (from the 1st season episode ‘Space Seed’), the genetically enhanced and now exiled Khan Noonien Singh.

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what mid-life crisis?

What follows is a full realization of Gene Roddenberry’s line about Trek being Horatio Hornblower in space. From the very nautical-looking uniforms to the cramped yet lived-in feel of the sets, to two excellently staged battle sequences that are more Run Silent, Run Deep than Star Wars, this is probably the most militaristic vision of Star Trek to date. While that would seem to be in opposition with Gene Roddenberry’s idealistic vision of the future, Meyer makes it work because the surroundings are just window-dressing. What matters is that Meyer’s take on the characters, especially Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, is closer to their TOS portrayals. Spock and McCoy bicker, Kirk shows a bit of his old action-hero self in a tightly shot knife fight with his son David (Merritt Butrick), and there’s appropriately timed witty banter throughout the film. The characters are more at ease with each other than they were in the previous movie, and Spock in particular seems to have grown from where we left him in TMP, having made inner peace with his Vulcan and human halves. And the reintroduction of Khan brilliantly ties in to the Original Series and gives this new film the focus lacking in the previous outing. Ricardo Montalban just tears up the scenery,inspiring Robert Ebert to say of TWOK:

His performance is so strong that he helps illustrate a general principle involving not only Star Trek but Star Wars and all the epic serials, especially the James Bond movies: Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph.

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A superior villain

The introduction of Khan also brings up another lesson for Star Trek XI, that of ‘continuity’. Although Khan claims he remembers Checkov, Chekov didn’t join the show until the season after ‘Space Seed’. Trek fans are notorious sticklers for this sort of thing, yet in the case of Star Trek II they seem to give Meyer a pass (explaining it away by saying Chekov was below decks or something). And, of course, regular film goers  didn’t need to have seen ‘Space Seed’ to understand Khan’s hatred for Kirk, nor would they care about the whole Chekov not meeting Khan thing. The lesson here is that if a film gets the big things right like character and excitement, apparent ‘continuity errors’ like this are irrelevant. If the film is good but Kirk meets Spock before the Enterprise, or Mc Coy is on board for the first mission  (and not Dr Piper), fans will find a way to deal with it just like they did with Chekov and Khan meeting (and the rest of the world will never know the difference).

The film is full of anachronisms and literary allusions, including “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Moby-Dick,” “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” and Admiral Kirk’s glasses, none of which detract from the story. They work in part because it’s the first time they’re being used in this fashion, and also because Meyer seems to be holding back a bit (compared to his scripts for “The Voyage Home” and “The Undiscovered Country”). Kirk wearing his glasses says as much about his midlife crisis as any line of dialogue in the film, and Montalban’s delivery of his final lines (the dying words of Melville’s Captain Ahab) completely sells what might have been utterly ridiculous coming from another actor.

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I tell you we have met!

Less is More
The acting from the leads in this film is superb. Meyer did what Robert Wise could not, and that was to extract a moving, energetic performance from William Shatner. Shatner’s performance harkens back to his early days as Kirk, when he was actually acting, not just playing William Shatner in a spacesuit. Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, as always, are a joy to watch playing off each other, and Nimoy’s death scene is incredibly poignant. And then there’s Ricardo Montalban, who delivers a memorable, scene-chewing performance that thankfully never goes over the top. Of the other guest stars, Kirstie Alley performance is the most interesting, because at times she’s a decidedly un-Vulcan Vulcan, and it’s sort of a kick watching Spock (who, for so long struggled with his human half) teach her about humanity.

The Wrath of Khan was made for around $12 million, and it shows in the special effects and production design. All of the effects shots of the Enterprise during the first half of the film are recycled from TMP, and the film more or less takes place in two rooms — the bridges of the Enterprise and the Reliant — with the latter merely being a redressed version of the first. The exterior of Spacelab Regula One is the office complex from TMP turned upside-down, and its interior is cobbled together from cast-off set pieces from “Star Trek: Phase II” and various consoles rented from Modern Props with lots of blinky lights. And the matte paintings making up the Genesis Cave are just a bit short of convincing (especially the one marred by a horrid polar motion lighting gag to represent a waterfall). In the end, The Wrath of Khan is more like the TV show in that it uses the characters to drive the point of the story home, rather than relying on visual spectacle. Because Bennett and Meyer didn’t have $30 million to blow on huge sets and elaborate special effects, they had to make do with what was available to them: the story and the actors.

Although they weren’t breaking the bank, TWOK did set many standards for the film series. The newuniforms, while a bit marching band-like, were a far sight better than the loungewear our heroes wore in TMP. The film also gave us the new ‘Miranda Class’ Reliant, a model would continue to pop up during The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The team did drop a bit of cash on a cool CGI animation of Genesis Device in action (one of the first times CGI was used in a film), which also got reused in the next film. Lastly we get a big, brassy score from James Horner, who was still establishing himself in Hollywood at the time. While perhaps not as memorable as Jerry Goldsmith’s work on TMP, Horner’s score does its job well, kicking the adventure up a notch at just the right moments.

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STII got a lot of bang for a spending few bucks on effects

After the first Trek film wasn’t as successful as Paramount had hoped, there was a bit of trepidation as Star Trek II drew closer to its release date. Their fears were quickly allayed when the film set an opening weekend record of $14.3 million dollars, going on to earn nearly $80 million domestically (almost the same as TMP for less than half the budget). Additionally, fans, casual viewers, and critics were overwhelmingly positive in their response. New York Times critic Janet Maslin drew attention to the marked differences between the first two films, complimenting the return of the TV show’s sense of derring-do, gamesmanship and fun, as well as Shatner’s dry sense of humor. The film immediately led to a trilogy of films (ST II, ST III and ST IV), making the 80s the most successful time in the franchise’s history and convincing the studio the time was finally right to bring Trek back to the small screen (in the form of Star Trek: The Next Generation). Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan truly brought Trek back from a period of uncertainty not unlike today. 

The critical and business success of TWOK set a new direction that would last for the rest of the film franchise. This resulted in Trek movies losing the sense of awe and wonder we got in TMP, and certainly ended further attempts at ‘pure’ 2001-like science fiction. Instead, they became kind of a comfort food, reuniting the fans every two years with their favorite characters, kind of like a class reunion on the big screen. What’s different here is that whereas later incarnations of Trek would be timid in how they dealt with their characters, TWOK dares to threaten the status quo in a way even Roddenberry’s ambitious first Trek film wouldn’t. TMP ends with our guest stars being the ones to merge with V’Ger, whereas TWOK dares to kill off the single most beloved character in the franchise. Yes, the ending shot with the torpedo tube on the planet leaves things a bit open-ended (though in Meyer’s defense, that was Harve Bennett’s decision, not his).

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still the most moving scene in Trek film history

One more thing…
As discussed TWOK shows how the keys to Trek success are a focus on characters, tying into Trek’s past without being dogmatic and ratcheting up the drama. But there’s one final lesson to be learned, but not for J.J. Abrams. In a New York Times interview that ran shortly after the film hit theaters in June 1982, Nicholas Meyer explained his way of dealing with fan pressure during the making of the film:

Robert Bresson was the one who said, ‘My job is not to find out what the public wants and give it to them; my job is to make the public want what I want.’ There’s no way of saying this without sounding arrogant, but there’s only one person I have to please when I’m working, and that’s me. It is impossible to second-guess millions of people whom you have never met.

This lesson is for us. Fans tend to get an inflated sense of self-importance, particularly when they’ve invested a great deal of time, money, and passion in something like Trek. A sense of ownership begins to develop, along with the belief that whoever is running the franchise is obligated to pursue our personal idea of what Star Trek should be. In the end, our hue and cry about prequels and recasting classic characters and abandoning the post-TNG era won’t matter a bit. If you only give people what they want and expect then how can you give them a sense of surprise and wonder. Abrams and his team will make the movie they want to make, and hopefully (like The Wrath of Khan) it will blow us all away.

One last note, Abrams has stated that (like many fans) The Wrath of Khan is his favorite Trek film, so he may be on the right track.

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you didn’t think we would forget this image did you?

images courtesy of…click to see their entire collection of TWOK images 

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Thanks J.L….and apologize to you and readers for the delay. The third of this series will be presented on Monday Jan 1.

Lets see if the review of this apparently universally loved movie can be less controversial

One minor thing–I don’t think fans gave Meyer a free pass on Chekov meeting Khan. It wasn’t beligerent because it didn’t overshadow the movie. Kirk meeting Spock pre-Enterprise–especially in an academy setting would be a far bigger continuity issue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Janeway showing up in 1996 with no evidence of the Eugenics Wars, or killing Valtane, but it would overshadow some things.

I do agree that a good movie will help alleviate complaining.

The most important thing about Trek XI is that they get Shatner and Nimoy and have a proper ending for Kirk, post-Generations.

The most important thing may already have happened. People aren’t pronouncing Trek as dead as a red shirt. If the audience shows up… if the movie is good, or at least decent… then we can move on.
I do think they’re working hard, not just looking to recycle past Trek drek, as some of the latter series and movies did.
We’ll see.

An excellent review of the best Trek movie to date.
TWOK was Trek as Trek.. it didn’t pretend to be anything else. TMP was (as stated above) a 2001 wannabe, Nemesis was Trek trying to be an action film and failing.

#2… I can’t agree with your last sentence. The most important thing for XI is to be a well-written, well-directed, well-acted film that will entertain fans and the general public.

#1…..Controversy…. here?

JimJ… good to meet you today. Hope you are feeling better. My wife’s surgery went well and she’s home with me tonight. A Happy New Year to you. (pardon the off-topic)

although it is nice to the ‘shatner/nimoy seal of approval’ it is not ‘important’ in the least for them to be in the film, and may in fact detract from the regular cast.

and I am sorry but the whole chekov thing is irrelevent…maybe some havent got over it but it is irrelevent…and most trekkies I have spoken to think it is. And Dr Piper, Kirk meeting spock and many other things are the same thing….they will be completely and uterly irrelevent to the general public, and easily explained away by any Trekkie with an imagination.

Just get Kirk and Spock and the feel of the ship and the era right…and dont sweat these issues of ‘fanon’ or even ‘canon’

The Chekov thing for me is a non issue becuase Catspaw has a Stardate of 3018.2 Chekov is on board the Enterprise there, Space Seed has a Stardate of 3141.9 , So it is possible for Khan to have seen his face and heard his name.

I believe TWOK was the best Trek film because it was the most intense, emotionally. There is a great deal of “feeling” packed into those 2 hours, and, as often happened in the original series, Spock (the unemotional one) comes out being the focal point which drives home some real feeling. Kirk’s ending statement “Of all the souls I have known in my travels….” drives home the point that it is FEELING which matters, I think… and we all know how really ‘human’ Spock was. And that “feeling” content is what pushed this film into the RED on our excitement meter, perhaps. All one has to do is consider what made TWOK the most popular film with the fans (and thankfully Mr. Abrams). At the root of this film is raw feeling, I believe… something which lacked from most of the other films.

Let the characters really hurt, let the characters question themselves and their actions, let the characters experience things which provoke deep emotion, and let them change/grow in some way by film’s end…. rather than being the cardboard, comic book characters we’ve seen for the past decade or so.

Let’s face it, ST II and III were the best of the lot! ST IV slid toward a sillier lighter mood and V was right up there with Plan 9 from outer space as worst picture ever made! By this point they’re doing Three Stooges shtick e.g. “Hey Spock, how many fingers am I holding up? Whooo, whoo whoo…” Number VI was Murder She Wrote in space and Star Trek: Generations stunk up the place by killing off an iconic character (Kirk) by having him clatter down a mountain ridge on some flimsy scaffolding! When Kirk says to Picard, “something’s missing” while cooking in the house, we all wanted to yell at the screen, “yeah, it’s called a plot!” Tell Abrams and the new team to harken back to the days of drama, death, friendship and honour. That’ s what impresses the general audience! Get it right this time!

The Author’s best point (IMO) was this…
“This lesson is for us. Fans tend to get an inflated sense of self-importance, particularly when they’ve invested a great deal of time, money, and passion in something like Trek. A sense of ownership begins to develop, along with the belief that whoever is running the franchise is obligated to pursue our personal idea of what Star Trek should be. In the end, our hue and cry about prequels and recasting classic characters and abandoning the post-TNG era won’t matter a bit..”
I know I need to heed this and I believe that every hardcore fan in here needs to keep this in mind as we post comments and eventually see a new movie. It (the movie) won’t please us all and the sooner that is said and understood, the better off we all are.

great summary of TWOK and what the new team can learn :-)


Actually, Kirk meeting Spock is not as much of an issue as many make it seem. since it was suggested that this may be shown in the new film, i went back and viewed all of the TOS episodes and films again.

for the record, now where in any episode does it state that Kirk and Spock DID NOT meet pre-enterprise nor were there any elements of the characters past to suggest one was some place else to prevent them meeting at the academy.

There are factors that do support it however.

In the encyclopedia to Trek, Kirk and Spocks years at the academy overlap.

That and if u watch TWOK, there are moments of dialogue that could suggest Kirk and Spock having had a connected past that would fall into the pre-enterprise period.

In TWOK, Spock is aware of Carol Marcus; not only when he sees her image early in the film but also when they first met face to face after Kirk and party beam aboard the enterprise. Carol also acknowledges Spock in a manner of recognition.

And if u look back to Spocks knowledge of Kirk’s actions within the Kobayashi Maru simulation, the moment can be seen as a moment of reflection for the two and not a mere instance of Spock simply delivering dialogue that will be later implemented to move plot.

One last note: As to the Khan recognizing Chekov, if u watch Space Seed Khan looked through a number of records in concern to the Enterprise. Now if he researched the weaknesses of the vessel (as can be seen with his attack in TWOK) then it is safe to say that he also researched the vessel roster to see who on the crew may be converted to his cause – thus Khan recognizing Chekov from a registered crew photo. and chekov would know Khan from the incident itself, not from an actual meeting.


Re: Xai (#9)

I’m glad you got the point I was trying to make. That quote from Meyer in the NYT article really jumped out at me, in part because of a lot of the online discussions I’ve observed and taken part in over the years.

To a certain degree, what we’re going through here is like what the Star Wars fans went through when George Lucas tinkered with the OT or included controversial elements in the PT (e.g., midi-chorians, Anakin’s “virgin birth”). Ultimately it was his sandbox, and we were just along for the ride. The same is now true with Abrams and Trek.

I can’t dispute that TWOK is the strongest of the TOS era Trek films. It goes without saying that it, not TMP, really re-energized the franchise. I remember seeing it when I was in high school. I cut class to go to the noon premiere. The next Monday, everybody in school was talking about it; the geeks, the jocks, the burnouts, even the teachers. It was amazing. TWOK shows the best of what Trek can be, even if it went a tad overboard in the miltaristic aspects of how Starfleet operates.

Now, about the continuity thing. Some things are forgivable, such as the gaffe with Khan recognizing Chekov. As a fan, I’m willing to believe that Chekov was aboard the Enterprise during “Space Seed” but we just didn’t see him. Other things are not so easily glossed-over, however. If JJ Abrams shoehorns TOS characters into a story where they do not logically fit just to have them there, then I won’t be able to suspend my disbelief no matter how good the story is. For a Trek story to work, it has to nominally conform to the established history we already know. That’s where the TV show Enterprise first started stumbling. It didn’t feel like a show set before TOS and too many stories flew in the face of things we knew from the previous TV shows. The interaction of characters in Trek XI (whoever they end up being) needs to make sense, or I just won’t buy it. Luckily, I have faith in Abrams and the crew he’s putting together.

Re: “This lesson is for us.” I agree with this statement, but only provisionally. While it is true that the filmmakers cannot allow themselves to cowtow to every Trek fan “hue and cry” (that’s a great phrase, by the way), they are accountable to Trek fandom. When the movie premieres, it will be Trek fans who ultimately decide its fate, not the public at large. If the film reaches wider public success, it will be because Trek fans shouted “You HAVE to see this movie!” loud enough for others to hear it. The TNG film Nemesis is a perfect example of this. Nemesis is a well-made movie. It looks good, it has action, drama, pathos, and treachery. The special effects are top-notch and the acting throughout is solid. There are critics out there who gave it very good reviews, but the film failed because, despite all the things listed above, it wasn’t a good Star Trek film. The fans didn’t like it, and it crashed and burned at the box office. So, yes, we must keep in mind that Trek XI won’t have all the things we might want in it. We have to keep an open mind and trust in the people putting it all together, even if they miss something an individual fan might think very important. Likewise, the filmmakers must remember that even though they are not completely beholden to our opinions and suggestions, we Trek fans are the ones who will decide if the movie is Star Trek or not and cast our vote with our ticket stubs.

Finally, one bit of trivia about TWOK: It is generally accepted that during the events of the film, the USS Enterprise has become a cadet training vessel. This has been mentioned in many texts, most notably the “Star Trek Encyclopedia” and other books. However, this is not the case. If you listen to the conversation between Kirk, McCoy, and Uhura just after the Kobayashi Maru scenario at the beginning of the film, it is clear that Kirk is looking for a new crew for the Enterprise. McCoy solidifies this by asking Kirk:
“Wouldn’t it just be easier to put an experienced crew aboard the ship?”
“Hopping around the galaxy is a job for the young, doctor.” is Kirk’s reply.
It’s my belief that the Enterprise was still in active service, under the command of Spock, and most likely part of a fleet commanded by Kirk. His battle with his mid-life crisis led him to believe that the ship needed a new, younger crew, hence the reason for the simulation aboard a mock-up of the Enterprise bridge. This is just my opinion, but I’d like to hear what other fans think.

Re: Buckaroohawk (#13)

I agree with you that TPTB are still accountable to the fans, but only after there’s a final product. During production, it’s probably best that the director, producers, and writers put on their earplugs and blinders and focus on making a movie. If it sucks, there will inevitably be a “correction,” like the one we’re having now, with Abrams replacing Berman and a return to the TOS era.

The Death of Spock was great, it still affects me when I watch that scene. It was a powerful moment, message, that was somewhat robbed of it’s strength with the Spock’s Resurrection. Anway, did they ever get around to a Director’s Cut-Touch Up-Remaster of TWOK?
Nothing really to add about the prodution of the new movie that hasn’t already been expounded upon.

The two-disc DVD version was the Director’s Cut. It was basically just a widescreen, digitally remastered version of the longer version they showed on ABC in the 1980s.

Star Trek : The Wrath of Khan is classic. May Trek XI learn from it’s example!

“Fans tend to get an inflated sense of self-importance”

(exasperated sigh)

That would be like walking into a meeting room at my company and saying to a divisional Vice President, “our customers have an inflated sense of self-importance”.

Anyone care to guess what would happen to me if I did that?

Thanks for the review it was great. Hopefully XI will have some of the same flare.

re # 5

I totally agree with you about the Chekov thing… My compass for continuity glitches is simply that if I can imagine a plausible explanation out of it that “could” be told, then there is no continuity glitch.

re shatner and nimoy… again, couldn’t agree more. Don’t really get that everyone wants their Generations Revenge story told in Trek XI. I would appreciate an intro of sorts with them though. It would help link the actors together which would make for a more fluid transition.


ILM’s effects and model shots were wonderful. Chief weakness was the engine room set. Every time Spock takes the lid off the whatsit that he fiddles with and fixes and the whole thing jiggles I wish they’d taken time to fit some bolts to the bottom…

There’s another lesson being ignored here, While I agree that TWOK was probably the best film, it was not the most commercial. If MI-III is any indication, Abrams will probably spend a lot of money. Trek XI will need to appeal to more than just the base–far more–in order to be profitable and relaunch the franchise.

The real key lies not in a strong villain but is watching the movie a fun and satisfying experience. Of course the humor is a great part of that but some of the most satisfying scenes from TVH come at the end–the court of the president, resolution between Spock and Sarek and the introduction of the Enterprise-A. We walked out of the theater uplifted and feeling good about the last two hours. In the following films, only First Contact managed to approach this sort of feeling (and hence the box office it did reflected that). TUC tried but the “end-of-an-era” pall kind of dampened that feeling.

Anyway–good writing and plot structure are absolutely the key to making this work–and NOT casting Tom Cruise.

IMO, anyway.

They should have kept Spock dead. He served no narrative purpose in the subsequent Star Trek films and had no important scenes or lines other than Kirk’s yes man. I am not the only fan who refuses to own Star Trek’s 3 to 6 because it ruined my childhood having Spock return from the dead.

to hell continuity
if is cool story is a star trek movie and taas all !!!
3 year whet no new movie or tv season and legacy socs

and Happy New Year to all Trekkies

sory again fo Harsh words

Nick Meyer wasn’t afraid to shake things up.Too bad the next 2 movies were apologist sequels for Spocks death and thus so could never be stand alone features.I grimaced when Spock referred to his death AGAIN in the Undiscovered Country(they almost made it through Undiscovered without a Trek 2 reference).The repercussions of Trek 2 taught the fans what to expect from Trek.Witness all the,bring Kirk back from the dead, fan premises presented in previous post commentaries.

“This lesson is for us. Fans tend to get an inflated sense of self-importance, particularly when they’ve invested a great deal of time, money, and passion in something like Trek. A sense of ownership begins to develop, along with the belief that whoever is running the franchise is obligated to pursue our personal idea of what Star Trek should be. In the end, our hue and cry about prequels and recasting classic characters and abandoning the post-TNG era won’t matter a bit. If you only give people what they want and expect then how can you give them a sense of surprise and wonder. Abrams and his team will make the movie they want to make, and hopefully (like The Wrath of Khan) it will blow us all away.”

Really? Well, the box office will speak the truth.

An argument could be made that the producers do try to please the fans. Even Bennett went back and viewed all 79 episodes so that he could make a Star Trek that would appeal to those that had made Star Trek such a success.

I, for one, am perfectly happy that Spock was not permanently removed from Trek, and I’m still perfectly pissed that the previous powers decided to kill off Kirk. IMO, regardless of what anyone says, the original Trek characters are THE essential Trek characters, and deserve to Live Long and Prosper, in all forms of media – movies, tv, books, comics, whatever.

Yes, sometimes we, the fans, tend to want our own personal visions of Trek to be satisfied, but this is obviously impossible to do. How many artists – of any kind – set out to please an audience FIRST? Or is it more like an artist pours his/her blood,sweat & tears into a project out of passion… and then, perhaps, an audience will be attracted to that project?

Apart from wanting to see a “good” movie, I am content to give the new Trek crew a chance to show what they can do, to show what their vision is. Maybe we will love it, maybe we won’t. If most people love it, you can bet your pointed ears there will still be a contingent of people who won’t love it, and they will be full of dismay and criticism. So be it.

I think Star Trek will always be around, in some form. And I think, as many others do, that the characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Co. wil also be around, portrayed by new actors. I think fans should appreciate this, and embrace what Trek comes our way. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. And perhaps as long as people don’t make any $$$ off fan-made creations, Paramount will continue to let them make their own Treks.

It’s the best period. Maybe for the HD DVD (or BlueRay) they can redue the effects they lifted from TMP with something a tad different. Don’t get me wrong the effects from TMP are hands down the most realistic of the series but it always bothered me that they recycled key effects sequences in Trek to save money. Love Harve Bennet too: He produced the best of the Trek films AND Six Million Dollar MAN friggin rules and it’s a crime I can’t watch Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman on non bootleg remastered dvd !!!!!

RE: 26 & fans

two points
1. there is no such thing as ‘a star trek fan’ anymore…it is a loose confederation of various factions…and is therefore impossible to please universally
2. the ‘fans’ are only a fraction of the target market…there are maybe 5 mil hard core Trek fans…Paramount need to sell many times that amount.

I would say that there are two types of Trek fans in general
1. The open mindeds
these are those that just want a good film that feels like Trek and is fun. They are flexible on continuity and dont care too much about setting
2. The close mindeds
these people look at the film like a hostage negotation and have variuos (conflicting) ‘demands’, such as: Mc Coy cant be on the first mission, Kirk cannot be recast, Janeway must be in the movie, etc

so yes….group two should be ignored, shunned and laughed at…and group one should be rewarded with a good movie full of fun little ‘continuity easter eggs’…but even they arent enough.

Star Trek XI is mostly for group 3…the general movie public open to seeing a Star Trek Movie…somewhat familiar with the universe and the key characters…want to see a well made action adventure film with attractive people in it.

Us fans…we are just along for the ride…get used to it

Hey, where’s my F-Bomb™???

I’m disappointed.



Anthony I couldn’t disagree more. Star Trek fans are like fans of a sports team say the Chicago Cubs. Of those there are:

Hardcore fans who will support the team and pay for tickets whether they win or are god awful, lining the pockets of an ownership who spends none of those recourses to try to win for those fans who blindly support the team for all those years. Much like a huge chuck of Trekkers who support Trek no matter what are try to argue that Enterprise, Nemesis, Insurection and Voyager are good, that Rick Berman tried his best ect ect. while the franchise goes down the toilet they keep giving their money and love

Fans of good Star Trek who will support the team when the team supports the fan. Doesn’t mean the team has to be a winner but if the ownership at least is putting it’s recources behind the team to try to do all it possibly can to make a winner we will in turn support the team and if it all clicks then so much the better. This is really the cubs and Treks current situation. The Cubs awful for so long with a diehard fanbase who fill the ballpark no matter how terrible they may be have in recent years lost a significant amount of their television and merchandise revenue. Their real bread and butter comes from that TV and merchandising revenue not from filling the ballpark which is only a small percentage of the pie. The ownership tired of being a loser, laughed at and seeing that profits have dipped dramatically fired the General Manager, a terrible loved by some/ loathed by many Manager and have outspent the league in bringing in the top free agents and management to try to build a winner and in doing so reward the loyal hard core base but also build appeal to those who have stopped supporting a loser and also appeal to a newer short attention span demographic . Sound familiar????

Group three are those on the periphory. People that know the cubs and Wrigley Field to be a fun party environment, may not know all the players but they know Ernie Banks or Sammy Sosa (Captain Kirk, Spock) Just want to go and have a good time, it’s a summer place to be. Will watch a game on tv but not pay attention to the whole thing and usually have a whole lota disposable income. Like in the hip hop community where Captain Kirk is seen as an intergalatic Mac or Genre fans who hate Star Trek but love Star Trek II and think Kirk and Spock are cool. Or do a Hummer Commercial to a show that was canceled 40 years ago. Truth is and it pisses of a lot of the hard core that Star Trek (Kirk and Spock’s) is and was the only Trek that has that mass appeal. People might not know all the names and faces on the team but they know the Superstars and they’ll support the superstars. These people might be called bandwagon jumpers but there is a whole lotta them out there, they are the ones who pay $2000.00 for a playoff ticket. The non science fiction fans who own 10 different dvd versions of Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter. They want to be part of a fun winner, its an event, the place to be.

Of course there is alot of gray.

29. Anthony Pascale
You couldn’t be more mistaken. On every point.

31. Picardsucks


dont get me wrong…I think the should make a film that fans like…but just not pander to the millions of bickering \’demands\’ of those who only want a very specific film

and more importantly…do not overestimate how many Trekkies there are…there are no where near enough to support a film franchise. The film needs broader appeal, that is why Berman and Braga are gone and Abrams is on board.


yes there are many shades of grey or degrees. What I am saying is that the narrower your view of what makes \’good trek\’ is…the less likely it is you will like Star Trek XI 


anyway that is all I got to say on this….i am headed to hawaii for a week.


but dont worry we have many articles lined up for the next week, including a \’big interview\’  and  Matt and the other contributors will have stuff up too….aloha

34. Anthony Pascale

“and more importantly…do not overestimate how many Trekkies there are…there are no where near enough to support a film franchise.”

What information do you have to support such a statement?

Wrath of Khan was a good movie, but it introduced those terrible uniforms. I hated when they went away from the series-type uniforms, but even the Motion Picture uniforms were better than those bergundy things.
And as for Star Trek XI, I can do without it.

I think a lot of people fall between two stools with these films. I saw all the movies at the pictures from STIV, but had no desire to see three of the four TNG films after the one viewing.

I picked up my first Trek novel in a decade yesterday, Burning Dreams, which I’m enjoying cos my area of interest runs for what is now, in effect, ‘mid-period’ Trek – April, Pike and Kirk.

I do hope the new movie features Kirk, Spock and McCoy – McCoy’s really too important to that era not to appear, but equally, I won’t be screaming bloody murder and declaring a boycott if he isn’t!

But I do agree, Anthony, that the hardcore fans are little more than an interest group – useful, but far from the target audience. The asses the studio needs on seats are equivalent of the sort of people who thought TWOK was cool but wouldn’t be seen dead discussing Chekov’s presence or lack thereof in Space Seed!! Anyway, there were loads of references in the TV show that make it clear that Pavel was on board during season one, but wasn’t yet regular bridge crew!

While I am a fan, I try to approach the movies and shows as a member of the general public. I’m interested in a good story and good interpretation of the characters more than the heavy details.

Put it this way, I saw TWOK as a kid and loved it. I was even more thrilled when, one day, Space Seed came on and I discovered that Khan really appeared in an episode!

I have a TNG uniform (third season) but my favorites have always been those introduced in TWOK. Different strokes for different folks.

As I said before–the story is the point. If Abrams & Company pander to the hardcores, then this will probably be the straw that breaks the back of the franchise. I am sure he/they know that.

Not enough fans to support a franchise or movie, eh? Some people might want to read this.

It kills me that everyone drags out the Chekov thing every time this movie is discussed.

I’ve always wanted to know why the Reliant doesn’t pick up on the fact that there is a planet missing from a previously mapped system. Wouldn’t there be debris from the exploded Ceti Alpha 6?

Yes indeed. And wouldn’t the federation be monitoring Khan? I think so. Plus, wouldn’t a planet explosion be detected somewhere in the federation? More than likely. The Reliant/Khan thing was not well thought out.

So Star Trek ‘fans’ think Galactica is too dark huh? They should try watching TOS a little more often. TOS is just as dark as Galactica really. People who believe that pseudo-religious ‘positive future’ bull should look a little closer.

TOS space is full of genetically-engineered maniacs floating about in cryogenic sleep, ancient planet-destroying doomsday machines, ship eating viruses, ancient deities demanding worship, insane doctors with mind-ripping machines controlling colonies, colonial governors who will slaughter half their population to preserve food stocks.

Galactica’s big difference is the way it’s shot. TOS is theatrical, garishly lit, melodramatic and almost operatic. Galactica is shot grainy and hand-held, like a documentary. Imagine a TOS episode shot in the style of modern Galactica and it would be just as dark! Indeed Galactica’s style of filming and general tone is Ronald Moore’s response to what he sees as ST: Voyager’s ‘betrayal’ of its audience!

As for fan productions, they’re a cottage industry. Doctor Who fans made loads of semi-pro spin-off films of varying standards down the years and, indeed, some of the writers of the fan spin-offs went on to work on the BBC’s current adaptation.

The films were fun things that kept the show alive for the fans, but had absolutely no significance when the decision to make a new version of the show was arrived at!

The various fan-Treks are the same: fun and at times pretty good. But enough to keep Trek alive for the general public? Hell no!!

The point being that there are plenty of fans that would support a movie and a franchise. This is just one article that tells a story of Trek fandom a plenty. There are many more on the web. All one has to do is a little research to find them…and the truth. But some on this board simply do wish to investigate. And any evidence presented by otheres which refutes their claims that there aren’t enough trek fans to support a movie will more than likely fall on deaf ears. But that’s ok, most trek fans know the truth and that’s all that really matters. If Abrams and co. think they are going to get the bulk of their audience from the mainstream, and make a movie catering to them, then like some producers that have come before them, they will have a rude awakening. As will some right here on this board. ;)

Stephen, you’ll get maybe five million people to see the film the one time if you have your way! You really seem convinced that a Trek movie should only be aimed at die-hard fans! TWOK is a prime example of a movie steeped in Trek lore that was aimed at the public and dragged them in!!

Modern technology means any fanboy with a camcorder can make a Star Trek pastiche, but the mainstream audience is where the money will come from. I suppose it depends on how you judge fan.

Is a fan a person who buys the all books and DVDs, owns a uniform etc? Probably, yes.

Is a person who might watch an episode that happens to be on because he feels like it a fan? . . . or a member of of the mainstream?

I mean, I own season one of TOS and the animated series on DVD, but was so appalled at the transfer quality of the TOS episodes, I decided to wait for a better release (which will happen in a couple of years!) I have a Corgi model of the TV USS Enterprise NCC-1701, mainly cos I like the design. I also have a Millennium Falcon for similar reasons, even though I think Star Wars is overrated garbage. I’ve read a few Trek books over the last 25-ish years. But I wouldn’t be seen dead at a convention and wouldn’t be overheard in public discussing Trek in detail. Does this make me a fan?

Star Trek, in spite of some people’s protestations is just another franchise, the same as James Bond, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Mission: Impossible, Superman or Spider-Man. Star Trek has a passionate (if somewhat beleagured, these days) fanbase.

But in terms of the general public, it’s no more special than any of the other franchises, except for the fact that like Doctor Who, it has a fanbase with a rather large proportion of arrogant, fussy fans who believe they know better than the producers and studios how to make the product (given Rick Berman and John Nathan Turner’s eras, is that surprising?!!!)

#4-Thanks! Glad to hear your wife did well. For those of you that were wondering about what was going on in that message #4, I discovered how small of a world it is recently. I met “Orbitalic” in the hospital. He was sitting at a public access computer looking at when I came wandering by. I was out walking with my wife because I’d had gall bladder surgery and was working (walking) to recover. Had a tiny complication of a partially collapsed right lung to make things more challenging. Anyway, I’m home now, sore, but feeling better after having the gall bladder and TEN stones removed!!! (Sorry about the off-topic once again)

TWOK is what I consider to be a very important Trek movie. I do think that it literally saved the franchise at a time when the first pessimism had arrived (following TMP). I hope to comment more about this movie when I feel a bit better. Time for more pain pills-lol

I hope everyone has a great 2007 and that great things come to Trek this year and for many more years.

Thanks Jim J! Happy New Year to everyone here!


44. Dom – December 30
You’re just plain wrong. But you’re convinced you’re right, and who am I to argue with that. No reason to carry on. Happy New Year.

Hi Stephen.

I’m simply fascinated to know how you think a movie aimed purely at Star Trek die-hard fans can succeed. You often ask people here to back up their claims with evidence and now I’m asking you to do the same!

Convince me that a narrowly-aimed Trek movie will succeed better than a movie aimed at the general public. Give me figures and historical evidence based on both Trek movies and other movies!

You say I’m ‘plain wrong,’ you say that Anthony Pascale is wrong, you gloat at the ‘rude awakening’ that awaits anyone who thinks differently from you.

So I’m throwing down the gauntlet, a la Number 2 to Number 6: ‘Information, Information, INFORMATION!’

Back up everything ***you’ve*** said with evidence just as all of us have given you these last several months! :)

Don’t forget the reason Spock is mentoring Saavik is because she is half Romulan. A deleted scene which can be seen on you tube has Spock telling Kirk this.

I never said die hard fans.

You first. Back up your claims. I’ve asked Anthony, and I’ll ask you…agian…as I’ve asked you before, what evidence do you have that there are only 5M fans and that the movies aren’t supported by the fans and are supported by the mainstream? And you’re movie history argument isn’t evidence. Do you have any evidence concerning Star Trek?
I have never seen any evidence from you or anyone else on these questions.

One more thing. I don’t gloat. You’re just wrong in your assumptions and I’m right in mine.