25 Years Ago Today…

June 4th 1982 Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett saved Star Trek

I will never forget seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on that opening day – the first of many times. Like many other kids, Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 just didn’t work for me after falling in love with Trek through syndicated reruns. I had even begun to say things like "Star Wars is better than Star Trek." Khan restored my faith and my loyalty. It is still my favorite film in the franchise, and to this day I get chocked up during the Spock scene in engineering. I am not alone, JJ Abrams also says that TWOK is his favorite.

It is also undeniable how important the film was to the franchise. After Paramount was somewhat disappointed that TMP didn’t make Star Wars like money TWOK made the franchise viable again (albeit on a smaller scale than they had originally hoped). The film launched what is considered the ‘holy trinity’ of Trek films…the II, III, IV trilogy. The success of those films in the 80s convinced Paramount to make Star Trek: The Next Generation and the rest is history.  

Lets hope that 12.25.08 is just as big of an event in Trek history, and brings in another 25 years for the franchise. 


Star Trek II Links:

Aint It Cool News remembers

Soul of Star Trek on TWOK 

Screen Caps at TrekCore 

StarTrek.com page

Memory Alpha Page

Star Trek II Trailer (YouTube) 

TrekMovie.com Review


See Wrath of Khan in LA with Nicholas Meyer.

Geek Monthly is hosting a 1982 Film Festival at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Star Trek II will be shown on Sunday June 17th and Nick Meyer will be there to talk about the film. I will be there along with my fellow Geeks Jeff Bond and Mark Altman who put it all together. A full report will be up at both GeekMonthly.com and TrekMovie.com following the show. More info at the American Cinematheque


VOTE in the latest poll – how great is TWOK? 


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Well, at least your version doesn’t drag like the director’s cut. (joke)

(The first post just HAD to say that!) :-)

TWOK = the Jewel in the Crown of Star Trek, Myer gave Trek back to itself and the fans.

I’ve seen it over 200 times, and I still have it memorized to this day.

i was there opening day, baby!!

The first time we went to see this, I heard someone complaining it was too much like an episode from the series. I remember thinking how great that was. TMP tried way too hard to be Star Wars. TWOK was Trek pure and simple. Seen as a sea adventure, sure, but that IS one good approach to Trek.
If Frank Miller “gave Batman his balls back,” then Nicholas Meyer gave Trek its swagger back.

They wrote in themes beautifully. It worked so well. Such a perfect blend of hardcoreness and Drama. I love this movie.

Abrams had better do something of equal, or at least close, magnificence !

Let’s all give thanks for the outstanding contributions of Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett towards saving Trek. The work these men did cannot be overestimated. “The Making of the Trek Films” presents great insight into the making of Trek II.
Star Trek II is the best film in the whole franchise. Hands down, it’s the one!!

wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo wooo woooo wooooo

It’s so funny to think of Kirk’s really over the top KHAN! scream and his current excitment during his race with the stars adventure

Am I the only one that rates the first motion picture as the best (especially The Directors Edition!!!). While I do admit …II , IV, VI were good fun, I admire the strong effort made with the first one. With it’s impressive visuals and superior soundtrack it took Star Trek to another level. After watching it again (The Directors Edition), I do believe it has aged much less then the others. Call me crazy…..

I remember I went to see this film on opening day at the theater. When the film started, and the old TOS fanfare started playing as the stars were displayed on the screen, the audience went wild. One curious thing I remember from the first showing, the opening credits showed the title of the film as Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” without the “II”. The next time I saw it in the theater, it appeared to be a different print because the “II” had been put in the title.

#12 – Moonwatcher, I agree with you completely. I can’t exactly say why, but STMP holds up best to repeat watchings. I have even grown fond of its, let us say, stately pace. Most of the later movies — as much as I dearly love them — look a bit dated today. Not so, STMP.

While I still enjoy the first TREK film I feel they were going for the 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY vibe. I recall my father took my brothers and I to the first film and I think he got a bit bored. I think he would of done better at the second one.;) Ironically I think KHAN got the human adventrue moving. I like the character driven feel with action of this film. The death scene is still strong and I wonder what if Spock had not been brought back?

I stand correeeeeeeeeeected (Guess my Trek Spell Checker missed that one.) Can’t you edit that out or something? How embaaaaaaaaaarrassing!


Guess this answers my questions from earlier today

The most over rated movie ever made. Militant, corny, inconsistent, and the antagonists never even meet face to face.

Windsor Bear, I saw a print of Trek 2 a few years ago and noticed the II missing as well. I think they did that to make it seem lke it had nothing to do with TMP as it was also left off the novelization.

The Wrath Of Khan does have a powerful death scene, but you would think they could have sprang for a few more bucks on the radiation chamber set. I swear Spock was going to rip out the entire (cardboard???) fire hydrant ???… when he manually??? took It’s lid off… to reach in???and put “the mains back on line”. I’m just saying.

#6, re: having TWOK memorized —

Back in those days, before VCRs were common, before DVDs and before BitTorrent, a friend of mine snuck a tape recorder into the theater and taped TWOK. No, not a videotape recorder — an audio cassette recorder. I made a copy of his tapes, and *listened* to TWOK, sound only, dozens of times in the years that followed. I had all the dialogue memorized, and could recite the thing from start to finish (or at least I was convinced I could — nobody ever had the patience to find out). I even had the audience responses memorized. In a way, I think the audio-only experience added its own kind of power to the film, the way listening to a good radio play does. In my mind, it grew to be this amazing, epic thing.

I still think it was one of the best Trek movies, despite its faults (and my opinion of TMP has risen a lot), but it’s definitely the one that I’m most nostalgic about.

#23 — I always thought of it as some kind of giant thermos, myself.

#23 A giant thermos, not bad … : ) Anyone else have an idea what the hell it was….and how something like that would work on a star ship in the 24th century. It looked like something right out of Flash Gordon!!!! OK,… breath breath… I’m done venting. It’s still a good movie, but not the best.

#23, you’d think an actual engineer would have risked his life for the entire ship. In fact, I don’t understand why Kirk didn’t order someone to fix the “mains” instead of waiting for death. And why did the radiation clear up after the mains went back online?

This movie was my first real experience with Trek, and it was what drew me into it. I agree that it is the best movie in the franchise, though I do feel that the dialog was a bit stiff in some scenes, especially when compared to the show it was continuing. I agree with the assertion that this movie is what saved Star Trek.

27 – I agree. The only way it makes *any* sense is if all engineering personnel were so physically incapacitated that they *couldn’t* do it. Scotty certainly seems to be having problems, but he perks up a lot once Spock goes into the thermos chamber. I don’t know…maybe what Spock was doing would simply have killed a human. But isn’t that what those radiation suits are for?

And actually, now that I think of it, weren’t the mains taken offline by Scotty? “Sir, I’ve got to take the mains off the line….it’s ra…diation…” That starts to sound like he wasn’t taking the system offline because it wasn’t working, but because it was killing the personnel in engineering. Certainly regrettable if so, but it seems to me that it would be better to leave them online and warp the rest of the crew to safety than to let everyone die….

The choice of title for this thread is entirely subjective and relative to individual taste and I have to disagree with the notion.

Khans’ critical and commercial success notwithstanding, Harve Bennett and Nicholas Myer were not responsible for “saving” Star Trek, as it was not LOST.

Theres’ was simply a different approach and take to the material, departing from the grander conceptualization of Star Trek, and returning to a more dimestore shoestring mentality where spectacle alone wouldn’t suffice and characterizations would have to take center stage again.

It’s a common misnomer that The Wrath of Khan is the most commercially “successful” Trek film, when in reality that distinction belongs to the predecessor, The Motion Picture.

The Wrath of Khan and The Motion Picture actually make good companion pieces, stark contrasts that as a whole give a more unified image of Roddenberrys universe.
Whereas in The Motion Picture, the events propelled the characters forward and they served the story, conversely, the characters in Wrath of Khan propell the story and the events serve the characters.
The Motion Picture is commonly regarded as bland and too conceptually stylized, high brow, I would argue The Wrath of Khan is entirely too militaristic and gunboat diplomacy oriented. From the Napoleonic blood colored uniforms, to the submarine like Torpedo bay, it’s very easy to see why Roddenberry was mildly put off by some of Myers decisions.
If a happy medium could be found between the first two films, I suspect a true representation of Roddenberrys vision could be experienced.

Wrath of Khan is an excellent adventure story, and good character study, but make no mistake, it completely undermines the very notion and concept of what Star Trek represents.
Where are the strange new worlds? Where are the new life forms and new civilizations?
Genesis was incorporated into the film last minute as an attempt to address and appease these glaring omissions, where before, you had a simple revenge story, and even with the addition of Genesis, it still remains a film about the inability to let go of hatred.
Wrath of Khan is a good amalgamation of literary concepts, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really do much to move the Star Trek concept forward- with the death of Spock and subsequent film, it actually took a step backwards, or at minimum, sidestep.

As far as the concept of Star Trek is concerned, the first and fourth film probably best capture the essence of what Star Trek is trying to say, despite how people may percieve how successful the execution of the concepts were.

Vejur, and the Cetacean probe scream of Star Trek, and exploration and discovery of new life.

I agree with you Josh T.

i use to love trek2 thought it was the best but over the years as i get to understand trek more im not such a fan, tmp is such a better film dont get me wrong i still enjoy it but its not true to genes concepts and after its his baby

While we are on the subject of nostalgia, my GOD look at this GEM!

Anthony this may deserve a special link and headline geez.


I semi-prefer Star Trek – The Motion Picture because it has an almost Illiad/Odyssey quality to it. These characters were larger than life and assembled together to confront probably the most epic threat Earth has ever faced, even worse than the Borg.

The merging of Decker/Illia/Vejur is PURE Star Trek and the film is all about growth and expanding your horizons. The score is unrivaled, the Enterprise never looked better, and this film is the only film in the entire series that looks and feels “futuristic”, even the 70’s hairstyles, uniforms, and color schemes of the film are tommorow-like.


These were real Klingons, not the grunting, sweating, Barbarian variety but highly intelligent, sophisticated, and intimidating aliens. The first shot you are instantly transported to an alien submarine that’s been at “sea” too long. Mark Lenard has more charisma and presence as a Klingon than a combined 21 seasons of TNG/DS9 and Voyager, and he didn’t utter a word of English. Powerful.

This film is HIGHLY underrated.

I remember how disappointed I was on a rainy day in Brighton, when my aunt took my brother and me to see the film and we couldn’t get into the cinema. I was seven and it was 1982.

TMP and Khan reflect two opposite poles of the Star Trek universe. There were similar stories in TOS, but TOS, as it originally was could never transfer directly from TV to cinema. TMP went for the purely cerebral, favouring intellectual discussion and the minute details of a mission. It’s a film with great intellectual pretensions and great visuals. However, it can be said that the humans play second fiddle to the machines in this film, especially as the film’s lit and angles to make the crew only look a couple of years older than they were in the TV show.

TWOK, on the other hand goes straight for the balls. The story reflects the likes of Space Seed and Balance of Terror. The people are most important thing here. TWOK strips Trek back to its basics again and gives it a Hornblower veneer. For me, the film works better. TOS was about exploring strange new worlds, but we often had stories featuring fun bad guys and, after the first movie, TWOK was a nice change of pace. Oh, and as in Balance of Terror, I like the fact that the commanders of the two ships don’t meet in the flesh. I mean, why should they?

It’s easy to be critical of TWOK now, given the rest of the later film series tried to emulate it and always feature (excepting STIV) a major guest villain.

But for sheer visceral thrills, great music, great visuals, great dialogue and great cast chemistry, TWOK is unbeatable.

Bring it on JJ!!!

‘lit and angled’ even!!

Damn typos!!

Trek II = Fucking godamn bone fide MASTERPIECE!!

TWOK isnt only the best Trek film BY FAR its also one of the best Sci Fi films ever made…up there with the likes of Blade Runner, Empire Strikes, Aliens and 2001…I’ve had friends who have absoultly HATED star trek yet upon seeing WOK they’ve gone ‘man that was fricking awesome..’

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Abrams MAY be gonna use TWOK as a kind of springborad for his prequel (Kobiashi Maru, Carol Marcus, similar militeristic tone etc)…

i’m still pissed at there being no Comic Adaptation though…my comic shelf looks so empty without it (DC didnt aquire the rights untill after II from Marvel so there was no comic for Trek II)..u’d think some comic company would say ‘fuck it lets do it!’ and do a fucking awesome graphic novel…

Anyone bought any of the new 25th anniversary action figures yet? what about the battle damaged Enterprise model? is it worth getting??

btw for the record after Trek II (which is in a league of its own) I think the next best film is SEARCH FOR SPOCK (yeah thats right – u heard me right – EAT IT!), then First Contact, Voyage Home, Undiscovered Country….then u got the ones that are ok – Motion Picture and Generations…then the 3 that are downright awful – Nemesis, Final Front and Insurrection..

I saw TWOK on opening day at the Warner Theatre in Pittsburgh. It was one of those single-screen urban theatres where the screen was huge and the sat several hundred people (not so anymore).

When the movie started it was just STAR TREK, no roman numeral II was ever present. The audience broke into huge applause. I’ve never seen any such reaction since or at any TNG movies (but then TNG fans didn’t have a 10 year gap between series and movies!).

I couldn’t believe how many people were in tears at the end. And I remember the woman sitting behind me, gasping for breath, as she said between desparate sobs “he’s not dead” at the final torpedo seen on the Genesis planet.

That was a great movie experience that has yet to be repeated. I don’t know if JJ Abrams can match that but wish him luck. TWOK casts a long shadow that no other Trek movie has been able to step outside of.

“TWOK casts a long shadow that no other Trek movie has been able to step outside of. ”

yep – this is especially true of TNGs movie efforts which always seemed to be trying to find its own ‘Wrath of Khan’ – they did manage it with the 2nd film – First Contact which had plenty of references with the need for revenge theme, Moby Dick (i remember when i saw it at the cinema and my friend whispered ‘Wrath of Khan’ when Picard went into his moby dick speech) and was the 2nd much improved action packed film with different uniforms….

They made Nemesis a virtual redoing of WOK – its structurally very similar…plus tacked elements of Star Trek III on the end (absent friends….Datas ‘katra’…spacedock..everyone going their own way…)…Didnt work though…

Good lord, it cannot *possibly* have been a quarter-century ago. Damn I’m old.

Yep, I was there opening day, too, and I do feel old when I remember that it was 25 years ago, but that was also the year I graduated from High School (a week or two earlier) so lots of great memories about the summer of ’82. Wrath of Khan, E.T., Poltergeist, Rocky III… one fun, exciting movie after another that summer. (Obligatory old-timer whine… “they don’t make ’em like they used to!”)

#12 moonwatcher

Love the original Movie best too…despise the new dull uniforms and Bridge though…

As a kid I was much more impressed with WOK, as an adult, I’m much more impressed with TMP. In the case of the directors cuts, The Directors cut of TMP vastly improved that movie, while the directors cut of WOK, brought it down and slowed the pacing (particularly Scotties nephew… booooring).

TMP lacked a bit of human dramatic interaction, I feel if they played up the emotional impact between all the characters a bit more it would have been great. There was a bigger story to tell between Decker & Kirk, as well as the big three. (I also would have dramatically edited down the wormhole sequence which contained some of the most embarassing bouncing around in Trek History)

In the end I do find myself going back to TMP more often than the others. But will agree that WOK put that shot back in the arm after TMP failed to impress across the board in what is really it’s unfinished form when released.


I remember seeing a print ad for STII as a kid, with Kirk’s son David holding a knife over him and was freaked out that they were going to kill off Kirk! Alas, a beloved character did end up dying anyway.

Anyone remember In Living Color’s “The Wrath of Farrakhan”? :)


I, too, was there on opening day (at age 13) and I will never forget it. I remember a series of daily ads in The Chicago Tribune starting 7 days out: “7 Days to Star Trek — The Wrath of Khan … At the End of the Universe Lies the Beginning of Vengeance.” Of course I clipped them all, as well other ads and the reviews from all the papers I could get my hands on. I probably have video of TV reviews somewhere as we were the first family on the block to get a VCR in 1981 ($750!). I remember snagging a glossy brochure about the movie at the theater and then later buying the novelization by Vonda McIntyre and the photobook, which I subsequently cut into pieces to make a huge storyboard of the movie on my bedroom wall … for years it was the first thing I woke up to and I remember often lying in bed in the morning reliving the story.

Ah, misty water-color memories …

Imagine if you will, that instead of Khan, Harve Bennett chose another of Kirk’s notible advacaries with so-called delusions of galatic grandure,… imageine……. “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

One favorite scene, Enterprise slowly backs away and banks to starboard trying to flee damaged Reliant.

See this film using an 1080i upconverting DVD player. I’m getting an Oppo 981HD player soon and then will revisit all the ST films again. Got to get my Trek fix every so often.

RE: cassette tape memories….

I went to a drive-in theater showing of it after the first run, and took along my boombox tape deck. I tuned it to the radio channel that broadcast the audio (for those that didn’t like the speakers on the pole). I taped the whole thing in STEREO and listened back to it numerous times, as I did the TV episodes I had taped in years before.

Yes, life was good.

I liked TWOK. Anything with Ricardo Montalbahn is already a few notches better coming out of the gate.

Several things:

– I never liked the movie uniforms, especially the ones TWOK spawned
– It’s too bad that Kirk and Khan did not square off face to face. The viewscreens didn’t quite get to an in person confrontation.
– I never understood why all the surviving followers of Khan were young (and white)
– With the sophistication of 23rd Century technology, how could Ceti Alpha V be mistaken for Ceti Alpha VI? Wouldn’t some Federation astronomical observatory or probe taken notice a planetary body exploding? Couldn’t the crew of the Reliant figure it out?
– How could the Reliant have trouble finding planets without life? That seems strange…

However, TWOK did save the franchise and propelled it to unforeseen heights. Maybe if Gene Coon had not died, TMP might have been better. (Roddenberry almost killed his baby twice. First with TMP and then with the first 20 episodes of TNG. Thank God ST5 came out after TNG launched….)

Best line:

“You are in a position to demand nothing. I, on the other hand, am in a position to grant nothing.”