Friday, April 24, 2009

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Now this is more like it.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is almost universally accepted not only as the greatest Trek film of all time, but one of the greatest science fiction films of all time as well. By everybody but me, that is.

Hold on! I didn't say I dislike this movie, nor did I disagree about its place as one of the all time best sci-fi movies... I just don't think it's the best Trek film. I don't even think it's the second best. Third best, probably. It's an awesome film that's vastly superior to the previous film in the series, but all things considered, it's all really stupid and has too many logic problems that never quite add up.

In my opinion, one of the film's biggest faults is something most people consider its biggest strength: The villain. What's the deal with Khan, and why was his character so poorly written? We get it already, he's Ahab and Kirk is his Moby Dick. How do we know this? Because every other line out of his mouth is a quote from Melville. It's one thing to have a character inspired by a character from another work of literature, but to have an identical character arc and so many quotes that its borderline plagiarism, the whole thing just seems silly.

I mean, clearly the guy read Moby Dick, so why doesn't he remember the damn ending?! After the second or third time he quoted Captain Ahab, shouldn't somebody else in his crew have said, "Um, Khan... you remember that Ahab died in the end of that book, right?" But the whole thing is almost forgivable because Ricardo Montalban is such an awesome actor. But if you want to see
Montalban in a role worthy of his talents, watch Space Seed, the original series episode where Khan first appeared.

Also, what's the big deal with these genetically advanced humans anyway? All through the history of Star Trek, we hear about how the genetic engineering of humans is outlawed because people like Khan are so dangerous. All things being equal, was Khan really all that dangerous? That is to say, was he really more dangerous than any other evil human? Consider: He attempted to take over the world back in 1990s, and was captured and exiled into space. He attempted to take over the Enterprise, but Kirk stopped him and exiled him again. Then he got lucky and broke free again, only to be killed by Kirk. So... what's the big threat? Legalize genetic engineering already. Khan was a push-over.

And as long as I'm talking about stuff that makes no sense, what's the deal with the Kobayashi Maru, a Starfleet test designed to have every student fail? What's the point of that? What are they really hoping to learn?

Or, as Kirk asked after Savik failed, "How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?"

No, I wouldn't say. That makes no sense. So because somebody doesn't want to die, they'll make a lousy starship captain? And, all things considered, how a person deals with losing a computer simulated scenario has nothing to do with how that person deals with death. That'd be like judging my opinion on my own mortality after watching me get killed in a game of Halo.

So considering the fact that the Kobayashi Maru is used as the metaphor for the overall theme of the movie, it's easy to understand why I never really bought into the whole thing. Because the metaphor is stupid and pretentious and overwrought.

Also... a team of scientists is studying a planet with such scrutiny that they can find a single piece of pre-animate matter on the surface, but they didn't notice that the neighboring planet had exploded? That's moronic.

But it's still an awesome movie.

Forgetting the trite storyline and obnoxious villain, it's still an incredibly fun and entertaining Star Trek movie. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy give the best performances of their careers, the dialogue is really witty and fun, and Nick Meyer's pacing and direction are first rate. Also, the death of Spock always makes me tear up, no matter how many times I watch it. It's just perfectly done.

So... great Star Trek movie, just not the best of the series by a long-shot.

No comments: