The Wrath of Khan

The following is an excerpt of Star Trek FAQ 2.0 by Mark Clark, as posted by Please visit Bookgasm to read the entire excerpt.

The Wrath of Khan offers everything its predecessor promised but failed to deliver. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced sci-fi adventure rich in both sustained suspense and character exploration. The story wades into meaningful thematic currents on the way to a powerful emotional payoff. Not only is Khan a worthy successor to the television series, but in some respects it represents an improvement on the classic program. Not only is the movie far superior in all technical aspects (sets, costumes, special effects), as almost any feature film would be, but it’s also better scripted, directed, and performed than the vast majority of the seventy-nine original episodes.

Although piecing it together was a painful process, the film’s dramatic structure is masterful, with early scenes (especially those involving Khan) providing the initial thrust and events steadily gaining momentum as the story progresses. The dialogue is crisp and often witty, supplying both amusing bons mot (such as McCoy asking Kirk, as young Saavik steers the Enterprise out of space dock, “Would you like a tranquilizer?”), a Spock-McCoy verbal joust, and some eminently quotable ethical observations (including Spock’s assertion that “The needs of many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”). Best of all, where the classic series often settled for heavy-handed moralizing (and The Motion Picture came off as ponderous and self important), The Wrath of Khan almost effortlessly addresses weighty, timeless concerns, such as aging and death. It also provides the franchise’s definitive statement about the self-destructive folly of seeking revenge, a theme also present in a handful of classic episodes.

Meyer’s direction is a model of narrative precision and clarity. While not renowned for his visual style, he includes several deep-focus compositions that greatly enhance the unfolding drama, particularly during Spock’s funeral, as the black torpedo-coffin slowly glides toward the camera, flanked on either side by mourning crewmates.

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In the 1980s and ’90s, Star Trek rose from the ash heap of network cancellation and soared to the peak of its popularity with a series of blockbuster feature films and the smash sequel series Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek FAQ 2.0 picks up where the original Star Trek FAQ left off, chronicling the historic comeback of the “failed” series and its emergence as a pop culture touchstone. The book provides accounts of the production of every Star Trek movie (including creator Gene Roddenberry’s struggle to retain control of the franchise) and every episode of The Next Generation (and the conflicts that roiled its writing staff). It also offers profiles of the actors, directors, writers, producers, and technicians whose excellence fueled the franchise’s success, and explores often overlooked aspects of the Star Trek phenomenon, including unofficial, fan-made productions. Star Trek FAQ 2.0represents the final frontier of Trek scholarship. This book is not endorsed, sponsored, or affiliated with CBS Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures, or the “Star Trek” franchise.



Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on August 2, 2013, in Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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