To Boldly Go

On the pleasures of watching (and rewatching) 'The Wrath of Khan'

I think I have just crested the hundredth viewing of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, arguably the best in the Star Trek movie franchise. Watch a movie more times than is, well, sane, and the finer points of filmmaking shine forth.

In The Wrath of Khan, the special effects—especially the phaser blasts—are as stunningly realistic as anything that could be accomplished today, and one could make a case that the shiveringly beautiful James Horner score is destined for the classics. I wonder if Mr. Horner got goose bumps while conducting his orchestra.

The one-minute sequence treating us to a visual tour of the Enterprise in space dock, with the triumphant music behind the camera angles, is a testament to Nicholas Meyer, a director who knew how to shoot for the big screen. Beautiful close-up shots. No need for 3D, just good cinematography.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling as if today’s youth have some great advantage over me, with their computers and iPads and all sorts of gadgets (having cable TV in one’s neighborhood was cause enough to feel imperious in my day), I take solace in the fact that there’s one thing I can claim as precious and special, something to jokingly lord over youngsters. It is the fact that I had the privilege of seeing
The Wrath of Khan on the big screen when it came out, with the added blessing of my not knowing, one way or the other, if the rumors were true that Spock would die and holding on to the hope that it was just some clever misinformation scheme from Paramount Pictures.

I remember driving home that night, speeding down the freeway in my nearly brand-new Toyota Corolla GT-S sports coupe, pretending I was traveling at warp speed five and bawling like a great big sissy. I had never been more emotionally affected by a motion picture than I was by The Wrath of Khan and, truthfully, have never been since. I was 21 years old and I felt . . . young. I felt young.

D. T. Allison lives in Santa Rosa.

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