In the year 2285, Admiral James T. Kirk oversees a simulator session of Captain Spock’s trainees. In the simulation, Lieutenant Saavik commands the starship USS Enterprise on a rescue mission to save the crew of a damaged ship. When the Enterprise enters the Klingon Neutral Zone to reach the ship it is attacked by Klingon cruisers and critically damaged. The simulation is named the “Kobayashi Maru”—a no-win scenario designed to test the character of Starfleet officers. Later, Dr. McCoy joins Kirk on his birthday; seeing Kirk in low spirits, the doctor advises Kirk to get a new command and not grow old behind a desk.
Meanwhile, the USS Reliant is on a mission to search for a lifeless planet for testing of the Genesis Device, a technology designed to create habitable worlds for colonization. Reliant officers Commander Pavel Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell beam down to the surface of a possible candidate planet, which they believe to be Ceti Alpha VI; once there, they are captured by genetically engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh. He implants Chekov and Terrell with indigenous eels that enter the ears of their victims and render them susceptible to mind control, and uses the officers to capture the Reliant. Learning of Genesis, Khan attacks space station Regula I where the device is being developed by Dr. Carol Marcus.
The Enterprise embarks on a three-week training voyage. Kirk assumes command after the ship receives a distress call from Regula I. En route, the Enterprise is ambushed and crippled by the Reliant. Khan hails the Enterprise and offers to spare Kirk’s crew if they relinquish all material related to Genesis. Kirk stalls for time and uses the Reliant’s prefix code to remotely lower its shields, allowing the Enterprise to counter-attack. Khan is forced to retreat and effect repairs, while the Enterprise limps to Regula I. Kirk, McCoy, and Saavik beam to the station and find Terrell and Chekov alive, along with slaughtered members of Marcus’s team. They soon find Carol and David hiding deep inside the planetoid of Regula. Khan then transports Genesis aboard the Reliant. Though Khan believes his foe stranded on Regula I, Kirk and Spock use a coded message to arrange a rendezvous. Kirk directs the Enterprise into the nearby Mutara Nebula; static discharges inside the nebula render shields useless and compromise targeting systems, making the Enterprise and the Reliant evenly matched. Kirk exploits Khan’s inexperience in space combat and two-dimensional thinking to critically disable the Reliant.
Mortally wounded, Khan activates Genesis, which will reorganize all matter in the nebula including the Enterprise. Though Kirk’s crew detects the activation of Genesis and attempts to move out of range, they will not be able to escape the nebula in time due to the ship’s damaged warp drive. Spock goes to the engine room to restore the warp drive. When McCoy tries to prevent Spock’s entry, as exposure to the high levels of radiation would be fatal, Spock incapacitates the doctor and successfully restores power to the warp drive and the Enterprise escapes the explosion, though at the cost of his life. The explosion of Genesis causes the gas in the nebula to reform into a new planet, capable of sustaining life.
After being alerted by McCoy, Kirk arrives in the engine room and discovers Spock dying of radiation poisoning. The two share a meaningful exchange in which Spock urges Kirk not to grieve, as his decision to sacrifice his own life to save those of the ship’s crew is a logical one, before succumbing to his injuries. A space burial is held in the Enterprise’s torpedo room and Spock’s coffin is shot into orbit around the new planet.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is not one my my favorite movies, but is certainly not one of the worst either.
From a technical standpoint The Wrath of Kahn is excellent. The camerawork and lighting are great and really set the mood. The music furthers the mood and is unobtrusive. The costumes, especially the uniforms, is a lot better then the shitsacks they wore in Star Trek The Motion Picture.
The cast gives great performances, espacay Ricardo Montalbán who really brings Kahn to life. The story and writing are okay, but dont really stand out for me and is what keep me from ranking the movie higher on my favorites list.