Until a couple days ago, I have never seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (trailer). I do recall over the years from friends and general buzz online that a lot of people consider this 1982 release the best of the Star Trek films. I was surprised to see it start off with a super young, pre-Cheers Kristie Alley manning the captain's chair in a training scenario as a new recruit before she fails miserably and Kirk (William Shatner) arrives to spread his wisdom.
This film goes deeper into Kirk's background as a theme of this film is him realizing he is getting too old for this stuff. We are introduced to Kirk's son David in the movie, though minus one well done scene towards the film's finale, not a whole lot is done with him here and he is mostly a background throwaway character. It is probably my only gripe with the film actually, though I understand he is featured in the films following this one.
The first movie lacked a lot of action, there was not even really a major final battle when you think about it. That changes here as we get some phaser duels, and later in the film's final act, a well produced back and forth dogfight between the Enterprise and Reliant. At least I thought it looked impressive for 1982 standards, and there is a noticeable leap in the visual effects again from the three years in between the first two movies.
This film holds up incredibly well 32(!) years later. Like with The Motion Picture, Paramount did a fantastic job restoring the film for HD as there is no film scratching and everything has a nice polished feel throughout. This especially stands out during the original extra feature SD interviews when they cut to the 1982 original printing footage of the film and the difference is night and day! Speaking of extra features, there are a boatload. I did not listen to neither of the two commentaries, though director Nick Meyer & Manny Cota got together to record a new one for the BluRay. The aforementioned library computer returns, as do storyboards for fans of those.
There are four new HD featurettes for the BluRay adding up to a half hour. The standouts here are a short but sweet eulogy from director Nick Meyer on the career of Ricardo Montalban, and Collecting Star Trek Relics, or rather the last two minutes of this 11 minute feature which until then I feel only hardcore Trek fans will appreciate it being all about the hunt for the various films props over the years. The last two minutes you must see as they detail tracking down the original TV series captain's chair and what it was being used for; I will not spoil that tidbit here but I will say if I had happened to stumble upon it then I would probably use it exactly as they detailed in the interview.
If you were like me until now and have not seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, then Netflix it, buy it, whatever, just see it because you will not be disappointed! I was familiar about all its acclaim going into it and was able to put together some of its plot threads beforehand going by the same parallels seen in Into Darkness, but I was still on board and loving it from start to finish. If I were to grade the first film, I would give The Motion Picture a 6/10, and now that I had a couple days to put it into perspective, it just goes to show Paramount got their act together with the follow up as I am going all out and giving The Wrath of Kahn a perfect 10/10!