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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Director's Cut

June 12th, 2016

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I've never done a full featured review of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, although I have reviewed it as part of a couple of box sets in the past. It is widely considered the best film in the franchise and I absolutely agree with that assessment. Last week, the Director's Cut came out on Blu-ray for the first time individually. I assume most fans of the franchise already own this film on DVD, and Blu-ray, and if they are like me, on VHS as well. So the question isn't, "Is this a movie worth owning." It's, "Is it worth buying for the fifth or sixth time?"

The Movie

I'm going to skip most of the plot, because this is a 30-year old film and the plot details are not as important as the new additions.

The movie begins with Spock training a new recruit, Saavik, during the Kobayashi Maru. This simulation is designed to be a no-win situation and so far only one person, James T. Kirk, has ever succeeded. Saavik doesn't become the second.

The plot begins in deep space with the USS Reliant on a mission to find a lifeless planet for the Genesis Project, specifically Ceti Alpha VI. The captain, Clark Terrell, and Commander Pavel Chekov go to the surface to see if it is completely lifeless. The planet needs to be completely lifeless for the experiment to work and there was a minor sensor reading. When Terrel and Chekov check it out, they find cargo containers. While exploring, Chekov sees that the containers were from the SS Botany Bay and when he recognizes the name of that ship, he tells Captain Terrel they need to leave immediately. It's too late.

For those who don't remember the name SS Botany Bay, it was the sleeper ship the USS Enterprise found in Star Seed and it is the ship Kahn Noonien Singh was exiled in. Kahn and his crew tried to take on Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, but lost. In the end, Kirk exiled them on Ceti Alpha V, which wasn't a paradise, but was livable. However, as Kahn explains, Ceti Alpha VI exploded sending Ceti Alpha V into a new orbit and destroying its ecosystem. Most of the crew died and Kahn blamed Kirk, because Kirk never looked in on them to see if they were still alive. Now that the USS Reliant is in orbit, Kahn has his chance to leave this planet and get his revenge.

So what's new to the director's cut vs. the theatrical version? Not much. Peter Preston is the nephew of Scotty and a new recruit. In the theatrical version of the movie, his part was cut almost entirely. Here, he gets a bit of character development and a death scene. It does add some emotional heft to this movie without slowing down the pace, so it is a good addition.

The Extras

The only new extra on this Blu-ray is The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan, a 28-minute making of featurette. There are also two audio commentary tracks, one for the director's cut and the other for the theatrical cut, text commentary, production featurettes, etc. all from the previous releases.

The Verdict

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the best movie in the franchise and the three-minutes new to the Director's Cut is, at worst, neutral, but I think it does add a little more emotional weight to the film. There's only one new extra on the Blu-ray, but it is a substantial making of featurette that is worth checking out. On the other hand, you might want to save your money for this.

Filed under: Video Review, Star Trek, Kirstie Alley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Ricardo Montalban, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Paul Winfield, Ike Eisenmann