Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut – Blu-ray Review

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is highly regarded as one of the best Star Trek films ever made. Admittedly, I never was big on Star Trek but Wrath of Khan is still remains as my favorite classic Trek film. It’s all due to the direction of Nicholas Meyer, who changed Star Trek from a franchise about space exploration to a franchise about military men. This is where, in my opinion, the franchise was at its best. Meyer was able to bring drama, fun, and entertainment to a franchise that sorely lacked it. However, he also doesn’t lose sight on what made Trek such a popular television series. He never lets the explosives overwhelm the very tender moments of the script, but also not losing sight of the need to make his movie exciting and tense.

What also makes Khan one of the best Star Trek films, is that it’s able to combine two distinct thematic elements and seamlessly combine them. First and foremost, Khan is a spaceship-bound thriller that’s highly inspired by the great submarine thrillers of the past. This is where the tenser moments can be found. The other element is the film’s openness about age and dying. Those familiar with the film might know exactly to what I’m alluding to as the film blatantly calls attention to this metaphor. However, Wrath of Khan isn’t a perfect film. There are still dull moments to be found in the film as well as certain scenes dragging on longer than it probably should.

But with the entire Trek cast playing their respective characters for so many years, everyone seems to be in peak form here. Especially the typically hammy William Shatner, whose performance is far removed from his television performances. The late, great Leonard Nimoy proficiently plays Spock and has never been so moving. Even Ricardo Montalban is able to become a menacing villain while still becoming his usual charming self. After all, the film is only just as good as its villain.

Overall, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a fantastic sci-fi adventure film that compellingly and vibrantly weaves the thematic motifs of life, loss, and space adventure seamlessly together. Even after all those years, he cast have never been better. Time to boldly go back to watching this film again.

Movie Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
NR 4_5 Atoms - A-

Video
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut is presented in a 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encoded video with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The contrast of the film is a little flat with the film looking much dimmer. The black levels in this dimmer film are excellent without any loss of shadow detail. The film’s colors are inconsistent at times. At some points, the colors are drab and desaturated while some scenes are richly saturated. The details are consistently sharp throughout, but the film is distractingly grainier when compared to other classic Blu-ray re-releases. Despite the imperfect color grading and noticeable grain, the video does hold up quite nicely.

Video Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

Audio
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround audio track. Although the original soundtrack comes from a Dolby Stereo source, the audio transfer did a valiant job remixing the original soundtrack to a 7.1 soundscape. However, there is still a bit of problem to be had from this remix. The dialogue is crisp and clear coming from the center channel. Unfortunately, the rear channels and subwoofer aren’t as aggressively utilized as the other classic Star Trek releases. Its usage is limited even during the action scenes. There are certain effects which do effectively fill up the room, but they are few and far between. Despite the source limitations, the audio sounds great in Dolby TrueHD.

Audio Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

Special Features
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The Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut Blu-ray contains the following special features:

  • Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer (Director’s Edition & Theatrical Version)
  • Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda (Director’s Edition)
  • Library Computer (Theatrical Version)
  • The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan
  • Production
    • Captain’s Log
    • Designing Khan
    • Original interviews with DeForest Kelley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalban
    • Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    • James Horner: Composing Genesis
  • The Star Trek Universe
    • Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics
    • A Novel Approach
    • Starfleet Academy: The Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI
  • Farewell
    • A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer

Even though there are a lot of special features listed for this release, much of the featurettes were ported from the previous home video releases. However, the brand new 30-minute documentary, “The Genesis Effect,” goes fairly in depth and features fascinating stories about Khan‘s production from the creative team and the various contributors to the film. It’s definitely an insightful documentary for Trek and non-Trek fans alike. Even if there aren’t a lot of brand new content in this release, “The Genesis Effect” is worth it.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-


Overall, the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut still shows why it’s heralded as the best Star Trek film. It’s emotional and entertaining, something that’s been lacking in the William Shatner/Leonard Nimoy era. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray release has such a decent video and audio presentation that’s unworthy of the series’ 50th anniversary year. On the bright side, this release comes with a brand new insightful documentary that any cinephile will enjoy.

Overall rating: 4/5
NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

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