TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!

"Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan"
"Star Trek III - The Search for Spock"
"Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home"
"Star Trek VI - the Undiscovered Country"

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan(Editor's note: Paramount has begun releasing some of these films in new "Director's Editions," which we will review here as they come out. )

"Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan" could be credited with having saved "Star Trek" from a premature (well, to many of us) fate.

"Star Trek - The Motion Picture" was a big disappointment in that it forgot what made Trek great and concentrated instead on special effects and "bigness' - in short, it was form over substance.

Paramount decided, for whatever reason, to take control of the series from Gene Roddenberry's hands for successive films and handed it over to Harve Bennett. The result was a much smaller movie than "TMP" and, other than the special effects (which are fine, but not breakthrough like the first movie's) a much better movie.

The story's a sequel to the "Space Seed" episode from the original TV series' first season. Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban, in all his scenery-chewing glory) is a superman from the late 20th century. The result of genetic engineering, and one of the causes of the Eugenics War that led to his - and his "tribe's" - eventual exile from Earth, he has no delusions of grandeur. No, he IS grand, and has no intention of letting the galaxy forget it.

In the original episode, Kirk ends up maroon Khan and kin on the planet Ceti Alpha 5, where he's free to build whatever society he chooses.

Jump ahead fifteen years and Khan and the remnants of his community are discovered by Captain Terrell (Paul Winfield) and his aide Commander Chekov (yes, of course, THAT Chekov) who think they're actually on Ceti Alpha 6. One would think the Federation would have better galactic road maps than they obviously do, so their starships wouldn't make such silly and elementary navigation mistakes, but what's a plot hole or two in Star Trek.

Plot holes are a grand Star Trek tradition, and it's nice to see them being exploited so well again...

Anyway, Khan gets free and takes control over Terrell's ship and uses it to seek out now-Admiral Kirk to have his revenge.

There's a nifty subplot involving the Genesis machine and its "Life from lifelessness" theme that will carry through the next Trek movie as well. It's the Khan stuff we're really here for, though, and Bennett, Montalban, et al, don't disappoint.

Star Trek II is the first of the trilogy that concludes with IV, and the three can almost be viewed as a single movie - especially II and III, which relate directly to each other.

Besides Montalban, we're also introduced to Kirstie Alley as Lt. Saavik (played by Robin Curtis, and not nearly as well, in STIII). This was probably her breakout role, and she's very good as the confused young Vulcan being mentored by Spock. Director Nicholas Meyer (who also made the terrific "Time After Time") does a nice job of riding herd on the production.

The DVD's widescreen video quality (enhanced for 16x9 TV's) is really good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio's also good for the most part, though its analog roots show through on occasion and there's some muddiness and distortion. On the whole, however, it's a very satisfying DVD experience for Trek fans.

Extras are anything but plentiful, unfortunately. You get the trailer and chapter list and that's about it.

Still, it's the movie we want, and a fine version of the movie we got.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, from Paramount Home Video
112 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nicholls, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Ricardo Montalban, Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Kirstie Alley, and Paul Winfield
Written by Jack B. Sowards, Produced by Harve Bennett
Directed by Nicholas Meyer

Star Trek III - The Search for Spock

Star Trek III is the warmest of the Trek movies, yet it's still a ripping yarn with enough action and adventure to keep Trekkies happy.

Directed by Leonard Nimoy, the film picks up where "Star Trek II - the Wrath of Khan" left off. Spock has just died and his mortal remains (which turn out to be not nearly as mortal as originally suspected) have landed on the new Genesis planet. The Enterprise limps back to space dock and the crew, devastated by the loss of the Vulcan first officer, waits for a reassignment that never comes.

McCoy, meanwhile, has gone from crusty and curmudgeonly country doctor to the personification of weirdness and it turns out his metamorphosis is due to Spock having put his life essence into him before making his nearly ultimate sacrifice.

Of course nobody, including McCoy knows this until Sarek (Mark Lenard), Spock's father shows up at Kirk's apartment and explains the facts of Vulcan life.

Armed with the new knowledge that there's a chance to save Spock, Kirk pleads with Star Fleet to let him return to Genesis with McCoy to try reunifying Spock. The pencil necked bureaucrats turn him down, however, so Kirk and his inner circle of series regulars steal the Enterprise right out of space dock and head for Genesis.

Unfortunately, the Klingons have gotten wind of the Genesis device and want to turn it into a weapon, so they're cloaked and waiting for the Enterprise when it arrives at the Genesis planet. This provides the film's conflict as Kirk and his merry band have to find and save Spock while fighting off the Klingon bastards who'll stop at nothing to acquire the Genesis device.

Some wags have written off every odd-numbered Star Trek movie as being wastes of time and, though they're not far off the mark when it comes to "V," "Generations," and the second half of "The Motion Picture," "The Search for Spock" is one of the best entries. It's all about friendship, respect, and duty, but though it could easily have gotten bogged down in schmaltz it manages to resist that temptation.

The cast does a good job in their familiar roles, especially Shatner as Kirk, who comes off as more human and less pompous than in any other entry. Christopher Lloyd is also very good as Klingon Commander Kruge - and watch for John Larroquette in an early role as a Klingon crewthing.

Leonard Nimoy, who also directed "Star Trek IV," does a good job with this flick. So did Paramount when it comes to creating a DVD version. Though there aren't really any extras of which to speak (all you get is the usual trailer, chapter stops and language choices), the quality of the disc is first rate. The widescreen picture looks great and the audio has been translated into Dolby Digital and it sounds terrific.

In all, an eminently watchable Star Trek episode.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, from Paramount Home Video
105 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nicholls, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Christopher Lloyd
Written and Produced by Harve Bennett,
Directed by Leonard Nimoy

Star Trek IV

Star Trek IV is the series' lightest entry, but it's also the most serious in that it's a cautionary tale about our fragile environment and how over the long term our short term shortsightedness could have horrible consequences centuries down the road.

It's also the third in a continuous trilogy of films that began with "The Wrath of Khan," a tale in which Admiral Kirk manages to regain command of the Enterprise, fight an old nemesis, kill his best friend, resurrect him, destroy the Enterprise, get courtmartialed and busted back to Captain, then be given command of a new Enterprise.


Leonard Nimoy directs, and he does a fine job of taking our heroes through their misadventures in 1980's San Francisco. The Enterprising bunch are fish out of water as they stumble through what to them are almost dark ages, trying to find a couple of humpback whales they can kidnap and bring back to the 23rd century to save the Earth.

They need the whales because a mysterious probe has come into the solar system and begun hollering for them - and, not finding them, is now (or, to those in the 20th century, then) wreaking havoc on the rest of God's creatures that aren't yet extinct.

Saving the whales retroactively and thereby saving the Earth proactively gives Kirk and his now-renegade crew the big stick with which to beat any rap Starfleet would give them for their actions in Star Treks II and III, and all ends happily with the crew taking up their traditional duties in a brand new Enterprise that just happened to be waiting for them in orbit when they happen to need a new ship.

It's standard Star Trek stuff, and that means it's a good ride with likeable, comfortable characters, a healthy dose of action/adventure, and even some food for thought thrown in for good measure. Besides the usual crew members, who deliver their usual journeyman performances, Catherine Hicks is along this time, as a whale expert and the requisite Kirk love interest that had been missing since the original TV series (not including Dr. Marcus, of course).

The DVD is in widescreen (enhanced for 16x9), Dolby Digital and the picture and sound quality are very good - though we detected a little softness in the image. Extras include a "director's series" featurette with Leonard Nimoy, which is a very interesting look at Star Trek movie making, the trailer, languages/subtitles, and chapter stops. There are no liner notes besides the little blurb on the back of the box.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, from Paramount Home Video
118 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nicholls, Walter Koenig, James Doohan and Catherine Hicks
Produced by Harve Bennett, Screenplay by Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes and Harve Bennett & Nicholas Meyer
Directed by Leonard Nimoy

Star Trek VI

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country does a nice job of setting up "Star Trek: The Next Generation." It's supposed to be the last film with the original cast (some of whom show up in "Generations") and it revolves around the beginnings of the Klingon Empire/Federation Alliance that's still in place by the time Jean Luc Picard and his merry band take over the bridge of a subsequent Enterprise.

The movie's also an allegory for the Cold War between the East and the West (on Earth, of course) and begins with the destruction of the over mined planetoid from which the Klingons (the East) got much of their resources. This emergency leads them to seek the Federation's help, which is granted and Captain Kirk (whose son was killed by these same "Klingon bastards" in Star Trek III) is given the job of being the liaison between the two races.

But trust is hard to find among peoples who've been at each other's throats through 79 TV episodes and five movies and it doesn't take long for a monkey wrench to be thrown into the peace process - via a well timed assassination that looks as if it were performed by Kirk or one of his minions.

Christopher Plummer chews the scenery as Chang, a Shakespeare-spouting Klingon who's always up for a good battle as long as it's glorious, and Kim Cattrall plays a Vulcan sidekick to Spock who's a lot more than she appears to be. We also get to see the former Yeoman Rand in a tiny role, as well as Spock's father Sarek. Michael (Worf) Dorn is even along for the ride in a tip of the hat to the Next Generation.

Star Trek VI is a reunion and a farewell at the same time, and succeeds well as both. It has an intelligent plot, with the usual action and social commentary, good special effects, and a cast of familiar and new characters that are memorable. It's a fine farewell to the original cast, despite their refusal to stay gone when "Generations" was written.

The DVD is in widescreen, though not anamorphic widescreen (unfortunately for those with 16x9 aspect ratio TV's), Dolby Digital and the picture and sound quality are very good. There aren't many extras, however. All you get is the trailer and a teaser, languages/subtitles, and chapter stops. There are no liner notes besides the little blurb on the back of the box.

It has been said that only the even numbered "Star Trek" movies are any good and we'd agree that they're the best, though we also have a very soft spot for III and the first hour or so of the first one. Five, however, is junk.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, from Paramount Home Video
113 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nicholls, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Christopher Plummer, David Warner, Kim Cattralll
Produced by Ralph Winter and Steven-Charles Jaffe, Story by Leonard Nimoy and Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal, Screenplay by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flynn
Directed by Nicholas Meyer


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

Updated May 13, 2006