Monday, September 26, 2016

A Reel Review: Back on the Big Screen - STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN Director's Cut

In the year/stardate 1982, director Nicholas Meyer delivered what is considered today to be the best and most quintessential STAR TREK film with STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (read Reel Speak’s commemoration of the film’s 30th anniversary HERE). The film, in which the original cast including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley, are terrorized by a vengeful Khan (brilliantly played by Ricardo Montalban), recently received a new blu-ray Director’s Cut edition this year, and this past weekend, returned to the big screen as part of Cinemark’s Classic Series. Having never seen the film on the big screen, this Blogger was pleased to take in a showing.

The first item that needs to be mentioned about this limited re-release is that this version does not seem to be the new remastered Director’s Cut which was released this year, and that brings good news and bad news. The new home release suffered from a visual defect/glitch (later corrected) which angered many fans and consumers, and this version which was run in theatres thankfully did not have that glitch. But it seems to be the version that was released on standard DVD in 2002, and although the movie looks great on the big screen, there is a feeling that it could have looked just a little better. There’s a bit more graininess to it than expected, and although WRATH OF KHAN likely looked like that anyway when it was first shot and projected on film over 30 years ago, those of us who have been used to the dazzling gloriousness of blu-ray will notice a difference. The Director’s Cut includes several bits which were cut out of the theatrical edition, and although they are neat to see, many are redundant and are not complete scenes as much as extended ones.

But again, WRATH OF KHAN, whatever version…benefits greatly on the big screen. Colors really pop; the reds of the Starfleet uniforms, the blackness of space, and the bright control panels of our beloved USS Enterprise leap off the screen. Visual effects and space-battles are stunning, and hold up very well for a film which was made 15 years before CGI took over the industry. The exteriors of the Enterprise and USS Reliant models look beautiful, and the climactic battle inside of a color gaseous nebula is breathtaking.

The way a film sounds is just as important as it looks, and WRATH OF KHAN benefits greatly from the big theatre speakers. Dialogue is clear, explosions and fires have their expected boom, and sci-fi sounds such as phasers and transporter beams sound magnificent. The big-screen environment really augments the film’s audio and brings out sounds that are often lost when viewing at home. For example, in a quiet scene in Kirk’s apartment, which overlooks a body of water, the sounds of foghorns can be heard in the distance; a touch that this Blogger never noticed. Other ambient sounds such as the beeps and whistles of the Enterprise Bridge and control stations are also brought out of hiding.

No STAR TREK film is complete without a great soundtrack, and WRATH OF KHAN features one of the best scores of all time. James Horner’s work in the film sounds fantastic. No one did mighty horns the way the late great Horner did, and his music is literally stunning. Sitting through the end-credits to listen to the score alone is worth the ticket price.

With all the visuals and sounds being augmented, WRATH OF KHAN once again becomes a powerful cinematic experience. The big-screen presentation amplifies the power of the film; after all, it carries powerful themes of life, death, old age, loss of youth…and undying friendship. All very human themes that cinema thrives on. With so much visual and audio stimulation going on, all these great storytelling themes are doubled in power, and a few tears may roll even for those who have seen the film countless times. This big-screen presentation isn’t quite perfect, but it is a trek worth taking.


STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN Director's Cut will once again run on the big-screen on September 28th. Click HERE for information.

Read Reel Speak’s ranking of the best STAR TREK films HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.