Friday, February 14, 2003

the wrath of khan: an exercise in reuse and trends

Finished Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan yesterday night, twice if I may add: once as is, in the restored director's cut (released in 2002 along with the last TNG movie Nemesis) accompanied by very informative and entertaining text commentary by Michael Okuda; and the second time with commentary from director Nick Meyer. The idea for text commentary is pretty cool, if I may say so (for lack of anything more literary to say about it). This is widely regarded as the best of the Star Trek movies, and for its impact on the rest of the movies and the subsequent TV spinoffs, I must agree. The film is also an exercise in recycling:

* props from the abandoned Star Trek: Phase II project, the disastrous first movie, Conquest of Space, The Towering Inferno

* Heavy reuse of sets with marginal alterations: all the bridge scenes were filmed on the same set. Sets from the first Star Trek movie (parts from the Klingon bridge) reappear here.

The other cool aspects of the movie include:

* Rich literary references (thanks to Nick Meyer) like Moby Dick, Paradise Lost and King Lear (the inevitable Shakespearean element scattered across the Star Trek canon)

* The little cameo by composer James Horner, walking down a corridor

* Numerous firsts: The first (and only) time we see Kirk using a wristwatch; the first time we see a photon torpedo; the first time you see someone vacuuming a starship floor; the first time you see a "no smoking" sign (on the bridge); strong heritage of the navy in the protocol, dialogue, sets and costumes

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