There’s not much to say about The Wrath of Khan that hasn’t already been said. This film stands as the best film of all the Star Trek movies. It is my favorite of all the films for a multitude of reasons.
The Wrath of Khan has a tight story that is drawn from all the characters and the chief villain of the film, Khan (Ricardo Montalban). Kirk (Shatner) is dealing with being an admiral and also with getting older. He yearns to be on a ship exploring space, not be Earth-bound. There is some backstory to Khan in the original series TV episode Space Seed, but the writers were smart enough to get that exposition done during the film quickly. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise have left Khan and his crew on a planet. Unbeknownst to Kirk, a catastrophe happens to a neighboring planet leaving Khan and his crew to suffer on a desolate desert planet. Khan is out for revenge against Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. Khan is a brilliant mind and a challenge to Kirk and crew. There is also a Genesis device in the film, which is almost a McGuffin since it really serves as part of the story for the film after this one.
While the story sounds simplistic, and it is, the story works and works wonders. By the end of the film, I was tearing up from what happens to the crew of the Enterprise. All the actors in the film are fantastic, but the one that elevates the film is Ricardo Montalban who is just fantastic as Khan. While the new Star Trek films with Chris Pine and crew are exciting and wall-to-wall action – and I do enjoy them – it is nice to see a slower more thoughtful Star Trek film. Star Trek II takes its time with the plot and characters. And because of this they build a movie that stands the test of time. Star Trek Into Darkness tries hard to replicate The Wrath of Khan, but fails. It did not take the time to develop the Khan character to the extent that The Wrath of Khan does – nor does Pine and Quinto have the history that Shatner and Nimoy have in order to pull off one critical scene.
I have seen The Wrath of Khan multiple times and the film never gets old. If you have not seen this film and enjoy the new (Kelvin) Star Trek films, this one is the one that is worth seeing the most (Voyage Home is the second). I highly recommend Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
9/14/2020 Edited for grammar, added links and photo.