Long considered by Trek fans to be one of the best entries in the (very) long running series, "The Wrath Of Khan" offers one of the more action-packed "Trek" pictures, and the film still holds up very nicely even 18 years after its original release. With one of the best villians of the series in Khan(Riccardo Montalban), this film sets up a revenge plot and battle between Khan and Captain Kirk.
Khan escapes from a destroyed planet, and sets off to hunt down Kirk and also, steal the Genesis project, a weapon that was created by Kirk's son. Unlike some of the later editions of the series, "Khan" starts off letting the audience know that this is going to be a fast paced journey and it doesnt dissapoint. At one time or another I've watched all of the films in this series, and "Khan" remains the one sporting the strongest action sequences as well as a solid sense of adventure.
Performance from the usual crowd of "Trek" stars such as Shatner as Kirk remains very good, but it's Montalban as Khan who steals some scenes with his over the top performance, making a perfect enemy for Kirk. There's also a younger Kirstie Alley in a supporting role. I don't find much not to like about "Khan", which still remains a stunningly tense and action-packed sci-fi adventure that stands up well still.
VIDEO: Paramount has generally done a good job on all but a couple of the "Trek" films, and although "Khan" does have a few points where it stumbles, the picture quality for an eightteen year old film remains very solid. Sharpness is a little bit off in some sequences that look a tad soft, but for the majority, images remain adequately sharp and pleasing for an older picture. Colors are also successful here; they remain fairly solid and well-saturated throughout the entire film. Flesh tones are generally accurate although they look slightly off on occasion. Black level is good, as well.
I'm pleased to report that I didn't find any instances of pixelation or shimmering. There are some minor marks and scratches on the print used, but for how old the film is, it looks remarkably clean and free of such problems. Some scenes are visibly a little grainy, but this is not a consistent problem. Some of the scenes look slightly dark, but that is how the film originally looked. There are some minor flaws here and there that pop up, but all in all, I think that Paramount has done an above-average job with their efforts on this edition of "Khan".
SOUND: Again, it's not going to sound as full or rich as a newer film, but I was suprised by how good "Wrath of Khan" did sound. Sound has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and although it's not terribly agressive, there is some surround use on occasion. When surrounds are used, they are used quite well and are effective. They are used for either effects or the score, but their use remains somewhat infrequent. James Horner's excellent score sounds wonderful whenever it appears in the soundtrack, even though it's not very full-sounding. The occasional explosions are not hugely powerful, but do contain a good amount of strength behind them.
All in all, this is certainly not going to sound as smooth as a newer film, but I didn't find any distracting problems with what is offered here. There's no distortion, and what's here is exactly what I'd expect from an 18 year old picture. Dialogue is a little thin and hollow, but still easily understood.
MENUS:: Paramount has never done really great menus for any of the "Trek" titles and this is a particularly bland offering. How about the theme music, some animation, anything?.
EXTRAS:: Like most of the other early "Trek" films, this only offers a trailer.
Final Thoughts: This being one of the best films of the "Trek" series, it's extremely dissapointing that all Paramount has to offer in terms of features is a trailer. Picture quality and audio quality are fine for an 18 year old movie, but the film deserves a bigger, more complete package. Although the DVD is somewhat dissapointing in a couple of areas, this is a really solid and entertaining film and is still definitely worth a look.
The Film A-
Video 85/B = (340/400 possible points)
Audio: 85/B = (340/400 possible points)
Extras: 69/D+ = (207/300 possible points)
Menus: 67/D = (134/200 possible points)
Value: 81/B- = (243/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: A-
DVD GRADE: C+