“TAKE US, WE’RE YOURS”
Even those not into Gene Roddenberry’s brand of cosmic religiosity will find themselves wrapped up in the nonsense of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which remains the best of the ST movies for two solid reasons: William Shatner as Kirk and Ricardo Montalban as Khan giving benchmark performances as the series’ top adversaries. In old man’'s specs, consumed by mortality, Shatner embodies Kirk with a cushiony frailty that’s surprisingly endearing; the role has finally become a love-energy source. Montalban’s all diametrics—roaring Milton and Melville with glorious venom—and his remarkable pecs validate the striptease vanity; a face with wrinkles as hills, this force of nature is more powerful here than he has ever been in anything else in his long career. The movie also has a great theme: regeneration, something maybe our great great great grand kids will likely see attempted on Mars. While Wrath of Khan is nothing more than television, director Nicholas Meyer has provided a nifty understatement in its interiors and gadgetry, and Kirk’s quarters a well-designed, cozy hideaway I wouldn’t mind having myself. (And gay friends said they wouldn’t object if I called the costumes here NASA fag.) In a more generous time, Hollywood might have honored this neglected class of entertainment with nominations for Montalban and Shatner’s “take us, we’re yours” performances. People have won Oscars for a lot less. Meyer also directed ST VI: The Undiscovered Country, with Christopher Plummer as General Chang in what many had hopes would be the actor’s yummiest role in years. He certainly looks the part—reptilian flamboyance like no tomorrow. He’s far and away Kirk’s craftiest adversary since Khan and as educated: he rages Shakespeare. There’s even a sly under-directed bit of continuity between the villains and Kirk: when sitting at a dining table with Chang and Kirk hears him recite some Bard, there’s deja vu in Kirk’s eyes. But Plummer’s role isn’t large enough; difficult to tell if truncated by the editing or writing, Chang isn’t the star he should be, especially since he now commands a ship that can fire torpedoes while using the infamous Klingon cloaking device. Trekkies waited for this technological feat for over 25 years.
Text COPYRIGHT © 1997 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.