Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) is a perfect birthday movie! It seems to have a focus on birthdays; be it the literal birthday of Admiral James T. Kirk as he grows older and laments it, or the renewal of life outlook Kirk has by the end at the sight of Genesis and renewed relationship with his son (the next generation)… As a belated tribute to the 40th Anniversary since its U.S. theatrical release (June 4th, 1982), let’s consult with David Gremillion — Geek News Now’s head honcho — who watches Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan every year for his birthday and determine what makes this movie a perfect birthday movie!
GNN: “Why do you watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan every year on your birthday?”
DAVID GREMILLION: “It wasn’t such a big deal in my 20s or 30s, but now? Seeing Kirk come to grips with mortality, getting older, not being the brash and bold captain he was in the series, I can totally relate. I’m not seeing Death in the mirror, but seeing youth evolve is a powerful message.”
GNN: “What is your favorite moment and line from the movie?”
DAVID GREMILLION: “Just one? I have to pick JUST ONE?? It’s too easy to roll with Spock’s death. For me, it’s when Kirk talks to David AFTER Spock’s death. Kirk has no one like Spock in his life now (maybe Bones, but he has a full sick bay to worry about) and watching this ‘man’s man’ become so open, so vulnerable, with the son he just discovered he had? It’s a confession rarely seen from a protagonist and it is rewarded with a moment that makes ANY DAD EVER tear up when David tells Kirk he’s proud to be his son.”
GNN: “How do you rate the score by James Horner?”
DAVID GREMILLION: “To quote Billy Bob from Varsity Blues. ’10! A 10!’ This is James Horner in his prime (tragically cut short) and he truly shines here. I’d put it as one of my favorite scores, from any composer. I think only The Rocketeer might be a better work from him.”
GNN: “As villains go, how would you rate Khan?”
DAVID GREMILLION: “Eh… he’s good at challenging Kirk, but he’s actually pretty dumb (in both films he’s been in). I get that he’s the Ahab of the story, but other than getting the drop on Kirk early on, he’s not terribly clever or innovative. So much for being a ‘Super Genius’.”
GNN: “What do you think Star Trek II is trying to say on the subject of birthdays, life, and renewal?”
DAVID GREMILLION: “This is a ‘Coming of Age’ story for adults. There are a metric ton of stories for kids and teens, but how many are there for people in their 30s and 40s? We’re slowing down (except for Tom Brady, for some reason), not the young men we were, but there’s something on the horizon… something hopeful.”
DAVID GREMILLION (continued): “The movie opens with death and hopelessness (Kobyiashi Maru) followed up quickly with depression and a dour outlook on the future (Kirk’s chat with McCoy). Yet the film ends with Kirk feeling ‘young’ and renewed even after losing Spock. The look on his face says it all. Hope is eternal when you know where to look (and when to stop looking at the storm clouds).”
GNN: “What is the message of the film in your eyes?”
DAVID GREMILLION: “What I love most about this film is that although the ‘pew pew’ is far better than what we saw in the previous film (or series), the movie really isn’t about that. The message is challenging everyone to look inwards and think about where they are now and where they are going. Khan’s crew was BEGGING him to forget Kirk and find a planet they could live on peacefully, but Khan couldn’t even consider that while Kirk was alive. Kirk was lost in the beginning of the film, totally lacking a direction that was meaningful to him. Spock knew his decisions would mean his end, but didn’t hesitate to follow his path.”
DAVID GREMILLION (continued): “Where are you going now? Where do you feel you need to go? That’s the message.”
GNN: “If you could hang out with any character from Star Trek II for your birthday, who would it be and why?
DAVID GREMILLION: “Any ‘character’? Hmm. Gimme Scotty any day. He laughs, has great stories, can fix anything, and his choice of alcoholic beverages would make any birthday memorable.”
Forty years since its theatrical release, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is still the movie by which all other Star Trek movies are judged; this is not without good reason. It’s a strong, solid story with much character. Also, it takes a sci-fi look at what it means to live or die; to face either path the best way you can like Kirk or Spock, or to become enslaved to your passion like Khan. Sounds like what we probably do every year on our own birthdays. Watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — especially on your birthday — and consider its philosophical aspects!