"Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn" is a healthy contrast to the first movie (unkindly known as "Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture").
The warlord Khan first made his appearance in the original TV series. The episode Star Seed had Captain Kirk stranding him on a prison planet. Now he is back seeking revenge. Khan and Kirk battle for control of the Genesis device, a powerful new weapon. The film climaxes in a starship battle and a denouement both tragic and uplifting.
The film plays on the TV series' perceived strengths; strong character interaction, a credible science fiction future, and intelligent plotting. The principal three, Kirk(Shatner), Spock (Nimoy) and Dr McCoy (Kelley), freed from the first movie's turgid atmosphere, are able to spark off each other. The genetically-engineered superman Khan makes a worthy villain, Ricardo Montalban breathing new life into his 60s character.
Director Nicholas Meyer maintains a masterful grip on the proceedings. He handles action, suspense, and tragedy with equal aplomb.
The action is aided by the witty, literate script. Themes of pursuit, death, and regeneration are skilfully woven together. Khan quotes frequently from the novel "Moby Dick"; Kirk is forced to face his own mortality.
Special mention should go to Douglas Trumbull for his superb effects work. The final space battle in the Motarre Nebula is amongst the best ever filmed.
To sum up: the Star Trek franchise got off to a poor start, but found its feet in "The Wrath Of Kahn". This film lays the groundwork for many entertaining movies to come.