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[Comments] (5) The Remake Of Khan: Sumana and I watched The Wrath of Khan as part of my plan to get her to watch pre-TNG Star Trek movies. In the context of having just watched the 11th Trek movie, it was very enlightening. The new movie is pretty close to being a remake of The Wrath of Khan. Which explains why it's good but also why it's not that good. Almost all the callbacks to older Trek movies were callbacks to Khan, including callbacks I didn't notice, like Kirk eating an apple during the Kobayashi Maru. And then I realized that a lot of the bad Star Trek movies are bad because they're trying to remake The Wrath of Khan.

Here's what I mean. By normal standards, Khan is a really bad Star Trek villain. Star Trek villains generally have some self-justifying line of BS that makes them the hero. The Borg want to unify all life forms and cultures, the Cardassians are imperialists spreading civilization, the Xindi think they're acting in self-defense. Admiral Leyton is trying to stop the Federation from becoming soft. Harry Mudd is a Willy Loman type who's just trying to shift product. Etc. Their actions make sense given their worldview. Even TOS-era Khan assumes what he does is right by virtue of his innate superiority.

But Khan in Khan is Captain Ahab, a character defined by his obsession and his need for revenge. He no longer cares whether he's doing the right thing. With Khan it made sense, because he's the superman who's been humiliated by Kirk, a normal person. But the people who make Star Trek movies keep making the villain into Captain Ahab as if that'll make the movie good.

Check out the lousy Trek movie villians. Soran: obsessed with the Nexus. Ru'afo: wants revenge on the Son'a. (Yeah, I had to look those names up.) Shinzon: wants revenge on Picard, which doesn't even make sense. Nero: wants revenge on Spock (also makes no sense). Obsession. Revenge. They're all trying to be Khan.

Some of the Trek films don't have villains at all, which I always enjoy, but look at the good villains. General Chang: afraid of change. Borg Queen: is a freaking Borg. Even Sybok (religious fanatic) is a decent villain. I don't think you can get a big-budget SF movie made these days with no villain, but maybe if Khan hadn't been such a good movie the other Trek movies would have been better.

PS: Anyone complaining about red matter, rewatch Khan and try to explain how Genesis works.

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Posted by Evan at Sun May 17 2009 04:06

kirk's kid just traded some phony machine gun parts to the iranians for some plutonium, right? hmm.

Posted by kirkjerk at Mon May 18 2009 11:36

Evan, what?

It occurred to me how similar the scenario of the first movie and IV were, unstoppable probes heading right to Earth. Of course the first movie was just Nomand and "The Changeling" writ large, and the 4th took it in some interesting ways.

Posted by Kris Straub at Wed May 20 2009 18:37

Thank you for pointing out my big problem with Star Trek movies -- they use this James Bondian, plug-in-a-heavy mentality when it comes time to choose a threat, and none of them work like Khan did, and it was because Khan was such an interesting figure and a great actor. Soran, Ru'afo, Shinzon, they were all boring. Man, Nero didn't even need to be in the latest movie, for all I remember about him.

I like it when the crew is facing something more abstract. It's Star Trek for chrissakes. V'ger and the whale probe were cool. Sybok was at least a change of pace. Everyone and their uncle has the power to halt nuclear reactions inside a star, make black holes, etc. It's silly.

Also did you notice that Nemesis was just a double mirror of Star Trek II? Picard was cloned, and Data kinda was too. And then of course the ending. It's like they thought they could make it good by just making two of everything in Star Trek II.

Posted by Evan at Sat May 23 2009 11:55

i was just blending elements of Back to the Future and Wrath of Khan (ie, Kirk's son builds genesis, the mad professor trades machine gun parts for plutonium for the time machine)

Posted by Leonard at Mon Jun 01 2009 11:57

Now that I think about it, Ru'afo, Shinzon, and Nero all kind of have a similar look going on.


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