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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
A Paramount Home Video Release
1982, 112 Minutes, Color, Rated PG

Starring:  William Shatner, Bibi Besch, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Ricardo Montalban, Kirstie Alley, James Doohan
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 07/11/00
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Single Layered (DVD-5)
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Theatrical Trailer, Interactive Menus, Scene Selection.

Second in the Star Trek franchise of movies, The Wrath of Khan presents us with a serious sci-fi tale and some of the best Trek moments on the big screen. While looking for a completely barren planet for the top-secret scientific experiment, "The Genesis Project", Commander Chekov and Captain Terrell beam down from the U.S.S. Reliant to a barren planet which shows a singular life sign. They instead make a shocking discovery: a banished group of genetically engineered superhumans. Led by the brilliant but evil Khan Noonian Singh, the refugees implant Chekov and his companion with a mind-controlling organism and force them to rescue the fugitives off the wasteland planet.

On the other side of the galaxy, Admiral Kirk is now a Starfleet Academy instructor embarking on a training mission with a class of cadets on the starship U.S.S. Enterprise. Just after setting out they receive a garbled distress call from a science outpost, asking why he is removing the Genesis Project Ė a top-secret device which has the power to create life where there was none. But it can also be used to wipe out an entire civilized planet. Unaware that Khan has taken over the Reliant, Kirk sets off on what is a seemingly mundane mission... but it will be anything but. Set after one of the original television series episodes and cast with Ricardo Montalban as Khan, Star Trek II is set around a compelling story line with plenty of emotion, humor, drama and action. Thereís even a scene with computer graphics that are incredibly advanced for when it was made.

Itís obvious that Paramount has created a brand new master print for Star Trek II. The anamorphic video quality is quite good, especially considering the age of the film. Colors are rich, black levels are well calibrated, dirt and lint is almost non-existent. However, itís not particularly even. Some scenes will positively "wow" you with their detail and crisp, smooth image. But many others wear their graininess like a badge of honor. At least the DVD canít be faulted for this Ė itís doing a perfect job of reproducing the original flaws. Presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen format, the transfer preserves the entire image the director intended Ė you can finally view the entire crew of the Enterprise all at once. The single-layered disc contains 17 chapters and 4.4 gigabytes of data and features English subtitles and closed captioning information.

On the audio front, the first few trumpet notes will have you worrying about the condition of the new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on this disc. But not to fear! As the opening theme continues, it gets progressively deeper and richer, so when the movie finally starts youíll feel right at home. The 5.1 mix isnít excessively active, but there are times when the rear channels really make their presence known. For the most part theyíre used to create a fuller soundfield for the excellent orchestral score by James Horner. Fortunately, there do not appear to be any of the artificial echo effects which are so commonly used to force a soundtrack into a different number of channels. Bass is respectable throughout. Though the audio track is loud and clear, thereís a lot of background hiss to it, plus it has a tendency to clip quite frequently. Also on the disc is an English 2.0 ProLogic mix, which is forced as the default. At least Paramount has added the capability for the user to select soundtracks on the fly. Furthermore, a French 2.0 mix is available.

Alas, "Khan" is quite lacking in the extra features department. Thereís only one: the original theatrical trailer. Although presented in anamorphic widescreen, itís so blurry and grainy that it could have been taken from a third-generation VHS dub.

So, should you get Khan on DVD? If youíre a Star Trek fan, the answer is most certainly yes. Although the list price is high and the extras are negligible, the video and audio quality really are quite good, especially when compared to all of its previous releases.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on July 18, 2000.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial Baby Grand 3E & StarSat

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