Part 2 HERE.
As we begin Part III of this obsessive look into Star Trek II, we rejoin the action in the middle of the attack on the Enterprise by the Khan-commanded Reliant.
And what is the first thing Kirk says upon seeing his “old friend”?
For me the viewscreen banter and Kirk’s duping of Khan play beautifully, even if based on a bunch of made-up technobabble about “prefix access codes” and “command consoles” and such. Screen-rewriter/director Nick Meyer does a fine job here.
In one place, Meyer described that it took many takes to get Shatner to deliver a deadpan “Here it comes.” Meyer had to wear Shatner down and get all the dramatic deliveries out of his system. “Here … it COMES!” “Here IT … comes.” “HERE … IT … COMES!” and all the Kirkean variations.
Not only is it very cold in space, there are nice key lights to provide dramatic shadows as the damaged ships pass each other.
I always thought it was cute that the Reliant’s shuttle bays were numbered. As if somebody on approach wouldn’t know where to aim. For that matter, wouldn’t these numbers be out of view, when the doors were open?
Speaking of doors opening, the scene on the Enterprise bridge ends as Scott somehow mistakes the bridge for sickbay. The music score, as released on the various soundtracks, includes a loud, dissonant sting at the end of this scene. Meyer, or Horner, or somebody, deserves credit for dialing that loud clang out of the film. The brief view of the ship “silent” in space is much more effective.
Next comes the Midshipman Death Scene, patterned after a very similar bit in the wonderful 1951 film Captain Horatio Hornblower, starring Gregory Peck in the title role. The establishing shot of Kirk walking sickbay is intentionally reminiscent of a walk undertaken by Peck, with the same end – finding a young crewmember who is injured, who is soon to pay the ultimate price.
Just past an hour into the 1951 film, after a pitched battle between Hornblower’s ship Lydia and the Natividad, the captain walks the ship to discover that his unwelcome passenger, Lady Barbara Wellesley, is trying to aid the many wounded. One of the dying is Hornblower’s steward, Polwheal. In a humanizing moment that bonds the two lead characters, Hornblower tells Lady Barbara how to comfort Polwheal in his last moments by kissing him (on each eye, then mouth) the same way the lad’s mother kissed him goodbye at Portsmouth.
Unfortunately, there’s no pretty lady to bid Peter Preston adieu, so a firm handclasp from Kirk will have to do.
Leading up to the infamous travelling bloodstain!
At 59 minutes, here’s where the first handprint can be found, nearly down to the outward fold on the white blousing of Kirk’s jacket. This is in the midst of an extended version of this scene that has several welcome moments, except for Kirk’s lame statement that Khan wants revenge for Kirk’s passing judgment on him 15 years ago.
Two minutes later, on the bridge:
The bloody handprint has mysteriously migrated higher, almost to Kirk’s neckline!
KIRK: What do you make of that planetoid beyond?
SPOCK: I can make a hat, a broach, a ….. [sorry about that!]
So, Kirk, McCoy, and Saavik beam down to Regula 1, where McCoy finds …
It’s a nice touch when Kirk punches the glass. Saavik is so surprised at this brutal burst of masculinity that she jumps a full inch or so, straight up!
Incidentally, whenever my dear wife gets mad at me for something, I ALWAYS blame the creatures in my body that make me “say lyes … dooo tings!”
In the station’s transporter room, nobody remained to turn it off. Plus, the “sleep” function ran down, and they disabled the screen saver!
When they arrive inside the planetoid, Kirk is almost immediately assaulted by a wimpy little kid who throws a hissy fit after being quickly disarmed. Such impulsive behavior is a great illustration as to why this character deserved to be bumped off (in the next movie). This shot is also a prime example of what TV Tropes calls Behind the Black: If it’s out of camera range, it’s invisible. How else could this clumsy girly-boy sneak up on a bunch of Starfleet officers?
He’s just lucky that Saavik has faster reflexes than either him or the brainwashed Terrell.
And it’s too bad that the otherwise noble end of Captain Terrell is marred by one of the world’s worst matte lines.
Note that in the close-up (a giant plaster ear that was built from a cast of Koenig’s own), the blood is dripping straight down.
While in the immediately following shot, one second later, the dripping blood covers a much larger area.
So Khan steals the Genesis Torpedo, leaving Kirk to fume.
KHAN: I wish to go on hurting you … as soon as I can find my whip and my rubber corset, and slip on my pumps!
Am I the only person to think that in this freeze-frame, Kirk seems to display a bit of exotropia?
CAROL MARCUS: It took the Starfleet corps of engineers ten months in spacesuits to tunnel out all this.
KIRK: Why didn’t those morons use a couple of hortas?
While David Marcus complains about wasting time, Kirk looks at his watch.
Note the specs on his nose.
David has one line, and two seconds after the previous screencap, voila!
The specs are gone, and Kirk’s hands are now laced in front of him.
The next scene, a pas de deux between Kirk and Doctor Marcus distaffe, makes it plain to all that James “Tomcat” Kirk had a momentous fling with the lady. Personally, I always found it fun to connect a couple of separate dots. After watching this scene, I decided that Carol Marcus must have been the “little blonde lab technician” whom Gary Mitchell aimed at Lieutenant Kirk “back at the academy.” After all, as Kirk says, “I almost married her!”
I’m not the only fan to have inferred this, even though the original concept for the character was for her to be Janet Wallace, from “The Deadly Years.”
At the end of this brief scene, Kirk, the flush of the chase ebbing, once again announces that he feels old … worn out.
Which leads Carol to entice him into the Garden of
Eden – I mean, Genesis.
James Horner’s music goes a long way towards making these establishing shots work.
Then comes the discussion of the no-win scenario. Although the 2009 film is set in “another” timeline, it’s nevertheless fun to think of that film’s explanation of how Kirk beat the test, in relation to this film.
“I reprogrammed the simulation to make it possible to rescue the ship” is pretty much the way it’s done in the new film.
And you can’t tell me that the Pine apple (get it?) wasn’t inspired by this scene in Star Trek II!
The sardonic delivery of Spock’s line, “I exaggerated” reminds me of an anecdote of director Nick Meyer’s. Supposedly, Harve Bennett protested a plot twist in Star Trek III. “You can’t blow up the Enterprise!” supposedly Bennet objected. To which Meyer scathingly snorted, “TV mentality!” Similarly, Saavik is all innocence, seemingly amazed that the commander of a vessel under fire might seek to deceive his adversary. She oughta be happy that Spock’s response was a gentle “I exaggerated.” He would have been justified if he’d backhanded her across the room. “Of course I lied to the enemy, you silly twit!” he would rage.
Here’s a comparison of the dramatic pan from the Enterprise at the bottom, to the Reliant at the top. The actual shot, traveling “upwards” from one to the other, takes a lot less time than a “real” coverage of a body this size would require. Who would want to see five seconds of craters?
So the Enterprise limps towards the Mutara Nebula, hoping to get into the briar patch before Br’er Fox.
And so, as Kirk and crew get ready for the battle of their lives, the trainees hurry to Battle Stations, including Vacuum Cleaner Guy, fresh from Starfleet’s training center!
(Incidentally, in the version broadcast on ABC, February 24th, 1985, the brief hallway sequence, during this Red Alert, including Vacuum Cleaner Guy was cut out.)
And after Kirk taunts Khan, the Superior Intellect ™ throws his unbilled assistant aside.
“Full power, damn you!” he cries. Watch Khan’s movements here, as he leans onto the helm console and shoves *something* forward. To me it looks like he’s grabbed the stick shift and forced ’er into overdrive, baby!