John Eaves Looks Back at The Wrath of Khan

John Eaves Looks Back at The Wrath of Khan

The summer of 1982, to me, will always stand as one of the greatest seasons for movie releases. The visual effects world was at its best, with incredible work coming from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Apogee and Boss Films. Conan the Barbarian was the first of the big pictures to hit the screen, followed by The Road Warrior, John Carpenter's The Thing, Poltergeist, Tron, Blade Runner, E.T., Creepshow, The Dark Crystal, Cat People, Pink Floyd The Wall, Firefox and a little sci-fi movie called Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

The date was June the 4th, 1982, and The Wrath of Khan and Poltergeist both opened to sellout crowds, with both well on their way to becoming summer smashes. Back in 1982, movie trailers were meant to whet your appetite, but not show you too much. In many cases you actually would see footage from other films mixed in, and trailers weren't the art forms that show everything from the film, like today's trailers do. So, a lot was left to your imagination. The teaser for The Wrath of Khan was a fine example of this, of a trailer done right, a teaser that teased, and it really got the fans excited about the film’s upcoming release.

Scene from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan

I was in San Jose, CA, when The Wrath of Khan opened and my friend Mark Zainer dragged me along to see it on opening night at one of the dome theaters there. I really wasn't up for the sequel, to be honest, because I was not overly impressed with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which had been released three years prior. My early doubts about The Wrath of Khan quickly vanished just moments into it, and I was a huge fan before the film came to an end. (Director and uncredited co-writer) Nicholas Meyer created an incredible return to the reasons why we all loved the original Star Trek: a great story complemented by incredible performances and interactions between all of the cast. The return of Khan from the 1960's episode "Space Seed" was a brilliant idea, and the script by Jack B. Sowards soars as one of the best-written Trek films of all time.

Jerry Goldsmith was busy composing the scores for four or five other films from 1982, and so James Horner was brought in for The Wrath of Khan. Horner had some big shoes to fill, but his great talent and passion for music made him the perfect choice. He created a romantic and rousing score with a style and pace that took the film’s story and visuals to new heights. The performances by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, the TOS supporting cast, newcomers Kirstie Alley, Bibi Besch and Merritt Buttrick, and, of course, the legendary Ricardo Montalban, are stellar to say the least. And, 33 years later, lines of dialogue from the film are still iconic catchphrases.

One of the most iconic moments from the movie

ILM was a very busy VFX shop in 1982, yet it never mattered how many shows the company had going on at one time; their work was always the best. My hat is off to what they did with The Wrath of Khan, not only for the quality of their work but the scope of their artists’ vision. They created fantastic worlds and nebulas, as well as a USS Reliant that emerged a huge screen star. In fact, as much as I loved the Enterprise, the USS Reliant quickly became my new favorite starship. She was brilliantly designed by Joe Jennings and Mike Minor, and was a well thought-out creation utilizing (at the time) very limited Starfleet architecture.

On a personal note, these were my days of big dreams about working in the movies as an artist and VFX model maker, and the summer of 1982 made it so hard to be in Arizona and not working at ILM or Apogee, where the action was. The VFX in The Wrath of Khan were definitely a highlight, and what I was seeing on the screen that summer only inspired me more. Anyway, the film ranked high with both critics and fans and is still considered by many the best Star Trek film so far. I saw this one five or six times in the theater that summer, and I am so glad my buddy Mark dragged me to the opening.

A starship sketch by John Eaves

So with all that said, happy 33rd anniversary, Star Trek II.

 

And for the much-anticipated addition to the Red Dress Series, may I present Antoinette Marie from Southern California. Antoinette got into modeling quite by accident. A friend talked her into a shoot -- and she has been modeling ever since. Her posing style falls mainly into the glamor category and her work is breathtaking. For our two shoots, Antoinette changed directions and tried her first outing with a themed style. She did so with great flair and extravagance while putting her glamorous twist into the mix. What a great talent and tons of fun to work with; she tackled The Original Series Anovos red dress with a cool and sleek confidence. Looking forward to the next shoot.

 

 

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John Eaves is veteran artist and illustrator who has lent his talents to too many films and television shows to count. Actually, he's at 60-plus and counting. Over the years, he's made a tremendous mark on Star Trek, as he's worked on The Final Frontier, all four TNG films, DS9 and Enterprise, Star Trek: The Exhibition, Star Trek Online, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Check out John Eaves' website, Atomic Johnny's Pin-Ups.

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