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Picks and Pans Review: Star Trek Ii: the Wrath of Khan

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As the Enterprise sets off on a training mission into outer space, it might be Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) who wonders if the escape pods are in place. But non-Trekky moviegoers might put the same question to ushers in theaters when the lights go down. There may be only one reason to stick around beyond the first 10 Trekky in-jokes as the Enterprise heads ever so slowly toward a confrontation with its nemesis, Khan. That is to see if Ricardo Montalban, hilariously miscast as the contemptible villain Khan, can warp-speed from the depths of hyperspace back to Fantasy Island. Only Hervé Villechaize in a Darth Vader costume could have seemed more out of place. The gray-thatched Montalban, in a short-sleeved, open-chested sweater, gold chains, amulets and a studded wristband, looks like a heavy metal rocker who’s been touring the intergalactic road a few light-years too long. There are some new faces, including the sultry Kirstie Alley and Merritt Butrick, cast as a scientist. But they, Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and everyone else act with little expression. Director Nicholas (Time After Time) Meyer’s pacing and Jack Sowards’ script are leaden, and the special effects seem subpar in the post-Star Wars era. Devout Trekkies will want to know whether the rumors are true that Spock reaches the end of his space logs this trip. But the merely curious are warned. If Star Trek: The Motion Picture showed little of the Enterprise of the culty TV series, this sequel is at times a flat-out Khan-job. (PG)