Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. The film is the second feature based on the Star Trek science fiction franchise. The plot features James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the starship USS Enterprise facing off against the genetically-engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), a character who first appeared in the 1967 Star Trek television series episode "Space Seed". When Khan escapes from a 15-year exile to exact revenge on Kirk, the crew of the Enterprise must stop him from acquiring a powerful terraforming device named Genesis. The film concludes with the death of Enterprise crewmember Spock (Leonard Nimoy), beginning a story arc that continues through 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. After the lackluster critical and commercial response to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, series creator Gene Roddenberry was forced out of the sequel's production. Executive producer Harve Bennett wrote the film's original outline, which Jack B. Sowards developed into a full script. Director Nicholas Meyer completed the final script in 12 days, without accepting a writing credit. Meyer's approach evoked the swashbuckling atmosphere of the original series, and the theme was reinforced by James Horner's musical score. Leonard Nimoy only reprised his role as Spock because the character's death was intended to be irrevocable. Negative test audience reaction to Spock's death led to significant revisions of the ending over Meyer's objections. The production used various cost-cutting techniques to keep within budget, including utilizing miniatures from past projects and re-using effects footage and costumes from the previous movie. Among the film's technical achievements is the first complete feature film sequence created entirely with computer-generated graphics. The Wrath of Khan was released in North America on June 4, 1982. It was a box office success, earning US$97 million worldwide and setting a world record for first-day box office gross. Critical reaction to the film was positive; reviewers highlighted Khan, the film's pacing and the character interactions as strong elements. Negative reaction focused on weak special effects and some of the acting. The Wrath of Khan is generally considered one of the best films of the Star Trek series and is credited with creating renewed interest in the franchise.
The film opens with the Vulcan Lieutenant Saavik in command of the starship USS Enterprise. The vessel is on a rescue mission to save the crew of a damaged ship in the Neutral Zone along the border with Klingon space when it is attacked by Klingon cruisers and critically damaged. The "attack" is revealed to be a training exercise known as the "Kobayashi Maru"; a no-win scenario designed to test the character of Starfleet officers. Admiral James T. Kirk oversees the simulator session of Captain Spock's trainees. The USS Reliant is on a mission to search for a lifeless planet for testing of the Genesis Device, a torpedo that reorganizes matter to create habitable worlds for colonization. Reliant officers Commander Pavel Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell beam down to the surface of a possible candidate planet, Ceti Alpha VI, where they are captured by genetically engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh. The Enterprise discovered Khan's ship adrift in space fifteen years previously; Kirk exiled Khan and his fellow supermen from 20th century Earth to Ceti Alpha V. Khan reveals that after they were marooned, Ceti Alpha VI exploded, destroying Ceti Alpha V's ecosystem and shifting its orbit. Khan blames Kirk for the death of his wife and plans to avenge her. He implants Chekov and Terrell with indigenous, mind-controlling eels that enter the ears of their victims and uses the officers to gain control of the Reliant. Learning of the existence of Genesis, Khan attacks Space Station Regula I where the device is being developed by Kirk's former lover, Dr. Carol Marcus, and their son, David. The Enterprise embarks on a training voyage under the command of Spock. Kirk takes command of the Enterprise after the ship receives a distress call from Regula I. En route, the Enterprise is ambushed by the Reliant. The attack cripples the Enterprise and many of its trainees are killed. A transmission between the two ships reveals Khan knows of the Genesis Device and wants all materials related to the project sent to him. Kirk stalls for time while the crew uses Reliant's security codes to remotely shut down their shields, allowing the Enterprise to counter-attack. Khan is forced to retreat and effect repairs, while the Enterprise limps to Regula I. Kirk, McCoy and Saavik beam to the station, where they find Terrell and Chekov, along with slaughtered members of the Genesis Project. The team finds the remaining scientists, including Carol and David, hidden deep inside the planetoid of Regula. Using Terrell and Chekov as spies, Khan steals the Genesis Device and orders them to kill Kirk; Terrell resists the eel's influence and kills himself while Chekov faints. Though Khan believes his foe stranded on Regula I, Kirk and Spock use a coded message to arrange a rendezvous. Kirk then directs the Enterprise into the nearby Mutara Nebula; static discharges from the nebula render both ships' defensive shields useless and compromise targeting systems, making the Enterprise and Reliant evenly matched. Kirk exploits Khan's inexperience in space combat to critically disable the Reliant. Mortally wounded, Khan activates the Genesis Device, which will reorganize all matter in the nebulaincluding the Enterprise. Though Kirk's crew detects the activation of the Genesis Device and the Enterprise attempts to move out of range using impulse engines, with the warp drive damaged they will not be able to escape the nebula in time. Spock leaves the bridge and goes to the engine room to restore the warp drive. When McCoy tries to prevent Spock's exposure to high levels of radiation, he incapacitates the doctor and performs a mind meld, telling him to "Remember". Spock restores power to the warp drive and the Enterprise escapes the explosion. Kirk arrives in the engine room, where Spock dies of radiation poisoning. The explosion of the Genesis Device causes a planet to coalesce out of the nebula. A space burial is held in the Enterprise's torpedo room and Spock's coffin is shot into orbit around the newly formed planet. The crew leaves the planet to pick up the Reliant's marooned crew from Ceti Alpha V. In the final scene Spock's coffin is seen to have soft-landed on the planet. Spock narrates Star Trek's "Where no man has gone before" monologue as the view moves forward into a field of stars.