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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Newsweek David Ansen

    The Wrath of Khan is a small soap opera about a man coming to terms with age and death and a son he had never acknowledged. It's really "On Golden Galaxy," and it would have made a lot more sense as a modestly produced hour of television. [7 June 1982, p.53]

  • 70

    out of 100

    Time Richard Schickel

    One leaves the film neither hugely thrilled nor greatly awed, but with a pleasant sense of having caught up with old friends and found them to be just fine, pretty much the way one hoped they would turn out in later life.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    I don't much care if the battles aren't that amazing, because the story doesn't depend on them. It's about a sacrifice made by Spock, and it draws on the sentiment and audience identification developed over the years by the TV series.

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  • 80

    out of 100


    Star Trek II is a very satisfying space adventure, closer in spirit and format to the popular TV series than to its big-budget predecessor.

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The Wrath of Khan is a top-notch, fast-paced adventure that can be enjoyed equally by fans of the series and those who have never seen an episode.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    The New York Times Janet Maslin

    The second Star Trek movie is swift, droll and adventurous, not to mention appealingly gadget-happy. It's everything the first one should have been and wasn't.

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  • See all Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Thrilling, philosophical installment of popular space saga.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Wrath of Khan is a more violent feature than the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with assorted character deaths and torture. One of the biggest stars of the series dies. While the TV Captain Kirk always seemed to have girlfriends on every planet, this is the first time it's acknowledged that one of them bore him a now-adult son, and their paternal relationship is not close or cordial.

  • Families can talk about the parallels between Khan's obsession with avenging himself on Kirk and one of the books glimpsed in Khan's personal library, Moby Dick.
  • What do you think of Spock's code of sacrifice for "the needs of the many"?
  • This movie added to Trekkie lore a Starfleet Academy flight simulation test in which a practice captain faces a seeming no-win battle scenario. Why do you think this is important training? What would you do in this scenario?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: There's a continuing theme throughout about how to react with courage and resourcefulness in a seemingly hopeless situation.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Kirk learns to accept his aging and the mortality of his friends, and there's a closing act of heroic self-sacrifice. Starfleet is, as always, racially integrated, and a female Vulcan character has more of a presence than women usually do on the ship.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Phaser and photon-torpedo battles, with deaths (including major characters in the series). Two men are tortured in gruesome detail with brain-burrowing insect-like parasites put into their ears. Scenes of corpses after a massacre.

  • sex false1

    Sex: We learn that Kirk has an illegitimate son by an old lover, and she describes the Starfleet hero as "no Boy Scout." Kirk eyes a pretty Vulcan, but that's as serious as it gets.

  • language false2

    Language: "Hell," and various forms of "dammit" from Dr. McCoy especially.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Star Trek is an enormous commodity with plenty of merchandise available to buy.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Social drinking, with Dr. McCoy bringing Kirk some "old" (22nd century) wine for his birthday.