Another good addition to the cast was Kirstie Alley, in the role of the Vulcan Lt. Saavik. It's too bad her career took a swan-dive after her stay on "Cheers" because she really did come through in great fashion and followed the late Persis Khambatta's female lead from the first film rather successfully. But if you think her career is in the shits, note thespian Alec Baldwin churning out rehearsed jokes on Hollywood Squares and suddenly...Alley seems pretty well off. This flick also gives us a much deeper perspective into Captain Kirk and Shatner himself actually pulls of a decent job of acting-- as opposed to hamming up the screen. His scene in the cave is actually pretty touching, as is his own internal struggle with his past accomplishments and nostalgia comes alive as we get to enjoy Bones and Spock bickering once more.
Visually, the film does look pretty good and the special effects are fantastic considering that the film was released in 1982 when Pac-Man was considered a technical marvel (and what a fun marvel it was!!). It also has a pretty slick score. Overall, a great Trek experience that even casual fans can enjoy.
Question to the readers: If anyone out there knows why the crew kept referring to Kirstie Alley's character as Mr. Saavik, rather than Ms. Saavik, please email me. I'm curious. I'm guessing it's a Vulcan thing, but no explanation was offered.
Feature length commentary by director Nicholas Meyer: This guy obviously knows a lot about making a film but he does come off as a tad pretentious. There's a lot of author name-throwing and quoting and he opens the commentary by yapping for about 5 minutes about some book he wrote. He also drags on about how he applied for a passport and instead of writing "filmmaker" as his occupation, he felt he should write "storyteller". Dude! Who cares? Get to the point! Is Shatner an ass? Is Nimoy a geek? He also says a lot of stuff in there that he repeats throughout every other feature on this DVD. Remember this name: "Horatio Hornblower". He mentions it every two lines. But even if I'm ragging on the guy, he does provide some pretty interesting insight when he isn't patting himself on the back.
Feature length text commentary by Star Trek Encyclopedia author Michael Okuda: This actually turned out cooler than I thought. It basically turns into a pop-up video type of thing and since you can play it at the same time as Meyers' track, they complete themselves pretty well. While the facts doled out may be common knowledge to hardcore Trekkies, for casual fans like myself...it's actually pretty engrossing.
Captain's Log (30 minutes): This is basically a very, very detailed discussion about the casting, making, conception and all other things about this film. Consisting of interviews with the main players, it does confirm that Shatner's ego is running wildly out of control and that Nimoy takes Spock way too seriously. Interviewed are Shatner, Nimoy, Meyer, Montalban and executive producer Harve Bennett. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is notable only by his absence.
Designing Khan (25 minutes): This feature was a bit longer than it ought to have been, mainly because it takes a very long time to get to the point. After 10 minutes of hearing crewmembers speak, we finally get into the meaty part of set and costume designs and touch on the effects. The same people who worked on this film are the ones who worked on the original series, so that's pretty cool, but it does take a while to get going.
Visual Effects (20 minutes): It's always cool to see how they managed to create such great visual effects in the days before CGI became the solution to every problem in the world. This film did have some pretty advanced computer work for its time but many models were used and lighting and camera tricks were taken full advantage of. Very fun to see, especially since I still think it looks so much better than the canned stuff they dole out nowadays (Memo to self: Email this link to George Lucas).
Original Interviews (10 minutes): Pretty neat set of original promo interviews from 1982. The highlight was Nimoy's suit: striped white and gray with a pink tie and pink shirt. The poor guy looks so "eighties" that for a while I thought Thomas Dolby may have Blinded him with Science! DeForest Kelly also looks like he has the same fashion consultant, who I believe went on to fame when he designed Michael Jackson's sequined glove and red leather jacket. Shatner is also interviewed. The interviews only last about five minutes. The rest is a musical montage of Trek stuff.
The Star Trek Universe (30 minutes): This is a hilarious feature hosted by two huge nerds who are absolutely rejoiced at the fact that Star trek is the only thing in their lives. If ever we could bottle geekiness and sell it, they would be the Bill Gates' of the industry (come to think of it, I think Bill Gates himself now holds the monopoly on geekiness as well... interesting...). These two wallflowers, by the names of Greg Cox and Julia Ecklar respectively, expand profoundly on the Star Trek world. I won't really go any further because Trekkies are the only ones who'll know what I'm talking about and chances are that they've memorized this whole feature's transcripts already. The rest of you just won't care.
Storyboard Archives: A collection of a dozen different scenes presented in pencil storyboards. Some of them are pretty cool.
The Theatrical Trailer is also included and is definitely worth a look. Back in 1982, there wasn't a theater at every street corner so you had to really want to go see a movie. I guess they were a lot more important than they are now.