Archive for September, 2017


All you need to do to tell Alicia Vikander can not only act but has star power is watch her as the dramatic yet humorous secret agent in 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Or you could watch her portray a reality without a soul as a borg in 2014’s critically acclaimed sci-fi film Ex Machina.  Or how about her Oscar-winning performance awarded last year for her work in The Danish Girl?  She’s in theaters right now opposite Christoph Waltz in Tulip Fever and it seems more than fitting that the critically acclaimed dramatic actress is stepping into what could be a lucrative, major action hero role for her, taking over for Angelina Jolie in the reboot of Tomb Raider.  

This week started with the first official look at Vikander as video game franchise character Lara Croft in the first teaser poster for the film.  With the first trailer for the movie now available it’s clear that Norwegian film director Roar Uthaug (Escape, The Wave) and writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet (ROM, M.A.S.K., Sherlock Holmes 3, Captain Marvel, Dungeons & Dragons, Gotham City Sirens) are returning to the core of the character designed and created by Toby Gard to become one of the world’s best-selling franchises.  Gard said he left the company he created Lara Croft for because he was opposed to the idea and marketing of Lara’s sex appeal, with ever-increasing breast size in the game sequels after he left.  The sex appeal is still there but the film in the first trailer looks to be all about the adventure, exploring environments, solving riddles, and navigating traps with villains on her tail.  Clips from the trailer mirror some of the same kind of cliffhanger scenes found in each of the original trilogy of Indiana Jones movies–the same kind of adventure that made the original video game a success.  If you have any doubts that Vikander looks the part, just check out the comparison video after the clip below, which shows just how closely Vikander matches the Lara in the video game Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Lara Croft has been around since 1996, in various versions of game play, based on at least eight different real-life models, and even voiced by the likes of Ashes to Ashes star Keeley Hawes and Good Will Hunting and The Riches star Minnie Driver.  The new film co-stars Walton Goggins, who always plays that half-cocked villain you are pleased to see get crushed under the hero’s toes, popping up in films like Predators, Cowboys and Aliens, Django Unchained, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and The Hateful Eight.  A big surprise–one of our favorite genre actors, Nick Frost (Attack the Block, Doctor Who, Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End), is in the film, plus Hannah-John Kamen (Killjoys, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ready Player One, Ant-Man and the Wasp), Dominic West (The Hour, John Carter, The Wire), and Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission: Impossible, The Golden Compass, The English Patient).

So check out the first trailer for Tomb Raider:

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Fans of the beloved Steven Spielberg film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial have only one more day to catch Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit film in theaters.  As part of the TCM Big Screen Classics and Fathom Events celebration of the 35th anniversary of some of the greatest films of all time, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial will be in theaters for only one more day via two screenings in hundreds of theaters nationwide.

You can still get tickets for one of two screenings showing locally Wednesday, September 20, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  For more information, to check theater availability, and to order tickets, check out the Fathom Events website here.

After unprecedented commercial success with Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg did the unthinkable, directing a fourth blockbuster that would outperform them all, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial saw the big screen breakout roles of Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, and C. Thomas Howell.  Nominated for nine Academy Awards, it would take home four awards, for John Williams’ vibrant score, for sound, visual effects, and sound effects editing.  The film is the only movie from the 1980s that is among the top 50 all-time box office record-holders, currently holding its place at#15.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The new sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service (reviewed here at borg.com) starts as you’d hope for, immediately slamming viewers into high gear with a frenetic car chase featuring BAFTA-winning actor Taron Egerton’s Brit spy Eggsy, defending himself from a kidnapping with the same level of over-the-top superhero moves that saved him from similar threats in the first film.  After the introduction of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which opens this Friday nationwide, the film loses the freshness and style of the original and shifts from a faithful James Bond homage to Bond as it might be interpreted by the Coen Brothers.  Where the original careened into the stuff of a Quentin Tarantino film in its major action sequences, the sequel shifts into a quirky blend of gore, explosives, and caricatures that moves beyond Bond homage to more of an Austin Powers parody.

The sequel offers up a top tier cast.  BAFTA winner Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Stardust, Kick-Ass, Green Lantern, John Carter, Zero Dark Thirty) returns as Merlin and–no surprise from the trailers–Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Shakespeare in Love, Pride and Prejudice) is back as agent Galahad and Edward Holcroft (Wolf Hall) returns as rejected Kingsman Charlie.  Audiences saw both die in the original.  Firth is picture-perfect in every scene, as if he was always destined to have a 007 role.  Holcroft, who you might easily mistake for Chris Evans, offers up a more fleshed out character this round, and he gets some of the better one-on-one battles against Eggsy, complete with a nifty Swiss Army multi-functional borg arm.

New to the world of the Kingsmen are their American spy agency counterparts.  The leader is played by Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, RIPD, Hell or High Water, Tron, True Grit, Iron Man) in a classic Southern-accented delivery, appearing for a few brief scenes.  Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, The Adjustment Bureau, Game of Thrones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), whose moustache makes him a ringer for a 1970s Burt Reynolds, breaks out in his performance as an agent with some mad lasso skills.  And true to form, genre favorite Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) shows up with the swagger of a Southern lawman, but in only the briefest of scenes, much like his smaller roles in G.I. Joe: Retribution and Hail, Caesar!  The U.S. spy squad is full of Hee Haw-vibed caricatures of Americans, albeit echoing Joe Don Baker’s drawling U.S. roles in three Bond movies (The Living Daylights, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies).  The women have the better parts in Kingsman: The Golden Circle:  Academy Award winner Halle Barry (X-Men series, Catwoman, Monster’s Ball) is the American “Q” with the nicely Ian Fleming name of Ginger Ale–the former “Bond girl” flipping sides this time from Bond co-lead and love interest (Die Another Day) to the current Ben Whishaw I.T. guru role.  And Academy Award winner Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Children of Men) is the film’s villain, a drug kingpin named Poppy–a strange, comic books-meet-Coen Brothers baddie bent on world domination, with scary calm Jack Nicholson Joker insanity and a 1950s chic.  We’ve seen some Bond villains far out there, but Moore’s Poppy is one who could out-crazy them all.

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BIG Chief Studios’ marketing line should be “go BIG or go home.”  This year the UK-base company has locked three of the big four British giant genre franchises, and it’s rolling out even more of the company’s internationally popular 1:6 scale figures by year end.  With deals for James Bond’s Goldfinger, BBC’s Sherlock, and Doctor Who, BIG Chief has become the new source for high-end British series pop culture collectible figures.

BIG Chief is expanding into James Bond territory with Goldfinger, releasing this month great likenesses of actors Sean Connery as Bond, Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger, and Harold Sakata as Oddjob.  The figures each include several accessories, fabric clothing, displays, and attractive packaging, and can be pre-ordered now at online superstore Entertainment Earth.  The Bond series also is available in a set bundling all three characters.

The collectible company selected the big three from BBC’s Sherlock, creating a figure of Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes (Limited Edition 1000), Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson (Limited Edition 800; Signature Edition 200), and Andrew Scott as Moriarty (Limited Edition 1000; Signature Edition 400), now available only in the aftermarket, such as via eBay.  Three new figures are available for pre-order now at Entertainment Earth: classic Holmes as seen in “The Abominable Bride,” classic Watson as seen in “The Abominable Bride,” and Moriarty as seen in “The Reichenbach Fall.”  BIG Chief also is selling a 1:6 scale diorama set of the entrance to 221B Baker Street (Limited Edition 1000; Signature Edition 250).

   

BIG Chief’s Doctor Who collection has something for every Doctor Who fan.

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Perhaps the best part of the film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice were the two behind the scenes books that provided superb coverage of the costumes, props, and vehicles from the film: the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Tech Manual reviewed here, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: The Art of the Film, reviewed here.  These books demonstrate that despite the negative reception of a film by audiences, fans of the beloved characters have some resources to find inspiration for their next cosplay or prop-building project.  The next in the line of books probing behind the scenes of the DC Comics universe created for the big screen is this summer’s Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film by Sharon Gosling (author of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes).  Anyone needing good source photographs of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and the Amazon warriors of her origin story for their next cosplay project will find some great references here, including photos of the greatest of the Amazon warriors, Robin Wright’s badass general Antiope, plus swords and shields of key characters developed for the film.

The best section of the book provides interviews with two-time Academy Award-nominated production designer Aline Bonetto (Amélie) and Academy Award-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (Topsy-Turvy) as they discuss the planning and development of audiences’ first look at Themyscira on film.  Both worked together closely coordinating design elements between their departments as concepts were developed.  You’ll find 192 pages of artwork, marketing images, on-location photographs, and costumes as they were sketched and later finalized for wear, all in quality color photographs on thick paper stock.  Costume designer Lemming notes that the entirety of the Amazon warrior costume components were prepared by hand, without 3-D printers or similar modern techniques, intending for the resulting products to look as the characters themselves might have made them.  Although Gadot’s costume was already set prior to Hemming’s involvement due to Wonder Woman’s introduction in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice–the costume was designed by Academy Award-nominated designer Michael Wilkinson (American Hustle, Tron: Legacy)–Hemming discusses re-designing the boots and attempting to make the rest of the costume more comfortable for Gadot, and this was an element for the other costume designs as well, many of which would be used for stunt and action scenes requiring significant movement.

Two-time Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer (The Golden Compass, The Life of Pi) managed the film’s significant use of CGI along with practical effects where possible.  Westenhofer discusses stunt sequences (including the end of film fight scenes) and points out where the film required digital rendering to illustrate the story’s grand environments.

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The season two premiere of Stranger Things is only six weeks away.  Since August Netflix has released several posters to get viewers back in prime throwback 1980s-mode.  Netflix’s marketing team was careful to suggest their source material without being exact duplicates of past posters, but some are closer than others.  It’s all about getting viewers prepped for another trip to the Upside Down, and a darker sophomore season.  We’ve already seen the kids sporting Ghostbusters costumes in previews.  And earlier posters carried images inspired by the work of motion picture poster artists that defined late 20th century film advertising, like John Alvin, Drew Struzan, and Bob Peak.  It all started with the season two general homage to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and twelve character posters (all shown below).  If you’ve ever collected movie posters, you know how close the creators got these to the fading prints after all these years, plus posters in the 1980s were often shipped folded to theaters just like many of their creations for the series this summer.

The new round of posters focuses even more on the horror pop culture with a nod to the B-movie genre.  If these posters are any indication, adding to the Stephen King, John Carpenter, and Steven Spielberg callbacks throughout season one, expect even more horror in season two a la Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, and even Paul Michael Glaser (that’s right Starsky from Starsky and Hutch directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man).  We’re not sure how The Running Man fits in other than a unique poster to emulate, but maybe the action will be kicked into higher gear this year.

   

So check out these posters (below and above) and their inspirations from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ridley Scott’s Alien, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Glaser’s The Running Man, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, Stephen King’s Firestarter, and the Stand By Me adaptation of King’s original story, The BodyThe Elm Street match-up may be the best because of the common show’s Nancy reference.  But the picture they all form is pretty clear.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller backed the summer’s best preview from San Diego Comic-Con 2017 seen here.  Darkness and nostalgia are coming.

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When a movie director can re-create the right look and feel of a time and place, the film can take audiences in a darkened theater into the past as well as any time machine.   This year the re-creation is July 1973 and the place is Rome.  The subject is a celebrity family kidnapping that has faded in the memories of most and unknown to the rest, the kidnapping of oil baron and “The Richest Man in the World” J. Paul Getty’s grandson, and the efforts taken to get him back.  All the Money in the World is based on the book Painfully Rich by John Pearson, with a script by David Scarpa (The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)).  The real-life account of the kidnapping is the stuff of great drama, full of strange decisions and bizarre actions by all involved.  The kidnapping is best known for the ear that was put in the mail–and delayed by a postal strike in Italy–sent by the kidnappers to press the Getty family to pay the ransom.  The story has plenty of room to illustrate the bumbling and the Reversal of Fortune-esque actions of the uber-wealthy that occurred along the way.

The film is directed by Ridley Scott, and stars young actor Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher Plummer) as J. Paul Getty III.  Michelle Williams portrays Gail Harris, mother of the kidnapped Getty.  Kevin Spacey looks believable as the aged and eccentric billionaire Getty and Timothy Hutton plays his lawyer.  And Mark Wahlberg, the highest paid actor in Hollywood, portrays the preposterously–but actual–named Fletcher Chase, a “tall, craggy-faced American” who was an ex-CIA operative from San Diego sent by the billionaire to assist in the release of his grandson.

The 1970s era (although the early part of the decade instead of the later) and a key role by a single hardened CIA-trained operative echoes Ben Affleck’s 2012 Best Picture Academy Award winner Argo.  The 1970s look and feel in All the Money in the World is provided by Oscar-nominated production designer Arthur Max (Gladiator, Blackhawk Down, The Martian, Kingdom of Heaven, Prometheus) and set decorators on several productions featuring Italy of the past, Letizia Santucci, Cristina Onori, and Gianpaulo Rifino.  The film also features acclaimed genre cinematographer Dariusz Wolski (Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Martian, War Machine, Dark City, Alice in Wonderland, Alien: Covenant, and the 1980s best rock videos from Aerosmith and Van Halen to The Bangles and Suzanne Vega).

Check out this first trailer for All the Money in the World:

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Gelfling.  Skeksis.  Mystic.  Podling.

As we continue our celebration of the films of the summer of 1982, who could forget the fantasy that maintained its status as the most beloved of fantasy film creations for decades to come: Frank Oz and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.  Thirty-five years later fans can return again to the world of Thra as an all-new adventure is coming your way: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.  The 10-episode fantasy adventure series, available exclusively on Netflix, is a prequel that takes place many years before the events of the original film.  The series is being filmed in the U.K. and will star an ensemble of fantastical, state-of-the-art creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, conceptual designer for The Dark Crystal Brian Froud, and possibly by you.

When three young Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.  This brief description and an introductory video (below), is all that has been released so far for the new series–until this month’s contest.

Contestants are asked to draw, by hand or digitally, an original creature concept for the world of The Dark Crystal and submit their designs online.  The winner will be awarded $500 and the winning concept design will be crafted and built by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to make a possible cameo appearance in the upcoming series.  This small, woodland creature must be a brand new concept – it cannot be a variation of an existing species from the original film.  All ideas are welcome, as long as they feel true to the world of The Dark Crystal, without being a variation of an existing Brian Froud drawing.  Contestants should also provide a paragraph of 50–100 words about the creature, including its name and back story.

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For more than six years we at borg.com have been covering entertainment memorabilia auctions–sales of not merely replicas or mass-produced collectibles, but the real objects seen on film–rare or even one-of-a-kind costumes created by award-winning Hollywood costume designers, detailed props created by production crew, model vehicles created by special effects departments like Industrial Light and Magic, prosthetics created by famous makeup artists, set decoration, concept art, and much more.  Amassing a wide variety of artifacts from classic and more recent film and television history, London and Los Angeles-based Prop Store is hosting its annual auction later this month.  Known for its consignment of some of the most well-known and iconic screen-used props and costumes, Prop Store’s ultimate museum collectibles auction will be open for bidding from anyone, and items will be available at estimates for both beginning collectors and those with deeper pockets.

The Prop Store Live Auction: Treasures from Film and Television will be auctioning off approximately 600 items.  You’ll find the following movies and TV shows represented and more:  3:10 to Yuma (2007), 300, Aliens, Back to the Future films, Blade Runner, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Chronicles of Narnia films, Elysium, Enemy Mine, Excalibur, The Fifth Element, Gladiator, The Goonies, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Jason and the Argonauts, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the Indiana Jones films, Iron Man, the James Bond films, Judge Dredd (1995), the Jurassic Park films, Kick-Ass 2, Kingsman: the Secret Service, Lifeforce, Looper, The Lost Boys, The Martian, The Matrix, Men in Black III, Mission: Impossible (1996), The Mummy (1999), Patton, Pirates of the Caribbean series, Predators, the Rocky films, Saving Private Ryan, Scarface, Serenity, Shaun of the Dead, Shawshank Redemption, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Star Trek franchise, Star Wars franchise, Starship Troopers, Superman films, Terminator films, The Three Musketeers (1993), Tropic Thunder, Troy, True Grit, Underworld: Evolution, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Willow, The Wolfman (2010), World War Z, and the X-Men films.

You can flip through the auction house’s hefty 360-page catalog, or start with a look at what we selected as the best 50 of the lots–what we predict as the most sought-after by collectors and those that represent some of fandom’s favorite sci-fi and fantasy classics and modern favorites.

  • Industrial Light and Magic 17 3/4-inch Rebel Y-Wing filming model from Return of the Jedi
  • Sark (David Warner) Grid costume from the original Tron (1982)
  • Julie Newmar’s Catwoman costume and Burgess Meredith Penguin hat from the classic Batman TV series
  • Buttercup (Robin Wright) Fire Swamp red dress from The Princess Bride
  • Chekov (Walter Koenig) “nuclear wessels” costume, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) costume, and Sulu (George Takei) double shirt from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Full crew set of costumes (Malcolm, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, Inara, Kaylee, River, Book, and Simon) from Serenity (sold as individual costume lots)
  • Jack Nicholson purple Joker costume, plus separate coat and hat, from Batman (1989)
  • Enterprise-D 48-inch “pyro” model from Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) stunt shotgun from Unforgiven
  • Star-lord helmet from Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Mjolnir hammer from Thor

  • Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II jumpsuits made for Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman
  • Witch-king of Angmar crown from The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  • Val Kilmer Batman suit and cowl from Batman Forever
  • Maverick (Tom Cruise) flight suit from Top Gun
  • Geoffrey Rush Captain Barbossa costume from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Curse of the Black Pearl

And there are so many more.  Like…

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The best production of 50 years of Star Trek, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, returned to theaters Sunday for two screenings nationwide, and audiences packed theaters from coast to coast.  The 35th anniversary of the biggest summer of movies continues Wednesday with your last chance to see 1982’s The Wrath of Khan back on the big screen as Paramount Pictures partners with the Fathom Events series once more.  We couldn’t wait to see it again and saw the first screening Sunday and were quickly reminded why the film was such a success.  What were my takeaway thoughts this time through the film?  Leonard Nimoy’s voice echoed throughout the theater with every line (was this his finest work as Spock?).  Kirstie Alley’s Lieutenant Saavik fits right in as the new crewmember.  The lengths director and screenplay writer Nicholas Meyer took to make the Enterprise look like a functioning military vessel:  from the boatswain’s whistle, to the formality of the uniforms and ship inspection by Admiral Kirk, the pulsating real-world sound effects of the two competing vessels, and the military tactics and trickery as Khan and Kirk try to one-up the other that always connects this film for me to another favorite, The Hunt for Red October.  William Shatner was so cocky and confident.  Tightly edited action sequences, camera angles placing the audience inside the bridge and into every nook and cranny inside the Enterprise (Turbolift doesn’t work? Let’s take the ladder), and James Horner’s unforgettable and unique musical score.  And it was fun for me to think back of all the people who made this film that I have had the good fortune to meet, like Shatner, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig.  Each of these actors seem to have done their best work in this film.

What surprised me?  After watching Sunday’s screenings I heard remarks from viewers about how many new scenes they did not remember, and this was echoed across the Internet, including comments from long-time Star Trek fans and insiders.  But it makes perfect sense–unless you are a rabid Star Trek fan, you probably didn’t track all the variations in the film that have been released over the past 35 years.  If you have a photographic memory at all, you may hear lines in this week’s presentation that don’t quite match up.  But if you only saw the film in theaters or via early DVD and Blu-ray releases, you will have seen different versions of the film (for one example, the original cut didn’t include the current title, instead it was Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, without the II).  If you watched the expanded ABC TV movie re-broadcast on television in 1985–as many did before the prevalence of home video options–you saw a version different from the 1982 release, full of entirely different takes of several scenes.  In 2002 a Director’s Edition was released, and if you saw the film recently at all, but before 2016’s official Director’s Cut, then you probably last saw the Director’s Edition.  The differences from what was scripted and filmed and what made the original theatrical version alone literally fills ten pages of Allan Asherman’s 1982 book The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but even that book of course couldn’t include the differences found in the much later ABC TV version and subsequent editions.  The version in theaters this week is the official 2016 Director’s Cut, itself absorbing so many modifications from the original 1982 release from prior incarnations.  But this is the final, the version Nicholas Meyer (the reputed “Man Who Saved Star Trek”) discussed with me in my interview with him here at borg.com last month.

Wait–What’s going on here?  I don’t remember this scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan! (Keep reading!)

So if you recall a more suggestive relationship between Kirk and Kirstie Alley’s Lieutenant Saavik, or sensed a romantic relationship brewing between Saavik and Kirk’s son David (played by the late Merritt Butrick), you won’t notice that so much in the Fathom Events presentation (below you’ll see the ABC TV version offered more “steamy” close-ups and additional dialogue amplifying the more womanizing Kirk of the original series).  If you don’t recall that Scotty has a young relative aboard the Enterprise, be prepared for a pleasant surprise, including some great additions featuring Kirk and Scotty.  The midshipman’s (played by Ike Eisenmann) death is more poignant in the latest cut, and an entire sequence between McCoy and Kirk gets us further into Kirk’s thoughts in the aftermath of Khan’s attack.  A conversation about ego between Spock and Alley adds further justification for Kirk’s actions as he taunts Khan into the nebula.

Newspaper advertisement for the 1985 ABC television presentation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

But do you recall seeing a child in Khan’s crew on Ceti Alpha V?  McCoy mentioning he served with Paul Winfield’s Captain Terrell?  How about McCoy operating on Chekov after he returns from the Genesis planet and Chekov struggling to return to help on the bridge?  Sulu’s promotion to the Excelsior, or Kirk’s final line, quoting Peter Pan’s “first star on the right, and on ’til morning”?  That Saavik is half-Romulan?  David besting Kirk and holding a knife to his throat?  How about these lines from Khan:

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