Saturday, January 17, 2009
The death of Ricardo Montalban was a bit sad for me. He was a great one, and of course one of the best movie villains of all time. It reminded me of the weird stage I'm at culturally, where a lot of the people I grew up watching are dying. There will be a point, when I'm not much older than this, that a large percentage of my movie heros and villains are deceased. Odd. Once again I spent time thinking of the profound ways in which aging affected me, and missed this small but important element.
Montalban was a classic though. The perfect anti-Shatner. He played Khan just right, and created an iconic movie adversary. He was arrogant and slick, and always pushing the limits of everyone around him. That's the kind of guy you want to battle against. Well, no... I want to battle against a guy who messes up a lot and gives me a big lead and choreographs his evil scheme. But if I were Kirk, that's who I'd want. Someone who pushes you to be your best. There should be an alternate ending where he gets a job with Starfleet training cadets, and he always wins. And the cadet graduates if he gets the proper energy and emotion into his "Khan!" scream of defiance.
The conflict between Khan and Kirk was great fun to watch, and made Wrath of Khan a great film. Certainly the best in a hit or miss franchise. Star Trek is at its best when it sticks to the basics, a cowboy movie on the edge of space. Kirk is one aspect of our culture, the brazen sheriff, looking out for his people. Spock is the other, the civilized person making sense of a xrazy world. It's a fun theme, and it can really work when someone like Montalban is having a grand time with it. He digs right into the universe, and has at it.
Of course, Kirk won against him. He doesn't believe in a no win situation. Gotta love Kirk. I think people hate Kirk because he has become Shatner over the years. My wife hates the mention of Kirk. But he really is a neat character. He's very flawed, a noble figure with some personality problems. Hopefully Abrams does some good things with him. If the trailer is a sign of things to come, he will.