Composed by James Horner
Though it made money, Star Trek: The Motion Picture turned off many audiences and critics with its glacial pacing. Paramount Pictures was also not enthused by its high production costs. As a result the sequel would have a significantly lower budget. In spite of a severely scaled back production (they couldn’t even get the main hero and villain actors, William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban, onscreen together because of tight scheduling issues) the end result was a far more critically successful and audience-pleasing film that ensured Star Trek’s survival. The film sounds like it has a generic plot. Khan, a superhuman antagonist from the original show, has escaped from his penal planet (turned into a wasteland by a cosmic explosion) and wants revenge on James Kirk. In the meantime one of Kirk’s old flames, Dr. Carol Marcus, is developing a device that can turn a dead planet into a rich paradise. The movie was elevated by director Nicholas Meyer, who wonderfully weaved in themes of old age, ramification of past actions, obsessive vengeance, and life in general. There are even strong allusions to literary classics such as Moby Dick and the Bible. The film also notably started a trilogy within the film series that showed Kirk dealing with the fact that he cannot always win. In fact William Shatner’s character goes through an extraordinary amount of character development in these films, not possible in the confines of a weekly pre-recording television show.
Jerry Goldsmith did not return for the sequel, deemed too expensive to hire, and Paramount turned to the young up-and-comer James Horner. Horner did not carry over any of Goldsmith’s themes, yet his own creations would be as iconic. Also, many of the sounds of his music would be inspired by Goldsmith’s work. The alien percussion for the Klingons, for example, would be carried over into the motifs for Khan. Craig Huxley, who devised the blaster beam in The Motion Picture, also returns with “Genesis,” a diagetic synthesizer piece that is somewhat mismatched against Horner’s material but does add some variety. Elements of this cue are present at the conclusion of “Genesis Countdown.” Now let’s look at James Horner’s actual music. Continue reading