I showed my son Wrath of Khan today. It was his first ever Star Trek experience. He very much enjoyed it and wants to see more of the films, so I'd say it was a success. But in preparing him for the experience and in helping him process the lessons of the film, I was struck by just how much more complicated and nuanced the Star Trek universe is than the Star Wars one.
He wanted to understand why Khan kept ignoring his crew when they told him to forget about Kirk. And he wanted to know why Spock would sacrifice himself to save the ship. I tried to explain that this was an important lesson of the film. Khan had essentially won - he'd escaped exile, he had a starship, he could go wherever he wanted - but he couldn't let go his desire for revenge, even though it put the rest of his crew at risk. Spock was the opposite; he made the cold calculation that his own life was worth less than that of the crew. Both men die, but Khan's mission and crew died with him, while Spock was the hero.
This is pretty heady stuff for a six year-old! But I think he understood. He never had trouble understanding the Star Wars movies, even at age four. Those lessons are easy. Some people are good, some are bad, and the bad can usually be identified by their revolting physical appearances. There is no strategy; good people and bad people fight with guns and swords until one side wins. Yawn.
Cool effects, though.