With Star Trek Beyond coming out in cinemas, I thought it’d be fun to run down all of the other Star Trek films, from my least favourite to my favourite. I’ve seen all of these films quite a few times – that’s what happens when your brother is a devout Star Trek fan. I don’t think that some of these films get the love or the acclaim that they deserve, while others certainly deserve to fade into obscurity.
So I’m going start with the worst of the bunch and work my way up to the crème-de-la-crème, and I want to STRESS that this is my personal ranking and opinions, and am in no way saying this is the definitive listing of the films; just a little bit of fun, that’s all. Let’s get started:
12. Star Trek Into Darkness
I start off with what is technically the most recent Star Trek film (barring Star Trek Beyond of course). Directed by J.J. Abrams, I would say that this is not only Abrams’ weakest film he’s directed, but it is also the weakest Star Trek film (but a lot of the blame can be put on the writers, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman). With Bones curing death and a twist that everyone saw coming – “My name… is… Khan!” The film was nonsensical, bland and insulting to previous Star Trek films. Why they thought doing a remake of, ‘The Wrath of Khan’ was a good idea, I’ll never understand. No one would blame you for passing on this one.
11. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
“What does God need with a Starship?” I could leave my summary at that, the line perfectly summarises just how mind-bogglingly bad this film is. Despite some great scenes between the always reliable; Kirk, Spock and Bones, the film is just a boring slog, that offers nothing interesting or exciting to the Star Trek Universe. The film tries to be meaningful in its exploration of God and religion but the shoddy writing only offers up dead-ends and rolling eyes.
10. Star Trek: Insurrection
Insurrection is a tough film to get through for me. The film once again is light on any meaningful content and it also gives you no reason to care about one of the main elements of the story/film: the Ba’ku. The film offers up a lot of nothing; Data’s little adventure in the beginning, Picard getting freaky with some old lady, and hey look, Geordie’s eyes work for a little while. I’ve really got nothing else to say about this film… it exists, that’s about it.
9. Star trek Nemesis
This one’s an interesting one, as there are certainly some good elements to the film. The scenes between Picard and Shinzon (played by a very young-looking Tom Hardy) are filled with the calibre of acting that is expected from both actors. Also, as usual the exploration of Data as a character is prevalent and interesting, but the third act seems to suggest that they ran out of compelling ideas and so just had a dog-fight in a nebula; a dog-fight I might add, that ends with Picard ramming the Enterprise into Shinzon’s ship (what!? Why?!) Still, if the film pops up on TV, it’s still worth a passive watch.
8. Star Trek Generations
The first film to feature ‘The Next Generations’ crew and one that was not the best start for them – the biggest problem: that Kirk played as big of a role as he did in the film. This film didn’t need Kirk, yes the beginning of the film was enjoyable – apart from the completely unnecessary killing of Kirk – but it was nice to have a scene at the beginning that was almost like a passing of the torch. Take out Kirk’s death and his subsequent plotline in the film and things may have been smoother. The films kind of a mess and Soran’s (the antagonist of the film) plan is confusing and dull. While the film looks great and the sending off of the Enterprise D was probably a good idea, the film is still a slog to get through.
7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
I think more than any other Star Trek film, this one is clearly influenced by the time period in which it was made. I mean this is a whole film about saving hump-back whales for God sake! I know a lot of fans love this film, and I think that’s because of how light-hearted and fun the film is – there’s always going to be fun in seeing people from the year 2286 try to deal with society in San Francisco in the 80’s. While the film is enjoyable, I never really could get on-board with the whole plot of this one. But you’ll certainly have a good tome watching it, that’s for sure.
6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Now this is one that divides fans; some like it and some can’t stand it. I personally enjoy the film as it’s a film of its time. Yes it’s self-indulgent and yes it doesn’t necessarily look like a Star Trek film, but I think its distinctive style makes it stand-out. I love seeing the shocking wardrobe, and I love the corny looking sets. But most of all, I really like the story in this film. It sets its threat up well, it draws it out, and in the end, I think it has a good pays off.
5. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
The Search for Spock had a difficult job to do: it had to follow-up The Wrath of Khan (which we’ll get to soon). Overall, I think it did a pretty good job as a follow-up. The crew was involved in some fun antics and while the re-birth of Spock was a little silly, it still didn’t feel insultingly far-fetched (in Star Trek terms anyway). It also sets up some great motivation for Kirk going forward: his total hatred for Klingons. I think sitting down and having a double-feature watch of Star Trek II and Star Trek III is a pretty solid night of film viewing.
4. Star Trek (2009)
No one expected this film to be as good as it was. Not only did J.J. Abram’ Star Trek bring the franchise back into relevance, but it also gave both casual viewers and hardcore fans something to really sink their teeth into. A cast of actors who brilliantly bring the original characters back to life, and a new updated look to the universe, means that Star Trek is no longer left to the obscure corners of the science-fiction landscape. It’s a shame that the follow-up couldn’t match the quality of the first, but it least the whole endeavour wasn’t a complete failure. This is a film that a lot of people can enjoy and I’m certainly one of them.
3. Star Trek: First Contact
Filled with exciting action, meaningful character development and a story that really grabs your attention; First Contact is undoubtedly the best of ‘The Next Generation’ group of films. The two stand-outs of this film: the exploration of Picard’s almost PTSD like symptoms, in relation to his assimilation by the Borg, and then Data’s struggle with what it is to be human and how the Borg Queen tortures him with it. This film highlights the brilliant acting chops of everyone in the cast, and I feel is the one that pushes the characters to their absolute extremes, both in a positive sense and also a darker sense.
2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
What I think ‘The Undiscovered Country’ does, is highlight the strengths of Star Trek. This film has a really compelling plot, and it also shows a side to characters (mainly Kirk) that we don’t always see. The scene that always comes to mind is when Spock and Kirk are arguing about the outcome of Klingons as a people, after the massively destructive explosion on of the moon Praxis. Spock is saying how important it is that they aid them and that Kirk should lead the way on it. It’s here that Kirk utters the line, “Let them die!” That moment has always stuck with me; the delivery, the coldness of it. There is so much emotion in that one scene. This is also a great send-off for the original crew, as the film more than feels like a fitting end to their long journey.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
So we come to what I think is the best Star Trek film: The Wrath of Khan. Not only is this the best Star Trek film but it’s also one of my favourite science fiction films. Wrath of Khan is great from beginning to end; it’s quotable (KHAAAN!), it’s tense, it has an unexpectedly interesting sub-plot (Genesis) and it has the brilliant rivalry/revenge story between Kirk and Khan. I could happily watch this film over and over again. There’s a level of quality, care and attention to this film that puts it leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. This is absolutely the Star Trek film to show someone who is new to the large collection of films that there are. Also the ship-to-ship combat in this film is perfectly constructed; like two old submarine commanders battling it out one last time.
So there you have it, that’s my PERSONAL ranking of the Star Trek films. Now of course the new one (Star Trek Beyond) is absent from the list and that’s for a very simple reason… I haven’t seen it yet. But barring that, I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this list, also your opinions on any/all the Star Trek films. Feel free to leave any thoughts or opinions in the comments down below.
*Update* I’ve now seen Star Trek Beyond but I think it’s too early to put it into this list. I need time for my opinion to fully ferment. But if you’re interested in reading what I thought of the film, you can read my in-depth review by clicking the link here.
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