The Definitive (Not Definitive Because, Opinions) Star Trek Movie Rankings
Want to know the sad part about Star Trek V? It is that it starts out giving you hope that this will be a good Trek movie. The opening themes is one of the best pieces of Star Trek music Jerry Goldsmith has done and that is saying something. We have the pleasant and refreshing Kirk, Spock and Bones camping trip and then...it all goes off the rails. Spock’s half-brother (plot device) is now a religious zealot searching for Sha Ka Ree, the Vulcan equivalent of Heaven where God is telling him to come pick him up in a pimp starship to take him on a trip to space White Castle or some shit. Really by the time we get to the finish it is a marathon of Kirk and Spock bitching at each other, Uhura dancing naked in the desert with big ass feathers, and Kirk asking the question we all asked ourselves in a moment of fourth wall breaking--”what does God need with a starship?”.
Otherwise known as How Picard Got His Groove Back. Basically what should have been a 47 minute episode of TNG is stretched to 103 minutes and wastes a lot of crew members time and F. Murray Abraham, who could have been such a great Star Trek villain with the right script, but is reduced to a scene chewing Caitlyn Jenner from South Park-lookalike. Worf gets a giant pimple on his face and just sort of appears even though he is on DS9 at this time with the explanation of “well I was in the space...neighborhood”. The planet they are on makes you feel young so that means Troi and Riker act like high schoolers wanting to go off and Beta-bang or whatever. I’m done.
You know how Hollywood loves giving us origin stories for superheroes over and over even though we know everything about them already? Well they use to love giving us the “transition movie” thinking we could not handle a sudden shift in a movie series direction because we are fragile, mental creatures. Even though Star Trek VI was blatantly labeled the last of the original crew, and we were excited to see where they would take TNG on the big screen, we got Generations. Yay? Don’t get me wrong, I love William Shatner and Patrick Stewart, but don’t give me a 20 minute version of Star Trek Lethal Weapon, with Shatner being Danny Glover living out the life he didn’t have inside a giant purple space tapeworm while Picard tries to convince him he is not too old for this shit...one last time. The good this movie did do is get rid of the Enterprise-D with a genuinely funny “oh, shit” line from Data thrown in.
Mostly a Gene Roddenberry tech demo porn that is anywhere from 20-45 minutes too long depending on the mood I am in when I watch it. Like everything that had to do with Roddenberry there is a lot of dialogue that sounds deep and introspective, but is kind of useless to the film. 2001 was an obvious influence to its detriment. Even for its faults, Persis Khambata remains hot to me as she was the first female I realized could give me a boner being bald. Is that too much? You didn’t come here for me not to give my opinions. Also, watch Warriors of the Lost World for more Persis action and Donald Pleasance in the “I need a paycheck” portion of his career.
Star Trek: Nemesis gets a lot of hate. I don’t dislike it as much as some fans. In fact, I really don’t mind watching it as a close to TNG’s movie franchise. When making a list of Star Trek movies though, it does fall on the lower side. Pre-Bane Tom Hardy, who if you look at side by side with his Dark Knight Rises body looks like he literally ate Batista, is a clone of Picard that the Romulans were going to use to infiltrate Starfleet. They changed their minds as Romulans do (?) and left him on Remus as a child where he grew up to lead the Remans hatching his own plan to take over Romulus and destroy Starfleet. Man, typing that out makes it sound pretty damn good, so why did it not translate to the screen like it should have? Brent Spiner finally got his wish to kill off Data ,with an asterisk, in finding another android exactly like him only more of a “kid in the helmet” version named B4. Box office for Nemesis killed any hope of another TNG film, so if you want to watch a perfect “ending” for the crew just go watch “All Good Things” and smile.
I like Star Trek Into Darkness, but upon multiple viewings it loses something each time. JJ Abrams thinks he made a mistake keeping Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan a secret until the movie released, which I think he did, yet somehow the movie seems to be a bit of Call of Duty: Trek Warfare. Yes, I understand this was a little of what they were going for with a secret plan to militarize Starfleet for a possible war with the Klingons. This plot seems better suited for a TV season like DS9 and The Dominion War. Here it seems crammed in and we have a legendary character, played wonderfully by Cumberbatch, as a means to let Robocop have a fucking huge warship.
We all know the “theory of odd movies” in the Star Trek franchise, at least until 2009’s Star Trek reboot. But I maintain that Star Trek III is not a bad movie. I am not saying it is a great one either. I know it is not bad and enjoyable for the most part. You have Bones acting crazy with Spock’s dead personality inside of him, Kirk and crew stealing the Enterprise from spacedock is a fun bit and pre-Back to the Future and post-Taxi Christopher Lloyd shows us that Klingons have dogs...and love them deeply. Kirk’s son dies and we are spared anymore of his blonde perm and Robin Curtis does her best to replace Kirstie Alley as Saavik, although it is a bit like the hot girl dumping you and you try and dress your new, way less hot girlfriend like her to keep your memory of her there.
So does JJ Abrams get a lifetime nerd pass for making Star Trek AND Star Wars better franchises than before he worked on them? He should get the lionshare of the credit with Star Trek because Star Wars is...well, Star Wars. You could have John Waters direct a Star Wars movie about wookie shitting habits in the woods and fans would go watch it in droves. Star Trek needed something bigger. It needed more than just another TV show to try and bring the franchise back into the cultural lexicon. Enter Abrams and his young, sexy crew and Eric Bana still trying to make amends for Ang Lee’s Hulk. Sure, not all of this movie holds together as well as you would want after 7 years, like Spock marooning Kirk on an ice planet just far enough away from a Starfleet base to where he has the “action movie run from monsters” scene, and finds the random cave that old Spock juuuuuust happens to be hiding in. That is some bomb ass luck. Abrams nails the right tone throughout the movie and the casting is so, so good that a new generation of Trek fans have been created to join the lifelong fans. So next time you want to make another lens flare joke, please shut the fuck up, and enjoy the fact Star Trek means something again.
Star Trek IV is obstinately the dumbest movie, plot wise, in the franchise. Yes, more so than Spock’s brother finding God in The Final Frontier. Let’s lay it out and think of this as purely a sci-fi film with no Trek involvement. A giant concrete tampon-looking alien comes to suck the world’s moisture because we can not answer its call due to the small fact of we don’t understand it. Turns out they are speaking in whale and in mankind’s infinite fuckery, we made them extinct. The only obvious course of action is to send the crew of a spaceship back to the mid-80’s, where they attempt to steal a pair of humpback whales by converting part of their ship into a big aquarium. Nevermind time travel is a trivial issue and can be done on a whim, basically making any problem they have in any movie obsolete if they can just hotshot around the sun and correct shit as they see fit. Fuck...this movie is so much damn fun. Now I want to watch it. See, this is how Star Trek works.
The newest film for the crew of the rebooted crew is their best. After Star Trek Into Darkness underwhelmed with its serious tone, Simon Pegg came in to co-write this script which felt (as Captain Kirk says early in the movie) episodic. People were wondering how Justin Lin would do coming from the Fast & Furious franchise and if it is one thing that long...long..long running franchise has is its sense of family, and that is something Lin brought to the film. The crew is 3 years into their 5 year mission and Kirk is wanting to transfer to a starbase while Spock ponders leaving Starfleet after he learns of the elder Spock’s death. So it feels like the crew, like the current film series, is at an impasse. One of the trickier part of Trek films is making the villains and aliens the crew deal with be interesting. Idris Elba could play a great role while drunk and high on Ambien, so you know he is awesome, and Sofia Boutella as Jaylah is genuinely one of the most interesting secondary Trek characters in a long time. One sad part is Anton Yelchin has more screen time and comes into his own as Chekov and now he is no longer with us. All the actors feel like they have grown into their roles, and with the third film, it is feeling like a natural thing to watch them be these characters. Now please don’t fuck it up by doing another time travel Trek film where Kirk meets his dad in a way to shoehorn Chris Hemsworth in for star power. Wait...really? Shit. Come on.
The last film adventure of the original crew was a fitting way to send them off. Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer returned and co-wrote a script about political conspiracies, Shakespeare-quoting Klingons and floating purple blood, which for a boy of 11, was the coolest fucking thing to see on the screen. How is this not a great Star Trek film? Christopher Plummer makes me wish more thespians of his ilk would have been major Star Trek villains. Peter Cushing as a rogue Starfleet admiral or Christopher Lee as an angry Romulan. The possibilities! Anyway, Shatner makes out with Iman (probably in his contract), Red Foreman is Starfleet president, and Kim Cattrall’s sounds during her forced mind meld with Spock are oddly sexual. It’s a fucking good movie. One question I have always wondered is how was Kirstie Alley so hot as a Vulcan and Kim Cattrall so...not?
Whenever I watch First Contact I think “what if TNG crew had enough movies to have another great one?” TOS had 6 movies and two were great and one was really, really good. TNG had 3 full movies so the law of averages would say they were due another great one if they went for 1 or 2 more. But box office for Nemesis killed that. First Contact works on almost every level. It brings back the Borg and plays into Picard’s experiences with them and the weakness and connection he still feels. Not only that but every crew member is given something to make them feel like they matter (I am looking at you Insurrection). Picard and Data are the emotional center, Worf is a badass, Crusher is the voice of reason with Alfre Woodard. Even the secondary story with Cochran and the rest of the crew on Earth is funny and great. Damn...what if?
I know what you are saying. “Ohh another list where Star Trek II is the best Star Trek film. How original.” Well until a better movie than Star Trek II is made this will be the answer you get from (probably) every list you read on this vast selfie-filled, cat-loving porn-scape known as the internet. Why do I need to explain again why this is Trek at its best? Is it Ricardo Montalban’s velvet delivery of chilling lines while showing off the chest of a 20 year old bodybuilding frat guy? Shatner’s overacting, which long since has been made fun of, but within the context of this movie, work in every way. Tell me you don’t smile every time Kirk says, "Still, old friend. You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!"