The new Star Trek movie opens this weekend and, before I see it, I thought it might be a good time to rank the previous twelve Trek films. You might ask why not wait until I've seen the new one? That's because there is, if we're being honest, a cool-off period needed after seeing a movie before being able to assess it as honestly and as objectively as possible. Regardless, you're about to read an indisputable list of truth regarding the first twelve Star Trek films.
Here we go!
12. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
A boring slog. What felt like endless panoramas of '70s light tricks trying to pass as some weird outer space moments. Awful Starfleet uniforms. It's a wonder this didn't kill the film franchise from the word go.
11. Star Trek: Nemesis
A sad end to the Next Generation's cinematic run. A Dr. Evil-esque clone of Picard. Another Data look-a-like. An overtly dark tone. A pretty bad attempt to mimic Wrath of Khan. Picard & Co. deserved better.
10. Star Trek Into Darkness
The worst of the first two reboot movies, mostly because everything about it is so dour. A dark, joyless slog of a film. Whatever it is, it isn't Star Trek. Oh, and wanna talk about mimicking Wrath of Khan? Wow.
9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
I would like to put this one behind Nemesis, but respect that it at least has an original plot. Unfortunately, the film serves as an obvious bridge between two better movies, and suffers for it. And the destruction of the Enterprise left little impact, as it had been modified beyond recognition (from the the original series).
8. Star Trek Generations
Not a bad film, but not a terribly good one, either. It was awkward from the word go, simply because it had to accomplish bridging the gap between classic Trek and Next Generation. It accomplished that task okay, I suppose, though the whole thing felt uninspired. There was never going to be a satisfactory way to kill-off Kirk, but at least the Enterprise-D had a cool destruction scene.
7. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
I dunno, this one appeals to me more than it should. There's some hokey interaction between Kirk, Spock and McCoy, but isn't that one of the things we love most about the original series? And Laurence Luckinbill as Sybok is a great, complex villain. The film explore some deep themes rather well, and the climax is genuinely edge-of-your-seat.
6. Star Trek: Insurrection
Ranked higher than most would have it, this has always been my personal favorite of the Next Generation cinematic outings. Granted, it feels like an extended TV episode, but that's why I like it. This film embodies pretty much everything Picard & Co. were about, for better or worse, and has a gentle, lovely score by Jerry Goldsmith.
5. Star Trek
A fun, successful reboot. While I would have preferred something brand new from the franchise, if they were going to redo the classic version, this is probably the best they could have done. Oh, and kudos for including Leonard Nimoy!
4. Star Trek: First Contact
Ok, ok, this is the best of the Next Generation movies. I can't argue with that. Though I think Insurrection better embodies the spirit of the TV show, this entry definitely can't be beat when it comes to storytelling, direction and acting. There's not much of the TNG ethos, but it's a damn good movie.
3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The final outing of the original crew is a fitting and poignant one. There's action, intrigue, high stakes, Klingons and Christopher Plummer hamming it up. A great score by Cliff Eidelman along with Nicholas Meyer's return to the director's chair makes this one a can't miss.
2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The franchise at its best: fun, engaging and full of important messaging. A classic.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Y'all know what's up.
And there you have it!