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Top 3 Best (and Worst) Star Trek Films

Top 3 Best (and Worst) Star Trek Films

Star Trek, at its best, explores the human condition and real world issues in a futuristic setting. At its worst, it becomes almost self-parodying, preachy, and just plain cheese-tastic. The recent release of Star Trek Into Darkness got us all nostalgic about the top 3 (and bottom 3) Star Trek movies from the brand's long and storied history. See if you agree!


1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
You all knew this was coming. Wrath of Khan is what many Star Trek fans, us included, will tell you is the absolute best film in the franchise. Exploring themes of death and revenge, WoK pits James T. Kirk against Khan—a genetically enhanced superman with a serious grudge against our favorite Captain (or Admiral). Released from exile, Khan's only motivation is to make the life of his old foe a living hell. We love Benedict, don't get us wrong, but Ricardo Montalban originated the character with this impassioned performance as the titular baddie. Spock's death scene also deserves recognition. Any Trekkie worth their weight in dilithium crystals has teared up at least a little at the Vulcan's sacrifice. And of course, who could forget William Shatner's classic scream of hatred at his arch-enemy? KHAAAAAAN!

2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
“What if the [Berlin] Wall came down in outer space?” Leonard Nimoy posed this question to Nicholas Meyer, thus forming the basis for the sixth film in the Star Trek franchise. Undiscovered Country dealt with then contemporary themes of the Cold War and the process of peace between the United States and Soviet Union. The plot concerns the Klingons trying to broker peace with the Federation after the moon Praxis explodes. Captain Kirk must deal with his own prejudices while racing to uncover a conspiracy threatening to ignite war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The film also contains another great villain in General Chang, an eloquent Klingon with a taste for Shakespeare, played brilliantly by Christopher Plummer.

3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
A weird plot about a log with a disco ball needing to talk to humpback whales? Who ever thought that would be a successful movie? Well, believe it or not, before the 2009 film, Star Trek IV was the highest grossing film in the franchise. People's love for aquatic mammals aside, The Voyage Home owes its Box Office count to the unbridled humor found within the movie. Seeing the Enterprise crew out of their time and element is engaging and packed with laughs. Probably the funniest part of the movie is when Spock nerve pinches a mohawked punk, and receives a round of applause from the bus passengers. Overall, this is definitely the most accessible Star Trek film and the first one we'd point to a non-fan to watch. Now, can anyone tell us where the nuclear wessels are?


1. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Do we really need to say a word about this thing? Featuring a sing-a-long campfire, Spock's half-brother, and copious amounts of bad decisions, Star Trek V is the bottom of the barrel for Star Trek films. You may as well just call the film “William Shatner's Ego.” Shatner's main idea for the film was to depict a twenty-third century televangelist, but the concept goes absolutely nowhere. Sybok ends up being portrayed more like a hypnotist, only mesmerizing the crew and not really converting them to any cause or asking for something in return. There's also the fact that no one on the Enterprise would turn their backs on Kirk for a good reason, much less what Sybok does to them. Sha Ka Ree's discovery at the end deserves its own mention for sheer brainlessness. The Final Frontier was so poorly received by fans and critics that most simply refused to acknowledge its existence. The franchise needed a miracle to get out of the rut it was stuck in. Luckily, the next Star Trek film would put all fears to rest.

2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
If we could describe this movie in one word it would be: boring. Those who call this “The Motionless Picture” aren't very far off in their choice of name. The Motion Picture was originally a television pilot for a sequel series to the original Star Trek show, called Star Trek: Phase II. Paramount executives, meanwhile, had other ideas. They lobbied for the pilot script to be turned into a feature film, and with Gene Roddenberry's help, they succeeded. Roddenberry's script, while trying to sort out the story idea of “God is a machine,” ends up falling flat on its face thanks to the almost non-existent pace and lack of characterization, one aspect that made the original series so good. The whole production is just lifeless and dull, made worse by the fact that it so obviously tries to ape 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even the costumes are terrible, looking like pajamas rather than official Starfleet uniforms. Just watch the episode “The Changeling” instead, where the same concept is done a bazillion times better.

3. Star Trek: Generations
How could a movie based around Captain Kirk and Captain Picard teaming up not be awesome? From the stupid magical Nexus to the underdeveloped and boring villain, Generations manages to undo pretty much everything that made its companion series so great. The film is also riddled with plot holes, a famous one being when Picard goes back to Viridian III to confront Soran after finding Kirk in the Nexus. Why didn't he just go back to when he met Soran in Ten Forward and arrest him? The sub-plot revolving around Data is also badly handled, turning him into an annoying clown rather than developing his character. One of the greatest crimes of the film is casting Malcolm McDowell, an excellent actor, and giving him virtually nothing interesting to do or say. Kirk's death was especially maligned by fans, us included, because it didn't involve putting his years of experience and wisdom to the test in an epic Star Trek situation, but rather just helping Picard punch the bad guy. Overall, Generations was a massive let down and an indication of the quality of the Next Generation films.

What's your favorite and least favorite?

Tags: movies, tv, star trek, benedict cumberbatch, star trek next generation

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Dan Stein

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