Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, one of the most beloved entries in the long running movie franchise based on the landmark science fiction TV series, was released in North America on June 4, 1982. That’s right, 34 years ago. Feel old, feel very old.
It was seeing this film as a child that turned me into a lifelong Trekkie. It boldly took me where I had not gone before and there was no turning back. So in commemoration of The Wrath of Khan’s birthday I will be ranking all 13 Trek movies. So warp engines are set to maximum. Engage!
#13 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Here’s a great idea – why don’t we have Captain Kirk himself William Shatner direct a Star Trek film?
It was a very bad idea. So bad that it won the Razzie award for Worst Picture.
Spock’s half brother was an awful villain, the special effects were laughable and stealing a ship to find “God” was a ridiculous plot. There is nothing redeemable here. Why does God need a spaceship? Nobody cares.
#12 Star Trek Nemesis (2002)
JJ Abrams added more action to his Star Trek reboot movies to try to appeal to a broader audience while respecting the source material. With Nemesis they went to the action extreme and took a dump on the source material and a hot whizz on continuity.
The only redeeming aspect is that Tom Hardy is decent as Picard clone and Reman wannabe Shinzon. I’m still upset by the awful way they killed Data. He deserved better!
As the 10th film this broke the mould of the even Trek films being better than the odd ones.
#11 Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Why are Data and Picard singing? We really did not need that.
Insurrection had an okay story, some decent action and nice visuals. The Son’a are not terribly interesting though and the overall experience is on par with a regular TV episode. Meh.
#10 Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but we could have done without this Wrath of Khan rip off. Benedict Cumberbatch was towering as the villain though shoehorning him into Khan just took away from the character. I enjoyed Peter Weller as well and the effects showed an upgrade from the previous film.
But that Kirk death scene – a silly reversal of the touching Spock death scene in Wrath of Khan – and the regenerating blood just annoyed the living daylights out of me. Justin Lin better not mess up Beyond!
#9 Star Trek Generations (1994)
Kirk and Picard together?! Awesome sauce. The rest of the movie though, not so much.
Malcolm McDowell was a bit hammy as Soran and the Nexus was an interesting concept that never really paid off. A whole lot of dull with very few bright spots.
#8 Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Who’s a pretty movie? You’re a pretty movie!
The most visually impressive and high concept of all the Trek films. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey in the Trek universe. They got the awe and exploration parts down but they forgot the fun and adventure aspects. Why so serious?!
#7 Star Trek (2009)
We now begin the second half of the list with the first film in the new continuity. Seven years after the abysmal Nemesis we finally had a new Trek movie, and reboot or no reboot it was not half bad. The casting was spot on, it was fun and there were many nods to diehard Trekkies. And the late Leonard Nimoy returning as Spock was “fascinating”.
It was more action focused than previous Trek films but at least it reawakened public interest in a dormant franchise. And for that I am grateful.
#6 Star Trek Beyond (2016)
I don’t know why this movie gets so much hate. There is a great action, a wonderful new female lead, a moderately interesting villain and a whole lot of Star Trek: Enterprise series love. It felt like a combination of what went before as well as an homage to old Trek. And unlike Into Darkness we actually went somewhere that we had never gone before. And is that not what Star Trek is all about?
#5 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
This movie continued the story arc that began with Wrath of Khan and was the first time Leonard Nimoy sat in the director’s chair. There were many epic moments – the death of Kirk’s son, the destruction of the Enterprise and the rebirth of Spock.
The final battle between Kirk and Klingon captain Kurge (a pre-Doc Brown Christopher Lloyd) on the surface of the dying Genesis planet was some grand drama. A good watch.
#4 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
I really enjoyed this movie when I first saw it and it still holds up today. Kirk and Bones on an adventure on a prison planet, a murder mystery aboard the ship, Christopher Plummer’s Shakespeare quoting villain and a fantastic final ship battle all come together for a great experience.
And a story about overcoming prejudice and old enemies moving forward in peace? Some great Trek right here.
#3 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
The Trek movie for people who don’t really like Star Trek. The Wrath of Khan’s Nicholas Meyer helped pen the screenplay, and the pedigree shows, and Nimoy returns to the director’s chair. It also completes the story arc that began with Star Trek II.
Our Enterprise crew are in a fish out of water situation in the 1980s getting up to all kinds of hijinks. It is full of humor, adventure, charm and wit. Kind of the anti-The Motion Picture. Toss in an environmental message and you have one of the best Trek movies ever made and certainly the most fun.
#2 Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Lamentably this is the only good The Next Generation film but it is a doozy. Where does one start?
We have the Borg, the most intimidating villains in the Trek universe, and we meet their sexy/creepy queen for the first time. The Borg are so scary in this film that at times it feels like a horror movie. We have Picard battling with his Borg PTSD from “The Best of Both Worlds” television two parter and giving one of the best Trek speeches ever. “The line must be drawn here, this far and no further!” I love it.
James Cromwell is hilarious as perpetual drunk and uneasy historical icon Zefram Cochrane and Alfre Woodard is engaging as Lily Sloane. Her character acts as a proxy for the audience, something never before seen in a Trek film. First Contact was directed by Jonathan Frakes, Cmdr William Riker, and his love for the characters shows as everyone is given a moment to shine.
There are tense and explosive action sequences in space and with Federation crew facing off against the Borg. And we also get to see First Contact with Vulcans. This movie is a gold mine for Trekkies and a great time too for everyone else.
#1 Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1983)
He may be an oldie but he is still the best of the lot. This movie will take your breath away.
Like First Contact this movie is a sequel to a TV episode; in this case it is The Original Series episode “The Space Seed”. Khan Noonien Singh is back and he is mad as hell. Ricardo Montalbán gives a masterful performance and consumes every scene with Shakespearean gravitas.
The introduction of Khan, Kirk learning of his son, the tense and action packed ship battle – the best ever in the franchise – and Spock’s emotional final sacrifice are just a few of the many fantastic and memorable scenes. Indisputably – well you can dispute it but you’d be wrong – the best Trek film ever.
So what did you think of my list? What is your least favorite Trek film? What Trek film tops your list? Feel free to comment below.
For my Top 10 Star Trek TV series you can click here and for my Top 10 Star Trek species you can click here. And for my movie posts that live long and prosper you can subscribe via email or follow me on Twitter @suprememango012.