Earlier this year I compiled a list ranking my favorite Star Trek movies. I had seen all of the movies but hadn’t seen some of them for a long time. I decided to watch and review each movie in chronological order. Now, after 12 weeks of watching Star Trek movies and reviewing each one, I’m ready to compile a definitive list of my favorite Star Trek movies. At least definitive for 2013.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed some of my lower ranked movies. In particular Star Trek: The Motion Picture was much better than I thought it was when I was 12. And other movies, like Insurrection, were just as bad as I remember.
Here’s my updated list and some thoughts about why they did or didn’t change spots.
Original Rank: #1
The Wrath of Kahn is still my favorite Star Trek movie. The strength of most of the original crew’s movies is the relationships among Kirk and crew. The Wrath of Khan is different in that its strength is the relationship between Kirk and Khan. Ricardo Montalban goes toe-to-toe with William Shatner, meeting his intensity every step of the way.
Original Rank: #2
The Next Generation crew didn’t have a lot of great movies. In fact, First Contact is their only great movie. It takes Picard’s greatest villain and sets them in the middle of a story steeped in Star Trek mythology.
Original Rank: #5
After watching The Undiscovered Country again, I realized how much I love it. I love everything with the Klingons, I love the “whodunnit” plot line, I love General Chang’s Shakespearean quotations and I love Bones rolling his eyes when Marta kisses Kirk. The Undiscovered Country cracked the top three mostly because it makes me happy and I enjoy watching it every single time.
#4 – Star Trek (2009)
Original Rank: #3
Star Trek fell a spot to make room for The Undiscovered Country. Star Trek as a franchise needed a boost and J.J. Abrams definitely brought that boost. His Star Trek is sleek and sexy but still has the same heart. Its strength is in the performances of the actors who really captured the spirit of the original actors.
Original Rank: #4
The Voyage Home is an awesome “fish out of water” tale. Instead of focusing on a singular villain, The Voyage Home regales its audience with a humorous story about Kirk and crew attempting to fit into 1980s San Francisco. Again, its strength is the relationships among the crew and the humor that spawns from those relationships.
Original Rank: #6
I strongly defended Star Trek Into Darkness last week. It has taken a lot of flack from Star Trek fans. In spite of its slickness and lens flares, it has a lot more heart than most detractors want to admit. Like all great Star Trek movies, its strength is in its relationships.
#7 – Star Trek: Nemesis
Original Rank: #9
I’d only seen Nemesis once when it was in theaters 11 years ago. After watching it again, I realized that it has the most heart of all The Next Generation’s movies. Its plot is a little convoluted, introducing an entire race that had never been heard of before. But getting to see Picard bid farewell to most of his crew and 15 years’ worth of memories is worth a little confusion.
Original Rank: #7
Generations isn’t a great movie but it is full of great nostalgia. My biggest problem is that it focuses a lot on Kirk, Scotty and Chekov. For their first big screen adventure, Picard’s crew seems to get pushed to the background. Still, after crying at the end of The Next Generation’s final episode, I was brimming with excitement for more adventures with the Enterprise-D.
Original Rank: #12
In my original list I wrote that The Motion Picture had no chance of moving up my list. Obviously I was wrong. The Motion Picture is probably most reflective of Roddenberry’s original vision. The movie eschews action in favor of exploration and focuses more on the development of humanity than the development of the characters’ relationships. It’s definitely not my favorite Star Trek movie but I appreciate how closely it adheres to Roddenberry’s vision.
Original Rank: #10
There are some awful parts to The Final Frontier, most of them involving the search for God and a three-breasted cat-woman. However, when it works, it works because of the relationships among Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Those three were the heart of the original series. If humanity is still gathering with friends around a campfire in the 23rd century, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Original Rank: #8
At its best, The Search for Spock is a character-driven rescue mission. At its worst, Christopher Lloyd muddles through his performance as the worst Klingon captain ever. I like Christopher Lloyd and his character could have been a lot like General Change from The Undiscovered Country. Unfortunately he ends up more like his character from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
#12 – Star Trek: Insurrection
Original Rank: #11
Insurrection isn’t very good. It takes the story lines from a few different Next Generation episodes and puts them together to make something worse. I think Insurrection was so bad that it hurt the potential success of Nemesis. Thankfully Picard and crew got another movie and were able to sail off into the stars on better terms.
So there it is, my definitive list of favorite Star Trek movies. It was a lot of fun watching all of these movies again, even if I dreaded a couple of them (Insurrection).
Please share your thoughts on your favorite Star Trek movies and where my list is wrong.