Star Trek is arguably the greatest science fiction television series of all-time – if for no other reason than its lasting influence on the genre.
But the franchise has also seen a solid run on the big screen.
And so, in honor of the thirteenth movie installment – “Star Trek Beyond” – hitting the theaters on July 22, we ranked all the Star Trek movies from worst to best.
“Nemesis” came out right in between the Voyager and Enterprise shows, at a time when everyone was feeling pretty burnt out from mediocre Star Trek overexposure. The movie also wasted its star talent by not giving much attention to the fan-favorite characters.
Two of the actors, LeVar Burton and Marina Sirtis, also once said that the director of the movie, Stuart Baird, had never actually seen a single episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
As a fun note, the main bad guy was played Tom Hardy.
Data: It appears to be a robotic arm.
Worf: [Sarcastically.] Very astute.
11. The Final Frontier
“The Final Frontier” was, honestly, pretty dull: there’s not that much suspense, the plot is pretty disjointed, and the jokes lacked the usual Star Trek spark.
[Kirk goes to hug Spock.]
Spock: Please, Captain. Not in front of the Klingons.
10. Into Darkness
This movie is basically a microcosm for everything wrong with Star Trek movies: it seems like the people who made the film are not quite sure whether they should court the hardcore Star Trek fans or they should pander to the action movie lovers.
Also, as George Takei, who played Sulu in the original series, noted, it might’ve been more interesting to see Benedict Cumberbatch as a new character, rather than as Khan.
Bones: Don’t agree with me, Spock. It makes me very uncomfortable.
Spock: Perhaps you, too, should learn to govern your emotions, Doctor.
“Insurrection” is basically a two-hour version of those forgettable, filler episodes from a late season of “The Next Generation.” Sure, it’s watchable and it’s still Star Trek, but it relies too heavily on a heavy-handed black-and-white ideology because there’s not much else happening.
Picard: Mr. Worf, do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?
Worf: No, sir. I have not had a chance to meet all the new crew members since I’ve been back.
8. The Motion Picture
The very first Star Trek movie, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” was fine, but not great. It almost felt like not enough happened during the course of the movie to justify its length.
Also, it’s odd that the first Star Trek movie abandoned the strongest element from the original series: namely, focusing on the whole crew.
Bones: Spock, you haven’t changed a bit. You’re just as warm and sociable as ever.
Spock: Nor have you, doctor, as your continued predilection for irrelevancy demonstrates.
That still of Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Kirk (William Shatner) basically represents the whole movie. What could’ve been some amazing Kirk/Picard character development during an intense gray-area moral dilemma ended up being two guys sitting on horses in a field.
Still, for a split second – even for the most cynical of us – it did feel pretty cool to see the two greatest captains in Starfleet history together on screen.
Kirk: Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge, because while you’re there, you can make a difference.
Picard: Come back with me. Help us stop Soran. Make a difference again.
Kirk: Who am I to argue with the captain of the Enterprise?
6. The Search for Spock
A direct followup to 1982’s “The Wrath of Khan,” the third movie in the franchise ties up some of the loose ends from its predecessor. The film also features one of the oddest casting choices in the history of Star Trek, with comic actor Christopher Lloyd, who would go on to play the iconic Doc Brown in “Back to the Future,” portraying a villainous Klingon.
Scotty: All systems automated and ready. A chimpanzee and two trainees could run her.
Kirk: Thank you, Mr. Scott. I’ll try not to take that personally.
5. The Undiscovered Country
The sixth entry in the series is a poignant send-off for the original cast, with a plot revolving around peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, causing old Cold Warriors like Captain Kirk to question their roles in a less fraught future. One of the best aspects of the movie is Christopher Plummer’s Shakespeare-quoting, scenery-chewing Klingon General Chang, a fitting adversary for the last outing of the crew of the first starship Enterprise.
Spock: There’s an old Vulcan proverb: only Nixon could go to China.
4. Star Trek (2009)
It’s always hard to reboot an iconic series like Star Trek, but J.J. Abrams’ first outing in the sci-fi universe did a pretty solid job. While less focused on the big-picture political and philosophical questions featured on the TV shows and in some of the other movies, the movie works as a highly entertaining adventure, and the new cast’s portrayals of the classic characters gel nicely together, assisted with a well-placed sendoff by Leonard Nimoy in the role of an older, time-traveling Spock.
Bones: I’m a doctor, not a physicist!
3. The Voyage Home
Sometimes referred to as “the one with the whales,” the fourth big screen adventure of Kirk and company has a very different tone than the other movies on this list. Rather than an epic space adventure, “The Voyage Home” finds the crew transported back to 1980s San Francisco, in search of two humpback whales to bring to a 23rd century in which Earth is threatened by an alien space probe trying to communicate with the then-extinct cetaceans.
Instead of special effects-heavy action sequences, the movie relies on a surprisingly funny and clever assortment of fish-out-of-water scenarios, including Spock dealing with an obnoxious punk on a bus and Chekov asking a police officer in his thick Russian accent where to find “nuclear wessels.”
[Trying to figure out how a 20th century computer works.]
Scotty: Computer. Computer?
[Scotty is handed a mouse. He speaks into it.]
Scotty: Hello, computer.
2. First Contact
By far the best of the four movies featuring the “Next Generation” crew, “First Contact” brings back one of the most feared villains in the franchise: The terrifying Borg, who in this installment travel to a post-nuclear late 21st century to cripple humanity in the past by preventing their first faster-than-light flight and ensuing meeting with the friendly Vulcans.
The action-filled movie features excellent performances from the “Next Generation” cast, particularly Brent Spiner’s morally conflicted android Data, who is captured and seduced by the evil Borg Queen (Alice Krige).
Lily Sloane: Borg? Sounds Swedish.
1. The Wrath of Khan
Let’s be real: there’s no debate here. “The Wrath of Khan” is the greatest Star Trek movie of all time.
Ricardo Montalban plays the genetically enhanced super-soldier Khan, who was left on an empty world by Kirk and crew in an episode of the original TV series. After a cataclysm turned that world into an inhospitable desert, Khan seeks out out revenge against the man he blames for marooning him.
That revenge takes the shape of a tense, thrilling, cat-and-mouse starship chase inspired by WWII submarine movies that even viewers unfamiliar with the Star Trek franchise will enjoy.
Kirk: [About Spock] Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.
Bonus Honorable Mention: Galaxy Quest
Technically, “Galaxy Quest” is not a Star Trek movie. But it is by far the best parody of Star Trek out there. The movie surprisingly doesn’t rely on cheap jokes, and Star Trek fans actually voted “Galaxy Quest” as the seventh best Star Trek movie back in 2013.
As a bonus fact: Rainn Wilson – aka Dwight Schrute from “The Office” – plays a friendly alien in the film. It was his first movie.
Jason Nesmith: Stop for a second, stop. It’s all real.
Brandon Wheeger: Oh. My. God. I knew. I knew it! I knew it!
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