Rank all the Star Trek movies

I did.

  1. Wrath of Khan

This is a cliched choice, and in many respects Wrath of Khan isn’t many of the things I like Star Trek to be. It’s violent, and doesn’t have a lot of ethical dilemmas. However, it has a near perfect script and fantastic acting, by far the best of the series. It’s a tight, perfectly written, perfectly edited movie, and unlike most Star Trek movies, the villain is wonderful. Ricardo Montalban deserved an Oscar nomination.

One specific thing I like about it is that the space combat makes sense to me. Most space combat scenes in Star Trek are idiotic and confusing. If you look at battles at the end of Nemesis, or Star Trek Discovery, the screen is filled with ships swooping around each other like fighter planes and lasers are shooting everywhere and it’s hard to keep track of what the hell is going on. This has never made sense to me. For one thing, ST weapons are astoundingly powerful; a phaser should vaporize any part of a ship it touches, and a photon torpedo is supposed to be as powerful as a nuclear warhead, and combat should be taking place at great distances. A ship that gets hit should be in serious trouble if the shields are weakened and the shields should go down fast if they’re hit. I mean, naval battles in real life have been fought from outside visual range, and fought with weapons that can blow a large ship to smithereens with few hits, for longer than I’ve been alive. Why aren’t battles in Star Trek?

Wrath of Khan has space battles that make sense. Getting in the first shot is a massive advantage, and getting hit is enormously consequential. When Reliant first hits Enterprise it nearly destroys the ship and cripples it so badly it literally cannot fly out of orbit; when Enterprise hits Reliant in return, which they are only capable of doing with trickery, Reliant loses all weapons and has no choice but to run away. In the final battle the two ships spend most of it trying just to find one another and when Enterprise finally gets the jump, Reliant is dead. It is the space battle that actually makes sense, and it’s presented to the viewer in a way that you fully understand what’s happening. (In this regard it’s very similar to the TOS episode Balance of Terror.)

  1. The Voyage Home

Voyage Home is campy and funny and looks dated now, but it’s very Star Trek-y. Classic sci-fi premise, time travel, no real violence, and it features more of the supporting cast than most of the films, so I love it; the entire cast gets great scenes. The script is quite solid. Of all the Star Trek movies, it’s the one most like a TV show episode. It also does not have a villain, which is better than having a shitty villain.

  1. The Motion Picture

I hated this movie when I was a kid, because to me, “Star Wars” was the greatest movie imaginable so I was hoping Star Trek would be like that – action and shooting and space battles. It got off to a good start in my 9-year-old eyes when the Klingon cruisers got zapped. After that I was criminally bored.
Of course, now, I really appreciate this movie. It’s a Star Trek story all the way with a great reveal, some really cool visual effects, and slam bang acting performances by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who are much better actors than they are often given credit for.
If you had made this movie today it might be the best in the series, because I think it’d be a little better edited.

  1. Star Trek Beyond

The only one of the three Abrams films that really feels like a Star Trek episode and the only one with a story that makes any sense. The production values on the new movies are of course a mile past the old ones, which pushes this up a lot of notches.

  1. Search for Spock

Cheaply made, or so it appeared to me. Still, it’s a pretty good story.

Something that has always irritated me about the franchise is they keep coming up with reasons why Enterprise can’t just solve a problem by kicking ass. Enterprise is, canonically, an extremely powerful warship; the original is a Constitution-class heavy cruiser, and the Klingon commander (Christopher Lloyd having a fabulous time) at one point in this movie notes “they outgun us ten to one” and is confused as to why Enterprise hasn’t vaporized him. But they’d written in a technical reason (the ship was automated by Scotty and didn’t have enough crew.) Enterprise-D kept getting hamstrung by a variety of convenient problems too. There’s always a damn reason. Maybe they just should have made it a weaker ship.

  1. First Contact

There are a lot of script problems with this film, and it’s the beginning of the weird Picard/Data obsession that ruins the entire franchise from this point on, but I enjoy watching it as long as I don’t think about it too hard.

James Cromwell is great as Zepham Cochrane, but does the fact he invented warp drive make any sense to you? He’s living in what appears to be a refugee camp. Why is a guy in a refugee camp even working on warp drive? Who the hell else is working on it? Where did he get the dilithium? Creating complicated things is hard, and you don’t worry about that kind of stuff if you don’t have a house and a reliable food source. Could one person even do that? It took thousands of people to pull off the Manhattan Project. Edison had teams of dozens of people working on light bulbs and record players.

  1. Star Trek 2009

Immensely stupid but very fun and well cast.

  1. Undiscovered Country

Virtually all Star Trek fans love this film more than I do, and I’m not sure why I’m so meh about it. For one thing, it looks cheap, so that’s a problem. But the story just doesn’t blow my skirt up and I’m not sure why. I may have to rewatch it. Awesome opening scene though. I’d watch a Sulu movie.

Have you ever noticed they keep reusing the same ship names? Sulu is captain of USS Excelsior, the same ship we saw before. Don’t they have other ships? Even if it’s Excelsior class and they wanted to reuse the model, why not name it USS Alacrity? USS Wayfinder? USS Indonesia? USS Mick Jagger? How hard is it to just make this tiny effort to make Starfleet seem as big as it’s supposed to be?

  1. Generations

This is the point at which the movies shift into being bad. Generations is not a good movie and has a lot of plot problems, and it’s the point at which the characters of Picard and Data started being changed from what they were like in the show. From this point on I could put the movies in any order and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference.

Giving Data the emotion chip was so stupid.

  1. Into Darkness

Had some very good action scenes; otherwise the movie is a hot mess. Nothing in this film is logical. A list of the plot holes would be longer than a list of the things that actually make sense. The mistakes in characterization are just amazing in number. Why the fuck is Benedict Cumberbatch playing a man named Khan Singh?

  1. Nemesis

I remember very little about this film and can’t even bring myself to recall anything about it. If a movie wastes Tom Hardy you know it must be pretty bad, because Tom Hardy might actually be the greatest actor alive.

  1. Final Frontier

This movie was rightly hated at the time and it really does suck a lot of ass, but it feels to me like there were some good ideas people had that just got all screwed up when they actually made the film.

It’s a minor miracle any movie is good. Even a smallish movie is an enormous undertaking involving a lot of different people are opinions. Many, many movies are absolute shitshows in their first cut and are rescued by editing and reshoots. (Star Wars is famously an example of this.) Making movies is just astoundingly hard, and I suspect most of them are only one or two stumbles away from being as bad as Final Frontier, even if, as I suspect is the case here, the initial ideas were sound.

The original script for “Saving Private Ryan” apparently cast the Tom Hanks character as a ridiculous John Wayne type, literally chewing on a cigar and spouting off tough guy lines. Can you imagine how much worse a movie it would’ve been if they hadn’t fixed that? But they did, and a bunch of other things, and now it’s a revered landmark in modern cinema instead of being “one of the bad Spielberg ones, like the Indiana Jones with the aliens.” You’re always one error away.

  1. Insurrection

I cannot even begin to explain how shitty this movie is. It’s so cheap. It’s so stupid. Nothing makes sense. It completely blows the ethical implications of the premise.

You left out Galaxy Quest.

My sentiments exactly. I’d put GQ at #3 after Wrath of Khan and the Whale one.

So glad I actually went out and saw GQ in the theater when it was released. I hurt myself laughing.

In some ways, Tim Allen made the best Kirk.

If I considered it a Star Trek movie, I’d probably stick it in fourth.

  1. The Voyage Home is the best to me. It had a lot of humor which I greatly enjoyed. I love the Save the Whales theme that Nimoy got so heavily into the film. I watched most of the scenes of the Air Craft Carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) filmed on my USS Ranger (CV-61). I am probably in the Hangar Bay scene, but even I can’t tell.

This was the movie most in feeling with Tribble and a Piece of the Action. My favorite episode and another I enjoyed greatly.

  1. Wrath of Khan is one of the best submarine movies I’ve ever seen. I think it is dating at this point but I love the Ham to Ham combat between Shatner & Ricardo Montalbán. Those brains slugs were incredible. It was a great movie.

  2. Search for Spock was fun. I loved Rev Jim the Klingon Captain. I love the fact the movies name was minor inside joke on the show’s name that Nimoy use to host. It was a fun movie.

  3. First Contact was the only good Next Gen movie. I agree James Cromwell really helped make it good.

  4. Star Trek Beyond was another one heavy on humor, thank you Simon Pegg. It was fun and the story made more sense than the prior two movies.

  5. Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country (1991) was a fairly good movie.

  6. Star Trek 2009: Immensely stupid but very fun and well cast sums it up perfectly.

The rest are bad movies. 1 is vaguely watchable. 5 & Next Gens and Into Darkness were awful.

I would take Galaxy Quest as the 2nd best. Only 2nd as it doesn’t actually have the crew of the Enterprise.

It’s essentially ships-of-the-line in space. Really, the fight at the end was more accurate than anything else- two ships playing cat and mouse and trying to stay undetected, and then letting the other guy have it first when they have an advantage.

But yeah, the swarms of fighters are absurd. You could have swarms of missiles, or maybe even drones, but I suspect they’d be toast in the ST universe; powerful phasers and AI controlled point defense would make quick work of them.

I liked “Wrath of Khan” the best, and “Undiscovered Country” second, because they were by far the most engaging, Horatio Hornblower in space, type movies in the franchise. Third would be the reboot “Star Trek”, with “Into Darkness” as fourth, and the rest falling somewhere behind.

They’re Star Trek movies, and they take place in 2 hours. They’re not liable to be big philosophical thinkers, and really they shouldn’t be. They ought to be reasonably good popcorn movies, which the four I mention are, warts and all. That’s why ST:TMP was not good; it wasn’t casting, it wasn’t the pajamas, and it wasn’t the bald woman, It was that it was dull and too thought provoking.

Wrath of Khan
First Contact.

The rest. Meh. I haven’t watched them since the first time since they all suck. As a matter of fact, I skipped Nemesis and every Abrams movie completely. A preemptive suck avoidance plan.

IGN 2013

Led by my pal Jordan Hoffman, who writes a column called One Trek Mind for Star Trek.com, the panel enlisted the help of the Trekkies (or Trekkers if you like) in the audience to determine the best and the worst of the Star Trek movies. Here’s how it all broke down in the end:

First of all, notice that Galaxy Quest made the list! While not technically a Star Trek movie, one can certainly see how it could make the cut. It’s more Star Trek than a couple of the actual Star Trek movies even.

I’m not going to list them all individually but I will mention the ones that I think differ from most.

I think Star Trek VI is the best TOS movie. It feels like the cast really gels and I like the political story.

I think Nemesis is underrated. It feels like the only TNG movie done by someone who knew Star Trek.

I think First Contact is overrated. It’s not bad just not great. I don’t like how they made Picard a dumb action hero.

Star Trek Beyond is my favorite Kelvin movie. It’s just a good TOS episode with a movie budget.

If we’re considering Galaxy Quest, I must say (outside of TWoK) the two best Star Trek movies are Forbidden Planet and Captain Horatio Hornblower. Both of them have the proper sensibility. They “get” Star Trek, even if they were made a decade or more before.

Both inspired Roddenberry a lot. Forbidden Planet especially. Horatio Hornblower was I believe part of the pitch, along with Wagon Train to the Stars!

The new ones with Idiot Kirk and Human Spock are the worst things I’ve ever seen with the word ‘Star’ and ‘Trek’ in the title. Oh, god, I wish I could un-see them. I guess The Drink may accomplish that, in due time and appropriate application.

I’d like to thank the OP for acknowledging how terrible Insurrection is. Other films in the series are bad, but none of them made my as angry as Insurrection did.

I don’t know what the characvter limit is on an SMDB post but I have no doubt I could exceed it expplaining why that movie is so fucking terrible.

When they got to the final, pointless mano-y-mano fight between Picard and (Insert name of villain) in the satellite thingy, and the walls of it were key-out blue because they had intended to fill it in with some kind of effect but then at the end just decided it wasn’t worth the bother or they ran out of money, I was praying they would never do another TNG movie.

I used to own the original script of The Search For Spock written by Harve Bennett. Initially, they found Spock on the Genesis planet and he had gone full caveman with a bushy beard and violent tendencies. This was later cleaned up with the katra and amnesia storylines, but it was still an interesting early draft that gave some insight into the creative process.