I don’t know about you, but I’m missing new movies. However, this time of uncertainty has led me to go back and watch a lot of classic films and film series. In these weekly posts, I’ll be revisiting some classic film series and offering you my thoughts and rankings so you can begin your own binges to pass the long, hot days ahead.
I recently re-watched all 13 of the “Star Trek” films, much to the horror of my wife, and have thought about a ranking for them. Below is said ranking in ascending order. Agree, disagree, have a different order? Comment and let me know, or hit me up on Twitter @knighthawk7734. And if you have a film series or set of films you’d like to see me take on, let me know! All suggestions welcome!
13. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
About: It’s fair to wonder how we managed to get 13 theatrical films, including some great ones, after starting here. This movie is absurd for a lot of reasons. The uniforms, which were never seen again, are beyond strange. The plot’s not great, either. It doesn’t feel like what you’re looking for from a “Star Trek” film, and it feels too long. It is one of the longer ones. Anyway, it’s the first one and you kinda just have to endure it, I guess.
12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
About: After a string of classic films, we get this odd entry. It begins with a sequence at Yosemite, and that might be the most memorable thing about it. It’s plot essentially boils down to a search for God, and involves the brother we didn’t know Spock (Leonard Nimoy) had. It was directed by William Shatner, and it’s just not great.
11. Star Trek X: Nemesis (2002)
About: This was the last of four films from the “Next Generation” cast, and it has one of the strangest plots involving a clone of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). It also saw the death of Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), which was an emotional moment. But this film wasn’t great. I think they sort of makeup for it a bit with the new series. I loved the “Next Generation” cast and thought they had the best show, but their films didn’t find the heights of the other two cast groups.
10. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
About: This isn’t a bad movie, and it’s the first of two theatrical films directed by Nimoy. It’s just sort of a lesser middle between the two pillars of the original cast. The story here is OK and has some odd moments. It’s a sad story in some ways, too, because of what happens with Kirk (Shatner) and his son. This is a decent watch, but it’s middle of the pack among the original cast films.
9. Star Trek IX: Insurrection (1998)
About: This was the third of the films with the “Next Generation” group, and I think it’s a touch under-rated. It’s not a great movie, but some give it a bit too much flack, possibly because it followed the best film from this group. Much like “Search for Spock,” this is an enjoyable and watchable film that doesn’t reach any lofty heights. But I like the performances here.
8. Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
About: This is the toughest for me to rank because I actually have a soft spot for this film. I like Benedict Cumberbatch, and I like the homages to the original films here. But the plot feels very much like theft of a better movie (it’s the same criticism leveled at J.J. Abrams for his work on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Those criticisms are fair, but I still enjoy this movie. I really loved the re-boot cast and thought they made three enjoyable films.
7. Star Trek VII: Generations (1994)
About: The first of the films with the “Next Generation” group, this one featured a literal passing of the torch as Kirk ends up trapped in time only to be found by Picard. Then they team up to help save the Enterprise and the world. It’s a cool concept, and seeing these two captains on screen together is fun. But this isn’t an exceptional film all the way around. It’s good, not great.
6. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
About: This is the final film from the original cast, and a fitting send-off for their film journey, which lasted 12 years. This one, from director Nicholas Meyer, works well and has an interesting story. Shatner and Nimoy are also quite good here.
5. Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
About: Justin Lin, who helmed movies for the “Fast and Furious” franchise, took up the directing duties here, and creates a fun, action-packed film. Some like this the best of the re-boot cast films, but I still prefer the original, as you’ll see. But this is a fun film with some good performances. Re-watching it made me hope they do continue making films with this group.
4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
About: The other film directed by Nimoy, this one takes the crew on a time-traveling adventure back to the 1980s, which was the contemporary time frame when the film was made. This allows for a lot of fun and cultural references while depicting the crew as fish out of water. This is probably the most fun “Star Trek” film, and that’s part of what makes it iconic.
Rating: Three stars out of four.
3. Star Trek VIII: First Contact (1996)
About: The second film with the “Next Generation” cast, and the best with that cast. This one returns the classic foe, The Borg, and presents a time-traveling adventure for the cast. There are some great action sequences, but it’s a chance for a great lead performance from Stewart. This film was directed by Jonathan Frakes, who does an excellent job with the action. It’s proof the best cast directors are the first officers!
2. Star Trek (2009)
About: I didn’t know what to think about the re-boot franchise when it was first announced, but this film assuaged any concerns. It’s a classic, and one of my favorites. Chris Pine is great as Kirk, and Zachary Quinto is great as Spock. Having Nimoy as part of this is the icing on the cake. I loved the action sequences and the story, which gets off with a bang from the jump. This is an under-rated film.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
About: For as bad as I thought the first “Star Trek” movie was, the second one is great. It features the most iconic villain and some of the most iconic lines and sequences. By the time Spock tells Kirk, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one,” I am usually a puddle. I love everything about this movie, and I think it will likely always remain the greatest “Star Trek” film.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.