Sunday, October 16, 2005

The best Star Trek Movies

Since Paramount have now officially said " no more Star Trek for a long long time... in a Galaxy Far Far away."... oh wait wrong movie series... well anyways I think it was time to rank all 10 movies in order of Preference..

It wasn't an easy list to compile. Sure, it was easy to figure out what movie I disliked the most. The films in the number six and number seven slot are pretty much interchangeable for me - I like them both about the same. Likewise, the top four are all very close together in just how much I love them. However I still prefer Next Gen (seasons 3-7). For the 1990's it was the best SCI Fi television there was, and has been for some time, all though some truly innovative and inspiring SCI FI has been made since (Firefly and latest BSG seasons)

Other things came to light as I went back through my reviews. One movie I thought held up better on repeated viewing than another I had previously rated higher. I also began to revise some of those older reviews, only to find that I really need to rewatch the movies to do so. At the time I wrote these reviews, I was just finding my footing here in the movies section of opinions, and trying a variety of styles to my reviews. I will go back and work on those old reviews when I get the opportunity, especially with so many new DVD releases coming out.

10 - Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Okay, this was a no-brainer. Possibly the worst piece of media ever to have the Star Trek name attached to it. (And I only say "possibly" because I haven't read all of the books). Shatner should not have been given the amount of unrestricted control over the script and directing that he was given here. Instead of a coherent story about the entire crew of the original Star Trek series, we are treated to Kirk-as-a-superhero. You see, no one but Kirk can defeat the evil Sybok, Spock's brother.

The writing is totally inconsistent with everything we've learned about the Star Trek universe prior to this. Neither Kirk nor Spock act in a manner consistent with how they have been depicted throughout the years. The effects are even awful - something that Star Trek films usually stand out for. This is also the ONLY DVD I do not, and will NEVER own! Its totally crap and never ever should have been made!

9 - Star Trek: The Motion Picture

To really appreciate this film, you have to understand the circumstances with which it was released. Star Trek fans had been lobbying for years to have the series brought back. Just when it looked like some of their wishes might come true and we'd see a whole new crew for the starship Enterprise, Star Wars came out. Paramount head Michael Eisner (yes, that Michael Eisner) decided a movie with the original crew would be better and this is the result. It's a hybrid of new and old crews, that doesn't seem to work.

A mysterious entity is headed to Earth, destroying or disabling everything in its path. What does it want? This is the question the crew of the Enterprise must answer before it makes it to Earth and does damage there.

Another headache here is that the director seems to be fascinated with the state-of-the-art (for its time) special effects and spends a lot of time showing off the effects rather than focusing on the story. That's a shame because the story could have been a really great one.

8 - Star Trek: Generations

This was the first film to feature the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, although it begins in the time period still occupied by the original Star Trek cast.

There is a mysterious space anomaly known as "The Nexus" which draws Kirk in during the rescue of a group of El-Aurian refugees. Among that group are Guinan and a strange we learn is Soran. Soran spends the rest of his life trying to get back into "The Nexus" which is a paradise close to heaven. He doesn't care whom he hurts or kills in this quest. To stop him, Picard must team up with Kirk after he is also drawn into "The Nexus".

The biggest fault with the film is that there is some background from the series needed to really appreciate it. However, I think that's one of the things that makes it great for fans. There are some great character-building moments with both Data and Captain Picard. There's some wonderfully humorous moments, especially with Data when he finally implants his emotion chip. It's got plenty of action and suspense, and the effects are terrific with the exception of one scene that was lifted from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.

7 - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

This is primarily a character piece as various characters reach turning points in their lives. Spock dies at the end of the previous film. However, his death is short-lived and that's something I do have a problem with.

In science fiction and soap operas, you're never really dead.

If you're going to kill off a character, I'd like that person to stay dead.

However, if you're going to resurrect a character, I do have to admit that this film does it in a most believable way (for science fiction).

At the end of the last film, we saw Spock press his fingers to Dr. McCoy's forehead and say "remember". Then we saw his lifeless body jettisoned into space only to land on the newly formed Genesis (life from death) planet... and the opened, empty container.

This movie has lots of action as there is a face-off between Kirk and the Klingons. To save Spock, Kirk must sacrifice his precious Enterprise. Also in the mix is Kirk's son David whom we only met in the last film. I thought it would have been interesting to see further interaction between the two, but the writers saw fit to kill him off as he saves a young Spock from certain death at the hands of the Klingons.

Again, the effects here are amazing, especially the destruction of the Genesis planet. This film is much more palatable than the others, and if you're a fan you should see it if for nothing other than understanding why the Spock present in the Star Trek universe following this film seems so different than Spock before this film.

6 - Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

There's not much action or adventure here; this movie is just pure, unadulterated fun! After rescuing Spock and bringing him to the planet Vulcan, his crewmates decide to return to Starfleet - and Earth - to face the music for their actions. However, before they can get there, a mysterious probe has entered Earth's orbit and is churning up the seas and creating storms.

Kirk and Co. figure out that the this is a probe trying to communicate with the now-extinct humpback wales. The crew takes their dilapidated Klingon battle cruiser back in time to the mid-1980's to bring back a pair of humpback whales to talk to the probe.

Seeing the crew in the 1980's silly, and felt more like bill and teds stupid adventures, than a Star Trek movie. We were still in the middle of the Cold War at the time of this film, so Chekov (a Russian) being aboard a nuclear submarine of the U.S. Navy would most definitely be a big deal. Watching Spock try to understand the colourful metaphors of our conversations is really funny, as is his dealing with an obnoxious passenger on a city bus. Too much “greenpeace” involvement for me, it actually felt like a big plug to save wales. Good on a re-watch if you feeling like a wale hugging mode. This movie has dated too much these days to be that enjoyable.

5 - Star Trek: Insurrection

I really liked this film, its a good to see the old Federation isn’t the white glowing symbol of freedom and peace its always made out to be, and there are many elements of corruption in it. It was also a good to see the morals of the crew tested in this movie. Who watchers to watchers ( a great TNG episode, which this movie expanded upon)

Good use of the Baku as the modern day Amish, rejecting technology to live the simple life (for 300 years)

The special effects are magnificent. The humour was hit or miss as some scenes worked and others didn't. Although this features the renewing of the relationship between Riker and Troi.

4- Star Trek: Nemesis

The movie attempted to recapture some of the aspects that made wraith of Khan so good.

Picard learns that the Romulans attempted to clone him, then abandoned the project, leaving Shinzon to grow up with the Remans. Here he becomes bitter and manages to cunningly work his way up through the Romulan empire to take control.

There were many scenes originally filmed that were cut, and I think thy would have added greatly to the film. Had most of the Romulan characters been ones fans of the series were familiar with, I would have felt the film more believable. The humor here is good, and instead of it constantly being at Worf's expense, Riker seems to get his fair share.

There is also an awesome special effect here of the Enterprise ramming an enemy ship. That effect alone was worth the price of admission. I'll have to buy a wide-screen HDTV to give this fair viewing in my home.

3 - Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Filmed after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Russia's end to the Cold War, this film deals with all that happens after the enemy has been defeated.

Due to a severe environmental crisis, the Klingons must forge a peace with the Federation. However, there are forces both within the Klingon Empire and the Federation itself working against this peace. Who better to use as a scapegoat than Captain Kirk, who's hatred for Klingons is well-known.

There is amazing suspense as the culprits in the plot to frame Kirk and assassinate the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire are slowly revealed. Since many of the actors being targeted for assassination aren't series regulars, it would be easy to believe that the plots succeed.

The effects are marvellous; from the Klingon moon Praxis spectacularly exploding to the Iman character who is a shape-shifter, this movie makes the most of the special-effects technology.

The story is terrific. I felt that for many of the actors - but for William Shatner in particular - this was the best performance I've seen them give. Perhaps the familiarity of the story to them during this time was the reason; it made everything easier to relate to. Christopher Plummer and Kim Cattrall highlight an excellent guest-cast.

This is a movie for everyone. The events of our own time (well, those of us over 30 anyway) make it relate to our own experiences. Even now it has a deeper meaning as we all fear "The Undiscovered Country" - the future.

2 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I know there are some people pulling their hair out right now. For many fans, this is regarded as their favourite film. I can't say that I blame them. It is an awesome science-fiction film.

A ghost from Kirk's past comes back to haunt him as Khan, from the episode Space Seed manages to gain control of a Starfleet vessel and comes gunning for him. The story is an excellent game of cat-and-mouse as the two men face off really trying to outsmart the other as they are similarly armed. Khan gets the early edge with surprise, but Kirk has more experience with space vessels.

The guest-cast here is wonderful. Kirstie Alley is in her first role as a half-Vulcan, half-Romulan Starfleet Academy graduate testing her first command. Indeed, the entire ship is supposed to be filled with cadets when they intercept Khan and that makes it all the more poignant. Likewise, we are introduced to Kirk's son David (the late Merritt Butrick). For anyone who grew up in the 80's, seeing "Johnny Slash" as Kirk's son was so cool!

There is plenty of action, adventure and suspense. The film also tries to kill off Spock, but the fact that he was brought back in the next film really takes away from that moment.

1 - Star Trek: First Contact

Easily the best of the films featuring the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast, this film is really an analogy for the reverence with which the fans have held up Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry throughout the years.

After a battle with the Borg (which we only get to see a few snippets of), the Enterprise follows a Borg escape vessel back in time to prevent them from assimilating Earth in the 21st Century; a time when humans were fairly defenceless having just fought World War III.

The time is just before "First Contact" - an important turning point for human history. There is a battle going on between the crew of the Enterprise and the Borg; both to prevent their entire ship from being assimilated and to make sure Zefrem Cochrane launches the first warp-capable vessel.

The humor is pretty good here, although parts of it seem to miss the mark. The cast is wonderful in some very different roles. Picard really gets to act as an action hero while Riker gets to babysit Cochrane who is very different from the man portrayed in history books. There are some important moments for both Picard and Data that to understand the true impact viewers have to have seen various episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it's accessible to others at the same time. The effects are magnificent, and I loved the depiction of the Enterprise as it was being assimilated.

Well there you have it Trek fans, looking back at them all, they still hold water, well all but the last few, Trek will always hold a special place for me in SCI FI, but it seems to be fading into submission these days, with the more gritty SCI FI shows taking their place, and I too am a fan of many of these (Battlestar and Firefly). And its easier to believe our future will be that more of Blade Runner than of Star Trek, but we must aspire to more than the world of Blade runner, if the Human race is ever to improve from where it is now. I am a little concerned there is nothing for the youth of today to inspire them into a positive future and mankind being greater than it currently is.

1 comment:

Cara's Mom & Pat said...


Here are my ratings:

1. Insurrection
2. First Contact
3. Generations
4. Wrath of Kahn
5. Undiscovered Country
6. Nemesis
7. Search for Spock
8. ST: The motion picture
9. Final Frontier
19.The Voyage Home (YUK!Gag!Agh!)
Love Jan