Saturday, 6 January 2018

All 13 Star Trek Films Ranked From Worst To Best

I'm deliberately using the exact same title used by Nerdist.com for this blog post because I want people to find both these write-ups together.

Nerdist has explained why they've ranked these movies the way they have. I'll explain my ranking in a minute.

At a glance, here's how my ranking differs from theirs.

The red lines indicate movies that I have a worse opinion of than Nerdist does; the green lines indicate the opposite. (Click to expand)

Pop over to their site to read their analysis first, because I'm only going to comment on the differences between our ratings.

13. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

There really isn't too much of an argument here. Nerdist seems to think this is the second-worst movie. I think it's the worst. Not much point splitting hairs, when we essentially agree that it was terrible. I will never watch this movie again.

12. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)

Nerdist seems to think this was not so bad (07). I found it amateurish in the extreme. Spock's return was virtually guaranteed right from the end of The Wrath Of Khan, the whole adventure of stealing the Enterprise was implausible (the Federation must have very poor control systems), the Klingons' perfidy and the death of Kirk's son were a needless tragedy, replacing the actor playing the iconic Lt Saavik was a jolting experience, and the whole movie had the feel of a patch job that was necessary in order to bring Spock back. I don't think I can ever watch this movie again.

11. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

This had a couple of interesting ideas that made me go "Hmm!". One was that Shinzon was Picard's clone. The other was the side-story of the tension between two Romulan races, and the surprisingly empathetic Remans. There was some voyeuristic and disturbing erotic tension between Shinzon and Deanna Troi. Shinzon ship Scimitar had a bit of cool to it. Next to Vengeance of Into Darkness, it's probably the coolest villain ship.

Shinzon's ship "Scimitar", very different from the standard-issue Romulan warbird

Apart from these, the movie was quite boring. I don't think I will watch this movie again.

10. Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Bringing Kirk and Picard together in one movie was an interesting idea. The Nexus is a cosmically scary concept, like the crack in the Universe that Doctor Who fans may be familiar with. But the rest of the movie was weird and dreamlike. Did they really let Troi pilot the Enterprise? No wonder it crashed. I may watch this movie sometime in the distant future, but I'm not sure.

09. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

Nerdist called this the worst Star Trek film! They owe it to us to explain this extreme rating, but their criticisms just sound like nitpicking. Sure, this wasn't a great movie, but calling it the worst is a stretch.

This movie had an interesting plot twist, in that two warring races were genetically identical, so it was really just a generational conflict, albeit a deadly one. This movie also tackles similar Prime Directive issues as the TNG episode Who Watches The Watchers. Some sequences are cliched, but it's watchable - once. I could watch this again, if I'm showing it to someone who hasn't seen it before, but I probably can't sit through it again alone.

08. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Here, I'm probably being biased in hindsight, since I quite liked this movie when I saw it in the 80s. It's only after seeing it again many years later that I've started to think of it as cheesy. It now seems slow and boring, and many scenes are cringe-worthy. The only "aha" moment was when it was revealed that "Veejur" was actually the fictional "Voyager 6", which I still think was a neat plot twist. Oh, and it had Persis Khambatta. Half a point for that.

I may see this movie again, but I think I will fast-forward many scenes.

07. Star Trek Beyond (2016)

With this, we're getting started on the better movies. The reboot is generally quite good overall, and I've liked all three of them so far. I think the reason I'm ranking this the lowest of the three is that the second was so good this was bound to fall below that standard.

I'll definitely watch this again at some point, but not right away.

06. Star Trek (2009)

The first movie of the rebooted series started with a bang and established itself with class. In moviemaking terms, it was a generation ahead of all the movies that came before it as well as the various TV series. The casting was extremely good. Kirk, Spock, McCoy - all three were very ably played by the replacements to the old trio of Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley. I liked the touch of bringing back Captain Pike from The Original Series (The Cage, The Menagerie). Probably the only weak part of the movie was the Villain Nero. Some villains are larger than life. Some fail to impress. Nero fell into the latter category.

I will definitely watch this again, perhaps in a binge-watching session of all the reboot movies.

05. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

The Borg theme in The Next Generation never failed to thrill (Perhaps the best sample was the double-episode The Best Of Both Worlds). Such a deliciously different class of villain!

First Contact was another thrilling time-travel adventure, full of action, suspense, heroism, inspiring speechmaking by Picard, and a nice saving of the day by Data. The high-suspense battle for the deflector shield by Picard, Worf and a "red shirt", with the Borg becoming increasingly aware of their activity, and a zero-G leap by Picard, is a scene for the ages.

The battle of the deflector shield has to be one of the most chilling and thrilling sequences in Star Trek

This is definitely one for my home theatre's rerun schedule.

04. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

This movie could have made it to the bottom of my list instead of the top because of one reason. Its humour could very easily have crossed the line into a lack of seriousness, making the movie a spoof of itself. But thankfully, it managed to be both serious and light at the same time, making it an excellent entertainer even for non-Trekkies.

This is in fact one of my most often played movies at home, especially when I'm introducing newbies to the Trek genre.

03. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Khan with some neat twists. Benedict Cumberbatch. The re-introduction of Carol Marcus from The Wrath of Khan. Heck, the reintroduction of Khan from The Wrath of Khan (I swear, the hairs on my neck stood up when he said, "My name is Khan!"). The Kirk-Spock death scene in reverse. Brilliantly done. I have no idea why Nerdist would consider this a bad movie!

Oh, and Vengeance is the ultimate in cool for a villain's ship.

The Dreadnought-class Vengeance compared to the Enterprise - "Twice the size, three times the speed"

This is one of my all-round favourite movies, and I can watch it again and again.

02. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

I was at my politically aware best during the last days of the Cold War, Chernobyl, and the fall of the Soviet Union. Plus I love allegorical stories. The Undiscovered Country, a movie full of allusions to both Shakespeare and the Cold War, was a work of genius.

This movie was also a classic because of its cynical lesson - that not everyone is happy with the end of a long-running conflict. Some people can be so threatened by peace that they will even team up with their counterparts on the other side to sabotage the chance for peace. This was also the first time I realised that Vulcans could be villains too.

Not only do I watch this movie repeatedly, I inflict it on guests, with frequent pauses to explain the political parallels with the former Soviet Union.

01. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

I don't think any trekkie will disagree on the choice of this as the best Star Trek movie of all. It was close to perfect. I'd give it a less than perfect score for only one reason.

I'm Indian, and I know that "Khan Noonien Singh" is a nonsense name for a supposed Indian prince. Is the man supposed to be Muslim (Khan) or Hindu/Sikh (Singh)? And what kind of name is "Noonien"? The writers of Star Trek seem to have a thing for this name, since Data's creator is supposed to be a "Dr Noonien Soong". So now Noonien is an East Asian name as well? Aargh!

I have watched The Wrath Of Khan so many times already that I think I'll give it a rest for a while.

Anyway, that's the list.



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