With the imminent release of Star Trek Into Darkness, which has my excitement levels high enough to melt dilithium crystals, as well as the Stratford Upon Avon Picturehouse screening of Wrath of Khan just around the corner, it seemed the perfect time to revisit my old friends, the Star Trek movies, and to put them in some kind of order.
Generally it is assumed that the even numbered films are the best, but I have never held to this. Growing up with Star Trek, each film (and series, even some episodes) is particularly important to me. I’ll listen to the music from them to evoke certain moods, quote them and generally just enjoy their existence.
The most difficult one to include is JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, as it is so different from the others. I enjoyed it a great deal, certainly, but is it the Star Trek that I know and love? I really can’t decide.
Anyhow, here are my top five Star Trek films.
Wrath of Khan
An easy number one. With spectacular special effects, exciting action sequences and enough drama dripping from Shatner’s brow to dissolve lesser films. Spectacular music from James Horner (which he has never bested), grand themes and a superb performance from Montalban as the vengeance-fueled Khan set this as not only the best Star Trek film, but possibly the best science-fiction films and an excellent adventure.
Just watch it, ok?
The Undiscovered Country
The first Star Trek film I saw in the cinema! This is much darker in tone than its predecessors, and has some heavy political overtones, with the Federation and Klingons dancing around the idea of peace and friendship. Classic themes, and excellent action make it a very satisfying film. The dark, gothic score from Cliff Eidelman is also superb, and so different from any other Star Trek film. As with ‘Khan’, the space-ships feel big, they feel like battleships or submarines, and that gives the action some scale. General Chang (Christopher Plummer) is another excellent foil for Kirk, and spends much of the film quoting Shakespeare.
Plus, any film that starts with an exploding moon must be good.
The first film with the cast of The Next Generation is also their only one in my top five! As with the previous choices, the making of this film is in the enemy – the Borg – and in making this fight the grand theme. This time there is something of Moby Dick, with Patrick Stewart on absolute top form as Picard.
Top notch effects, great action and a wonderful score from Gerry Goldsmith make this a film that anyone can enjoy – not just Star Trek fans.
The Motion Picture
I don’t expect many others would include this in their top five lists. Possibly not even in their top ten! It is slow, and ponderous and light on action. However, I like it for all of those reasons. It is a big film, with big ideas. I love the long flight around the new Enterprise, with the wonderful theme playing. I love the weirdness of V’ger as a villain. I hate the uniforms.
Star Trek (JJ Abrams)
An exciting summer blockbuster, this earns its place by managing to relaunch a film series that I love, and to bring new people in to see Star Trek. Although lighter than the previous films, some of the tone of the very first Star Trek series has been captured, and this is good. I’m still not sure I can completely come to terms with a different cast, and various other changes. I certainly am not a fan of the new Enterprise (Geeky, I know, but hey – it’s my blog, after all!).
I am excited to see where the franchise will go now.