I’m totally away this week!  Running a site while being on the road is sort of tough.  So I thought this entire week I would do a series looking at franchise films and running them from the worst film to the best film in descending order. I call it… WORST TO BEST!  See how original I am!?!?!?

Today?  I’m looking at Star Trek films.  Not the cartoon, nor the TV shows, books, games, etc.  Just the flicks.

Now I’ve never been the biggest Star Trek fan.  I’ve seen all the films (most multiple times) but I never really watched any of the TV shows.  I saw a bunch of the original, just a handful of The Next Generation, a couple of the cartoons, and that’s really it.  Really it is all about the movies for me.

Out of all the franchises I’m looking at this week this has the most films with 13.  I know my favorite.  I know the worst one.  Now to figure out the rest.  And so let’s start with…

#13: Into Darkness

This movie is god awful.  It’s a damn shame because I was such a huge fan of J.J. Abrams first reboot film.  But this one just made zero sense from front to back.  It starts with Kirk stealing some artifact from some indigenous people.  The Enterprise is hidden under the ocean.  Spock is in a volcano trying to make it not explode.

They go to Earth.  Everyone is reprimanded.  Things blow up.  People die.  Everyone is hunting for this guy.

I made a bet with my friend Jenn that Benedict Cumberbatch was going to turn out to be Star Trek baddie Khan.  She said no way.  I totally won that bet.

If Cumberbatch played just a no-name villain he would have been fantastic.  He did an amazing job as a baddie.  BUT HE WAS NOT KHAN.  He was absolutely nowhere close to the man we knew from the TV show and the film.  It made no sense at all.

Khan is after his crew and his former crew have been made into missiles.  And Robocop has secretly built a super starship that goes at super hyperspace speed.

Yes – there is a point where this movie goes into Spaceballs mode.  The new super starship moves at Ludicrous Speed.

It’s so awful in its awfulness.  I hated it in theaters and when I watched it the second time at home I could barely finish it.  I have no clue how J.J. went from making that great of a film to that bad of a film.  The same people worked on both movies!  At least I think they did.

#12 – The Final Frontier

This one was the worst Star Trek flick for so many years – worse than most of the crappy Next Generation movies they made.  This stinker was directed and co-written by William Shatner who I remember hearing threw a hissy fit that he wanted to direct a Star Trek after Leonard Nimoy (successfully) directed two films.

The whole film looks cheap and hokey.  It’s nearly instantly forgettable.  Even trying to describe the plot is bad.  Spock’s brother Sybok forcing the Enterprise to a planet to basically find God.

The film sucks.  The screenplay sucks.  And watching Kirk, Spock, and Bones sit around a fire just bored the crap out of me.  I don’t even want to talk about this one.  Just don’t watch it.

#11 – Nemesis

I’m not a fan of the Next Generations films (save one).  It’s no offense to the cast or the original TNG show.  I just think when you compare TNG movies to the original cast movies they pretty much suck.  Nemesis is the worst of the worst of the bad TNG movies.  It was also a HUGE box office bomb.  The flick only made 43 million dollars in the United States.  Star Trek was a beacon of hope for fans of the saga and they turned around to make a cheap, horrible film that only die-hard fans turned out to see.

The plot for this one?  Well the Romulans have slaves who are revolting led by Shinzon.  The Enterprise goes on a mission to try to bring peace and it is here where Picard finds out that Shinzon is his….evil clone!  They also find a robot on another planet and when they put it together it is…evil Data!

So Shinzon is dying because of the rapid aging due to the cloning process.  He needs a transfusion of Picard’s blood and…OH MY GOD…this movie is horrible.  Just after describing it for four sentences makes me want to tear my fingers off and finish this by banging my head into the keyboard.

There is some good here and the good comes from the casting.  Kate Mulgrew returns to play her Star Trek: Voyager character (now) Admiral Janeway.  Dina Meyer shows up which makes me wonder……where in Johnny Rico?  And where’s the Star Trek shower scene?  Anyway Dina is hot.  So I’m glad she was here.  Ron Perlman makes an appearance as well which kinda makes the movie cooler.  Yes just having Ron in a movie makes it a tiny bit better.  NOT MUCH.  But a tiny bit.

Tom Hardy plays Picard’s clone Shinzon.  What can I say about him other than it is a terrible performance.  Tom Hardy has grown to become such an amazing actor.  It would just be a few short years before he was acting in films like Bronson, Inception, Warrior, Mad Max, and The Revenant (where he’d earn an Academy Award nomination).  Was he winning any awards for playing Shinzon?  Surprisingly enough he was actually up for a Saturn Award for his role in this.  How he wasn’t nominated for a Razzie I’ll never know.

#10 – The Motion Picture

I played around with the order of the next three films quite a bit.  I’d say if I could make them “equal” then I probably would but some films have to be worse than others I suppose.

Star Trek The Motion Picture isn’t actually a bad film.  Coming off of Star Wars the execs were ready to bring back Star Trek and scripts had already been written for a Star Trek relaunch series that never happened.  So take those scripts, mush them together, and let’s make a movie!

The problem is the movie is SLOW.  BORING.  There is a scene where a shuttle is taking the crew to the Enterprise in space and I swear that scene goes on for 11 hours and 48 minutes.  They tried over and over and over again to show just how cool the special effects were.  Why?  Because over ten years ago they were using pretty shitty special effects on the television show.  Look how far we’ve come!

I imagine it was still pretty cool getting the cast back together.  Still the best character for me was the navigator Liuetenant Illa played by Indian actress Persis Khambatta.  Just the way she looked and talked always fascinated the hell out of me even as a young child.  Also that she was so beautiful with this bald head.  Stephen Collins played the commander of the Enterprise who basically gets booted from the chair when Kirk takes over the ship to go on a mission.  I always felt bad for him … until years later when Collins admitted to molesting little girls.  Now I don’t feel bad for his character Decker anymore.  Thinking Decker should have been transported into a volcano.

The plot of this one is there is an alien space cloud moving toward Earth, destroying everything in its path.  The Enterprise is dispatched to see if it can stop the cloud.  And once they find out what the cloud is it makes things…a tad easier.  I dunno.  The reveal of what the bad guy was …was stupid.  I’m sure some writer in the seventies thought it was witty but I just find it dumb.

STILL – I will say that I’m glad this film happened even though it is slow and boring.  Why?  Because we got some amazing Star Trek films after this.

#9 – Generations

It pains me how bad these TNG films are.  Generations was supposed to bridge the gap between the films of the original crew and TNG crew.  This is basically a TNG movie…basically.  The film starts off with Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov on a new Enterprise when there is suddenly a rescue mission.  The ship goes off, stuff happens, and Kirk is launched into space…dead.  Captain Kirk dead!  Oh no!

The film moves forward to finally get to TNG in their own movie and they are…on a pirate ship.  Basically it is just the holodeck and they are being silly to promote Worf.  Once again I see some writer chuckling to himself saying, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have them on a boat?  Hee hee!  How divine!”

The film actually benefits by having a fun antagonist named Soran who is played by Malcolm McDowell.  Soran is trying anything and everything he can to enter a place called the Nexus …which is basically like heaven.  Time stops and you can do whatever the hell you want.  So it basically sounds like heaven to me.

Picard tries to stop Soran but for once the bad guy launches his plan and it works.  Both Picard and Soran are taken into the Nexus where Picard finds himself pretty happy…just for a moment.  Picard ends up finding Kirk (alive in the Nexus!) and the two team up to defeat Soran.  Kirk sacrifices himself and James T. Kirk is finally dead.

Which he was fine with …until the 2009 movie that brought back Spock.  Then we had plenty of bitching from William Shatner about wanting to bring back Kirk.  Dude…Kirk died in that shitty movie, don’t you remember?  He didn’t remember – or – like most fans, he probably just wanted to forget the shitty movie.  I don’t blame him.

Alan Ruck is in the beginning of this film and how can you not love that Cameron Frye is in a Star Trek movie!?!?!?  Totally excellent.  But his time in this shitty movie is pretty short.

#8 – Insurrection

Insurrection is a decent TNG movie.  I don’t want to say it is bad.  Unfortunately it is the film that came after First Contact – and that film kicked some major ass.  Some many Star Trek fans, myself included, probably gave Insurrection a bad shake.  Rewatching it in later years I’ll still contend it’s okay.  Nothing amazing.  But okay.

This flick is basically about a planet where the people can’t die thanks to the unique radiation on the planet.  However there are two factions and one wants the other off planet.  Data goes nutso and the Enterprise’s crew needs to go on planet to find out what is going on.  But once there they start feeling the effects of the radiation and suddenly…life ain’t so bad.

I dug this one because they gave a Picard a hottie on-planet girlfriend in theater actress Donna Murphy.  I really liked their interaction together and I kinda wish Picard snuck her back onboard the Enterprise for some intergalactic hanky panky as he jumps around the stars.

The film also snagged F. Murray Abraham.  You can always say, “Well it is great to have an Academy Award winner on a Star Trek film!” but please remember that Whoopi Goldberg also won an Oscar.

I don’t have much to say on this one.  Within these movies it is just fairly mediocre.

#7 – Beyond

Currently the latest Star Trek film this one slightly bombed in theaters as well.  It made a crapton of money but that doesn’t help when you have a massive production budget.  This film was written by Simon Pegg who also plays Scotty.  You can tell.  The character Scotty is ALL OVER THIS MOVIE.  But I guess when you get the chance to write yourself a bigger part in a Star Trek film you take it.  Now I don’t want to take away from Pegg’s writing.  He’s a hell of a writer (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and, of course, Spaced).  But as a writer of a Star Trek film?

This flick was very lacking.  The Enterprise just goes off into space based on an alien’s testimony only to be immediately ambushed and have the Enterprise destroyed….again.  Most of the crew is captured except for most of the ones we actually know the names for.  They introduce a great character named Jaylah who is also trying to get off the planet the Enterprise crew got stuck on.  But Jaylah lives in an abandoned Federation vessel!  Get that bad boy working and off they go.  But first they have to rescue the crew from the evil Krall who just got the last piece of a super weapon that can blow everyone …up….blah…blah….blah….

The film does have some nice things going for it.  When the Enterprise is destroyed and the survivors land on the planet the crew is almost paired into teams.  One of those teams is Spock and McCoy – who actually do quite well together.  Kirk is teamed with Chekov and that too was a great pairing.

It’s a great final performance by Anton Yelchin – who died just last year.  It’s a shame – he was great in the role.

Sofia Boutella is awesome as scavenger survivor Jaylah.  She’s the first Trek character in a long time that I was excited seeing on screen besides the main characters.  Boutella impressed me with her role in The Kingsman and I thought it would be hard to top that role.  She pulls it off here.

The evil Krall is played by Idris Elba who phones in the performance.  I never thought it capable of Elba to phone in anything.  Look at the man’s resume and you see how many great roles he has brought to life.  He won’t be remembered for Star Trek.

The third act is decent – once the crew gets off the planet.  Their stupid plan to defeat the hundreds/thousands of enemy drones makes no sense and is way, way, way stupid.  Once they get to the space station it picks up.

The film is a massive improvement over Into Darkness.  I think if they had Kirk, Spock, and McCoy once again sitting around a campfire it would have still been 100x better than Into Darkness.  Fast and Furious director Justin Lin did a great job.  The effects were great.  The acting, for the most part, was great.

The big problem?  The script.

Still – it is enjoyable at times.

#6 – The Search For Spock

Even though Search For Spock is the third movie in the franchise it is actually the middle movie in a trilogy (Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and Voyage Home).

But where does Star Trek go when you kill off one of its most endearing characters?  When Spock died in the last movie it was pretty much because Nimoy had enough of the character.  Then a funny thing happened.  Wrath of Khan was a HUGE HIT.  Everyone was clamoring for a sequel.  Nimoy was a smart cookie – he said he’d return if he could direct the film.  It worked!

For the most part Search for Spock is a decent film but it is far surpassed by the film that came before it and came after it.  

In the flick Kirk’s son David and the Enterprise’s Saavik come upon a Vulcan on the Genesis planet (which had formed due to the events of Wrath of Khan).  The Vulcan is actually a young Spock come back to life.

On the flip side we learn that basically Spock’s aura or memories or whatever was implanted into McCoy’s mind right before Spock died.  McCoy is going crazy because of having this crap inside him.  So the crew races to reunite McCoy and new Spock to form old Spock.

Standing in the way?  Klingons!  And who is playing the head Klingon?  Christopher Lloyd.  Talk about awesome casting right there.  Doc Brown, John Bigboote, Judge Doom, Reverend Jim Ignatowski and Uncle Fester playing a Klingon slightly early in his career.  And does he bring that awesome Christopher Lloydness to the film?  You bet your ass.  Like Khan before him Lloyd’ s Commander Kruge is a badass mofo who wants to take Kirk down.  As a Christopher Lloyd fan…I slightly want him to get away with it.

The film kills off Kirk’s son which is a real bummer since we really just started to get to know the guy.

Kirstie Alley did not come back as Saavik.  They recast her with Robin Curtis.  Robin Curtis is not Kirstie Alley.  Alley was afraid of being typecast and maybe it was a smart move for her.  Shortly after she’d land on Cheers and help drive the ratings of that show into the stratosphere.  

Lastly Miguel Ferrer shows up in Search for Spock.  He just died the other day.  That makes me sad.  He’s not known for this role – if you want a good Ferrer movie go put in Robocop.

#5 – First Contact

First Contact is really the only TNG film that I truly enjoy.  It has TNG’s most famous bad guys The Borg going back in time to change Earth’s history.  So the Enterprise crew goes back in time to stop them.  They end up landing back on Earth right before Zefram Cochrane’s historic spaceship flight occurs.  Most Star Trek nerds know all about Cochrane and how his spaceship made history by letting other races know Earth was ready to be a part of a bigger universe.  I….I don’t know if I knew that before this movie.

I did know that Cochrane was played by James Cromwell!  The dad from Revenge of the Nerds!  The farmer from Babe!  I thought that was cool.  I like Cochrane and he only reinforced that in later years with roles in flicks like L.A. Confidential and The Green Mile.

Once again time travel is used in Star Trek.  They use it more often then they blow up the Enterprise.  I like that they actually time travel to the past but it is still our future.

The Borg Queen was smoking.  I mean if you met her you kind of want to be assimilated, right?  I just love the Borg in general, they are a great adversary.  Losing to them not only means a loss but becoming one of the bad guys you once faced.

Future Marvel Studios actors Alfre Woodard and Neal McDonough are here as well.  McDonough gets assimilated.  Poor guy.

Time traveling back to the point that changed history for mankind was pretty entertaining for me.  Beyond that the Borg probably makes the second greatest on-screen Star Trek villain.  We all know who number one is.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

And before I forget – First Contact has the BEST Star Trek line ever!  “Perhaps today is a good day to die!”  Hah.  Classic.

#4 – The Voyage Home

Oh man…Voyage Home is both fantastic and stupid at the same time.  Why?  Because literally the plot is the Star Trek crew time traveling back to 1986 to find humpback whales who can communicate with aliens.  I’m pretty sure I have that right.

But even with the stupid plot – the movie works.  And the characters walking around San Fransisco is fantastic.  This movie had no right being as good as it was.  I would say it is probably because Wrath of Khan’s Nicholas Meyer came back to co-write the screenplay.

The crew really has a great time as they carry out different parts of their mission in the city.  Catherine Hicks shows up as the hottie biologist who was rumored to be written in after Shatner DEMANDED a love interest.  “Get me a hot blonde, STAT!” I imagine Shatner yelling at the writers.  Hicks did well in the role though in terms of Star Trek movie love interests I’m more partial to Donna Murphy.  Hicks would later go on to join Motion Picture’s Stephen Collins on the show 7th Heaven.  There’s a piece of trivia for you.

#3 – The Undiscovered Country

Nicholas Meyer returned to write AND direct what would end up being the swan song for the original Star Trek cast.  The film has a lot going against it.  The cast was old.  I mean they were getting up there.  The last movie was Undiscovered Country and that movie sucked.  IT SUCKED.  Then you have a studio willing to do another Star Trek movie but they are going to cut corners and slash the budget.  Never easy to make a film where you need special effects, costumes, and makeup to be severely hindered like that.

YET the movie works.  It works quite well.  The more I watch it the more I truly appreciate it.

The plot is awesome.  Because of a tragedy the Klingons are moving toward peace with the Federation of Planets.  Kirk has to bring the Klingon ambassador to Earth – but Kirk is a racist.  Klingons killed his son – he didn’t forget that.  He hosts the Klingons on the Enterprise and all is well – until it appears missiles are fired at the Klingon vessel FROM the Enterprise.  Then two Starfleet people beam aboard the Klingon ship and try to assassinate the ambassador.

It becomes chaos.  Kirk surrenders to the Klingons to avoid any bloodshed and McCoy beams aboard the ship to try and save the ambassador.  He fails.  Both men are brought up on charges and are sentenced to life on a prison planet.  Harsh.

Of course it is a big mystery of who fired the missiles and why, who killed the ambassador, and a race against time to get back to Earth.  First McCoy and Kirk need to get off the prison planet and figure all this shit out.

The film moves quick.  It is AWESOME.  KIM CATTRALL is here as a Vulcan!  Kim Cattrall!  If you are sitting here thinking, “You mean from Sex and the City?” Yes – her!  But she was also in so many classic flicks like Porky, Police Academy, and Mannequin!  She was such an AWESOME get for Star Trek.

The film had some other great actors like Christopher Plummer, Tron’s David Warner, David Bowie’s model wife Iman, and a cameo from Christian Slater!

My picks for #3 and #2 can be pretty interchangeable I’ll admit.  But #2 is…

#2 – Star Trek (2009)

It’s a shame that the sequels to the 2009 film just aren’t great because the 2009 time-traveling reboot was awesome.  I LOVED this movie.  It had adventure.  It had thrills.  It introduced you to the characters you know and love as they get together for the first time…and as the old Star Trek fades away when a time paradox is formed.

Eric Bana’s character Nero travels back through time in search of revenge.  Everything he once knew and loved is gone.  He only wants one person: Spock.

We meet up with Kirk who is basically a punk.  His starship captain dad (Chris Hemsworth just a few years before Thor) is famous because he once died trying to defeat an alien ship.  Kirk ends up joining Starfleet. He meets McCoy and the two become friends.

When a threat comes about everyone boards the Enterprise and takes off (Kirk, because of a cheating scandal, is basically snuck onboard).  Kirk ends up saving the Enterprise and the lives of everyone aboard as the crew finally witness the destructive power of Nero’s spaceship firsthand.

All the crew are “fresh off the boat”.  Spock and Kirk HATE each other.  There’s action.  There’s urgency.

There’s some great casting.  Fresh off of Heroes Zachary Quinto simply BECAME Spock.  And Karl Urban was perfect as young Bones.  He’s sarcastic, he cares about his friends, he knows his shit.  John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine…all fine actors to bring the old characters back to life.  And SIMON PEGG IN A STAR TREK MOVIE!?!?!?!?  As a geek and lover of all things Pegg (especially his classic TV show Spaced) I never thought there was finer casting then casting him as Scotty.

Some decent actors fill in some minor roles.  Clifton Collins Jr as Nero’s right hand man.  Bruce Greenwood plays Captain Pike, captain of the Enterprise.  Winona Rider (?!?!?) shows up as Spock’s mom!??!!?  TYLER PERRY AS THE HEAD OF STARFLEET!?!?!?!?  Yup…and it all worked.  All the casting.

As I had not truly enjoyed a Star Trek movie since First Contact this flick just blew me away.  It still holds up in multiple viewings even if its later sequels are far inferior to this film.  Hell, even J.J. Abrams Force Awakens is inferior to this film.

Which brings us to…

#1 – The Wrath of Khan

A sequel that beats the original in every single aspect.  A film that brought back a classic bad guy from the original show.  A film that felt like old Star Trek yet felt so fresh and original.

Everything about Wrath of Khan is brilliant.  Especially down to the fact that Kirk was really playing acting for Khan when he had his number the whole time.

How he beats Khan in the end by being able to think in different dimensions.  It’s genius.

It’s the kind of shit you don’t see in movies today.  J.J. Abrams would not put this kind of thinking into a Star Trek sequel.  It would probably be two spaceships warping at each other at top speed seeing who will pull away first.

There’s never been a Star Trek movie like this before.  I doubt one will ever be made that will beat it.

The film honestly leaves me speechless – yet it feels like I can fill up thirty pages just talking on its brilliance.

As a man who accidentally gets left to die it is only by chance that Khan is discovered on a dying planet.  When Khan and his crew hijack a ship, Khan has only one thing in mind: revenge.  On who?  On the man who put him on the planet to die….James T. Kirk.

The film becomes a cat and mouse game.  It becomes a game of chess.  Two great minds need to move their pieces just right or certain death may await them.

Bringing back Ricardo Montalban?  Genius.  Casting Paul Winfield?  Genius.  Casting young Kirstie Alley is Saavik the new Vulcan on the ship?  GENIUS.  Nicholas Meyer’s script? Genius.  Filming, editing, special effects, sound.

Star Trek needed a win.  With the relative failure of The Motion Picture the franchise need reinvigorating it surely could have faded away.  Wrath of Khan delivered not only the best Star Trek film but was the resuscitator that keeps Star Trek going to this very day.

It is a film I can watch over and over and over and over again.  It is the best of the best.  A damn good film.

 

That’s it for this Worst to Best.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know what you think!  Tune in tomorrow for…???