We all know that even number Star Trek movies are good, while odd number movies tend to suck, so we it’s easy to see why longtime Trek fans would be anxious about the upcoming JJ Abrams prequel/reboot film, which is the eleventh movie of the franchise.
But, because the film, which opened in theaters today, is really a reboot there’s still some measure of hope that the pattern will be broken. So, what of the six films starring the original cast (discounting Generations, which had original cast members, but was really a Next Generation film)? Here’s my personal take on each of the original six Star Trek movies, along with my favorite line from each film.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The problem with this film begins right there in the title:” The Motion Picture. This film takes itself WAY too seriously, and that seriousness kills it. Plus, the villain is a 1970’s planetary orbiter satellite. Really, Voyager 6, a friggin’ satellite, is your big threat? That’s what we in the business like to call weak. Plus you’ve got two new characters that end up taking precedence over the original cast members, and long, boring sections of plot where nothing happens. Star Trek has always been based in hard science fiction, but uses that as a background for the characters. Star Trek I tries to be a hard science fiction film in the mold of 2001, but fails because it forgets the most important aspect of the Star Trek universe, and that is its characters. Plus, V’yger. Come on. You can do better than that.
Best line:Why is any object we don’t understand always called “a thing”?
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Do I need to say why this is the best Star Trek movie ever? There may be a few naysayers who argue that there is a better Star Trek movie, but they are sadly mistaken. I mean come on, it’s got the best villain, best single line (possibly best single line in any movie ever), best soundtrack, and of course the best death. Who doesn’t tear up when Captain Kirk says that famous line: “Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most”¦human”? Every part of the production really stepped up its game in this film, and it’s kind of sad that they never really got back to this level again. They came close a few times, but never again did they hit every note the way this film does. I’m not the biggest Star Trek fan in the world, but this is a film I will always own.
Best Line (tie): KHAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!!! Best Line (tie): Were I to invoke logic, however, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Two words: Christopher Lloyd. Three more words: Best Klingon Ever. After the high of Star Trek II, you get another great installment, although it’s not quite as good. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not as good. However, in its defense, the film has to live up to the expectations of the previous film. Still we get Christopher Lloyd tearing up the set, killing Kirk’s son, speaking Klingon, and being generally goofy. One thing to say about this one and the next one is that these are pretty funny movies, but they still maintain the sci-fi action and never get away from the characters. Star Trek II and III may be the best afternoon double feature of all time, and remain the pinnacle of the Star Trek films. No amount of CG or new actors can improve on what these two films do.
Best Line:Klingon bastard! You killed my son!
Runner up best line: The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.
Star Trek IV
This one is always remembered as the funny one, which it is at points, largely due to Leonard Nimoy, although I find Star Trek III to be actually funnier. This is a film that shouldn’t work based on the plot: The world is threatened by some mysterious force, and the only way to stop it is to go back in time and bring back two humpback whales. Oh, and apparently all you have to do to go back in time is fly backwards around the sun. Huh!?! Well, apparently it works, and the sole reason this one works is because the actors are having fun with the characters. If you really look at it, this film makes no sense, but it’s so much fun, you can’t help but feel good. Don’t ask me to explain it beyond that.
Best Line:NUCLEAR WESSELS…
Star Trek V
I’ll be honest, it’s been years since I’ve seen this one, and I refuse to buy the DVD, so I still haven’t seen it in years. What? Can you blame me? The whole franchise built up a lot of goodwill with the previous three films, and then pissed it all away with this one. Spock’s half-brother returns and convinces the crew to follow him on some mission to find God, and they succeed (kind of)? And you expect me to buy into this? Yeah, that ain’t happening. I’m told that the film can now be enjoyed on a “so bad, it’s good” level but it’s going to take a free copy and lots of alcohol for me to find out.
Best line:God, I liked him better before he died.
Star Trek VI
Two words: Christopher Plummer. Four more words: Second Best Klingon Ever. Fortunately for the series, they bounced back for the sixth movie, which has good parts, but is let down by a weak middle section. You know what I’m talking about, when Kirk and McCoy are stuck on a prison planet. That part kills this movie for me. The rest of it is good and any part with Christopher Plummer as the Shakespeare-reciting Klingon Captain is great. I still can’t decide if Christopher Lloyd or Christopher Plummer makes the better Klingon. Plummer is very serious with it, and puts that seriousness to great effect in this film, but Lloyd has fun with it, also to great success in that film, so I guess its apples and oranges. This is another Star Trek film that isn’t a great movie, but I have fun with it, so I’ll watch it if it’s on.
Best line:Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war.
You shouldn’t need an excuse to watch these, but if you’ve been looking for one, now’s your chance. You know what they say, live long and prosper.