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Worst to First: Ranking the Star Trek Movies

Star Trek Movie Posters

Set your phaser to stun cause I’m ranking all the Star Trek movies.  Hopefully you will find my rankings logical.  But if anything makes your green blood boil, you can let me know in the comments section.

Picking my favorite Star Trek movie is easy.  I’m a fan of the series, but even I have to admit that there have only been a handful of Star Trek movies that even qualify as good.  But picking my least favorite Trek is challenging.  There’s a lot of competition for that bottom spot.  Ultimately, I had to go with…

star trek nemesis

12. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Cast: Next Gen

Plot: The Enterprise travels to Romulus to negotiate a peace treaty with the race of villains who aren’t Klingons but instead end up fighting against a clone of Captain Picard who doesn’t really look very much like Captain Picard except for being bald.  Apparently, Picard lost his hair at a very young age.  Keeping with the clone theme, the crew also finds yet another Data robot which they actually call B-4 because it predates Data.

What’s Good: Um… It’s your last chance to see the Next Gen crew even if they do kind of embarrass themselves.  At least we get the long-awaited Riker-Troi wedding.  Yes, this movie is so bad that  the Riker-Troi wedding ranks as a highlight.

What’s Bad: Shinzon, the bad guy clone played by Tom Hardy was supposedly going to rival Khan.  Instead, he was whiny and weak.  The scene where Troi is mentally raped is one of the most off-putting in all of Star Trek.  B-4 is a retread of every Data story that has ever been done as well as a cheat for Data’s heavily foreshadowed death scene.  Nemesis wants to be Wrath of Khan but it’s not even close.

Verdict: Nemesis was billed as the final movie for the Next Gen crew.  But the ending was clearly begging for a continuation.  Someone clearly hoped that fans would be demanding a Search for Data movie.  Instead, Nemesis ended the Next Gen movies on an especially sour note which is remarkable considering the low standard set by the previous Next Gen movies.  The movie’s failure basically killed the Star Trek movie series.  Yes, it was eventually revived… unlike Data.

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Posted on September 10, 2015, in Movies, sequels, Worst to First and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. “If you don’t like Star Trek, the charms of Wrath of Khan probably won’t change your opinion.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. THE WRATH OF KHAN is a great movie any way one wants to evaluate it, a classic–and classical–tale. It’s the one you can show to people who know nothing of Trek or who even dislike Trek and still get a positive reaction.

    You get the first 3 movies basically right but putting any of the TNG movies about any of the original-cast flicks (or, for that matter, above either of the flicks in the current run) just can’t be justified. Everything about TNG was terrible–that project had no redeeming merits from conception to conclusion. FIRST CONTACT, in particular, is a ridiculously overpraised POS that rips off everything in sight, sets up an extended make-work-for-the-minor-castmembers b-plot that is absurd in every particular and has worse plot problems than any of the flicks you dunned for plot problems. TNG is the bottom of the ST barrel. I wouldn’t even rank them in a best-to-worst manner. They’re all “worst.”

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the extent to which ST5’s problems were a consequence of budget cuts. This didn’t just pay off in having no money for effects. There was a novelization published from the original screenplay–the one that couldn’t be properly filmed for lack of money–and the original cast wasn’t shunted aside in it at all (one of your big criticisms of the film). It, in fact, gave all of them a featured turn and went into their characters’ respective backgrounds. When that material was excised, it wasn’t even clear what Sybok (sp?) was doing to them that made them suddenly loyal to his quest. Even in its present form, the movie has a lot of great character moments and funny dialogue. That’s more than enough to place it well above THE MOTIONLESS PICTURE at the bottom of the original-cast trough.

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    • I’m obviously a big fan of Wrath of Khan. I definitely think it’s a solid science fiction adventure on its own merits. But in my personal experiences, people who don’t like Star Trek aren’t very receptive to it. Probably because the people I know who don’t like Star Trek don’t like science fiction. So when you start talking about the Genesis project or ear worms, they zone out. I find that non-Trekkies tend to respond better to the 2009 reboot or The Voyage Home where they can just laugh AT Star Trek. But you know, your mileage may vary.

      I agree that the TNG movies are bad. They fill out a lot of my bottom spots. But I also didn’t want to just dump them all in the bottom with the originals at the top and the reboots in between. That would be pretty dull. And legitimately, I hate Into Darkness more than I hate First Contact or even Insurrection. First Contact has a lot of problems. The “B” plot, which takes up almost as much runtime as the “A” plot, really is both a bore and a mess. But James Cromwell almost redeems it for me. And I don’t mind that the “A” plot rips off a bunch of better movies. I can zone out and be entertained by it. I’ll never call it a good movie. But if I am going to sit down and watch a Star Trek movie that isn’t Wrath of Khan, First Contact might make the grade.

      I knew the budget for Final Frontier had been drastically cut. Shatner bitched about the loss of his precious rock monsters in his autobiography. I didn’t realize the cuts impacted the script so drastically. There really needed to be some exploration of how Sybok’s powers worked and what was going on with the crew. If they were going to cut something from the script, the camping trip was begging to be trimmed. Also, Sybok didn’t need to be Spock’s long lost brother. But that has nothing to do with the budget.

      I actually just watched ST5 while I was folding laundry this weekend. And it is bad, but it has a lot of charm. I was tempted to rank it higher than I did. But I’m already vulnerable to accusations of having a bias for the original cast. So I didn’t want to rely purely on my affection for the Shatner era crew.

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  2. Great article with a lot for any Star Trek fan to think about. I’ve seen all of the movies except Nemesis, which I’ve heard so many negative things about that I doubt I ever will watch it.

    For me, the ST movies break down into a “good” group and a “bad” group, with a fairly large gulf between them. The first group is the four good TOS movies–including Search for Spock–along with First Contact, trailing a little bit behind them. One reason I like Search for Spock is the way that Nimoy’s absence from 99% of the film gives some space for the supporting cast to shine–Sulu (“Don’t call me Tiny”) and Uhura (“you want adventure?”) take particular advantage. Yes, Robin Curtis was a minor disaster in the recasting department, but she doesn’t sink the movie. It’s not as good as the even-numbered TOS films, but it’s not too far behind them in my opinion.

    I never really warmed up to the TNG movies as a group, except that I am at least thankful for the fact that Mary Sue, er, Wesley was not there, so, consequently, he did not save the ship 🙂 . Considered in isolation, First Contact works as an action-drama, which is a lot more than I can say for Generations or Insurrection; I would put the latter at the very bottom in my Nemesis-free rankings.

    As for the reboot movies, the one positive I can find is that they put together a terrific supporting cast (as I’ve brought up in other threads here). Of course, they went to waste, especially in Into Darkness, but oh, what might have been. Sigh. I would love to see Karl Urban’s McCoy, Simon Pegg’s Scott, Zoe Saldana’s Uhura, John Cho’s Sulu, and yes, Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus in a film where character development and interaction mattered.

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    • Glad you liked it. I consider myself a Star Trek fan, but as I was putting together this article I was surprised by how bad most of the movies were when I really thought about it. II, IV and VI are really the only ones I consider to be good and VI barely qualifies. III is decent enough. But I think it gets a huge bump from being sandwiched between and continuing the story of two superior movies. You are right about the supporting cast in III though.

      I am allowing myself just a bit of hope that the next Star Trek movie will be better than the last one. The change in screenwriters has to help!

      I’m really interested to see how readers handle their own rankings. I’ve been analyzing the responses so far and the results are fun to play with. Later on when I have enough responses, there will be a follow-up with the results and comparing the readers’ rankings to my own. I’ll be doing more articles like this in the future.

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      • Most of these are on-target although I’d rank Final Frontier at the bottom. Nemesis is definitely the worst of the TNG movies. The first Star Trek;s prime problem is that it’s deadly dull. Even my hardcore Trekkie father would agree on that.

        Yes, the original Trek series and movies were focused more on philosophy and ideas more than action. The newer ones are focused more on action and effects. More intelligent action than you would get in say the Transformers movies. But still its more action based. Maybe it’s because Abrams is more an action oriented filmmaker than an idea one, maybe it’s because they’re trying to reach an audience that’s more into that kind of thing and thus larger. It seems to me that many of the hardcore Trekkies HATE the Abrams incarnation while the more casual fans are more accepting. I found the first Abrams Trek to be decent and liked Into Darkness although neither film holds up that well to on-going viewing. That highlights the difference right there. The more philosophical original Trek movies can be watched repeatedly. The Abrams ones are enjoyable to watch. But don’t hold up particularly well to repeat viewings.

        As far as the TNG ones go, they seem to have followed in the footsteps of the Brosnan Bond movies: Today, with the exception of Goldeneye, most of them are regarded as ones that were fun at the time. But don’t hold up that well today. That could possibly happen to the Abrams ST entries as well if the series goes in more of a direction akin to the original Trek, much like the Bonds rebooted once Craig got in.

        More troubling is the fact that to the studio, Star Trek is more or less a brand. Abrams drifted away from the original Trek. But he managed to keep at least some connection to it. What happens with the next go-round if the person in charge more or less decides to turn it into something that’s Star Trek in name only? Of course, some might argue that’s already happened.

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        • Nemesis is god awful on every level. It has no redeeming value that I can think of unless you were a massive Riker-Troi shipper, which I was not. Both Final Frontier and Nemesis are flawed. But at least Final Frontier has personality.

          Abrams has been very upfront about the fact that he didn’t like or understand Star Trek. He said he came around to it while making his movies, but I would argue that his movies make it evident he never understood Star Trek. Yes, they are Star Trek in name only. I am actually far more optimistic about the future of the series now that he and his screenwriters are gone.

          I didn’t HATE the reboot. Coming after Nemesis, it had nowhere to go but up. Was it the best Star Trek movie ever as many claimed? Not remotely. It was completely brainless, but fun. If you could turn off any intelligent thought and enjoy the fast paced pretty pictures on the screen, Star Trek ’09 was fun. As you walked out of the theater, the story was already evaporating from your memory, but you were left feeling that you had been entertained on some level.

          I do HATE Into Darkness though. I have even rewatched it a few times to make sure I wasn’t being unfair. I wasn’t. It’s a horrendous movie. While it’s better made than something like Final Frontier, Final Frontier doesn’t make me seethe the way Into Darkness does. There are only a handful of movies I can think of where I had to restrain myself from going into the projection booth and ripping up the print. Into Darkness is one of them.

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        • “The first Star Trek;s prime problem is that it’s deadly dull.”

          I think there would be near-unanimity among Trekkies, hard core or not, on this point.

          The one thing I would say about The Motionless Picture that is, kind of, favorable is that when it was made, there was a certain amount of “boldly going where no one had gone before” about it. Back then, TV was TV and the movies were the movies–there was next to no cross-migration. The 1966 Batman movie was pretty explicitly designed to tie in with the then-popular TV series, and in 1972 MAS*H came to the small screen–although with considerable difference in tone from Robert Altman’s film, even in the early seasons. You might find a handful of examples, but in general, no one thought that a TV series, even one with a fan base of proven fanatic loyalty, could be made into a feature film. Fans of All in the Family, Hawaii Five-O, Charlie’s Angels, or other hit TV shows did not think in terms of “when are they going to make the movie.” It simply wasn’t an idea that occurred to very many people.

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        • I’m not sure that is a good thing! 😉

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    • “One reason I like Search for Spock is the way that Nimoy’s absence from 99% of the film gives some space for the supporting cast to shine–Sulu (‘Don’t call me Tiny’) and Uhura (‘you want adventure?’) take particular advantage.”

      Yeah, I think–but forgot to mention earlier–the piece severely underrates THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK. That was another one full of great moments and it had, by far, the best ending of any of the movies.

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      • It’s a mixed bag for me. To be honest, I thought I liked ST3 more than most, but judging by reader reaction that doesn’t appear to be true.

        Readers are ranking Search for Spock higher than I did. I like the movie, but I can’t get past its pacing problems. I also feel like it relies a little too heavily on Wrath of Kahn. Then you’ve got the hoops we have to jump through to reach a foregone conclusion, a recast Saavik who really makes you appreciate Kirstie Ally and the unfortunate business of dealing with Kirk’s son. Coming right after the death of Spock, the death of Kirk’s son just feels obligatory. Although Shatner’s reaction is terrific.

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  3. I like sci-fi fantasy, but Star Trek has always been near the bottom of the pile for me as a franchise. I never could understand what it was that made people so passionate about it. There were some individual television episodes that were fun of both the original series and TNG, but I usually just shrug at Star Trek.

    The Wrath of Khan stands alone as the Star Trek movie any fan of sic-fi should see just so they have gotten a taste of Star Trek.

    A poll ranking the 10 greatest sic-fi fantasy franchises might be fun.

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    • Star Trek has always been more about ideas than action, and good sci-fi has always been about ideas. I remember in college I was taking a philosophy class and darn near every time the teacher introduced a new concept I would pipe up and say “there’s a Star Trek episode about that!”. I got known for that in class. Probably wouldn’t do that today, but whatever. Even the original episodes have some really interesting concepts if you can look past the cheesy acting and effects.

      The frustrating thing about the TNG movies, and especially the new Star Trek movies is they became more action oriented at the expense of the story and ideas. The new ones in particular bear no resemblance to Star Trek outside of the characters (which are caricatures of the originals) and the terminology. Red Letter Media did a fantastic job pointing out the problems with both sets of movies in a series of Plinkett reviews.

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      • I’m in full agreement with you. While I enjoyed First Contact for what it was, it established a dangerous precedent of Picard: Action Hero which only worsened in the movies that followed. The movie Picard was not recognizable from the TV series.

        I like a good action scene as much as the next guy. If you can do a good Star Trek action movie, I am all for it. The problem is, most of them are no good.

        What I find especially troubling about the two Abrams movies is that they aren’t good action movies, but most people think they are. It’s not just that they abandon the thoughtfulness that was one of the defining characteristics of Star Trek for decades. They actually make you dumber while you are watching them. You can feel them eating away at your brain, and not in a fun cheesy Star Trek 5 way. Into Darkness in particular reminded me of Man of Steel which people also thought was good in spite of it’s awfulness.

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    • I’m not a hard-core science fiction guy. But science fantasy sometimes annoys me more. Sure, I was raised on Star Wars. Star Wars will always be in my blood. But people get way to excited about Star Wars to the extent that it actually reduces my enthusiasm. Sometimes, science fantasy is just a way to do dumbed down science fiction. And that’s no good.

      Depending on my mood, I could easily rank Star Trek over Star Wars. In terms of quantity, Star Trek wins down. But I’m not sure that Star Wars wins in the quality category either. Fully one half of Star Wars is terrible thanks to the prequels. And Jedi is really only good because it completes the trilogy.

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  4. I’m a big Star Trek fan, especially of TOS and TNG. The TOS movies are really hit and miss. It has long been known that the even numbered movies were better than the odd numbered ones. That actually held true in the TNG movies up to Nemesis. My favorite of the entire series is Star Trek 6. I’m sure it has in part to do with it coming out shortly after I became a fan of Star Trek, but really I think it has the best balance of story and action. Star Trek 2 is a close second and I completely understand why some people think it is the best. As for the TNG movies I agree that First Contact is the only one that can be considered good. I probably like it more than you. I didn’t have a problem seeing the Borg as a bee hive instead of a pure collective.

    The new movies are definitely the best if all you want is a big budget, effects heavy, action movie. But that isn’t Star Trek. Story and character development come first in Star Trek, in the new movies they are a distant second to action. Everyone has to be super amazing at everything now instead of being actual people. Just compare Uhura in Star Trek 6 reading Klingon out of a book to new movie Uhura who is the greatest linguist the Federation has ever seen.

    As for the worst movies, I generally agree with you though I considered Star Trek 5 to be the worst. I’d put Nemesis second worst then maybe Star Trek Into Darkness. That being said, I’d probably watch the latter movie over Insurrection or Generations because those two movies are so boring, even if better written, whereas Into Darkness is faster paced with more action.

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    • The Borg being turned into a bee hive instead of a collective doesn’t bother me because I’m not all that invested in the Borg. The Star Trek TV shows used up all their coolness over time anyway. If I really wanted to geek out on the movie getting elements of the TV show wrong, I’d bring up that Picard had pretty much made his peace with the Borg in the episode featuring Hugh. He could have destroyed the Borg on that episode if he wanted to and he chose not to. But in First Contact, he is portrayed as a man obsessed with nothing but ridding the galaxy of the Borg. I’m capable of selective memory. The TV episode would ruin the movie so it basically never happened. I get that. I can even roll with them changing the very nature of the Borg so the movie can have a single villain to defeat. I get why that was necessary.

      Star Trek 5 is bad, no doubt. It’s the most embarrassing entry from the original cast. But it has a charm that all of the Next Gen movies and all of the Reboot movies lack. I can’t argue with anyone who says it is the worst because in a lot of ways, it is. But in the ways that matter to me, it’s not. I won’t defend the movie except to say that the chemistry between the three leads is greater than any relationships portrayed in any of the movies that don’t feature the original cast.

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  5. Nemesis was billed in advance as the last Star Trek movie? I didn’t know that. I actually saw it on the big screen (considering how dismal the box office was for Nemesis not many others did) and the way the movie ended I was 100% sure another one would be on the way. What an ignominous way for the series to fizzle out…

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    • It was in the same way that Star Trek III was advertised as “the last voyage of the Enterprise”. According to Rick Berman, Paramount actually tried to convince him to make Nemesis with a new cast instead of the Next Gen cast. I’m not even sure how that would work since the script we ended up with was very specific to that cast. But maybe this was before the script was written. Patrick Stewart has said a fifth film was planned by John Logan and Brent Spiner which would have wrapped up the dangling plot threads from Nemesis and served as a final send off for the Next Gen crew. But obviously the failure of Nemesis killed any possibility of that happening.

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  6. I completely get the venom over Into Darkness; it was awful. As a casual Trek fan I was just disappointed and moved on, but if I were a die-hard Trek fan I’m sure I would still be raging over that travesty. Abrams was the wrong person to hire for Trek, or the studio were wrong to want a more action-oriented Trek reboot, I’m sure there’s blame to go around, but everybody involved missed what made Trek special and unique. Even to a casual Trek fan like me these last two films felt more like Star-Trek-in-name-only. To be honest I’m much more of a Star Wars fan and after having seen J.J. Abrams mismanage Trek so badly and get it so wrong it does raise concern for me for The Force Awakens. I’m excited about everybody else involved in the production of EP7 (Lawrence Kasdan, John Williams, Ben Burtt, etc.) but Abrams’ involvement is what gives me pause so far. Sorry for going off on a Wars tangent in a Trek article.

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    • Just to put this out there, I don’t identify as a “die hard” fan of Star Trek. I can’t speak Klingon. I’ve never dressed up or been to a convention. I can’t cite episodes. I consider myself a casual fan of the series. But casual is a relative term. I do love Wrath of Khan. If I had never seen Wrath of Khan, Into Darkness wouldn’t get me angry. I would just think it was a really stupid movie. But if you love Wrath of Khan, Into Darkness is akin to blasphemy.

      Star Wars talk is allowed. The two series always seem to be intertwined. I will say that Abrams all-action-all-the-time mentality is much better suited to Star Wars than Star Trek. Star Trek has traditionally been driven by ideas even when Kirk was getting the girl and fighting aliens with his fists. Star Wars has always been about glossing over the details to get to the space fights and light-saber duels. There are major plot holes in every Star Wars movie, but you tend not to notice because like an Abrams movie they just blow by too fast.

      Abrams was an admitted non-fan of the series. But the people behind Nemesis were too close to it. Finding the right balance of objectivity and appreciation is a tricky balance. If it were up to me, they’d just give the series to Nicholas Meyer and see what he can do with it. He has the most untainted track record so far.

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      • To date, the best thing Abrams has done is Super 8. In some ways, I always felt that the Trek movies were more or less hired gun projects for him. Super 8 was far closer to his true sensibility.

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        • But you know, Super 8 was a Spielberg rip-off, er “homage” and not a very good one at that. For my money, the best thing Abrams has done is Mission Impossible III which was a perfect fit for his sensibilities. Although the movie wasn’t a hit, it set the tone for the series which has really coalesced since he came on board.

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      • I don’t understand why someone would want to head a film franchise they don’t really care that much for (okay, money and prestige, but I’m not heading in that direction). It’s like if someone wanted to revive “Smokey and the Bandit” yet wasn’t into slapstick comedy or fast cars.

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        • Career opportunity I suppose. Remember, Abrams was mostly a TV guy prior to relaunching Trek. Also, Nicolas Meyer wasn’t a Trek fan when he took on Wrath of Khan. But the first thing he did was watch all of the episodes. What he latched on to was the idea that the series was basically a naval adventure. He compared it to Horatio Hornblower. I don’t think the show really played up that angle. But Meyer made the notion that Starfleet was a futuristic space Navy explicit.

          I don’t think it’s a requirement to be a fan. But you have to “get it”. Meyer did. Abrams doesn’t.

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  7. I’m not a huge fan of “Starr Trek”, but I do like the Films II, III, and IV (no, I wasn’t laughing at the crew, I guess I just like fish out of water stories told with some oomph!). Yeah, “The Wrath of Khan” is where it’s at. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the deft hand of Nicholas Meyer, as one of my all time favorite films is 1979’s “Time After Time”, which “The Voyage Home” has shades of, if you ask me.

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    • Nickolas Meyer rocks. When he took over Star Trek II, it was a mess. They had a bunch of different scripts and Meyer basically took them all home and came up with the script for Wrath of Khan. And then he got cheated out of a writing credit!

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      • Combine what he did on Wrath of Khan with his co-writing of IV and directing and co-writing VI, you have to give Nick Meyer a lot of credit for the success of Star Trek in becoming a mainstream success as opposed to more of a cult phenomenon. Meyer really seems to have “gotten” Star Trek in the sense of understanding what made the original show really appealing–not the visionary sci-fi stuff that Roddenberry got increasingly obsessed with over the years, but the characters and their relationships.

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        • After Star Trek The Motion Picture, it’s really easy to imagine a world in which the sequel flops and no one thinks about reviving Star Trek for at least a decade or so. I won’t say Meyer “saved” Star Trek because it would have continued on in some form or another. But were it not for him saving the movie franchise, I don’t think we’d have had as many movies or the Next Generation TV show.

          Ironically, as you allude to, Roddenberry was in danger of snuffing out his own creation. He was very bitter about being out of the loop on Wrath of Khan and is even believed to have leaked Spock’s death scene. But were it not for the success of Wrath, Roddenberry probably wouldn’t have gotten to launch Next Gen. And of course Next Gen started off being awful because Roddenberry was obsessed with the idea of a Utopian future which makes for terrible drama. So that show didn’t really come together until it was taken from him.

          Anyway, Nick Meyer is one of a handful of people I credit with saving if not Star Trek then Star Trek as we know it.

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  8. It’s not actually god. It’s God. The word god may not be a proper noun, but the way it’s used in this sentence it’s used as a name to identify a specific being, so it’s improper to leave it as god. It may be a trend, especially in modern Atheism, but its also bad grammar and ultimately silly.

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    • One is sometimes uncertain of proper capitalization when dealing with false gods. If I had used a capital G I feared someone would protest that the creature in the movie was not a real diety. Also, I don’t believe the character was named God therefore it’s not a proper noun. I do agree that the issue of whether or not to capitalize the word god in the case of a fictional alien entity posing as a supreme being is silly. Who would make a point of such a thing? Oh right…

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  9. Have to disagree with you on Into Darkness. It is really only a bad movie if you choose to compare it to Wrath of Khan. Viewed on its own it is a really good sci-fi movie. I willing admit that it doesn’t make much sense, but neither do the Usual Suspects or Mulholland Drive and those films are great.

    As for the box office; it was only a disappointment domestically. The Star Trek films have been notorious for years for underperforming overseas and Into Darkness finally broke the trend, by making $238.6 million at the foreign box office (for comparison the first Abram’s film only made $128 million outside of North America).

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    • It’s hard not to compare it to Wrath of Khan when Into Darkness goes out of its way to make the comparison. I actually just finished rewatching Into Darkness and it only confirmed for me that no, it is not a good sci fi movie by any criteria. As you say, nothing makes any sense. But to compare it to Mulholland Drive is silly. Mulholland Drive is a movie that exists in a dream state. You’re not supposed to view the events of a David Lynch movie as literal. The Usual Suspects may be convoluted, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense than anything that happens in Star Trek Into Darkness. Dr McCoy cures death. Scotty finds a way to make starships obsolete using teleporters. Abrams and the screenwriters are counting on the audience being so entertained by the explosions and lens flares that they don’t use their brains at all. It’s a dumb movie whether you like Star Trek or not. It’s infuriating if you like Wrath of Khan.

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      • As far as box office, yes that global number is impressive. But from what I have read, Into Darkness barely made a profit. As we have discussed before, domestic box office is much more important than international because the studio gets a much large cut. Paramount spent a lot of money on Into Darkness. On a nearly $200 million dollar budget, it grossed $228 million in the Us. That’s not even factoring in the huge marketing costs. It did slightly better in the foreign markets, but retains a much smaller percentage of those ticket sales. Obviously, Paramount was willing to move forward with a third movie, so it wasn’t a disaster. But I wouldn’t crow about Into Darkness’ box office. Relative to its budget, it’s box office performance was more base hit than homerun.

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        • I’d say it was more like a double. While it may have been only slightly profitable at the box office, that still means that all TV rights, home video/on demand and merchandising are all profit.

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        • You know what? My baseball knowledge stinks. Is base hit synonymous with single? Given that they are making a third movie, I can live with it being a double.

          2 points though. Paramount expected more than a double this time at bat. And secondly, box office success or failure really isn’t relevant to ranking the movies by quality. While Into Darkness was more successful than some other films in the series, I still feel it is among the worst.

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        • Yep, base hit normally means a single.

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        • I am sports illiterate.

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      • I never said it didn’t make any sense; it clearly has a plot you can follow. There are plot holes and logic lapses, but it is not something like Transformers 2 (which even egomaniac Michael Bay admitted lost all coherence after the first act).

        As for comparisons to Mulholland Dr and Usual Suspects are fair, I believe. You say that Mulholland Dr. is a dream, but Star Trek is science fiction; both require a suspension of disbelief. And the ending of Usual Suspects, while very cool, makes far less sense than the plot Into Darkness.

        Indeed, you say that Into Darkness just relies on special effects to distract the audience from the problems in the screenplay, but is that really any different than the Usual Suspects relying on keeping the audience confused by making the story increasing convoluted to distract the audience from the fact that ultimately it doesn’t make much sense?

        As for curing death and making starships obsolete; are they really any more outlandish than being able to travel 4 light years in 3 days (roughly the equivalent to Warp 3 according to Enterprise)? The approximately 8 million paradoxes that would result from the events of First Contact? Or (most glaringly) going back in time 1000 years to save humanity by rescuing a whale?

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        • Whoops, meant 300 years, not a 1000 in the last line.

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        • Sorry to thread jack, but I will say that the Into Darkness, while still a pretty good movie in my opinion, did have its share flaws.

          Hiding the Kahn revelation was unnecessary and turning the third act into a virtual remake of Wrath of Khan wasn’t the best idea (though if you had not seen Star Trek II it would probably work a lot better, which is probably why Into Darkness did well overseas).

          Personally, I think the film would have been better just using John Harrison survivor of the Eugenics War as the villain, but I don’t think it really ruined the movie.

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        • You’re on topic. No need to apologize.

          I agree that the movie would be improved if there were no Khan references. And yes, it plays better if you have never seen ST2. Then, it is a lot like the 2009 reboot which was also dumb but fun.

          Let me ask a question. Did you love Wrath of Khan?

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        • You said “It doesn’t make much sense.” And you were right. It doesn’t. The plot holes are huge and there is no logic to lapse.

          There is a difference between requiring a suspension of disbelief and being dreamlike. Star Trek is a fantasy. When I buy my ticket I am agreeing to accept the idea of things like warp drive, aliens and transporters. But within that world, there has to be some consistency. A David Lynch movie has no such requirement.

          The end of The Usual Suspects makes total sense within the story. All we really know for sure is that we have just been told a story by an unreliable narrator. Again, not applicable to STID.

          I have no issue whatsoever with Star Trek 4. Within that universe, that is how time travel works. It’s not like Into Darkness where they have a serum that can cure all diseases and even raise the dead, but they ignore that because it was only introduced to get the writers out of a corner they wrote themselves into.

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        • Omnibus reply;

          You said “It doesn’t make much sense.” And you were right. It doesn’t. The plot holes are huge and there is no logic to lapse.

          My point was there is a difference between no sense and little sense. There is a threadbare plot Into Darkness.

          Star Trek is a fantasy. When I buy my ticket I am agreeing to accept the idea of things like warp drive, aliens and transporters. But within that world, there has to be some consistency.

          My point is there is some consistency. I guess we just have different views on how much is required.

          The end of The Usual Suspects makes total sense within the story. All we really know for sure is that we have just been told a story by an unreliable narrator.

          There are major problems with it. Why would Verbal give a perfect description of his accomplice (Kobayashi or whatever his real name is) when he has zero incentive to do so and clearly has the creativity to come up with another idea? Why wouldn’t it set off alarm bells for Agent Kujan that Verbal recognizes that the sailors are speaking Hungarian (a language that an American street con has no reason knowing)? Why would Verbal even bother telling Kujan anything at all since he could have just stayed quiet and then walked out once his bail was posted?

          I have no issue whatsoever with Star Trek 4. Within that universe, that is how time travel works. It’s not like Into Darkness where they have a serum that can cure all diseases and even raise the dead, but they ignore that because it was only introduced to get the writers out of a corner they wrote themselves into.

          My point isn’t the mechanics of time travel its the fact that humanity will be wiped out unless a group of exiled intergalactic explorers travels back in time 300 years to rescue a humpback whale just doesn’t seem any more implausible than one of those explorers using the blood of a genetically modified super human to cure disease/raise the dead. Heck, it’s not even the first time a Star Trek character has been risen from the dead.

          And I would dispute that the serum was ignored after they resurrected Kirk; the movie simply ended before we see what happened to it.

          Let me ask a question. Did you love Wrath of Khan?

          No, I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it and I am guessing that is a large reason why you and I have different views on Into Darkness. That also probably explains why critics and audiences (at least according RT and IMDB) tend to have a different opinion of the film than you (and I suspect most people who really, really love Wrath of Kahn) do.

          The percentage of critics and film goers who truly love Wrath of Kahn is fairly small and I suspect they tend to have an easier viewing Into Darkness on its own terms than those that really love Star Trek 2. The fact that Abrams was explicit that he intended his Star Trek films to appeal primarily to people who were previously not fans of the Star Trek franchise is notable.

          For my part I agree that Into Darkness wasn’t as good as the first Abrams Star Trek film, Wrath of Kahn or even what Into Darkness could have been without the decision to turn the third act into a WoK remake, but I think it was a solid, if unspectacular, sci-fi action movie.

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        • I will fully admit that loving Wrath of Khan is a big factor in hating Into Darkness. If you have never seen Wrath of Khan, Into Darkness is roughly on the same level as the 2009 reboot. But if Wrath of Khan is your favorite Star Trek movie, Into Darkness is blasphemous. There are a handful of movies that made my blood boil. Where I was sitting there in the audience thinking “This can’t possibly be happening”. Kirk’s “death scene” was one of those moments. His almost immediate and totally obvious resurrection was almost as bad but for different reasons. Resurrection by tribble/magic blood was some of the laziest writing I have ever seen. It wouldn’t have made it past my high school creative writing teacher, much less a movie. But yeah, if you don’t care I can’t make you care.

          Eventually, I am going to share the results of the reader rankings. So far, most of them are in line with my list. Last I looked, readers agreed with me completely on the top two and bottom three.

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        • Wow, I just realized that long comment I just made contains a lot of typos.

          Sorry about that.

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        • Jeez, sorry for the triple post, but I do want to mention that I don’t mean any disrespect and if anything I have said comes off as snarky or mean spirited I apologize.

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        • No, you’re good. I know my stance on Into Darkness is on one end of the spectrum. I know the majority of movie goers and critics didn’t share my opinion. You’ve made your points politely.

          I don’t ever mind people disagreeing with me. I’m very used to that. As long as we can agree to disagree and not resort to name calling, it’s all good.

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      • “Dr McCoy cures death. Scotty finds a way to make starships obsolete using teleporters.”

        And Carol Marcus is just along for fanservice (mutters darkly).

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        • The treatment of Carol Marcus is really shameful. She serves no purpose other than stripping to her underwear which served no purpose other than to let men look at a hot blonde chick in her underwear. Why her mission required her to disrobe is never explained. Dr. McCoy has the same mission. We don’t see him in his tighty whities.

          But it doesn’t stop there. She then uses her presence on the Enterprise as a way to save the ship from her father – a mustache-twirling villain who somehow rose to the rank of admiral in Starfleet. Is Starfleet evil in Abrams Trek? That sure seems to be the case based on what we know so far. Admiral Marcus then does the entirely foreseeable thing by beaming his daughter to his own ship so he can continue with his plans of killing countless innocent people without including his own daughter in the death count. Potentially heroic moment for Carol avoided.

          When we see her on her father’s ship, she has her leg carelessly snapped by Khan so she can be sidelined without doing anything interesting or essential. We already saw her in her bra. There’s nothing left for her to do.

          It doesn’t sound like she’ll be back for Star Trek 3 which is a shame. I’d like to see her character get a chance to do something at some point.

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        • I would, as I’ve mentioned before, love to see almost any of the supporting cast in a ST film where they make a reasonable attempt to emphasize the characters and their relationships.

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        • Me too. I’m cautiously optimistic that since Simon Pegg is co-writing Star Trek Beyond, we might get some of that. The cast of the reboots is so strong it would be a shame not to feature them.

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  10. Lebeau, your list is solid. I have only seen Generations and First Contact out of the TNG movies and Star Trek out of the reboot movies, so I take your word they are what they are.

    While I won’t argue that The Motion Picture overall doesn’t deserve its place on your list, I do think that in the Good category, it has one feature that is unrecognized by many: Leonard Nimoy offers an excellent performance in the only role in the movie with any real character development. The movie starts with Spock on Vulcan undergoing that ritual and it ends with Spock having accepted his human side. The scene between Spock and Kirk in Sick Bay where they renew their friendship is comparable to the Spock/Kirk moments in Wrath of Khan.

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    • That stuff is good. I just wish there was a lot more of it. Kirk/Spock/McCoy is pure gold. But the movie was less interested in relatable characters than laser light shows and Big Ideas. Which is a shame because I’d have watched the heck out of a Star Trek movie that consisted of character moments like the ones you are describing. I’ll also note that despite its many flaws, I revisit the Motionless Picture every few years and I do enjoy it.

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  11. Retrospective / Review: Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979):

    Retrospective / Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

    Retrospective / Review – Star Trek III :The Search For Spock (1984):

    Retrospective / Review: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991):

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  12. The CineFiles: The Star Trek Movies – Part One:

    The CineFiles: The Star Trek Movies – Part Two:

    The CineFiles Talk STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS:

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  13. JJ Abrams did not see any of the original episodes nor any other part of the franchise except what he directed. He destroyed Star Trek, like the original JJ would say ‘dynomite’ it. Let’s see several stupid concepts;
    No need for ships, transporters will take you there (anywhere) and faster.
    No need for medicine, immortality thru Magic blood that cures anything that ails you.
    Changes in the time continuum work both ways so the Romulan interference from last movie changed a character that was born over 200 years before from from an Indian Sikh to an Englishman, Wow.
    Need I continue? It was NOT a Star Trek movie. This movie was meant to destroy the franchise so people would forget about Star Trek (Science Fiction) and move over to Star Wars (Science Fantasy). He turned Star Trek from into fantasy. I was actually waiting for Kirk to wake up and say “what a nightmare .” Mad magazine would gave done a better job. As the comic book guy from the Simpson would say worst Star Trek movie EVER.

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