Re-ranking The STAR TREK Movies, As Ranked By STAR TREK Con-Goers
Recently, the folks over at Badass Digest (who comes up with these publication names, anyway?) highlighted something to set Trekkers debating anew:
The STAR TREK Movies, As Ranked By STAR TREK Con-Goers
“This weekend I was in Las Vegas for the annual Creation Star Trek convention; I’ll have more to say about that in a longer article, but first I wanted to share with you one of the highlights of my trip: the ordering of Star Trek movies from best to worst.
A lot of the panels at this con are pretty tedious, but Jordan Hoffman’s One Trek Mind Live panels are joys, where Hoffman gets the fans involved in a debate about some aspect of the Trek universe. The last thing I did in Vegas was attend the panel where Jordan and a hundred Trek fans – many in costume – argued about the proper listing order of all the Trek films.”
Well, as a longtime Star Trek fan (I saw the original program first-run as a twelve year-old), I’m pretty opinionated about the films based upon the 60s TV series and the latter The Next Generation line that engulfed some of my adult life. First off, let me say, I’m pretty ecstatic that those at the convention placed Galaxy Quest in amongst this canon.
Brilliant, really, and it made the list reach my favorite number, 13.
Second, there are those on the convention’s list I will heartily agree with, and some I will oppose with the very core of my being. Let’s get this going:
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan [Con #1] – not only the best, but the one movie that really saved the entire film franchise for Paramount; needless to say, the studio owes Nicholas Meyer big time for this and the next film, and is the most successful Star Trek filmmaker, bar none.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country [Con #3] – Likely the one film that has garnered more praise and risen in ranking over the years among Star Trek fans. And worth every accolade, too. Might have been the best send-off for this crew, till somebody at Paramount came up with Generations.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home [Con #4] – This was the capper for the trilogy that began with Wrath of Khan, brought home nicely by Leonard Nimoy. Perhaps the most fun (on a comedy scale) in the entire film series.
- Galaxy Quest [Con #7] – You don’t have to be familiar with Star Trek to enjoy this movie. That said, if you do, it’s even more fun as a spoof and in its brilliance and appreciation of the Star Trek series, characters, actors.
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture* [Con #9] – This separates the older and younger generations of ST fans. Us oldsters cling to it for its sci-fi roots, and bringing back the original crew, especially if watching Robert Wise’s director cut*.
- Star Trek III: The Search For Spock [Con #5] – Really, the early odd number Star Trek films aren’t bad at all, at least until you get to #5, but we’ll cover that further down. This may have the best payoff in its finale, too.
- Star Trek: First Contact [ Con #2] – Convention-goers had this way too high in their ranking, but I think it was still the best ST:TNG film, period. John Kenneth Muir’s solid criticisms aside, this was Fraker’s highpoint.
- Star Trek (2009) [Con #6] – I had elevated hopes for this, and for the most part (its mash-up tendencies, aside) I enjoyed Abram’s ride. More for seeing this crew and ship back on the big screen than anything else, though.
- Star Trek Generations [Con #8] – Not the best start for The Next Generation crew on celluloid, but you can do a HELL of a lot worse (see slots 10 – 13); it was also good to have Capt Kirk back…for awhile, at least.
- Star Trek Nemesis [Con #10] – Or, how to kill the entire ST:TNG segment of the franchise movies for good. No one…NO ONE…is trying to get Jean-Luc Picard and crew back for another go. Move along, nothing to see here.
- Star Trek Into Darkness [Con #13] – If I see another lens flare, or regurgitated plot point from earlier ST stories, I think I’m going to cough up a Tribble. Quick someone get Abrams off the Star Trek series. Oh, give him the chance to ruin another sci-fi series, thanks a lot Lucas!
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier [Con #12] – This one gets a lot of grief. My friend John Kenneth Muir appreciates it more than I, but had Paramount let Shatner do a director’s cut like Robert Wise, who knows what it could have been, bad as it was. It’s still better than…
- Star Trek Insurrection [Con #11] – A TV episode blown up to the big screen. Just think, if not for this, Star Trek Nemesis may not have killed ST:TNG off for good. They might have let them try another…the fools. My friend Will still defends this film, and I admire him for that…I really do.
36 Responses to “Re-ranking The STAR TREK Movies, As Ranked By STAR TREK Con-Goers”
I don’t find too much to disagree with here, although I’d probably place TMP a little lower, and the 2009 reboot a little higher. And I agree 100% with including Galaxy Quest on the list.
Thanks, John. Yeah, the Galaxy Quest an inspired add by the ST Consters, but it divides some, as SFF commented below.
Think I’d have to agree on The Wrath of Kahn, Michael. That’s always the one that sticks out for me. Good to see Galaxy Quest get a mention too. Love that little movie.
We are in unison for the addition of Galaxy Quest, Mark. Right on. Thanks very much, my friend.
Boy, they are hardcore.
I guess my approach as a purist wouldn’t want to have Galaxy Quest in the ranking. Fine movie and funny convention stuff and all but I would prefer it not be considered. I guess that’s the geek in me. I wouldn’t want Space Balls as part of Star Wars either.
I enjoyed both lists my friend but your choices surprised me a little too. Your commentary was really funny on a few.
Here’s how I would go and realistically my enjoyment of them is really a matter of degrees. I never hated any of them. But I’ll list them for fun anyway.
1. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
3. Star Trek: First Contact
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
5. Star Trek: The Search For Spock
6. Star Trek: The Voyage Home
7. Star Trek: Insurrection
8. Star Trek: Undiscovered Country
9. Star Trek: Nemesis
10. Star Trek: Generations
11. Star Trek
12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
It really is good fun to participate and compare lists on this keen subject, G. I do understand your point about Galaxy Quest, and even more so for Space Balls as it’s not my favorite of Mel Brooks. But, it has its fans. Any list that has Star Trek: The Motion Picture high up is going to receive welcome here. Thank you for posting your re-ranked list here and for the comment, my friend.
Wonderful post about the Star Trek movies, and thank you for the shout-outs on Final Frontier and First Contact. I do agree with you that First Contact is the best TNG movie, by the way.
Here’s my tally:
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
3. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
5. Star Trek (2009)
6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
7. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
8. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
9. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
10. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
11. Star Trek: Generations (1994)
12. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
In terms of the high-placement of Into Darkness (2012), I would only note that I wanted and demanded from Abrams one thing in a new Star Trek movie: a social critique; a commentary on our times to go alongside the action and lens-flare.
He provided that in spades (and in a non-partisan way…), presenting a movie about the War on Terror Age, drones, and so forth. For me, Into Darkness must place high on any list of Trek films because it restored the moral underpinning to Star Trek, which we hadn’t seen for some time in terms of the motion pictures. And unlike so many blockbusters of today, it had a morally uplifting or inspiring point. We defeat our enemies, and the enemies of freedom not by lowering ourselves to their standard, but by remaining true to our own tested ideals.
For the curious, my full explanation of this aspect of the film is here: http://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com/2013/05/cult-movie-review-star-trek-into.html
I also feel that The Final Frontier is infinitely more entertaining than Nemesis, and that Generations’s central concept (The Nexus) simply makes no sense at all, and works, worm-like, through the TNG movie to destroy all credibility from within. Generations is beautifully lit and photographed, but it makes zero sense.
Thanks for a great post today, my friend.
Marvelous list and comment, John. So glad you could add to this, my friend. Your point about Star Trek Into Darkness (as someone is going to say shortly, “shouldn’t there be a colon in there?”) was one of my few enjoyments of the film. The social critique of post-9/11 was really deft, which made the rest so confounding. See my response below to explain this. And why, oh why, make it 3-friggin’-D?!? Bad 3-D, at that, as seen too many times in blurred, smeared images during action sequences.
As SFF expressed, these are so much good fun to look at and compare. Thank you very much for adding to this with your list and thoughts, John.
I would just like to elevate The Undiscovered Country to the number one slot by virtue of both telling a gripping and, not neccessarily apparent now, topical story but also in genuinely progressing and deepening the characters in a way that is not forced. Three scenes in particular stand out, two powered by Nimoy, “is it possible we two…..have so old….would that constitute a joke?” And “Logic….Logic is the beginning of wisdom”. And finally, “Fly her apart then!” , Sulu saves the day.
Conversely the cheapening of the characters in Star Trek 5 made me ill when I saw it in the cinema. I refuse to accept that Mr Scott would walk into an overhead beam. He might slip on a banana, he might pass out drunk, the elastic on his trousers might snap but he DOES know the ship like the back of his hand and it is insulting to the character and the audience to suggest he would knock himself unconcious anywhere in the ship. Insulting too to the supposedly deed friendship and history between Kirk and Spock. He never once mentioned his brother? In any circumstance?
Also: Insurrection is a bit dull but I have watched it all the way through, something I still haven’t managed with Nemisis.
In closing let me say: Cartoon star trek rules all.
Welcome, James! Great to have another in-depth comment on this very subject. You’ll get no argument from me regarding The Undiscovered Country. Or, even The Final Frontier, as both seem polar opposites on scale and quality. I will say the reason I have Insurrection so low was where it landed. After Generations, and especially First Contact, an expectation had been built ST:TNG would keep going upward to match the legacy of the original cast films. And we got an overblown TV episode for that hope. Thank you Paramount for dashing it so supremely. Nemesis ranked only slightly higher because it at least tried to be a big screen ST:TNG movie, though we all know what resulted. Thank you very much for adding to the discussion. I hope to see you back.
p.s., great point, too, about the Star Trek the Animated Series. It really did rock.
I just cannot at all understand the fanboy hate on Stark Trek Into Darkness, I thought it was a very entertaining movie. I cannot rank all the movies since it has been a while since I’ve seen one but thanks for sharing the list!
Great to have you chime in on this mummbles. The more discourse and disagreement, the better. Ultimately, everyone has their favorites and disliked so there are no wrong answers. I hope to seen your list some day, my friend. And I know a number of people who really enjoyed, Star Trek Into Darkness, my friend JKM, for sure. Thank you very much for the read and comment.
p.s., I was thinking about what boils my thoughts about about Abram’s sequel, but someone had already came up with most of them:
I think it mostly has to do with me not being a huge Star Trek (TV series) guy. See I read comics growing up so I know every single plot that each Marvel/DC movie is showing yet still enjoy the movies. So to me re-using stuff from films is just about the same as reusing plots from comics for film. I do get that he took some exact moments (sort of) but so do about all comic book movies. I guess the argument could be made that those are books and source material.
Fair point, mummbles. Thanks for adding your thoughts to this thread, my friend.
I am not a Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination, so pass the salt shaker 😉 My top 2 is STAR TREK (2009) and GALAXY QUEST.
Not a problem, Paula. Thanks for listing your favorites :-).
Well I was trying to resist the temptation to work on another list… and I failed. So here is my list of the Star Trek flicks, from weakest to best.
13. Star Trek – Generations
12. Star Trek – Nemesis
11. Star Trek – Insurrection
10. Star Trek V – The Final Frontier
9. Star Trek – First Contact
8. Star Trek III – The Search for Spock
7. Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home
6 Star Trek
5. Star Trek into Darkness
4. Galaxy Quest
3. Star Trek – The Undiscovered Country
2. Star Trek – The Motion Picture
1. Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan
Some additional thoughts. I really love TMP, probably more than it deserves. The director’s cut really helped the pacing and I love the feeling of wonder and awe of space exploration that this film captures (and none of the other films quite match). On top of that Jerry Goldsmith’s score is a masterpiece.
I also love “Galaxy Quest”. It gets funnier and funnier each time I watch it. Really a well balanced comedy that never attacks the genre, but playfully subverts and embraces it. Great casting and wonderful acting really make this one click.
I think Abrams did a great job with the resurrection of the film franchise. He brought so much energy to the films, that they were fun again. One thing the Next Generation films seemed to do was bring everything to a very serious tone. The fun of the earlier films was lost. I think the pacing on Into Darkness makes it a better film all around (but I’ve only seen it once, so that may change with repeat viewings). And I’ve got to give props to Michael Giacchino for his inspired used of the original theme and crafting new themes for the musical scores in both films. Great stuff!
“Generations” is painful to watch. It is badly paced, badly constructed and badly written. The execution isn’t too bad, but the whole thing just flails around for way to long and doesn’t accomplish much at all. Kirk’s end was horrible, and really does the character a disservice. To me this was a nadir of the film series, no question.
Ok, I admit I had fun. Thanks for the topic!
Welcome, Roman! Another great list and admirable commentary for it. Well done. Thanks for posting it here and for reading/commenting here.
OK – couldn’t resist entering the fray…
For me, I could not include Galaxy Quest – though I’ve enjoyed the film. I was tempted to not include The Final Frontier as well, for the same reason – it just ain’t a Star Trek film. However, as it does have the name Star Trek in the title, and the original cast – so I guess I’ll just rank it last. Here we go:
1. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
2. Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country
3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (…and here’s where my list differs)
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
6. Star Trek (2009)
7. Star Trek: First Contact
8. Star Trek: The Search for Spock
9. Star Trek: Nemesis
10. Star Trek: Generations
11: Star Trek: Insurrection
173: Star Trek: The Final Frontier
Ultimately, the first three and last four were the easiest to place. Numbers 4-8 were the toughest to position in my mind. I’ve ranked Into Darkness for the very reason outlined already in the comments – it brought social commentary back into the Star Trek story – something that has been either poorly attempted or absent altogether for some of the other films. Ranking most of the Next Generation films so low on my list is like asking me to rank my first 11 experiences eating a Philly Cheesesteak. The first one was amazing, and the next ten were extremely good – that’s what the Star Trek movies are like that for me.
Thanks for letting me ramble!
Welcome, FRFC! Great that you’ve stopped by and offered up another list toward this subject. Love it. You can ramble anytime around here. Many thanks for the read, comment, and follow.
Cannot and will not ague with your “Disposition Matrix’. The original Star Trek films were far superlative to later efforts.
Don’t even know why the franchise was so recently re-vamped with lame characters William Shatner would have gladly wide beamed into Deep Space. For the good of the crew.
At least Picard had eloquence. But no deep down desire to toss The Prime Directive and “go to knuckle junction” at the first sign of trouble.
Great to have you join in on this, Kevin. You always shed light on whatever is covered.
Good one! And so very true. Many thanks, my friend.
You really are a trekkie 😉
I have only seen Into The Darkness and that is because of you know who.
I used to watch Startrek and Startrek Next Generation…but the series never appeal me as much as Star wars (although the last three is ridiculously boring).
Love reading your passionate post, Michael 🙂
Yeah, this crew is almost part of the family. They’ve been with me that long ;-). Thank you very much, Novroz.
OK, I’ll play although I do have other things I should be doing.
1. Wrath of Khan, everybody else has this right, who am I to disagree?
2. Star Trek (2009) An origins story filtered through time travel and looking spectacular. Lens flare makes me happy.
3. The Voyage Home, the original crew having the time of their lives as fish out of water.
4. The Undiscovered Country, Klingons and conspiracies, although the level of treasonous action by high ranking Fleet officers is far fetched.
5. First Contact, It is starting to look like time travel is a key factor in great trek
6. TMP, because in 1979 I was so happy to have Star Trek back, I could overlook some tediousness.
7. Into Darkness. Some good ideas, a great look, and I like the nod to earlier Trek but I worry it gets derivative.
8. The Search For Spock. The bridge needed to get Home, and I saw it in theaters so many times because we needed to escape to air conditioning a lot in the summer of 84.
9. The Final Frontier. Big questions get shunted aside for jokes and a small budget. That said, I liked it.
10. Insurrection, a stand alone story, I like that, but not a very good stand alone story.
11. Nemesis, no resonance after first seeing it. It may be the Trek I have seen the least
Galaxy Quest has to be a stand alone, it is nearly perfect, but only because the rest of these exist. (If insistent, it might go in the 5 slot)
I think the best part of reading other’s Star Trek lists are the reasons for the selections. Great stuff, Richard. Glad you decided to play. Ah, I remember going to the movies just for the air conditioning. Thanks 🙂
(I realize that’s not really a useful comment but I bet you get my sentiments.:)
Oh, yes, indeed. Thanks, Rachel :-).
Love seeing the hate for Into Darkness that film was recycled garbage.
For all its hype prior to release, Into Darkness turned out to be one of my deepest disappointments for the summer movie season. Thanks, my friend.
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