Show Mobile Navigation
Movies and TV |

10 Great Star Trek Films

by Bill Fraser
fact checked by Alex Hanton

Star Trek is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. It’s influenced many great filmmakers today, igniting the push in Science Fiction society to how it stands presently. Whether it was a television series or a film series, Star Trek always made quite the impact. It inspired many space operas, and even offered bizarre ideas for NASA to study. This list will heavily critique the greatest of all Star Trek films. From the Original Series to The Next Generation, Star Trek has found great success in the film industry. Controversy, criticism, praise, and many other types of discussions have all stirred up through the completion of these films. And hopefully this particular film series will continue in the future.


Star Trek: Nemesis

After the Enterprise is diverted to the Romulan planet of Romulus, supposedly because they want to negotiate a truce, the Federation soon discovers that the Romulans are planning an attack on Earth. Star Trek: Nemesis is the final installment of the Star Trek: The Next Generation film franchise, and also the final Star Trek film featuring an original cast. It’s full of action, its characters are still interesting, and the plot is intriguing. But unlike the superior installments in the series, Nemesis doesn’t explore these considerable qualities. It’s difficult to solely pace the blame on any director, but Stuart Baird wanted an action film, and without the proper knowledge of The Next Generation (having never watched a single episode in his life), he deteriorated Star Trek’s sense of adventure, offering 21st century thrills to it instead. It’s disappointing to end a series this way where everybody becomes tired with the whole Star Trek concept. Nemesis will shamefully appeal more to newcomers than the actual fans of the television series, but even this isn’t saying much.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek – The Motion Picture – Trailer

When a destructive space entity is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral Kirk resumes command of the Starship Enterprise in order to intercept, examine and hopefully stop it. A highly anticipated installment since the series cancelled, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the first Trek film ever produced. It certainly seems to me that there was a lot of good effort put into making this film, and a lot of heart from those who had true passion for its mythology. But it came down to the conclusion that it wasn’t that great. For a film running over one hundred and forty-five minutes you’d hope to expect more than what was given. It felt more like an overlong episode as there was nothing theatrical-worthy about it. But one should applaud its beautiful visuals, great cinematography, and amazing score by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith. For us fans, it was nice to see the old crew back in action. There were a lot of typical Star Trek ideologies which was fun to watch for a while, but at the end it just wasn’t as exciting as it should’ve been. I appreciate Star Trek’s devotion to non-fictional science coagulating with its use of fiction, but The Motion Picture deserved more action and conflict overall.


Star Trek: Generations
star trek generations trailer

Captain Picard, with the help of supposedly dead Captain Kirk, must stop a madman willing to murder on a planetary scale in order to enter a space matrix. Star Trek: Generations (the first of its series) succeeds over The Motion Picture (also the first of its series) because of its massive scope. There was always a sense of urgency, danger, and obligation, something that The Motion Picture seemed to lack, but kept trying for anyhow. The special effects are first rate compared to its predecessors’, but the film also suffered from its excessively long length, unsatisfying plot, messy pacing, and confusing narrative. It still surely felt like a true film (unlike The Motion Picture), and there was some thrilling and iconic moments, but Captain Kirk’s inclusion felt forced. Kirk’s disappearance from his time line made the original Star Trek look less important. Overall, fans of The Next Generation would enjoy this, but newcomers and fans of the original series (who aren’t fans of The Next Generation) would be disappointed.


Star Trek: Insurrection

When the crew of the Enterprise learns of a Federation plot against the inhabitants of a unique planet, Captain Picard begins an open rebellion. Star Trek: Insurrection features a great script, beautiful acting (most notably by F. Murray Abraham as the subtle Ru’afo), and everything a Trekkie should want. The film also contains a plot that seems more suited for an episode rather than a feature length movie. But as Insurrection starts lifting its pace, it becomes a thrilling tale of a Federation captain struggling against his duty for his personal moral outlook in humanity. There is enough in here to please fans of The Next Generation, but not enough to satisfy too many others. Though it’s far from the greatest Trek film, Insurrection is a decent entry.


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country – Trailer

On the eve of retirement, Kirk and McCoy are charged with assassinating the Klingon High Chancellor and imprisoned. The Enterprise crew must help them escape to thwart a conspiracy aimed at sabotaging the last best hope for peace. The final installment is budded off of what was by far the worst Star Trek film ever produced – The Final Frontier. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a more than welcome addition to the film series, offering perhaps the best character-driven drama since The Wrath of Khan. The Undiscovered Country is more of a mystery film than it is science fiction. It delves us deep into the characters’ motives that we haven’t seen yet, and this is something that should always be done for sequels. It isn’t the best installment and it might bore those who aren’t already familiar with the concept, but Star Trek fans will not be disappointed with this appeasing conclusion.


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek III – The Search for Spock – Trailer

Admiral Kirk and his bridge crew risk their careers stealing the decommissioned Enterprise to return to the restricted Genesis planet to recover Spock’s body. Perhaps more endearing than The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock doesn’t offer the best special effects, but it does offer genuine emotion rather than silliness and flashy elements to its story. Was it necessary to continue the series after the last film’s sentimental conclusion? Probably not, but at least Leonard Nimoy directed a film worth being told. It could have also been more exciting, but it’s plot wasn’t too slow and the acting was marvelous (Christopher Lloyd as Klingon comes to mind). Trekkies would appreciate this film more than non-fans.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home – Trailer

To save Earth from an alien probe, Kirk and his crew go back in time to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it, humpback whales. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home took more of a humorous approach, something that hasn’t been done in the Star Trek films before. It lacked the raw power of its predecessors also, but definitely hasn’t lost any of its entertainment. The Voyage Home felt almost like a parody of itself, featuring a bizarre story under its rusty hood, but it did so in a way where The Voyage Home showed deep respect for the Star Trek mythology in the same time. Embracing these qualities, The Voyage Home should definitely delight anybody (even newcomers).


Star Trek
Memorable Star Trek Quotes – James T. Kirk

The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father’s legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. Possibly the most action-packed, thrilling, exciting, humorous, entertaining, and most unrealistic Star Trek film of them all. J.J. Abram’s has finally attached the fans and unbelievers, but at a severe cost. If you’re a Trekkie, then you should be well-aware of Star Trek’s infamous use of concepts made by NASA every year when the televisions series was still on the air. It offered very intriguing questions of science, commonly using the suspension of disbelief. Now it’s time to throw that book out of the window and go Star Wars with it. Was it a bad move? Not at all. Sure, Trekkie’s who appreciate the nature of science will be disappointed, but Star Trek offers so much more than scientific questions. It’s more entertaining this way, giving us the time to really appreciate the characters as they develop (which should be Abram’s main priority as it is a semi-prequel). Most of the character replacements hit the nail in the head with their performances, such as Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, and Karl Urban. It’s not difficult to see why this film was such a success with fans and critics alike. Star Trek is perhaps the best Trek film in a long, long time.


Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek VIII – The first Contact – Trailer

Captain Picard and his crew pursue the Borg back in time to stop them from preventing Earth from initiating first contact with alien life. Star Trek: First Contact is the first Next Generation film to truly find it’s niche in films. It offers a genuine struggle unlike its predecessor, enhancing its plot with engaging action sequences and intriguing character interactions. First Contact is also the first film of The Next Generation franchise to move at a controlled rate. It wasn’t slow, it certainly wasn’t boring, and each character had his or her own significance to the story. James Cromwell’s inclusion was also a nice touch to the film, and so was Alfre Woodard’s. But what made this film so captivating was its plot. First Contact explored a territory that hasn’t yet been articulated in the past: the origin of the United Federation of Planets. Non-fans and Trekkies would equally, and easily, enjoy First Contact.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan Trailer

With the aide of his Enterprise crew, Captain Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan, from using his son’s life-generating device, Genesis, as the ultimate weapon. Not exactly your ordinary fable of revenge, The Wrath of Khan is told greatly through the eyes of Khan Noonien Singh (played perfectly by Ricardo Montalban). It is also the most intense Star Trek film of all, mostly due to the relationship of Kirk and Khan. The two’s bitter relationship felt painfully honest, making their fatal actions against each other far more powerful. The Wrath of Khan is also an achingly human story, easily the most tragic and melancholic. It’s a cinematic feast (served cold), giving us everything a blockbuster should feature: exciting action, deep characters, endearing drama, an intelligent story, and a menacing villain. The Wrath of Khan is an unforgettable classic space opera that makes Star Wars look weak (probably not), and arguably the best of the entire series.


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek V – The Final Frontier [HD]

Captain Kirk and his crew must deal with Mr. Spock’s half-brother who hijacks the Enterprise for an obsessive search for God. A horrible Star Trek film. Being the only Trek film that doesn’t deserve a spot on this list, The Final Frontier is a reprehensible mess. The acting is off, the action is boring, the scenes are comical, the script is sorely underwhelming and underdeveloped. I’ve seen bad Star Trek films before, but I’ve never seen such a disaster. William Shatner is a good actor, though he’s quite clueless as a director. But the blame shouldn’t solely be placed on him; his efforts were strong but it was a mistake for him desiring to follow up Leonard Nimoy’s successful directorial entries. It was quite the gamble, but it just didn’t payoff.

fact checked by Alex Hanton