A response to a particular person, a reference for everyone else

In life there are many troubling things: War, taxes and the horrifying knowledge all our attempts to escape the icy hand of oblivion will ultimately be in vein… Anyway, another such thing is the sad knowledge that sometimes people are just wrong about certain things and one will be left with two choices: a) accept that people have different opinions like a civilised person, or b) Explain why they are incorrect. In detail. Even if they try and leave. A) seems on the surface acceptable, damn sociable even, but would you not inform a child that Mr Fork and Mrs Power-Outlet do not want to be friends? It’s a dereliction of duty not to explain in a calm fathery tone… exactly which Star Trek movies are the best and worst!

 


Your wrongness makes Kirk angry 

I will point out that thanks to the exemplary nerdy scholarship of Red Letter Media some of the arguments here will be familiar. This is very much in the vein of ”The Simpsons did it”; it would be hard to avoid some points expressed by Mr Plinkett.

The Wrath of Khan
A good Star Trek movie must comprise of two parts: it must be a movie and it must be Star Trek (i.e. not a Sci-Fi film with a Star Trek skin), and The Wrath of Khan has these expertly covered. The duel between Kirk and his nemesis hails back to seminal episodes like “The Balance of Terror”: equal and opposite forces battling it out. Partly because of this, Khan is also a proper villain as opposed to a plot specific foil (This is also what made Dukat such a great enemy in DS9); brutally clever, motivated and quite quite mad, but a person nonetheless.

Combat-wise this film is also great. It captures the deadly elegance of pre-carrier naval warfare, of dueling capital ships in the graceful dance of combat: presenting ones best side to the enemy other such gruff sailor talk. And of course we have the final showdown that places each ship as an extension of its commander’s body; by removing advanced technology all that’s left is skill and experience.

 


Khan is shocked to discover space has THREE dimensions 

And finally there’s the general themes of age and youth. Not just in the case of Kirk and the past catching up to him, but also that war claims the young not old (The cadets) and of the sins of the father visited upon the son. Aging in particular appears in the next film on this list.

Notable moments: Spock dies a tearful death :’( and introduces a generation to utilitarianism

The Undiscovered Country
Probably the most overtly political Star Trek since the one with the half-black/white people, old enemies may be friends and society much adapt. (Of course had art mirrored life, The US Federation would have imposed draconian market reforms on the Klingon Empire and bought majority shares in all their Dilithium wells…). This also continues the merry themes of the characters (and cast) aging and a changing world they may not be able to adapt to. Kirk especially defined Himself as a defender of the Federation; now he finds himself standing alone on a deserted battlefield his enemies slain, and then forced to embrace the ones that managed to escape.

 


“At least your not fucking communists…” 

Equally while in Search for Spock the advancement of youth/modernity was kept at bay by timely sabotage, this time the contrasts between the old war horses of the Enterprise and Klingon battle cruisers and the Excelsior and the Bird-of-Prey (and therefore the new/old generation) are stalk . For the crew this is truly is their last hurrah and despite all their accomplishments they must succumb to the cruel mockery of old age.

Notable moments: Spock mind-rapes a female prisoner while everyone watches, and who doesn’t love a Shakespeare quoting enemy?

Generations
A contentious one this. While it doesn’t have the gore or explosions of First Contact, it’s actually a very good film. It is clearly an offspring of TNG while First Contact really needs a paternity test. Central to the piece are Picard’s regrets and the visions of a life he could have led: One of family and scholarship as opposed to exploration and solitude. As with The Wrath of Khan, by drawing on themes of the series it establishes a continuity that firmly places the film within the established universe. Because of this, the film has a genuine heart at its centre beyond ‘rooting for the good guys’. This culminates in the nexus giving Picard exactly what he wants, and he is once again forced to choose between personal happiness and duty.

OK the plot is a moth-eaten and it was clearly done on the cheap (and separately why would you leave the body of a great Federation Hero to rot on some dusty planet?) but as an overall experience it is a better Star Trek film than First Contact

Notable moments: Finding out which of the TOS crew needed a pay cheque, Data’s “life form” song and a woman crashes the Enterprise

First Contact
Here the firms truly begin to diverge from the source material. As pointed out by Mr Plinkett, the thoughtful philosophical Picard is replaced by a somewhat more ‘all-American’ action hero type. They also go for a laboured Captain Ahab thing (subtly explained to those not paying attention ¾ of the way through), but at the risk of being a pedant, the Borg clearly care for Picard: Queeny talks to Picard, goads him, and why keep invading the Federation when there’s a galaxy of easy-to-eat species out there if not for their own revenge?

 


“Get these motherfucking Borg off my motherfucking spaceship” 

Also (perhaps due to the success of Star Wars or cheaper CGI) the ships begin to behave like 1KM long X-Wings as opposed to the lumbering capital ships they are. While the action is fun and exciting and things certainly blow up, there not tension: especially when compared to the nebula duel in The Wrath of Khan or the cloaked ship/U-Boat action of The Undiscovered Country. Oh, and by establishing the Borg Queen as an avatar, they left the door open for Voyager to ruin the concept and the Borg entirely.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a good and enjoyable film, I’m just explaining why it’s not third in the list.

Notable moments: Picard eviscerates crewman Lynch, Data has his first orgasm, The Enterprise-E is pretty

The Voyage Home
It’s just a fun film. Again it has that ‘cinematic episode’ quality to it that a Star Trek film should have. This is also notable for the last time a Star Trek film will do whimsy well. Somewhat light-hearted compared to the others, but fun to watch. There’s not a huge amount I wanna say about it apart from There be whales here captain.

Notable moments: Scotty alters the timeline (no one cares), Chekhov can’t find his Wessels, and Kirk steals himself a piece of ass from the past.

The Search for Spock
We’re just on the edge of the ‘bad’ films here. While nothing is wrong Search for Spock as such, it’s just not very good; more a bridge between the fantastic Wrath of Khan and the pretty damn good Voyage Home. As an ‘OK’ film it occupies the spot well and it’s certainly the last one on the list I would watch out of choice rather than boredom or threat of death.

What makes this film worth watching is the first two reels. Kirk and the gang are going to steal a ship from within the heart of starfleet and there is a jolly crime-caper feel to this section as they plan, scheme and sabotage as if they’re about to knock over a space casino. It’s light hearted without being childish.

Kirks solution to the Kobayashi Maru is also a powerful moment. His love for his ship is a common theme (there was a creepy TOS episode that inadvertently suggests he’s a little tooattached) and his solution to destroy it to solve the unsolvable puzzle is a great character moment.

Notable moments: Depending on Vulcan sex-laws Spock may have been statutory raped, Kirk’s son is killed by Doc Brown

 


Jimmy, it’s your kid! I just stabbed him 

The Motion Picture
What really is there to say. It’s not a very good film. The costumes are… odd… and the whole plot is based around a stroppy NASA probe with daddy issues.

Notable moments: Ummm, the bit that’s sorta like 2001: A Space Odyssey?

The Final Frontier
We’re now getting to the dregs but have not yet hit the bottom of the barrel. There could have been a good story here; crazy cult, failed peace initiatives, fraternal strife. But instead this is the film that almost killed the movie franchise. The rag-tag crew approach worked in Search for Spock as they had stolen the ship, why exactly is Starfleet sending a half-finished, half-manned vessel into anything? I know most, if not all, the Star Trek films are filled with plot holes one could fly an Andorian freighter through, but this is pushing it. I don’t want to be mean to it because it’s just so silly. And we never find out what God wants with a starship.

Notable moments: Naked fan dance *shudder*, Kirk torpedoes God

Insurrection
Now we’re here, the ladle is trawling up more wood than beverage. What an awful film with awful moments. There is shockingly poor plot (Just watch the Red Letter Media review); why for instance is Picard rebelling; surely he should be acting like a spry 60 year old? Why not just set up a spa on another continent? Why is there a child Data tries to make friends with? The films suffers awfully from the ill-timed, ill-placed and ill-conceived levity provided by both the former and latter plot ‘elements’. Ho Ho we’re expected to cry, they’re acting irresponsibly because the planet makes you a bit younger each day and Data is admiring a child’s neuro-plasticity. What. Fun. It’s just embarrassing, like a poorly delivered joke at an office party that continues for two hours.

 


Tonight on ‘To Catch a Mechanical Predator’ 

The final insult isthe script must have been written someone who’s knowledge of Star Trek comes solely from comedy sketches about star trek or what they read about it in the TV Guide. I can see the script meeting “Ooo whats this? ketracel white? Lets put it in the script at some point”, “Nerds play video games right? Lets give the Enterprise a joystick, they’ll love it”. No, no we won’t. Eugh, I mean if you’re not gonna try we’d rather you didn’t bother.

It was dull, predictable, yet paradoxically nonsensical, garbage. I would try and be witty but there’s no point. There’s nothing funny about this

Notable moments: “Make sure to play every day Data” DIE, DIE A HORRIBLE AND PAINFUL DEATH

Nemesis
To describe how horrendously bad this film is, take this comparison. The message of The Wrath of Khan; Death and rebirth, Kirk realises his melancholy about aging is misplaced and there is still wonder to explore. Generations; Picard learns he is a man born to put duty before himself and despite all the might-have-been, he finds comfort in that. Nemesis; Picard learns that being a defective clone raised by daemons on a perdition-like mining planet may change your outlook on life.

There are gang-rapes less forced than this ‘angst’ the script circles around like a turd in storm drain. We’re supposed to believe that a man who has changed his own past on several occasions is tormented by the idea his botched MZ twin has turned out a little differently? Way to change my perceptions on the nature/nurture debate cretins.

 


Personally I blame the parents 

Say one thing for Final Frontier, Motion Picture etc, at least there was a glimmer of that elusive creature we like to callnarrative threading between each scene. This film, even more so than Insurrection, is just a collection of depressing events drawn from the idea bucket from a drug-fuelled brain-storming sessions in an insane asylum that someone had obviously been sick in. B4? A sodding dune-buggy chase? Troy rape? Eugh.

Notable moments: Watching the final twitches of the Star Trek corpse, and being almost relieved it has finally succumb to the inhuman torment of the last few years.

So there you have it. You will notice that Mr Abrams newest installment isn’t here. This is because way very enjoyable, I really don’t think it can be classed as a Star Trek film as such.

 


So endeth the sermon, go in peace to love and serve the Federation 

  1. aramazia_kin says:

    Nemesis is an awesome film, I was laughing the whole time I was watching it.

    Oh wait, its not a comedy?

    I’d completely forgotten doc brown was the klingon captain in Search for Spock when I was watching it the other day on TV, it was kinda weird watching him play a serious role.