Star Trek, the best, the worst and the new
Having just watched Star Trek (Filmstalker review) I got to thinking where it lies in the order of the series, not in terms of order of production, we know it's the newest, but in terms of quality and enjoyment compared to the others.
That led me into conversations about what was my favourite Star Trek film, and like the Bond feature article sometime before, what the order of merit was for the films.
While some might scream The Wrath of Khan at the heavens, others will diplomatically say The Undiscovered Country. While some will tap out the best as The Motion Picture, others will whistle the greatness of The Voyage Home.
Yet where does the new Star Trek lie for you, and what are the best and worst of the rest?
Straight up I'll say now that I can't put the new Star Trek at the top of my list. That's a definite. While it's a good action adventure that has you gripped and excited throughout, while it does pay strong reverence to the original line up and it does have some good Star Trek moments, it's not everything the others were, and that could be because films, and actors, move on, but it's not the best.
Looking back through the list I do find it hard to place the bottom half of the films amongst each other, but I shall try. Oh, and in case you don't realise, this list is in reverse order, starting with the worst.
The Final Frontier
The Voyage Home
The Search for Spock
The Motion Picture
The Wrath of Khan
The Undiscovered Country
This is a real struggle, if I'm to be honest I've changed this list three or four times already, and it's all been around the films Star Trek, The Motion Picture, Search for Spock, I really can't decide which order they should be in, perhaps you have a clearer idea?
While I shan't analyse each film, I do think that Undiscovered Country is the best because it tapped into a consciousness about the fear of the enemy and what happens to that once the enemy part begins to go, on both sides. This was the richest and most intelligent Star Trek film there was.
Of course Christopher Plummer as a Klingon spouting Shakespeare was superb, and the conspiracy elements, fighting for what you believe no matter what, even our great hero realising his emotional failings and mistakes. It was all there in a great film.
The Wrath of Khan is perhaps the top spot for so many, and why not? Just like Undiscovered Country, which interestingly was a working title for this film, it features a superbly strong villain that can counter Kirk in both emotional outbursts and almost fanatical devotion to their cause, and one that will stop at nothing to see him dead, Ricardo Montalban as Khan. This has a huge passion at its core and is fired by one of the strongest feelings of revenge in the series.
Both these films are packed with emotion on both sides, a cause and drive from the bad guys that seems almost just, mirroring that of the ideals of Kirk and his crew, and an enemy that is linked directly to Kirk in some way.
In Wrath of Khan he's a criminal who believes he's a wronged man, left on the planet to rot but his desire for revenge keeps him alive. In Undiscovered Country it's a long time warrior, like Kirk, who finds his chance to battle his great counterpart, and yet peace has arrived and they should be allies. However neither can accept that and they both head to war, embracing it.
For me these two set-ups are the strongest in the series, and they concentrate on characters and the relationships between them as well as those that get in the way.
Star Trek (Filmstalker review) is straight up action with some interesting plot decisions and tie-ins to the original series, but the same sort of bad guy and connection just isn't there, and that's one of the main reasons why it falls down the list of films.
However The Motion Picture doesn't really have any of these traits, but what it does have is the crew making the first leap to film with an extremely clever threat against Earth. It's actually a much smaller and more intelligent film than you might think, and for me holds tons of great memories. This was a, and pardon the pun, a motion picture spectacle.
The Search for Spock though is somewhat of an odd one. It's one of the Star Trek films that is different from the standard formula, and some might think an accident of scriptwriters and executives as it had to bring Spock back, but I still think it works as it centres around that relationship between the two main crew members of Kirk and Spock, and further cements it for the films to come.
From here on I find the films become either a bit too light hearted and morally bloated, like Voyage Home, or simply action films.
Those are my thoughts though, and probably aren't yours at all. So tell me, how do you rate the Star Trek films? Where do you place the new outing for the new crew, and which are your favourite?