Ranking the STAR TREK Movies

I recently picked up the TREK films on 4K and did a marathon.

It had been several years since I had seen any of these (a couple decades for some), so I was seeing them with new eyes. Shortly after watching each one, I took notes of what I liked and what I didn’t for the purpose of making a worst-to-best list.

Be warned, if you haven’t seen these yet – some of my comments contain spoilers.

Disclaimer: I’m not really that much into TREK. I’ve seen very little of the various TV shows. I haven’t read any of the books or comics. So, this is coming from the perspective of a very casual fan.

Okay, let’s get started.


#13 STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) I like the idea of a Voyager space probe evolving and becoming a threat, but there are serious (yawn) pacing issues in this 20-minute story that is stretched into a feature length movie. #4 movie of the year. Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 42%. How was this the 4th highest grossing movie of the year?! True, TREK has a devoted fanbase and true, the success of STAR WARS two years earlier made everyone want to see more space films, but still, this is such a bore that you’d think word would have quickly spread to stay away. That said, I’m glad this was a success because if it wasn’t, Paramount might not have made the iconic WRATH OF KHAN.

#12 STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989) Generally considered to be the worst of the bunch, I had anticipated putting this in last place, but once seeing it again after all these years, I found myself a bit more entertained by it than the V-GER adventure. The Yosemite part is good for a laugh – there’s also some decent comedy here and there like Scotty knocking himself out after claiming he knows every inch of the ship. That said, this has an extremely weak plot and is pretty boring for the most part. #25 movie of the year. (All the previous TREK films had been in the top ten.) RT audience score: 24%. Ouch.

#11 STAR TREK: GENERATIONS (1994) It’s fun to see Kirk and Picard share screentime – a Trekkie’s dream come true, I suppose, but I’m bored thru most of the film and Data is downright annoying as he experiences the emotion chip. #15 movie of the year. RT audience score: 57%.

#10 STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) On paper, this has the makings of a great adventure. Rebelling against the Federation to steal the Enterprise, searching for the reborn Spock on an unstable world about to explode, while also fighting Klingons – what’s not to like? However, for me, the final product comes off boring and bland. The action sequences are not exciting, and perhaps this is due to Nimoy being at the helm. They should have hired an experienced director. This is 1984. By this time, we’ve had RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and RETURN OF THE JEDI. Did Paramount really think the action sequences in this were going to cut it? Not to mention, that boring long-winded scene at the end when Spock gets his mind back. I mean, how many times do we have to hear: “you are my friend, Jim,” and “good of the whatever outweighing the good of the blah-blah-blah?” How touching. I’m going to be rolling on the floor, shedding tears of joy for decades to come because Kirk and Spock are friends. Or not. (This was all fine in WRATH OF KHAN, but by this point, they had milked it dry.) Despite my negative view of the film, though, there’s no denying the box office success and overall goodwill from the fans. #9 movie of the year. RT audience score: 65%.


#9 STAR TREK: BEYOND (2016) Some great visuals and good action, but something about this fell flat. The attack in the beginning that causes them to abandon ship in the escape pods was exciting and suspenseful, but once they’re stranded on the planet, the plot struggles to hold my attention. I thought the villain was lame, there wasn’t much comedy, and I wasn’t as engaged with the story as much as I was with the first two films with Chris Pine. It came off a bit halfhearted to me. Still, it has enough exciting and fun moments to make this an overall worthwhile watch. #16 movie of the year. RT audience score: 80%.

#8 STAR TREK: NEMESIS (2002) I like the idea of Picard coming into contact with an evil clone of himself, and there’s some good action here and there, but the clone comes off as being whiny and annoying which hinders my overall enjoyment of the film. I want the main villain of a film to be memorable and entertaining in some way, but this guy doesn’t cut it. Also, I don’t like what happens to Data at the end. Despite my complaints, I’m baffled by the super low box office on this one. Were all the Trekkies off-world when this was in theaters? #54 movie of the year. 54?! Ouch. RT audience score: 57%. I’m not crazy about NEMESIS, but surely it deserved a bit more success than this.

#7 STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) An extremely cheesy plot, but still, Kirk and friends traveling back in time to the year that this film was released makes for some fun in this offbeat TREK tale. Lots of eyerolling from me as I watched, but I admit I was engaged and more or less entertained throughout most of the film. No action worth noting, but there’s some decent comedy. #5 movie of the year. RT audience score: 81%. More successful than it deserved, in my opinion. This was the last major box office hit for TREK until 23 years later when the first Chris Pine one brought the franchise back to life.


#6 STAR TREK: INSURRECTION (1998) I liked this more than I thought I would this time around. I hadn’t seen it in 20+ years and had remembered it as being blah, though I couldn’t remember much about the story itself. Watching it this time, I found the plot of the “fountain of youth” planet to be fun and interesting and the story kept my interest. While not the best that TREK has to offer, I enjoyed hanging out with the Next Generation crew on this one from beginning to end. #28 movie of the year. Yikes. RT audience score: 44%. Yikes. I think it’s underrated and should have done better box office numbers. But that said, Paramount really should have picked something different to follow the crowd-pleaser FIRST CONTACT.

#5 STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (2013) Lots of great action and twists, this one kept me on the edge of my seat. It was fun to have the fantastic cast back from the ’09 film, and Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding in his role. I wasn’t crazy about the ending though, with Kirk’s sacrifice mirroring Spock’s in WRATH OF KHAN. This nod to the previous film cheapened the story to me, making it a bit gimmicky. Also, there wasn’t as much humor as the ’09 predecessor. Despite my complaints, this is a strong TREK entry, and I was engaged with the story from beginning to end. #11 movie of the year. RT audience score: 89%. Successful and well received, I feel this film got what it deserved.


I absolutely love these ones.

Really, I think of them as a four-way tie for first place.

But if I have to split hairs and order them, here we go.

#4 STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) Yeah, I know. Most would put this in first place, right? But I’m just being honest. There are three others I enjoyed slightly more this time around. Yes, it’s a great one, and when it first came out there was only one other TREK film, that sleep-inducing dog from ’79, so that made our reception to KHAN all the stronger. Exciting, quick paced, and features a fan-favorite villain, it’s easy to see why this is the top choice for so many. (Khan is my third-favorite TREK baddie.) #6 movie of the year. RT audience score: 90%.

#3 STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996) All hail the Borg Queen! I love the story and action in this one, and the Borg is my second-favorite TREK adversary. I’d probably put CONTACT in first place if it weren’t for two things. James Cromwell’s Dr. Cochrane is pretty annoying at times, and the part when Picard has a kindergarten meltdown, smashing his model ships, feels so silly and forced. As if someone said, “oh, wait, we need to have a character arc of some kind for Picard, so let’s just shoehorn this tantrum in, and then have him come to his senses two seconds later.” #17 movie of the year. RT audience score: 89%. Deserved better box office. Should have landed in the top ten.

#2 STAR TREK (2009) So much fun to see the characters meet and come together as a crew for the first time! First rate action, suspense and comedy all the way thru, and phenomenal casting. I know purists will disagree, but I find this to be more entertaining than almost every other ST film. One gripe – it’s too coincidental that when ejected from the Enterprise, Kirk happened to land so close to where the original Spock had been banished by Nero. I mean, come on, a planet is a big place. But, oh well. #7 movie of the year. RT audience score: 91%. Well deserved! And this was the first (and so far only) time since 1986 that TREK landed in the top 10 movies of the year.

#1 STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991) Love the whodunnit mystery involving the assassinated Klingon king, and Kirk being framed for it. So much fun. An engaging story combined with tons of terrific comedy and genuine suspense, this one is the best! Not to mention, it has my all-time favorite TREK villain, Christopher Plummer’s brilliant performance as General Chang – so entertaining and never gets old. I wish it had a stronger climax, though. Spock making a heat-seeking missile (or whatever it was) at the last minute to take out the invisible ship… That kind of tech has been around since the 20th century, so wouldn’t they already have that kind of thing in the ship defenses? And wouldn’t Chang have anticipated such a move and prepared accordingly? That kind of thing has only been around for 300 years after all. Also, absolutely no security at the meeting at the end? The sniper just walks upstairs, no problem? Complaints aside, this is still my favorite. So much fun all the way thru, but we just needed a better thought-out climax. #15 movie of the year. RT audience score: 84%. (I think it would have been in the top ten if FINAL FRONTIER hadn’t existed and this had been TREK 5, following the tremendous success of VOYAGE HOME.)

Thanks for reading.

Live long and prosper, my toy-dusty friends.

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