As inevitable as death, taxes and QPR’s failure in the Premiership, every odd numbered Star Trek movie sucks. But does that old theory still hold true? Let’s take a look…
Odd — Star Trek: The Motion PictureThe Enterprise comes to life on the big screen over ten years after it was cancelled from television. In the intervening years, Trek had become a phenomenal success in syndication – enough for creator Gene Roddenberry to get the whole gang back together for the first of what would prove to be an intermittently successful film franchise.
High Point: The crew of the Enterprise are back together! Bones! Spock! Uhura! Chekov! Scotty! Nurse Chapel? What more do you want??
Low Point: The terrible story. After a 5 minute sequence in which the camera ogles the hull of the newly rendered Enterprise, the crew get down to the boring business of stopping a sentient cloud that seems to be heading to Earth. The film is really for Trek completists only, and those who want to bear witness to one of the most dated twist endings in film history. It also has this gratuitously dark scene in which two unfortunate science officers get mutilated by the transporter.
How sucky? Pretty Sucky. Yeah, there’s no two ways around it.
Even – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
It’s the one that even the most casual Star Trek aficionado will point out as the best entry in the canon. Ricardo Montalban plays Khan Noonien Singh, a supervillain who first appeared in the Original Series episode ‘Space Seed’ where his plan to take over the galaxy was thwarted by one James T Kirk. Cut to fifteen years later and Khan has since developed a hate Kirk, whom he blames for the death of his wife.
High Point: Khan’s plot to extract his pound of flesh almost has a Shakespearean level of gravity to it. It’s one of the few Star Trek films that seem to have any personal stakes for the main character, leveraging Kirk’s estranged family as an emotional pawn.
Low Point: KHHHAAAAAAAAAN!!!
How sucky? Totally unsucky
Odd — Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
After *SPOILER ALERT* Spock’s death at the end of Wrath of Khan, the gang return to Earth only to discover that the Vulcan uploaded his consciousness into poor Dr McCoy. So naturally, the senior crew hijack the Enterprise from space dock and return to the Genesis planet, where they intend to bring their friend back to life.
High Point: The crew of the Enterprise face their best Klingon foe to date: Christopher Lloyd aka Doc Emmet Brown from Back to the Future!
Low Point: The film basically spends 100 minutes undoing the last ten minutes of the previous film.
How Sucky? Somewhat sucky.
Even — Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Unlike the high-stakes greatness of Wrath of Khan, the fourth entry into the film franchise went super-fluffy: a move that paid great dividends. Following on from the end of III, the Enterprise hasto go back in time to retrieve the only creature that can save the future: a humpback whale! In a nice little coincidence, the ship arrives back in the late twentieth century. Between five TV series and over ten films, Starfleet crews keep finding themselves flung back to the 20th century more than any other time period ever. Strange, that…
High Point: The crew get into all sorts of fish-out-of-water japes (Scotty tries to speak to an Eighties computer! Spock beats up a kid that’s dressed up like one of The Warriors! Nuclear Wessels!)
Low Point: God, the 80s were such an incredibly garish point in human culture.
How sucky? Ironically not sucky. Hipsters would probably tell you this is their favourite Star Trek until you agree with them and then they’ll disown the entire franchise, calling it “over”.
After the last two Star Trek films in which the crew of the Enterprise spend most of their time not in the Enterprise, they’re issued with a brand spanking new Starship. They’re immediately dispatched on a mission to save a group of diplomats kidnapped in Space-Israel. Kirk and gang get pulled into a madman’s plot to find God at the centre of the galaxy. This film also marks the feature debut of director William Shatner, which might explain Kirk’s bewilderingly thin and agile stunt double.
High Point: Spock does the Vulcan Neck Pinch on a horse!
Low Point: The first 25 minutes follows Kirk, Bones and Spock on a camping trip where they try to teach the Vulcan how to sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. You know: that beloved Earth classic. Also, they meet God – which turns out to be a little underwhelming.
How Sucky? A little sucky for a bit, and then it will put you to sleep.
Finally! After decades of squabbling, the will they/won’t they courtship between Klingons and the Federation is ending with a wedding! Or the diplomatic equivalent. On the eve of a monumental treaty, Kirk and Bones are accused of murdering a Klingon diplomat and are sentenced to hard labour. Will they get out? Will they save the peace accord?
High Point: You have not experienced Shakespeare until you’ve read it in the original Klingon. And indeed, the ridge-faced hot-heads are played by stage legends David Warner and Christopher Plummer in this film!
Low Point: If you hate Sex and the City, you’re not going to enjoy seeing Vulcan Kim Cattrall. As Vulcans go, she’s a reaaal Samantha (if you know what I mean).
How Sucky? Perfectly unsucky. A fitting send-off for the original crew — the last time they would all appear on the big screen together.
Odd — Star Trek: Generations
By the time the previous film hit the big screens, Star Trek: The Next Generation had already become a television hit, attracting a whole new generation of fans with its vision of the future. Generations brought the cast of the new and old shows together, employing a ‘temporal nexus’ as a device that would allow Kirk to team up with Picard even though their two shows were set almost a hundred years apart.
High Point: There’s a sequence where the Enterprise-D has to split into two pieces, one of which comes crashing down onto a planet. Trust us, it’s pretty cool. But on a dramatic side, Patrick Stewart is given some wonderful scenes in which his character grieves over the death of his nephew: it’s not the kind of scene we’d ever expect from a summer blockbuster but Stewart really nails the emotion.
Low Point: Apart from Shatner, the only two other original cast members that make an appearance are Scotty and Chekov. The film also suffers from some structural issues, with a phenomenally long first act.
How Sucky? Time has been kind to Generations. I would say that this is not sucky.
Even — Star Trek: First Contact
The first solo outing for the Next Generation crew is a real corker. When the Borg travel back in time to destroy Earth’s first warp speed spacecraft, Picard and co have to step in and save the day. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew have to contend with a Borg takeover of the Enterprise. Jonathan ‘Riker’ Frakes acquits himself remarkably as a first time features director.
High Point: The introduction of the Borg Queen, a villain who’s as disgusting as she is alluring in her attempts to seduce the ship’s resident android, Data. Plus, as Star Trek villains go, the Borg are the one that have always been the ones most suited for the big screen. They’re essentially hive-minded space zombies.
Low Point: The female members of the regular cast really get the short shrift, with only a couple of lines each.
How sucky? Very unsucky.
Odd — Star Trek: Insurrection In an attempt to create a film with a lighter tone, the producers of Star Trek decided to wheel out a story that would not have made for a memorable episode, let alone a feature film. The crew of the Enterprise find themselves on a planet where no-one ever seems to grow old, thanks to a special anomaly. Needless to say, the people of this planet become victims of people from the Planet of The Aged Crones, who want to steal its youth-giving powers.
High Point: There’s a lot of Patrick Stewart, which is never a bad thing. He sings Gilbert and Sullivan with Data in one scene as well. Fun, but very minor.
Low Point: F. Murray Abraham once won an Oscar for Best Actor. As the central in this film, he delivers the MOST acting. The production values are a bit on the low side as well, the village of eternal youth definitely looks like a TV set.
How sucky? Not as sucky as you’d think, but still somewhat sucky.
Even — Star Trek: Nemesis
The final outing for the Next Generation crew, in which they face up against an insane Reman madman who happens to be a clone of Picard! The film has obvious overtones of Wrath of Khan with its revenge plot and surprise final act sacrifice but there simply isn’t enough history between Hardy and Stewart to make the rivalry seem important.
High Point: A very skinny Tom Hardy appears in a big early performance as Picard’s clone. That’s right: Tom Hardy IS Patrick Stewart here!
Low Points: There’s a less-than-developed B-Plot involving Data’s brother. There’s also Riker-Troi sex scene we really didn’t need to see.
How sucky? Quite sucky, possibly the first even-numbered film that we would award that distinction. But not sucky enough to call it a shameful send-off for Picard and co.
Odd — Star Trek (2009)JJ Abrams puts his own spin on Star Trek and takes the story back to first positions. We see Kirk, Spock and McCoy meet at Starfleet Academy and embark on their first mission together as a crew. There are references a-plenty for Trek devotees, including Green Ladies, Kirk’s famous Kobayashi Maru test, as first mentioned in The Wrath of Khan. It’s a very handsome reboot that appealed to (most) fans of the original cannon while tweaking the tone to suit new viewers that might not be so involved in the lore.
High Point: The opening scene: introducing the new visual style as well as a number of story elements. We see the birth of Kirk, the heroic sacrifice of his father (played by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) as well as the first inkling of the film’s villain (Eric Bana).
Low Point: Bana’s villain hell-bent on revenge against Spock feels a lot like Tom Hardy’s villain in Nemesis. It’s a minor point but you know… just sayin’.
How sucky?: Super unsucky. If anything, this is the film that finally squashed the Curse of the Odds. It’s a rollicking adventure that’s reverent enough to please old fans and breezy enough to attract new ones. In effect, it’s pretty close to being the perfect Star Trek movie. Which bodes well for the current sequel.
Star Trek into Darkness is in cinemas now