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A Newbie Watches All The 'Star Trek' Movies. Here's How THAT Went…

Fandango blog, Star Date 2013.5. My mission, to go boldly where I've never gone before – watch all 11 previous Star Trek movies and then take in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness. Is the odd/even rule true? Here's how it went. (And if you've missed any of these, beware of some spoilers.)

 

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

What It's About: This is not only the first Star Trek feature film, but also, as the title suggests, the first one I have ever seen (and same goes for the Star Trek television series). This tedious film functions as a sci-fi mystery as Admiral Kirk resumes command of the Starship Enterprise in order to intercept and hopefully stop a destructive space entity.

Favorite Moment: The big reveal of just what exactly "V'ger" is. Another favorite moment was hearing Alexander Courage's iconic theme song blaring through my speakers.

Spot the Cameo: Stephen Collins (aka the dad from 7th Heaven) appears as Willard Decker, the captain of the Enterprise before Kirk (quite contentiously) takes over. Collins ultimately sacrifices himself to V'ger.

Find the Catchphrase: I've been told each Star Trek movie has a catchphrase buried somewhere in the movie. For this one, I'm thinking it's Spock's "Any show of resistance would be futile, Captain."

Verdict: Didn't like it, didn't hate it. Probably won't watch it again.

 

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

What It's About: Admiral Kirk returns to stop an old nemesis (Ricardo Montalban as Khan) from using a life-generating device known as Genesis as a destructive weapon. We also get background on Dr. Carol Marcus, a character who appears in Star Trek Into Darkness, and the son she had with Kirk. Also, Spock makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Favorite Moment: How to choose? It gives you action, adventure, sci-fi, a little drama and some great one-liners throughout. But if I have to extract one sliver from this film, it would be the heartbreaking exchange between Kirk and Spock at the end.

Spot the Cameo: Kirstie Alley plays Lt. Saavik, addressed by the Enterprise crew as "Sir."

Find the Catchphrase: Take a deep breath and yell it out with me… "Khan! KHAAAAAN!" Although one could also say Spock's "I have always been and shall always be your friend" line is another iconic moment.

Verdict: Loved it!

 

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

What It's About: The story essentially continues Wrath of Khan and features evil Klingon Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) as the main villain floating around space in his camouflaged spaceship while Kirk and crew steal the Enterprise from the space station to, well, search for Spock. Following the events of Star Trek II, Spock's casket has landed neatly between some shrubs on a Genesis created planet and the logical one is reborn. I should also add that the final 20 minutes of this movie put me to sleep, literally, and required a quick re-watch.

Favorite Moment: Besides Scotty the miracle worker? The Enterprise self-destruct sequence was pretty cool. Klingons aren't the brightest species in the galaxy.

Spot the Cameo: Phil Morris appears as Trainee Foster, but you'll probably know him better as Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld.

Find the Catchphrase:  Sulu's "Don't call me 'Tiny'" is a pretty funny line, but you'd probably find Kirk's "The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many" printed on modern day posters.

Verdict: Despite falling asleep, I didn't hate it, but I probably won't watch it again.

 

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

What It's About: Star Trek IV essentially wraps up an "accidental trilogy" as several Trekkies I know put it. It was the highest grossing pre-Abrams Star Trek movie (unadjusted for inflation) and I think part of the appeal was the fish-out-of-water element of having the crew travel back in time to modern-day San Francisco in search of… humpback whales? The whole premise is ridiculous, but there are some great one-liners from Spock who over the course of four films has become my favorite character in this franchise.

Favorite Moment: There's a lot of humor in this movie including the Italian dinner exchange and the use of "colorful metaphors" but my favorite has to be Chekov innocently asking for directions to find "nuclear wessels" in Alameda.

Spot the Cameo: Brock Peters (To Kill a Mockingbird, Soylent Green) is introduced as Admiral Cartwright inside Star Fleet Command. Also, another 7th Heaven cameo, this time by the show's mom Catherine Hicks as Kirk's love interest in this film.

Find the Catchphrase: Scotty's exclamation of, "Admiral, there be whales here!" It even made it into the Star Trek IV rap video.

Verdict: Liked it! Insert "colorful metaphors."

 

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

What It's About: This felt like two movies melded together. The first half isn't great, but it's watchable in a hokey, B-movie sort of way. We begin with the Enterprise crew on shore leave when they get called in to rescue some hostages being held by a renegade Vulcan (who turns out to be Spock's half-brother). That part is fine. It's the second half of this movie, when Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise get taken hostage and are forced on a dubious course into the center of the galaxy where they find a "God" who shoots lasers out of his eyes, that puts the "B" in "Bad." Oh, and they're chased by Klingons whose purpose ends up being to bring this movie to its merciful end.

Favorite Moment: When the credits rolled. OK, if there's any moment that captures these characters at their essence, it's probably when Kirk defiantly confronts "God" himself. It's just so Kirk-like.

Spot the Cameo: David Warner plays St. John Talbot, but he's also starred in Titanic (as Billy Zane's assistant/butler) and he returned in Star Trek VI as Chancellor Gorkon.

Find the Catchphrase: "What does God need with a starship?"

Verdict: Hated it.

 

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

What It's About: There are a LOT of Klingons in this movie which finds Kirk and McCoy being framed for the murder of a Klingon High Chancellor. When we find out who set them up, it's exactly who you think it is, which kind of spoils the plot twist at the end. But really, the focus is on the final voyage of this Enterprise crew.

Favorite Moment: In the final moments of the film, Space Fleet Command orders the Enterprise back for decommission. After a somber pause, the crew looks to Kirk and utters the final line in the movie before the narration takes over.

Spot the Cameo: Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer appears as Klingon General Chang while Kurtwood Smith appears as the Federation President. Also, Kim Cattrall shows up as Lt. Valeris.

Find the Catchphrase: "Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning" … with a box of tissues!

Verdict: It rides a fine bubble of like and dislike, but given the poignant ending, I'll tip the scales in favor of liking it.

 

Star Trek: Generations (1994)

What It's About: This film serves as the bridge between the William Shatner-led Enterprise and the Patrick Stewart-led Star Trek. I found it a bit difficult to switch gears, especially since Stewart is engrained in my head as Professor Charles Xavier from the X-Men franchise. Here, Picard (Stewart) must stop a madman bent on planetary-scale murder. He gets help from a supposedly dead Capt. Kirk who gets killed off twice in this movie.

Favorite Moment: Kirk's second death scene, which puts a cap on Shatner's involvement in the franchise. Unless, of course, there's time travel involved in future installments.

Spot the Cameo: Besides the original Star Trek crew, Malcolm McDowell (appropriately) plays the villain, Soran, in the film. Whoopi Goldberg also appears briefly as the alien Guinan. She returns in Nemesis as well.

Find the Catchphrase: During the opening scene, Kirk advises the new Enterprise captain that, "Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair."

Verdict: It's an adjustment, but I suppose I liked it. Or, at least, I didn't not like it.

 

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

What It's About: It's Picard's crew versus a bunch of time-traveling Borgs who are attempting to prevent Earth from first contact with alien life. Of all the Picard-led Star Treks, this was the most enjoyable and is even more amusing as Picard can telepathically sense things, much like Professor Xavier. There's also a creepy exchange between Data and the lead Borg lady and levity provided by a drunk-dancing James Cromwell who ends up being a brilliant scientist who helps save the day.

Favorite Moment: The aforementioned drunk-dancing James Cromwell. Where's that GIF?

Spot the Cameo: Besides Cromwell, there's Alfre Woodard as a 21st century human who worked with Cromwell's Zefram Cochrane and Neal McDonough as Lt. Hawk.

Find the Catchphrase: Cromwell's confused statement to Commander William T. Riker and Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, "So you're all astronauts on some sort of… star trek?"

Verdict: Liked it!

 

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

What It's About: When Captain Picard learns of a Federation plot against a unique, utopic planet, he launches an all-out rebellion and finds time to fall in love. The planet's special powers launch Klingon shipmate Worf into puberty and Commander Riker and Dr. Troi get frisky. And then there's Data, who at this point, I'm annoyed with.

Favorite Moment: Sure the rebellion is (kind of) fun to watch, but my favorite scene was when Riker comes to visit Dr. Troi and tries to seduce her… with comically disastrous results.

Spot the Cameo: F. Murray Abraham appears as Ru'afo, the leader of the Son'a people. You might know him from films like Scarface, Amadeus and Serpico.

Find the Catchphrase: Captain Picard: "Do you remember when we used to be explorers?"

Verdict: Started off liking it, but gradually slipped into the "never watch again" category.

 

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

What It's About: The Enterprise is diverted to the planet of Romulus supposedly to negotiate a truce but soon find out that the Romulans are planning an attack on Earth in what has to be the worst Star Trek movie of the bunch. This movie was a chore to sit through, especially after Tom Hardy's villainous Shinzon shows up. Really, he makes a better Bane.

Favorite Moment: When Data gets blown up. (Yesss!)

Spot the Cameo: While Hardy plays the main villain, Ron Perlman makes an appearance as Shinzon's second in command, although you probably won't recognize him caked under all the prosthetics and makeup. Also appearing in the film is Alan Dale as Praetor Hiren.  You may know Dale from his role on Entourage as studio chairman John Ellis.

Find the Catchphrase: Stewart pays homage to the death of Data and perhaps even the original Star Trek crew when he toasts, "To absent friends…. To family."

Verdict: What do you think? Hated it so much I wanted to burn the Blu-ray disc from existence.

 

Star Trek (2009)

What It's About: J.J. Abrams reboots the franchise casting Chris Pine as a young James T. Kirk as he struggles to live up to his father's legacy and stop a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan who seeks to destroy the Federation one planet at a time via black holes and "red matter." Full disclosure: I watched this movie on DVD three years ago, but by now pretty much forgot everything about it. Like what a tremendous jackass young Spock was, as well as his romantic subplot with Uhura.

Favorite Moment: You can make all the lens flare jokes you want, but the first 10 minutes of this reboot contain more action, drama and intrigue than the prior four Star Trek movies combined. Also, Scotty getting sucked through a water pipe, which appears briefly in this Star Trek/A-Team mash-up as well as Spock meeting Spock.

Spot the Cameo: You obviously know about Leonard Nimoy's appearance as "Spock Prime," but this film is filled with lots of star cameos including Eric Bana as the evil Nero, Winona Ryder as Amanda Grayson, Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Morrison as James' parents, Rachel Nichols as Uhura's roommate Gaila, Greg Grunberg as the voice of James' stepdad, Tyler Perry as Admiral Richard Barnett and Victor Garber as a Klingon Interrogator in a deleted scene.

Find the Catchphrase: When Spock launches into a verbose explanation, Dr. McCoy counters with his trademark expression, "Dammit, man! I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" Check out all the other "Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor not a…" lines.

Verdict: Liked it.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, duh)

What It's About: To try to explain this is somewhat spoiler-y so I'll just say that the crew of the Enterprise find a mole within their own organization prompting Kirk to lead a man-hunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As you can guess from that description, there's A LOT of action in this movie as well as a nod to an iconic moment in an earlier Star Trek film.

Favorite Moment: There are some great action sequences in this movie but I think my favorite is when the Enterprise has lost power and is hurtling toward Earth. Kirk and Scotty rush through the spaceship trying to get the power back up with the help of Chekov who Kirk had bumped up to chief engineer earlier in the movie after Scotty resigned. (Be wary of a LOT of lens flares.)

Spot the Cameo: Alice Eve appears as Dr. Carol Marcus, a character we haven't seen in a Star Trek movie since Wrath of Khan. Also, Robocop Peter Weller appears as her father, Admiral Marcus. Bill Hader and Chris Gardner nab "Additional Voices" credits while Leonard Nimoy makes a brief cameo.

Find the Catchphrase: There's a particular one that's too spoiler-y so in lieu, I'll go with Dr. McCoy's, "Dammit man! I'm a doctor, not a torpedo technician!" as well as Benedict Cumberbatch's well-enunciated "Shall we begin?"

Verdict: Liked it, distracting over-abundance of lens flares and all.

 

So there you have it. Have you seen all the the Star Trek movies? Which ones are your favorites? Which ones do you hate?

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