There is a frequently observed phenomenon in the Star Trek universe known as the Odd Numbered Curse. The Curse states that even numbered movies are good, and odd numbered movies suck. This phenomenon held true for over 20 years before it was called into question.
In order to facilitate discussion, I will rank the Star Trek movies from best to worst, and group them by “good’ and “bad”. As I mentioned previously when ranking the Top Bond Movies, it is important to consider how these movies fared in their day, as well as how they have held up over time.
TOP STAR TREK MOVIES — THE GOOD
Key: Rank) Title (Star Trek Movie Number) (Release Date) (Director)
#1) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2) (1982) (Nicholas Meyer) – Nicholas Meyer belongs up there with Leonard Nimoy and Gene Roddenberry in terms of importance to the Star Trek brand.
#2) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (6) (1991) (Nicholas Meyer) – Again I say Nicholas Meyer is a badass. The original cast should love Nicholas Meyer for letting them go out with some self-respect.
#3) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (4) (1986) (Leonard Nimoy) – Was an excellent movie in 1986, but hasn’t held up as well as others.
#4) Star Trek: First Contact (8) (1996)(Jonathon Frakes) – The best TNG movie.
#5) Star Trek (11*) (2009) (J.J. Abrams) – What a missed opportunity this was. This was a good movie in that there is zero doubt the entertainment was worth the price of admission when you went to the theater. But I don’t think it will hold up well over time. For this reason it is with hesitation I include it in “The Good” group.
At the time the franchise needed a movie similar to Bond’s Skyfall. Namely, Star Trek was in need of a reboot movie that focused on substance over the cornball hokiness that had snowballed out of control with previous films. Bond did a fantastic job of accomplishing this with Skyfall. Star Trek had a similar opportunity with Star Trek, but chose to stick with the hokey route by incorporating time traveling Romulans, physics defying black holes, 9 year olds driving cars off cliffs, and, worst of all, being too cute and flippant in its treatment of the Kobayashi Maru test. The Kobayashi Maru is sacred to many Star Trek fans, and deserved more respect than the flippant treatment it was given in the 2009 movie. J.J. Abrams tried to be too cute with that scene, making Kirk seem like a cocky petulant prick. The apple was stupid too….
Having said that, the movie did feature an excellent cast, setting the stage for Sulu, Uhura, and Scotty to have more substantive parts in future films. Bruce Greenwood’s Pike character was excellent too…so it was not hard to watch by any means.
But does it belong in the same class with The Wrath of Khan? — I have my doubts.
STAR TREK MOVIES — THE BAD
#6) Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – (3) (1984) (Leonard Nimoy) Ask yourself if 2009’s Star Trek will hold up as well as this movie has when it’s 30 years old. I say no, which is why I think 2009’s Star Trek is about in the same league as Star Trek III in terms of quality.
#7) Star Trek: Generations – (7) (1994) (David Carson) Kirk’s death paled in comparison to Spock’s. Notice that the official title stopped counting with the first TNG movie.
#8) Star Trek: Insurrection – (9) (1998) (Jonathan Frakes) At one point in the movie Enterprise is piloted by a $30 Wal-Mart joystick. Commandar Data’s age is showing—not good for an android.
#9) Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1) (1979) (Robert Wise) The recently released remastered version is significantly better than the one released in theaters. Things might be different had they done it right the first time around.
#10) Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (5) (1989) (William Shatner) Star Trek is one of the most valuable movie brands in the history of man, and you are going to give the keys to the castle to William Fucking Shatner? As bad as Star Trek 5 is, it could have been worse.
#11) Star Trek: Nemesis (10*) (2002) (Stuart Baird) Movie making by committee.
So there you have it, Smooth’s ranking of all Star Trek films to date.
*Please notice that the even/odd phenomenon holds true with two exceptions: 2009’s Star Trek is an odd numbered movie that qualifies as “good”, and 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis is an even numbered movie that is bad.
Tomorrow we will look at The Odd Number Curse further, to see if a prediction can be made as to the quality of the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness movie.
What do you think of my rankings?
To be continued…
UPDATE: Click here to see Star Trek Nemesis satire. Hilarious!
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