Warning: If you don’t like or care about Star Trek, I understand. Feel free to skip this.
It all started about two months ago, when the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie (2009) rose to the top of my NetFlix queue. (I wrote about this movie for using one of my fonts back when it was in theaters.) I’ve become somewhat of a Blu Ray fan and thought this would be a fun movie to watch in that format. I was right. I think I like it even more now than when I first saw it.
One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had purchased the two sets of Star Trek movies on Blu Ray. For some reason, I was never really that interested in watching these on DVD. I tried watching the first one (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) once, but couldn’t get through the first 20 minutes. The picture and sound were just horrible. I think it must have been an early DVD release, the kind where it’s not optimized for wide screen viewing.
I’d seen both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home more than once (both considered among the best of the series). The rest I only saw in the theater, except for Star Trek: Nemesis, which I’d never seen at all.
So, with some trepidation, I subjected myself to a Star Trek movie marathon over the last couple of weeks. It was interesting. The movies were both better and worse than I remembered.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is my least favorite of the entire series. It was a disappointment when I saw it in the theater in 1979. Slow, overblown, ridiculous and terrible in so many ways. You get the feeling that the special “V’GER” effects were expected to carry the movie by themselves, but it just looks like self-indulgent nonsense, and adds little to the story. If anything, this movie was worse than I remembered. The titles are dull and feature that goofy Star Trek Movie font. I didn’t like then, and I don’t like now.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Considered by most to be the best Star Trek movie ever. I don’t really disagree with that, but I don’t think it has aged well. It was one of the earliest movies to feature computer graphics, and it looks it. The whole production feels kind of like a disco nightmare, but the chemistry of the characters and the story make it really entertaining.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Better then I remembered. Very cheesy special effects and preposterous story. Worth watching just to see Kirk and friends blow up the Enterprise and steal a Klingon ship.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Cool because they still have the Klingon ship and—even better—take it back in time to the 1986 San Francisco. Funniest of all the Star Trek movies, but, again, the story is a little preposterous. Getting a little repetitious: Big mysterious thing threatens Earth, just like the first movie.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. On second thought, maybe this is my least favorite. Most preposterous story of all, but it looks better than any of the previous films. The center of the galaxy is much smaller than I expected. Silliest and most forgettable of the series.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Better than I remembered. The story is not bad: The incident that leads to peace with the Klingons. Some nice zero-gravity effects. A little too much Shakespeare from the Klingon played by Christopher Plummer.
Star Trek: Generations. This is not considered one of the best, but I like it. The production values are higher than the earlier films. I also think the Next Generation cast are, on average better, actors than the earlier cast. At least Stewart is. I love the scene in which, after narrowly winning a battle with a Klingon ship, they are forced to crash land the Enterprise. And then the planet blows up, killing everyone. This can only mean another time travel plot. This one also has the most tastefully-done titles in the series, in spite of being set in ITC Benguiat.
Star Trek: First Contact. This is generally considered to be the best of the Next Generation movies, but it was not as good as I remembered. Good: It has The Borg. Bad: More time travel, and James Cromwell as the guy who invents “warp drive”. I usually like Cromwell, but he seems mis-cast in this. Titles use Benguiat again, but look terrible.
Star Trek: Insurrection. Last one I saw in the theaters before the re-boot. I couldn’t have told you what it was about until seeing it again. Not very good, but not really terrible either. Would have made a good two-part episode on the TV show. Worst titles of the series—very cheap looking.
Star Trek: Nemesis. This is the one I’d never seen before. It is supposed to be one of the worst of the series, so I expected not to like it. But I actually kind of liked it. Some of it is goofy, but that’s par for the course in the Star Trek universe. The battle at the end was pretty good. The dune buggy scenes were inexplicable, but fun. The titles were set in Exocet, I think. Seemed very dated.