For many years, all Trekkies knew that the even-numbered Star Trek movies were great and the odd-numbered ones were shit. That pretty much held from the release of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in 1979, all the way through the 1998 release of Star Trek: Insurrection. Then came 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, a film that had an even number next to it and was abysmally bad that it prematurely killed off the entire Next Generation franchise and forced Paramount to literally reboot the entire universe. We're now three films into the rebooted universe, and the newest one landed this past summer. We asked our readers to vote for their favorite Star Trek films – even or odd. Here are the results.
The creative team behind Star Trek faced a bit of a dilemma after the unexpectedly huge success of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The series was hotter than ever with big demand for a sequel, but they'd just killed off Spock. Lucky for them, his casket landed on the mysterious Genesis planet where life grows at an insane rate. That made it easy to bring back the character, and Leonard Nimoy was willing to reprise it when they let him direct the movie. Unfortunately, the movie is a bit of a muddled mess. Christopher Lloyd's evil Klingon character seemed weak after Khan, and watching Spock evolve from an infant into a full-grown Vulcan was pretty lame. They also couldn't get Kirstie Alley to reprise her character of Saavik, so a new actress was brought in. Alley was right to sit this one out. It's really just a placeholder between the brilliance of The Wrath of Khan and the fun of The Voyage Home.
Seven years after the Nemesis debacle, J.J. Abrams came into the Star Trek universe, sprinkled his "Member Berries" everywhere, and brought the whole thing back to the beginning when Kirk and Spock were young and fresh out of Starfleet. When it came time for a sequel, they didn't want to just redo the Wrath of Khan, but they also didn't want to not redo the Wrath of Khan. They eventually came to the mushy compromise where the crew of the enterprise does indeed battle Khan Noonien Singh, but they'd keep it a secret during the promotional period. Needless to say, it leaked out and fans were disappointed. It was a decision that J.J. Abrams lived to regret. "I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet," he said, "but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it." As it stands, Star Trek Into Darkness is the least-loved of the three films from the rebooted universe. Nobody could play Khan after Ricardo Montalbán.
Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise D got to hang out with Dr. Leonard McCoy, Scotty and even Spock during the seven-year run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but never once did they run into James Tiberius Kirk. That's because they were saving that momentous summit for the first Star Trek: The Next Generation movie. It began filming right after TNG ended with All Good Things, though in hindsight that two-part finale would have made for a much better movie than Generation. Kirk and Picard team up to battle a madman determined to destroy a planet so he can enter a world of eternal bliss. They stop him, but at the cost of Captain Kirk's life. There are good moments in the film, but overall, it just doesn't hang together. They also could have come up with a much better death for Kirk. Much like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, however, it did teach them what not to do for the next movie, paving the way for the stellar Star Trek: First Contact.
What happens to a franchise that seems to have run its course? Back in the day, Hollywood would simply let it die and move onto something else. But these days, nothing popular from the past ever goes away. It just gets rebooted over and over again, much like the Genesis planet in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. J.J. Abrams and his crew took the next step in their 2009 Star Trek film by sending a character back in time to alter the history of Starfleet, creating a new universe in which Kirk, Spock and the gang still come together on the Enterprise, but in an alternate reality. This allows them to write whatever adventure they want without OG fans complaining they are somehow breaking from the show's established history. The new crew, lead by Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, were perfectly cast and the film grossed $385 million. It was enough to get a whole new run of movies, and enough for Disney to hand over control of Star Wars to Abrams.
The original Star Trek television show became so popular in syndication in the 1970s that a new cartoon series came onto the air and fan conventions began popping up all over the country. Plans were in place to bring the show back as the backbone of a new Paramount TV network. But when Paramount pulled the plug on the network, Star Trek seemed to die also. And then Star Wars hit theaters and suddenly science fiction was the hottest thing in Hollywood. Paramount gave the green light for a Star Trek movie with a big budget, but the script never really came together. They also forgot to make it fun and exciting. If you ever feel like taking a nap, just put on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. You'll zonk right out.
The first two Star Trek movies in the J.J. Abrams-verse were a lot of fun, but the Enterprise never travelled far from Earth despite the fact they were supposed to be on a five-year mission into unexplored areas. This was fixed in 2016's Star Trek Beyond, in which Kirk and the crew travel to a distant nebula and find themselves stranded on a hostile planet with their ship in pieces. It set the stage for a fast-paced film in which the crew needs to come together to battle a powerful foe that ultimately takes the shape of Idris Elba. Purists complained it felt too much like an action movie, but it still grossed $338 million and guaranteed yet another one.
William Shatner's Star Trek contract guaranteed him the right to anything that was also given to Leonard Nimoy. And after Nimoy directed Star Trek III and IV, Shatner insisted that he get the next one. Paramount had no choice but to agree. He gave Star Trek V: The Final Frontier his all, but even he admits it didn't work out. The movie is boring beyond belief and it lost them all the momentum they gained from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Thankfully, 1991 was the 25th anniversary of the series and Paramount ordered up another movie that would serve as a goodbye to the original crew. Nicholas Meyer, the director of The Wrath of Khan, was brought back, and he gave them a fitting farewell. The movie strands Kirk and McCoy on a frigid alien prison planet right as the Federation is creating a peace deal with the Klingons. Kirk came back in Generations, bringing Scotty and Chekov along with him for cameos, but this was truly the end of the old gang.
Most any Star Trek fanatic would agree that the Borg was the best villain introduced during the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In one of the show's best episodes, the evil collective kidnapped Picard and turned him into one of their own. Star Trek: First Contact is essentially a sequel where the Borg travel back in time to disrupt mankind's first contact with aliens. The Enterprise E travels back in time to save the future, but they must also fight off a group of Borg that have travelled onto their ship. The story deftly moves back and forth from Earth to the ship and everyone in the cast gets a chance to shine. It's a fantastic movie, and if they hadn't fucked up the next two so profoundly we still might be getting new Star Trek: The Next Generation films.
Gene Roddenberry had a vision for a Star Trek movie he never tired of sharing: the gang travels back in time to Dallas in 1963 to prevent the assassination of JFK, but Spock winds up becoming the second gunman on the grassy knoll in order to preserve the original timeline. That movie never got made, but when it came time for a fourth Star Trek movie, he was able to see them travel back in time to 1986 in order to bring a couple of humpback whales back to their own time in order to save the planet from a hostile alien probe. That all sounds very complicated, but it's all just an excuse to put the characters into 1980s San Francisco and let the jokes fly. This was a Star Trek movie that could be enjoyed by people that hadn't seen a second of the TV series or the previous films, and audiences ate it up. It grossed $133 million and played on cable for years. Star Trek was never quite this funny and light ever again.
After the disastrous Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the people behind the franchise made the very wise decision to simply bring back a beloved villain from the old show and watch the sparks fly. Ricardo Montalbán was making Fantasy Island at the time and only had dim memories of playing Khan Noonien Singh on the 1967 episode Space Seed, but he was game to suit up and give it another go. The movie begins with Khan stranded on a barren planet with his army of genetically engineered warriors, blaming Kirk for all his problems. He steals a spaceship and sets off to gain his revenge, setting up a killer confrontation even though the two men never actually come face-to-face. Their interactions are completely though view screens. Khan died in the end, but he takes Spock with him. At least, that's how it seemed until the next movie rolled around.