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Among Trek fans, there's a well-known bit of lore called the "Star Trek Movie Curse": namely, that even-numbered installments in the franchise are usually great, and odd-numbered installments unspeakably awful. A bit of a blanket statement? Sure. But it's also mostly true.

Mostly.

The Classics

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1
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan[/subtitle]

James T. Kirk' old foe Khan escapes exile and steals the Genesis Device, a planet-terraforming tool that handily doubles as a superweapon. The Enterprise eventually blows up Khan' ship, but unluckily loses warp power just as Khan, with his dying breath, triggers a thermonuclear bomb. Spock fixes the warp drive just in time, but having stupidly not bothered to don any protective gear beyond a pair of gloves, dies of radiation poisoning. Kirk and a radiation-suit-wearing Scotty (ah, so that's what happened to it) watch safely from behind a plexiglass wall. Kirk's pretty broken up about it-not broken up enough to go in and help him, of course, but still.

Why You Should See It
"KHANNNNNNNNN!" The producers learn from the mistakes of the dull first Trek film, packing in enough action-packed fun and excitement here for three movies. Plus, Spock' tragic death scene alone is worth the price of admission. That said, Kirk' eulogy-"Of all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most ... human"-is a lot less touching when you remember that Spock' usual reaction to being called human was to arch an eyebrow and get all pissy about it. Kirk's a bit of an ass.

Why You Shouldn't
Hardcore Trek continuity freaks may have difficulty accepting that Khan and Chekov recognize each other, as the original episode with Khan aired the season before Chekov joined the show. But really, if that's the most you can quibble about, you need to get out of the house more.

Impact on the Franchise
Spock dies! For an entire movie, even! Plus, the consequences of Kirk' legendary cocksmanship among the many fine green-skinned ladies of the galaxy finally rear their ugly head here, with the appearance of a heretofore-unknown son (the ensuing paternity suit should have been the plot of the sequel).

Celebrity Cameos?
A bare-chested, mulleted Ricardo Montalban chomps his way through the scenery in just about every scene he's in, either quoting Moby Dick and Shakespeare or just staring longingly into a viewscreen while saying "Kirrrrrk..." Also look for a young, hot, pre-Fat Actress Kirstie Alley as Spock' protg Saavik.

2
Star Trek: First Contact

The Borg go back in time to prevent the founding of the Federation by destroying the Phoenix, Earth' first warp-capable vessel, and the Enterprise follows. Picard and Data kill the Borg Queen just in time to ensure the successful flight of the Phoenix. Vulcans stop in for a visit, and everybody gets loaded and parties down to rockabilly music.

Why You Should See It
Jean-Luc Picard, known mostly for enjoying hot cups of tea, Brahms concertos, and avoiding fights by talking things over sensibly, turns into Bruce Willis in First Contact. He sprays Borg drones with hot lead from a tommy gun, courts death by calling Worf a coward and delivers a mouth-foaming monologue about killing every Borg he can lay his hands on that culminates in an awesome rockstar tantrum where he trashes his ready room. Later, he snaps the Borg Queen' spine like a breadstick. Apparently, there are any number of things you can do to Picard without making him lose his cool. But turn him an albino cyborg and he will fuck your shit up.

Why You Shouldn't
Dr. Crusher gets dicked out of screen time, while a juicy part given to Alfre Woodard could have easily been adapted for her. So, if you're a member of Gates McFadden' immediate family, watching First Contact at the reunion and commenting on how great Woodard's performance is might ruffle some feathers. Otherwise, it' a great movie.

Impact on the Franchise
First Contact marked the introduction of the Borg Queen (who would reappear throughout the series Star Trek: Voyager) at the behest of studio execs who pointed out that, without her, it would basically be a Star Trek zombie movie. Keep in mind they said this like it was a bad thing.

Celebrity Cameos?
Cracked's Patron Saint of the That Guys, James Cromwell, ably plays warp-drive pioneer Zefram Cochrane, though it' tricky to reconcile why he looks two decades older (and six inches taller) than the actor who played the same character at a later stage in life in an original series episode. There' also a non-human cameo, if you look closely: Some joker at Industrial Light and Magic slipped the Millennium Falcon into the initial battle with the Borg. Given Han Solo's busy schedule, it was nice of him to lend a hand.

3
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

A super-powerful alien comes to future Earth to touch base with its good buddies the humpback whales, only to lose its shit when it finds out they're all extinct. Eager to stop Earth's destruction, Kirk and crew go back in time to present day Earth to retrieve some whales; Spock chooses to do this in a linen bathrobe, for some reason. The whales tell the alien probe that everything's cool. "Let's all just chill out, okay?" The alien, embarrassed about having made such a big scene, gets its chick and peels out of Earth's orbit in its Corvette without further incident, Zeppelin blasting from the speakers.

Why You Should See It
Star Trek gets comedy right for a change. This one is by far the funniest Trek film, with sparkling dialogue, physical comedy, and even some unscripted hidden-camera scenes in which a uniformed Walter Koenig Borats it up asking actual passersby where to find "nuclear wessels."

Why You Shouldn't
Scotty sets up a possible predestination paradox by revealing the formula for transparent aluminum to a plexiglass executive, Kirk definitely sets up a time loop by hocking the reading glasses that McCoy bought/will buy him in The Wrath of Khan, and Chekov leaves 23rd century technology in the past by tossing his phaser at a security guard. Theoretical physicists may find this irresponsible abuse of the space-time continuum so alarming they need to go lie down. Everyone else should enjoy it fine, though.

Impact on the Franchise
The Voyage Home did great at the box office, prompting not only a slew of mediocre sequels, but the roll-out of a new series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the cast of which would also pump out a slew of mediocre sequels. The Voyage Home is like the event horizon of crap. (Note: Star Trek had no hand in the making of crappy space movie Event Horizon.)

Celebrity Cameos?
Trek fan Eddie Murphy was slated to play a part, but dropped out to do The Golden Child (possibly under advisement from Sean Connery, who backed out of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier to star in the hit Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Breaking the reverse-curse of actors who bow out of Trek projects in favor of wildly successful films, Child was a massive flop.

Worth Watching

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4
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The Enterprise is sent to pick up the Klingon chancellor, who despite being leader of the Klingon race, is somehow unable to bum a ride off anybody. His luck gets considerably worse when he' assassinated-Kirk and McCoy are blamed and sent to an icy Klingon gulag, which is the worst kind. They are told that no one has ever escaped from this penal colony, then promptly escape with little difficulty. Everybody heads to the peace conference, where they save the Federation President from assassination and expose the bad guys' evil schemes.

Why You Should See It
The Undiscovered Country has all the high-flown Shakespearean references of The Wrath of Khan, but it' less of an action flick and more of a smart, gripping political thriller, making it awesome in a completely different way. Also-and this is enjoyable for the wrong reasons-Spock coldly mind-rapes Kim Cattrall' traitorous character by mind-melding with her against her will. Spock explains that with the way she was dressed in that white headband, she was asking for it.

Why You Shouldn't
The scene where Kirk faces off against the beautiful shapeshifter who has taken his form ("I can't believe I kissed you," he groans; "Must have been your lifelong ambition," she answers) is a welcome bit of ego-deflating self-parody on the part of William Shatner, but it' still Shatner, which means it's hammy and poorly acted. Besides, they'd already pulled out the old "Kirk' evil doppelganger" routine enough times on the old series that it comes off a little clich here.

Impact on the Franchise
After three seasons of the original series and five movies, Sulu finally gets not only a ship of his own, but also a first name. Look at him drinking a cup of tea on his own bridge there, all smug and satisfied. Too bad he'd never show up in a movie again, as this was the last outing for the original crew in its entirety. On the other hand, he's doing pretty well with Heroes these days, so maybe everything worked out for the best.

Celebrity Cameos?
Iman and Kim Cattrall bring the heat as sexy aliens, and watch for a small cameo from Christian Slater as a night-duty officer who wakes up a cranky Sulu. Also, under all that makeup, the President of the United Federation of Planets is played by none other than Red Forman from That '70s Show. (For extra fun, follow each of his lines with a sardonic "dumbass!" For example: "Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing, dumbass!")

5
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Kirk steals the Enterprise to retrieve Spock' corpse from the planet they'd shot it at from a ship's cannon in Star Trek II (they might want to start checking pulses before they keep doing that). Conveniently, the planet is being terraformed due to the explosion of the Genesis Device. Also conveniently, said Genesis Device resurrects Spock. Less conveniently, everybody's taken prisoner by a Klingon commander, who a pissed-off Kirk conveniently drops into a bottomless pit.

Why You Should See It
The second, third, and fourth Trek films function as an unofficial trilogy, so the two excellent films on either side pull The Search for Spock up toward their level, and it thus rises above the infamous curse of terrible odd-numbered Trek films. Plus, as the reborn Spock rapidly matures and endures the excruciating Vulcan mating urge, Saavik makes the calculated logical decision to let him bone her. Hot Vulcan sex!

Why You Shouldn't
The special effects and fight choreography in the final fight scene are embarrassingly low-budget. Shatner chews the scenery anyway, which happens to consist of the cheap, unconvincing Styrofoam rocks often featured in the old episodes from the '60s. (Also, you can sort of even see the bottom of the bottomless pit.)

Impact on the Franchise
The reset button gets hammered here. Once Spock comes back to life, it' like his death never happened. On the bright side, Captain Kirk' son gets killed off, so we're invited to pretend he never happened either.

Celebrity Cameos?
Robin Curtis replaces Kirstie Alley as Saavik. As for the ruthless Klingon foes, the casting is frankly baffling. Night Court' John Larroquette plays the first officer, and Christopher Lloyd is the captain. It' hard to get past that one. Every time he demands the secret of the Genesis Device, you sort of want to explain that it' a simple matter of channeling 1.21 jiggawatts [sic] through the flux capacitor.

The Not-So-Classics

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6
Star Trek: Generations

Kirk and whichever members of the cast were still willing to work with him by this point rescue dozens of refugees (including one Dr. Soran) from a mysterious ribbon of energy. Alas: Captain Kirk is lost, apparently sucked into the void of space. Decades later, the Next Generation cast encounters Dr. Soran, who is trying to bring back the ribbon of energy, which it turns out is actually a portal to a timeless paradise. Picard is pulled into it and meets up with Kirk, who' been chopping wood and riding horses for the last 78 years. The captains foil Soran just before he does something really evil. Alas: Kirk falls to his death amid the remains of a collapsed bridge and some heavy-handed symbolism.

Why You Should See It
The big selling point here is obviously the chance to watch Kirk and Picard pal around, previously the province of Internet fan fiction. Plus, Data' panicky utterance of "Oh, shit!" during the crash of the Enterprise-D' saucer section is the most entertaining use of foul language in Trek since Spock learned to cuss in The Voyage Home. Oh, and the Enterprise gets destroyed again; it' not as shocking this time, but the special effects are better. Oh, yeah: Kirk dies too.

Why You Shouldn't
Most of the old crew don't bother to show up. James Doohan and Walter Koenig were willing to cash paychecks, but Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley turned down roles they regarded as glorified cameos. Also, Generations disappoints fanboys by doing little to resolve the Kirk vs. Picard debate, as they fail to engage in ship-to-ship space battle or hand-to-hand combat. Does the Picard Manuever trump the double ax handle? We'll never know. Kirk' big death scene's pretty underwhelming compared to Spock' death scene in Khan, or for that matter even his own fake-out death at the beginning of the damn movie.

Impact on the Franchise
Obviously, this is the big passing of the torch to the TNG crew. As for Kirk's momentous death, in a later TNG episode, a guest-starring Scotty appears to have forgotten all about it. Then Shatner went and "wrote" a bunch of non-canonical novels written for the sole purpose of resurrecting Kirk.

Celebrity Cameos?
Cameron from Ferris Bueller' Day Off plays the new captain of the Enterprise-B. So, after he wrecks it, there' probably a deleted scene where he freaks out about how the Admiral is going to kill him, before getting it together and deciding he' not going to sit on his ass as the events that affect him unfold to determine the course of his life. He' going to take a stand. Right or wrong, he' going to defend it, and everything' going to be okay.

7
Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Admiral Kirk assumes command of the Enterprise to investigate an alien threat, to the annoyance of current captain Will Decker. A probe abducts Decker' girlfriend Ilia, replacing her with a robot double. Decker merges with the Ilia double, and the joined duo evolve into a being of pure energy and disappear into a higher plane of existence. Or something.

Why You Should See It
If you've ever wondered what the original series could have looked like with some half-decent special effects, look no further than Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Plus, if you've also ever wondered what life on the Enterprise would be like if the crew were allowed to wear pajamas to work every day, look no further than the newly redesigned Starfleet leisurewear.

Why You Shouldn't
2001: A Space Odyssey, with its at-the-time cutting edge special effects, had just been released when they were making the first Trek, so the heat was on to cram as many effects into this goddamn thing as possible. Impossibly long, ass-numbingly boring stretches of time are devoted to showing the Enterprise flying through space, which probably looked spectacular in 1979 but make you leap for the fast forward button three decades later.

Impact on the Franchise
Two proposed characters (Will Decker and Ilia) are revived from the aborted TV series Star Trek: Phase II, only to be killed off again. Not one to leave any part of the animal to waste; the character archetypes pop up again, essentially unchanged, as Riker and Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. More obviously, the film revived a dead television series and was followed by nine film sequels, so that probably counts for something, too.

Absolute Crap

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8
Star Trek: Nemesis

The Enterprise goes on a diplomatic mission to Romulus, which is now controlled by the mysterious Shinzon, who turns out to be a clone of Picard with sinister plans. The Enterprise eventually defeats Shinzon' forces, with Data sacrificing himself in the process.

Why You Should See It
Picard indulges his midlife crisis by catching some air in his sweet new dune buggy, which is worth noting as pretty much the only appearance of anything resembling a car in the 24th century, in which spaceships, teleporters, and feet are the clearly favored means of travel. Also, those crazy kids Riker and Troi finally get together and get married, if you care about that.

Why You Shouldn't
Brent Spiner co-wrote the 10th Trek film, and his ego is clearly ballooning out of control. He casts himself in a dual role, writes himself a juicy death scene that' all too reminiscent of Spock' in Khan, and even sings an Irving Berlin song. The result is a film that breaks the "even-numbered Trek good; odd-numbered Trek bad" rule, but not in a good way.

Impact on the Franchise
Not only did Nemesis bring in the lowest box office earnings of any Trek film, but its main impact on the franchise was to demonstrate the utter lack of need for any more movies with the current cast. Accordingly, the next announced Trek film reportedly will be a prequel to the original series, with Matt Damon the leading candidate to play the young Kirk.

Celebrity Cameos?
Wil Wheaton shot scenes, but they were cut out of the final print. (File this under "Why You should See It").

9
Star Trek: Insurrection

Picard and company stumble on a race of leprosy-ridden aliens called the Son'a who've found a planet that kicks out leprosy-healing properties. However, since the peaceful Ba'ku people already live there, they've cooked up a villainous scheme to kill them all off. Picard exposes the plot and defeats the Son'a leader in a poorly choreographed fight scene. The Ba'ku, peace-loving idiots that they are, then simply invite the Son'a to live on the planet with them, because apparently nobody thought of that before.

Why You Should See It
Observing the planet' rejuvenating effects, Troi (Marina Sirtis) mentions offhandedly that her boobs are firming up, and the audience is invited to notice same.

Why You Shouldn't
We don't get to actually see Troi' boobs, nor much else that' memorable either. (In retrospect, our best chance for a little Betazoids-gone-wild action was probably the scene when Troi turned into a sloppy drunk party girl in First Contact.) Marina Sirtis has since claimed at conventions to have fallen asleep during the film' premiere. Even director Jonathan Frakes has been vocal about his distaste for the weak script of the lackluster and instantly forgettable Insurrection.

Impact on the Franchise
It' a pretty disposable outing with few effects on the Trek franchise. Even Riker' beard, shaven during Insurrection, has been completely regrown by the time of the next film.

Celebrity Cameos?
Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello has a surprising cameo as an alien warrior. (And it' not even his first Trek role; he'd appeared previously on an episode of Voyager.)




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10
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Shatner writes, directs and stars in Final Frontier, in which Kirk and company answer an urgent distress call from Spock' heretofore-unseen half-brother Sybok, who then steals the ship to go look for God. "Why not?" figures the Enterprise crew. The entity they find turns out not to be God after all-it' just some pissed-off alien with omnipotent powers. Kirk tells it off, then some Klingons show up and shoot at it until it explodes.

Why You Should See It
Uhura performs an erotic dance to distract some guards, which would have been sexy and awesome, had Nichelle Nichols not been 56 when this scene was filmed. It may be worth watching for a rare shot of Doohan' missing finger, visible here thanks to Shatner' sloppy direction. We're basically grasping at straws here-unless you've lost a bet, there really isn't much reason to watch this one.

Why You Shouldn't
Where to start? The production is rushed, the special effects suck and the script is an incomprehensible mess. The secondary cast are treated as jokes; aside from the exploitation of a past-her-prime Nichols mentioned above, Scotty is made clumsy and incompetent for the sake of comic relief, most egregiously in a scene where he claims to know his ship like the back of his hand only to turn around and knock himself unconscious on a bulkhead. The Enterprise' inexplicable ability to cross the galaxy in a matter of days is less the result of a warp drive and more that of a plot device.

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