Star Trek is a sci-fi tour de force on television, but when it comes to the movie theater it has a slightly more rocky history. We look back on all 13 films— movies I’ve plucked off my father’s shelf and watched more times than I can remember. (Hat tip to Dad for having the six-VHS setof the original cast Star Trek movies that formed a picture of the Enterprise when all the tape spines were correctly aligned.)
So, which movie gets to sit in the captain’s chair?
13. Star Trek Into Darkness
This is not the least enjoyable Star Trek movie. Not by a longshot. Like the J.J. Abrams reboot it succeeded, Into Darkness is at least an action-packed and rollicking romp, something its baffling script cannot diminish. It’s watchable. The reason I don’t like this movie, the source of that constant sour taste in my mouth, is the Big Reveal. Benedict Cumberbatch hisses, “My name is Khan,” is an timbre that’s supposed to send chills down the fanboy’s spine.
I’m not saying Star Trek shouldn’t be in the business of fan service and intertextuality. When you’re five decades deep in franchise with a dozen films and hundreds of television episodes, what else is there to do? But this. This is not J.J. Abrams listening to his better angels; it is a nonsensical and cheap way to draft the goodwill of the amazing Wrath of Khan.
I’ve seen Star Trek II. You’re no Star Trek II, senator.