Star Trek is one of pop culture's most popular sci-fi franchises. It all started in 1966 with the original television series, and there have since been a further eleven series released (including animated).
A new Star Trek movie is in the works, with WandaVision‘s Matt Shakman set to direct it. While we await its release, we'll rank the existing ones for your reading pleasure from worst to best and advise you how to watch them in chronological order
Star Trek Movies Ranked
1. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989, directed by William Shatner)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the fifth installment in the Star Trek franchise and the fifth to feature the original cast. In this one, the crew of the USS Enterprise-A goes up against the renegade Vulcan Sybok, who is searching for God at the galaxy's center.
It's the poorest Star Trek movie, and the plot needs more development. The action scenes are boring, the tone is all over the place, and the special effects are below par. Hardcore fans of the franchise will find enough to keep them entertained, but even they will be slightly disappointed by it.
2. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002, directed by Stuart Baird)
Star Trek: Nemesis is the tenth movie in the Star Trek franchise and the fourth and final one to star the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. This one sees the USS Enterprise-E's crew having to combat a clone of Captain Picard named Shinzon, who has taken control of the Romulan Star Empire in a coup d'état and is threatening the United Federation of Planets.
At the time of release, this era of Star Trek was beginning to feel tired, and it shows. The premise is intriguing, and the action is undoubtedly better than The Final Frontier‘s, but it's still one of the most lacking moves in the franchise. However, it has some amazing visual effects, and the final battle is fantastic.
3. Star Trek Generations (1994, directed by David Carson)
Star Trek Generations is the seventh movie in the Star Trek franchise, and it features cast members from the original 1960s Star Trek show and the 1987 sequel series The Next Generation. In this one, Captain Jean-Luc Picard teams up with Captain James T. Kirk to stop the evil Tolian Soran from destroying a planetary system.
This Changing of the Guard movie could and should have been much better, and it was a necessary but poorly executed film. Still, interactions between the old and new casts are heartwarming, and the cinematography and effects are great (this is the first time it looked like the characters were in space). Notably, the movie's action and spectacle are enough to hold viewers' attention.
4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979, directed by Robert Wise)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the first installment in the Star Trek movie franchise and the first in which the original television series cast appeared. In this one, Admiral James T. Kirk assumes command of the recently refitted Starship USS Enterprise, and he attempts to save the Earth from the approaching mighty alien cloud called V'Ger.
Although this movie is too long for its thin plot, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is lots of fun, and most people enjoy themselves somewhat while watching it. At the time of its release, it was novel to see the television cast on the big screen, but that novelty has worn off, meaning critics are harsher on it these days. Its highlight is its brilliant and suspenseful twist ending.
5. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998, directed by Jonathan Frakes)
Star Trek: Insurrection is the ninth movie in the Star Trek franchise and the third to feature the cast of The Next Generation. In this one, the USS Enterprise-E's crew rebels against Starfleet after discovering a conspiracy with the Son'a species to ransack the peaceful planet Ba'ku for its “metaphasic particles” that make its inhabitants immortal.
It has a great plot, but it could be much better if it weren't so sluggishly paced, making it feel like a drawn-out television series episode. One of Insurrection‘s strengths is that it feels old-fashioned, like the original series, and it also has a very cheerful tone for the most part. It's an enjoyable watch with an on-form and ever-dependable cast, but it's not mind-blowing.
6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984, directed by Leonard Nimoy)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is the third installment in the Star Trek franchise and the third starring the original series cast. This one chronicles Admiral James T. Kirk and his bridge crew putting their careers on the line as they steal the decommissioned USS Enterprise to recover the deceased Spock's body from the restricted Genesis Planet.
Never truly excelling in either category, this movie strikes a delicate balance between a character-driven story and special effects-driven action. It undoubtedly succeeds in capturing the essence of the television show; Nimoy's direction is competent and highlights his familiarity with the franchise. It was the first movie in the series to earn its “space opera” billing truly.
7. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991, directed by Nicholas Meyer)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is the sixth movie in the Star Trek franchise and the sixth and final one to feature the original show's whole cast. In this one, the Klingon Empire pursues peace with their longtime adversary, the Federation, following the destruction of the Klingon moon, Praxis, while the USS Enterprise‘s crew races against unseen conspirators with aggressive intentions.
It's the first movie in the ranked list that is, without argument, excellent. The Undiscovered Country is a more than suitable big-screen send-off for the original cast. It has a great story and is suspenseful, action-packed, visually striking, funny, and witty, with great dialogue and banter between the classic characters.
8. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, directed by Leonard Nimoy)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the fourth movie in the Star Trek franchise and the fourth to feature the cast from the original series. This one follows the former crew of the USS Enterprise home to Earth so that they can face trial for their actions in The Search for Spock, but the planet is in danger from an alien probe attempting to contact now-extinct humpback whales, and they go back in time to find whales who can answer its call.
Surprisingly, that convoluted-sounding plot makes for an excellent story. The Voyage Home is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that even general audiences can enjoy. The Star Trek crew being on Earth gives it a “fish out of water” element that's pretty funny, making for light viewing. It's character-driven, with great dialogue and a lack of a need for special effects, which means the actors get a chance to shine properly.
9. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, directed by J.J. Abrams)
Star Trek Into Darkness is the 12th movie in the Star Trek franchise and the second in the rebooted series of films, featuring an A-list Hollywood cast. In this one, Captain James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise crew head to the Klingon homeworld to pursue Khan, a former Starfleet member who went by the name John Harrison and is now a terrorist.
The best thing about Into Darkness is, without a doubt, how visually stunning it is – this movie is gorgeous to look at. However, it's also action-packed, brilliantly acted by its all-star cast (Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding as the villainous Khan), and utterly riveting from beginning to end.
10. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, directed by Nicholas Meyer)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the second movie in the Star Trek franchise and a sequel to the 1967 original series television episode “Space Seed.” This one chronicles Admiral James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise crew taking on the genetically enhanced tyrant Khan after the villain escapes from a 15-year exile wanting revenge on Kirk and looking to acquire a dangerous terraforming device.
The Wrath of Khan has been given credit for saving Star Trek. At the time, the franchise was failing, but this movie garnered renewed interest. It has a strong story, excellent and engaging performances from its cast, and doesn't take itself too seriously. However, Spock's death scene is one of the franchise's most memorable and emotional moments.
11. Star Trek Beyond (2016, directed by Justin Lin)
Star Trek Beyond is the 13th movie in the Star Trek franchise and the third installment in the rebooted series. This one follows the USS Enterprise crew as they venture to the most remote areas of unexplored space and face a new ruthless enemy called Krall, the powerful mutated former commander of the USS Franklin who wants to destroy the Federation.
Teeming with blockbuster action, Star Trek Beyond is a thrill ride from start to finish. It's terrific fun and, in the best possible way, feels like a brilliant extended episode of the original show. It has robust characterization – there's a real emotional attachment to the cast here – and Idris Elba as the villain is excellent.
12. Star Trek: First Contact (1996, directed by Jonathan Frakes)
Star Trek: First Contact is the eighth movie in the Stark Trek franchise and the second to star Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s cast. In this one, the USS Enterprise-E's crew travels from the 24th century to the mid-21st century to change the Borg's past and prevent the powerful, iconic cybernetic villains from conquering Earth.
For many critics, this was the first time a Star Trek movie looked like a movie, as opposed to looking like a feature-length television episode. In addition, it's the best installment featuring The Next Generation‘s cast by far. First Contact is stylish, cheerful in tone, and thoroughly entertaining. The plot is complicated, but you'll love this film if you understand it.
13. Star Trek (2009, directed by J.J. Abrams)
Star Trek is the 11th movie in the eponymous franchise and the first installment in the rebooted series. Taking place in an alternate reality, this one focuses mainly on James T. Kirk and Spock aboard the USS Enterprise as they and their crew go head-to-head with Nero, a Romulan villain from their future who is threatening the United Federation of Planets.
This movie has everything; stunning visuals, epic action-packed scenes, plenty of humor, brilliant direction, fantastic performances from its entire cast, a great story, and lots of suspense. It breathes new life into the franchise and reimagines it with great new ideas. Star Trek can undoubtedly be enjoyed by established fans and newcomers to the franchise alike.
In Chronological Order
To finish, we've put the movies in chronological order for you. The chronological order is conveniently in the same order as their release dates. So, should you wish to watch them in the order in which their events occur in-universe, this is how you should do it.
Original Series Movies
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
The Next Generation Movies
- Star Trek: Generations (1994)
- Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
- Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
- Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Reboot (Kelvin Timeline) Movies
- Star Trek (2009)
- Star Trek Into Darkness (2009)
- Star Trek Beyond (2016)
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.