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Monday, August 3, 2020

Star Trek Reviews: TOS Trek Movies

Continuing my reviews for all of the Star Trek shows and movies, split across several posts for each “stage” of Trek:

  1. Early Trek (TOS, TAS)
  2. TOS Trek Movies (ST MP through ST VI)
  3. ’90s Trek TV (TNG, DS9, Voyager)
  4. TNG Trek Movies (Generations through Nemesis)
  5. Enterprise
  6. Trek Reboot Movies
  7. Streaming Trek (Discovery, Picard, Trek shorts)

See the first post for an explanation of my letter-grade ranking system. The short version: C is average, something I have no strong feelings about one way or another. Anything I would seek out and re-watch gets an A or B.

Spoiler Warning: This is the post that’s probably going to shock people the most. When I did the quick version of these posts on Twitter and Facebook, people lost their minds over how I rated the movies. I don’t hate them, but I don’t really enjoy them all that much. I’m not sure what’s going to shock people the most: the fact that I don’t rate some fan favorites as highly as people think I should, or the fact that I don’t see as much difference in quality between the movies.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Rating: C-

Like Star Trek: The Animated Series, I was very excited at the news that there was going to be a Star Trek movie, with the original cast. And like the animated series, I wasn’t too disappointed at first. I mean, the new Klingons looked interesting, and that first scene with them had some pretty good music and special effects.

But yeah, even at first, I didn’t think it was a great movie. Not especially bad, but it’s kind of slow-moving, and basically it’s just “The Changeling” redone for the big screen, with a romance between two completely new characters that we never really cared about. And the new uniforms are pajamas.

When I first rated this movie a few months ago, I gave it a C, but I’ve lowered it to C- because yeah, it’s obviously at least a little below average. I’m in no rush to see it again.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Rating: C+

People lost their minds over my rating of this, but bear with me. A C is average, not bad. I have no strong feelings about a C-grade movie. I can watch it and be entertained. And a C+? That’s a little above average. So I’m not saying Wrath of Khan is a bad movie. And I liked it better the first time I saw it.


Something noticeable in Khan and many Trek movies is that the characters are a little off and the stories are a little dull. They feel like really stretched-out hour-long TV episodes. And I’d compare the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationships to those in the animated series: where the animated series made everyone seem angry at each other all the time, the movies seem to overcompensate and have them delve in to how much they care about each other. Yeah, they’ve been friends and colleagues for a long time, but that could have been worth a couple lines in a scene about something else. We already know these characters. We don’t have to explore stuff we already know, over and over. Just the new stuff.

ST II is a little better storywise than the other movies, so that’s why it’s a C+ instead of just a C. And it still has the best starship battle anywhere in Trek (other than “Balance of Terror”.) But I’ll explain that more elsewhere.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Rating: C

I know I’ve seen at least part of it, but did I even finish it? Why do I not care?

This is what I mean about a C rating meaning I have no strong feelings about a film or series. If it were on and I had nothing else to do, I might re-watch ST III. But I can’t muster the will to deliberately re-watch it. Even though Spock is my favorite TOS character, I don’t care about The Search for Spock.

Star Trek: The Voyage Home

Rating: C

This one I’m a little more certain I watched all the way to the end, but I’m still not 100% sure. I’ve definitely forgotten a lot about it. So, it’s in the same bucket as ST III. I just don’t care if they get a whale or not.

Star Trek: The Final Frontier

Rating: C

Definitely saw all of this. Definitely do not care.

Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country

Rating: C

Still don’t care. It’s especially dull at the beginning. They should really stop doing Starfleet meetings in Trek, because fleet procedures aren’t interesting.

I know this is shocking, because most people talk about either ST IV or ST VI being their favorite, or even claim that the even-numbered films are good and the odd numbers are bad. But really, aside from the first one being slightly worse and the second slightly better, they all feel the same to me and sometimes I get confused about which scene comes from which movie.

Next Post: New ships with new crews.

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  1. I agree with the old thought that the even-numbered ones are better than the odd-numbered ones, but even so:

    Undiscovered Country is meh, The Voyage Home has not aged well, and The Wrath of Khan is the only one that I rewatch.

  2. Couldn't disagree more (I'm one of those loved the even movies types and tolerated 3). Despite that I'll be interested in seeing your remaining reviews.

    1. Well, technically, you COULD disagree more... you could call the first movie the best ever. But we'll see who agrees/disagrees with the next review...

    2. Others could probably disagree a lot more, but not me. I'm an agreeable fellow. So I disagree politely, but only so much and not more than that.

      But yeah, I should have just said I disagree.

  3. Sorry, but no.

    "WOK" is an A- or B. Strong story, strong performance by Montalban. Hampered a bit by the improbability of Genesis.

    "STVH": C+ or C, for humor, but hurt by being too cute, & hurt by the technical failures. (Whales in a tank full of water will _drown_ , & you can "float" them in zero gee by turning off the gravplating... Scotty blithely giving transparent aluminum to the Doc? It's not clear in the film, tho it's a bit more in the novelization, the Doc _did_ invent it--& Scotty _knows_ he did.)

    ST5: F.

    ST6: D-

    1. As I said, I usually don't mark things down for content, which would include technical details. If a show or movie can include a dumb thing, but breeze on by so it doesn't stand out, that's just a nitpick... which, by the way, finding nitpicks can be an entertaining hobby, so why blame the movie for that?

      I also didn't give any Trek show or movie a D or F. But that's probably a separate topic.

    2. So why do I think Wrath of Khan isn't an A or B? Montalban does do a good performance, as he usually did. I was far less impressed with Shatner's performance. The main characters in general don't feel as vibrant and alive as they did in the series.

      And there's the contrived story of Kirk's secret kid and Khan somehow knowing about Kirk's personal history as opposed to his Starfleet record. And there are large chunks of screentime that just plod along. The whole think is just product churned out to meet the demand of fans, with a few high points that raise it a tiny bit above average.

      For me to give something a B rating or better, there has to be only a few dull moments, unconvincing characterizations, or obvious contrivances. Wrath of Khan just doesn't make it up there for me.