Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Reel Opinion: The Top 5 STAR TREK Films

The 13th film based on Gene Roddenberry’s STAR TREK television series, entitled STAR TREK BEYOND, warped into theatres in 2016, earning its way into a first-place finish at the box office along with positive reviews from fans and critics (read Reel Speaks’ review HERE). With BEYOND entering many conversations concerning the best TREK films, now seemed like a good time to revisit, and rank the best of the fleet.

Similar to the way Reel Speak ranked the Top 5 Pixar films (HERE) this Blogger approached this list the same way any other movie is judged; story, entertainment value, character, and emotional impact. With STAR TREK, it’s fair to also consider just how well the films stay true to the values that the original television show set forth 50 years ago, because after all; when millions of dollars are on the line, it’s not hard for filmmakers to go off course.

Thirteen films is a lot to go through, so this Blogger decided to run with a Top 5 list. So let’s go boldly…

5. STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) – This was a close call, because this Blogger really enjoyed BEYOND and was tempted to slip it into the Top 5. But maybe time will be the answer to just how well BEYOND holds up, and time has certainly been kind to THE VOYAGE HOME. In this adventure, the crew warps back in (ahem) time to the present day to bring a humpback whale or two back to the future, where an alien probe is threatening Earth because of the absence of the extinct species. It’s hokey and relies on a lot of humor, but THE VOYAGE HOME embraces a lot of the things that made TREK so much fun and interesting in the first place; time-travel plots, hokey yet believable storylines, and an underlining message of having to take care of the present in order to preserve the future. The original intro to STAR TREK always had a line about “seeking out new life”, and seeking new life is exactly what the mission is THE VOYAGE HOME.

4. STAR TREK (2009) – When the decision was made to bring STAR TREK back to the big screen in the new millennium, the franchise was a shipwreck. There had not been a film in seven years, and the last few had suffered from poor reviews and even poorer box office results. When director JJ Abrams was brought aboard the bridge, he not only got the shipwreck off the island but back into orbit. With yet another time-travel story, Abrams reset the board with young versions of the old crew and a new timeline, which gave the franchise the complete freedom to explore any storylines possible. The new cast of actors captured the spirit of the original crew in a dazzling display, and the sense of energy was a welcome joy to watch. The method used to “reboot” the franchise was brilliant, and the film itself was a thrill ride with wonderful pacing...giving the old ship a much needed boost for new audiences.

3. STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) – As stated, seeking out new life is one of the most vital themes in TREK, and in the third film, there was no life more vital to search for than the one belonging to the beloved Mr. Spock, as wonderfully played by the late Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy, who also directed, raised the stakes by making the search for the missing and presumed-dead Spock an outlaw act, making the mission led by Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) an illegal one, which was new territory for TREK. Their mission was a labor of love, and add in James Horner’s magnificent score, and we’ve got the most emotionally satisfying TREK of them all.

2. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) – The granddaddy of all TREK films and the one that got it all started. A simple plot which reunites the original crew from the television series in which an indestructible alien entity threatens the Earth, this film spends a lot of its time with its characters getting to know each other, which is a great way of letting the audience, who had not seen a new STAR TREK adventure in over a decade, to get re-acquainted as well. THE MOTION PICTURE capitalized on dazzling visual effects, and was the first to realize that the chariot of our heroic crew, the starship Enterprise, was important enough to be treated like a character. Jerry Goldsmith’s score became one of the most recognizable TREK themes, if not the definitive. When this Blogger was a wee-lad, the mystery behind the alien entity played out like a horror movie, and 37 years later, still holds that aura.

1. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) – When the decision to make another STAR TREK movie was made in the early 1980’s, the approach was to make the opposite of THE MOTION PICTURE. Where the first film had no villain with a face and deliberately-slow Kubrick-like pacing, THE WRATH OF KHAN brought back a formidable villain from the television series and kicked up the action. Khan, as portrayed by Ricardo Montalban, gave a larger-than-life performance which even today is often recalled as one of the best on-screen villains ever created. And once again, seeking out new life was the focus, with our Admiral Kirk feeling old and worn out and looking for meaning again, and the only way he could find new life was to face death…and that death came to his best friend, and the best friend of audience, Mr. Spock. Infused with the best themes of TREK and the classical nature of Moby Dick, THE WRATH OF KHAN carries resounding themes of life and death, but at the same time is a fulfilling space adventure which goes boldly, and establishes STAR TREK as legitimate cinema.





4.       STAR TREK


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