Total Recall: Star Trek Movies

With Star Trek Into Darkness hitting theaters, we take a look the cinematic voyages of the starship Enterprise.

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Star Trek Generations

48%

After seven years and 178 episodes, Paramount felt the time was right to give the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation its cinematic debut -- and since some members of the Enterprise's original crew were either unwilling to return (Leonard Nimoy) or not well enough (DeForest Kelley), the seventh Trek movie seemed like the perfect spot for a changing of the guard. With a behind-the-scenes crew that included a number of Next Generation vets -- including producer Rick Berman, director David Carson, and screenwriters Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga -- 1994's Star Trek Generations should have been a slam dunk, especially given a plot that put TNG's Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) face-to-face with James T. Kirk for the first time, but alas, it was not to be; though it did well enough at the box office, slightly improving upon The Undiscovered Country's worldwide tally, Generations received a mixed reception from writers like the New York Times' Peter M. Nichols, who simultaneously criticized it as "predictably flabby and impenetrable in places" and praised it for having "enough pomp, spectacle and high-tech small talk to keep the franchise afloat."

Star Trek - First Contact

92%

After three decades, seven films, and four television series, most franchises would have long since exhausted their options -- but as 1996's First Contact proved, the creative horizons of the Star Trek universe were capable of expanding longer and wider than perhaps even Gene Roddenberry could have suspected. Now firmly in control of the franchise, the Next Generation crew -- both onscreen and off -- was able to expand upon themes and characters touched on during its own series, specifically the nature of the endlessly assimilative cybernetic Borg collective. Having already proven a worthy adversary during TNG's run -- particularly during the classic episode in which they assimilated Picard himself -- the Borg now propelled Trek to the best reviews (and some of the highest grosses) in its history. A sequel that both paid tribute to longstanding Trek traditions (TNG vet Jonathan Frakes directed, proving Leonard Nimoy wasn't the only member of the Enterprise crew who could successfully pull double duty) and broke them (Paramount ended decades of parsimony by breaking out $47 million for the budget), First Contact earned the praise of critics like Time's Richard Corliss, who wrote that "it stands proud and apart, accessible even to the Trek-deficient" before decreeing that "this old Star, it seems, has a lot of life in it."

Star Trek - Insurrection

55%

After handling screenplay duties for Generations and First Contact, writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga disembarked from Star Trek's film voyage -- but at this point, the Trek creative universe had expanded to the point that producer Rick Berman had plenty of new collaborators to choose from. He settled on Michael Piller, with whom he'd created the Trek TV spinoff series Deep Space Nine, and together -- along with Jonathan Frakes, who returned to direct and reprise his role as Commander William T. Riker -- they put together Insurrection, a story that introduced new wrinkles for familiar characters (such as LeVar Burton's Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge briefly acquiring the ability to see without optical implants) while still holding true to the core themes of the series. Unfortunately, at this point, audiences were so used to seeing one Trek TV series or another that they needed something truly extraordinary to hold their attention on the big screen -- and Insurrection, as evidenced by a gross that fell short of First Contact's, wasn't it. Still, even if critics didn't find it to be the most compelling entry in the series, they weren't completely dismissive; as Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "[It] lacks the adrenalized oomph of its predecessor, but no adventure of the Starship Enterprise is without its gee-whiz affability."

Star Trek: Nemesis

37%

If 1998's Insurrection found the Star Trek franchise suffering from what seemed like audience fatigue, 2002's Nemesis -- the final picture to feature The Next Generation's crew -- represented the onset of a full-on malaise. After over a decade of films that performed solidly at the box office and ran the critical gamut from great to respectable, Nemesis came as a profound letdown -- not only with critics, who gave it the worst reviews the series had seen since The Final Frontier, but with the moviegoers who stayed away in droves; its $43 million domestic gross was almost as embarrassing as the fact that it made less than Maid in Manhattan its opening weekend. In the hands of new director Stuart Baird, Nemesis presented a more action-heavy Trek than audiences were accustomed to; unfortunately, this shift in direction alienated hardcore fans, and the script -- partially inspired by an idea from Brent "Data" Spiner -- failed to take advantage of its departing cast. In the words of USA Today's Mike Clark, "As spent screen series go, Star Trek: Nemesis is... suggestive of a 65th class reunion mixer where only eight surviving members show up -- and there's nothing to drink."

Star Trek

95%

After bottoming out with 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, the series entered a state of suspended animation for over half a decade -- and if it hadn't been for the reboot mania that gripped Hollywood during the early 21st century, there's no telling how long it might have stayed there. As it happened, fanboy-friendly director J.J. Abrams -- then riding a hot streak as one of the creators/producers of the hit series Lost -- was handed a set of jumper cables and the keys to the franchise; the result, 2009's Star Trek, managed to hit the reset button on Trek (along with the requisite hot young cast) while incorporating enough familiar touches to keep longtime fans feeling at home. In the end, Abrams' Trek earned some of the most positive reviews in the history of the franchise, and its $257 million gross firmed up the future of a film series that had seemed thoroughly uncertain just a few years before. "With Star Trek Abrams honors the show's legacy without fossilizing its best qualities," enthused Salon's Stephanie Zacharek. "Instead, he's whisked it off to a planet where numbing nostalgia can't kill it, and where the future is still something to look forward to."


In case you were wondering, here are McGregor's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:

1. Star Trek -- 91%
2. Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan -- 86%
3. Star Trek - First Contact -- 83%
4. Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home -- 77%
5. Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country -- 77%
6. Star Trek III - The Search for Spock -- 61%
7. Star Trek Generations -- 60%
8. Star Trek - Nemesis -- 54%
9. Star Trek - Insurrection -- 51%
10. Star Trek: The Motion Picture -- 47%
11. Star Trek V - The Final Frontier -- 35%


Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don't forget to check out the reviews for Star Trek Into Darkness.

Finally, here's James Tiberius Kirk doing battle in one of the most intense fight scenes ever captured on film:

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