The Star Trek film series is the cinematic branch of the Star Trek media franchise, which began in 1966 as a weekly television series on NBC, running for three seasons until it was canceled in 1969 because of poor ratings. Reruns of the series proved to be wildly successful in syndication during the 1970s, which persuaded the series’ owner, Paramount Pictures, to expand the franchise.
Paramount originally began work on a Star Trek feature film in 1975 after lobbying by the creator of the franchise, Gene Roddenberry. The studio scrapped the project two years later in favor of creating a television series, Star Trek: Phase II, with the original cast. However, following the huge success of Star Wars and Close Encounters, Paramount would change its mind again, halting production on the television series and adapting its pilot episode into the 1979 Star Trek feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Five more films featuring the entire original cast followed. The cast of the 1987–1994 spin-off series Star Trek: The Next Generation starred in a further four films. A reboot to the original television series, simply titled Star Trek, was released in May 2009, and a sequel has been announced as in development.
The Star Trek films have received critically mixed reviews, and 14 Academy Award nominations. Star Trek won for “Best Makeup” in 2010, and four of the previous films had been nominated mainly in the areas of makeup, music, set design, and sound design.
The early Star Trek films were originally released on VHS; competitive pricing of The Wrath of Khan‘s videocassette helped bolster the adoption of VHS players in households. Later films were also released on LaserDisc as well. For those films that did not receive an initial DVD release, Paramount released simple one-disc versions with no special features. Later, the first ten films were released in two-disc collector’s versions, with The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan branded as “director’s cuts”, followed by later box set releases. The films are now available on Blu-ray high definition discs.
The next film in the franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness, is scheduled for release in theaters in May 2013.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
A massive energy cloud advances toward Earth, leaving destruction in its wake, and the Enterprise must intercept it to determine what lies within, and what its intent might be.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), whom Kirk thwarted in his attempt to seize control of the Enterprise fifteen years earlier (“Space Seed”), seeks his revenge and lays a cunning and sinister trap.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
When McCoy begins acting irrationally, Kirk learns that Spock, in his final moments, transfered his katra, his living spirit, to the doctor. In order to save McCoy from emotional ruin, Kirk and crew must steal the Enterprise and violate the quarantine of Genesis to retrieve Spock’s body from the rapidly dying planet, in the hopes that body and soul can be rejoined. Bent on obtaining the secret of Genesis for themselves, however, a rogue Klingon (Christopher Lloyd) and his crew interfere, with deadly consequences.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
While returning to stand court-martial for their actions in rescuing Spock, Kirk and crew learn that Earth is under the siege of a giant probe transmitting a destructive signal, intended for the long-extinct species of humpback whales. To save the planet, the crew must time-travel back to the 20th century to obtain a mating pair of these whales, along with a biologist (Catherine Hicks) to care for them.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Spock’s half-brother believes he is summoned by God, and hijacks the brand-new (and problem-ridden) Enterprise-A to take it through the Great Barrier, at the center of the Milky Way, beyond which he believes his maker waits for him. Meanwhile, an ambitious young Klingon captain, seeking vengeance for the deaths of the Klingon crewmen at Genesis, sets his sights on Kirk.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
fter their homeworld is wracked by an environmental disaster, the Klingons attempt to make peace with the Federation. When the Klingon Chancellor (David Warner) is assassinated, the crew of the Enterprise must race against time to uncover a massive conspiracy against the peace process, with plotters from both sides, led by Klingon General Chang (Christopher Plummer), working with each other.
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Picard enlists the services of Kirk, who is presumed long dead but flourishes in an extradimensional realm, to prevent a madman (Malcolm McDowell) from destroying a star and its planetary system in an attempt to enter that realm.
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
The Borg attempt to enslave humanity in the past, before First Contact between Terrans and Vulcans; Picard must fight his demons from his assimilation into the Collective as he leads the Enterprise-E back in time to ensure that Zephram Cochrane’s (James Cromwell) first warp test and subsequent meeting of the extraterrestrials take place.
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
The crew of the Enterprise launch a rebellion on the Baku homeworld against Picard’s superior officer, Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe), and his Son’a cohort, Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham), who want to relocate the Baku to gain possession of the medicinal cosmic radiation that floods their planet.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Picard and company must thwart a clone of himself (Tom Hardy) who has become leader of Romulus and is bent on obtaining a full DNA transplant from Picard, at the cost of the captain’s life, as well as the Federation’s destruction.
Star Trek (2009)
When Vulcan is destroyed by Romulan thugs from the future, led by Nero (Eric Bana), young Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) must set aside their differences to prevent Earth from suffering the same fate.
First Published: Apr 6, 2012 – Last Updated: Jan 27, 2013