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Read every single L.A. Times ‘Star Trek’ movie review from 1979 to 2016

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, right, on the set of the 1986 movie “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home."
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, right, on the set of the 1986 movie “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
(Paramount)

“Star Trek” is celebrating 50 long years of existence, and tucked into those 50 years are 13 “Star Trek” movies of all kinds and caliber; there’s even one  hinging on humpback whales.

If you’re planning a “Trek” movie marathon, look no further: We’ve cobbled together all the reviews from the first film in 1979 all the way to this year’s rebooted “Trek” offering. 


The Originals

‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ (1979)

Times reviewer Charles Champlin found it “not so much a film as a phenomenon: a space family reunion, fan club meeting and Thanksgiving Day parade under the same spacious roof.” 

Read the full review: “Go for a Ride on the Starship Enterprise

‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ (1982)

Kevin Thomas found “The Wrath of Khan” to be a much smoother ride than the first one. “Much of the credit for the film’s spirit must go to director Nicholas Meyer, whose sophisticated affinity for fantasy was well demonstrated in ‘Time After Time.’ Meyer has understood the necessity of preserving ‘Star Trek’s’ essential squareness, while regarding it with an affection that saves it from stodginess.”

Read the full review: “The Stars Return for a New 'Trek'

‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock’ (1984)

Thomas also praised the third “Star Trek” film for “its unabashed, deliberate squareness in all aspects — from acting to its unsophisticated comic-strip look — comes out strongly for the old-fashion virtues of loyalty, bravery and sacrifice.”

That’s two reviewers who want you to know that “Star Trek” is square but all the better for it. 

Read the full review: “ 'Star Trek III': Triumph of Innocence

‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ (1986)

Reviewer Michael Wilmington is on board for the fourth film of the franchise,  calling it “a simple, humanistic allegory with humor and heart — and a wry touch of wonder that opens our eyes and, with a smile, beams us aboard.” 

Maybe it was the whales? 

Read the full review: “ 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home': From Hubris to Good Humor”

‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’ (1989)

“The Final Frontier” earned a whole lot of praise from Kevin Thomas. Why? “[Because] William Shatner, in a triple-threat assignment, as director and co-writer as well as actor, turns to full advantage the inescapable fact that the ‘Star Trek’ family, after 23 years, is well into middle-age.” But it’s probably worth noting that “Final Frontier” is currently rocking at 21% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Read the full review: 'Star Trek V': The Journey Mellows Out

‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ (1991)

The final entry in the original “Star Trek” film series run was a rushed goodbye,  according to Wilmington. “So swept up is the crew in the dark machinations of ‘VI's’ complex plot that they don't have time to say goodbye properly.” 

The Times critic laments that if this movie truly is the last of the “Trek” films (it wasn’t) where was the farewell fanfare?  “The Klingon Gen. Chang, played in another of his grandly hammy, self-amused turns by Christopher Plummer, may muse about ‘hearing the chimes at midnight,’ but the Enterprise crew is too busy rescuing Kirk and McCoy — not to mention the entire universe — to bother with reminiscence or poetry.”

Read the full review: “‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country' Is Back on the Right Trek


New Generation

‘Star Trek: Generations’ (1994)

The first film of “The Next Generation” series seems comfortable retracing its own footsteps, as reviewer Kenneth Turan wrote: “going boldly where no one has gone before is not what it used to be.” 

Read the review: “ 'Star Trek: Generations' Relies Heavily on Audience Appreciation of the First Two TV Series

‘Star Trek: First Contact’ (1996)

Turan had nothing but cheers for the following film, “First Contact.” Exclaiming that this “Trek” flick was “Blessed with clever plot devices and a villainous horde that makes the once-dread Klingons seem like a race of Barneys, ‘First Contact’ does everything you'd want a ‘Star Trek’ film to do, and it does it with cheerfulness and style.”

Read the review: “ 'First Contact' Boldly Fulfills Its Mission: To Seek Out New Life as the Eighth Installment in the 'Star Trek' Film Universe

‘Star Trek: Insurrection’ (1998)

But sadly, Turan’s love for the “Trek” films would not last, although he had more good things to say about “Insurrection” than “Generations.” He bemoaned, “No disrespect intended to the proud Son'a people but, hey, where are the Borg when you need them?”

Read the review: “ 'Insurrection,' Though Not as Strong as the Last 'Star Trek' Film, Keeps the Franchise Flying

‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ (2002)

“Nemesis” rounds out the “Next Generation” contributions for “Trek” films and proves that “familiarity and continuity are what the success of this series has always been about.”

Read the review: “A New Enterprise as 'Trek' Lives Long, Prospers”


The Reboots

‘Star Trek’ (2009)

Nine years ago, Paramount decided to reboot the “Star Trek” universe, recast the classic roles and twist up the continuity with a flashy new time-traveling reset. Fans were nervous, but the die-hard Trekkers and The Times’ Turan found relief once the new universe hit theaters. “Though it has its over-caffeinated aspects and its missteps, this ‘Star Trek’ has in general bridged the gap between the old and the new with alacrity and purpose,” Turan wrote. 

Read the review: “ 'Star Trek' Deftly Mind-Melds Gene Roddenberry's Vision With J.J. Abrams' Storytelling

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ (2013)

In the reboot’s sequel, an infamous enemy — Khan —  is brought back, while the film “wears its politics, its mettle, its moxie and its heart on its ginormous 3-D sleeve.”

Read the review: “ 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Ramps Up Action, Leaves Room for Heart”

‘Star Trek Beyond’ (2016)

The latest “Trek” film, released in time for the universe’s 50th anniversary, stays true to the original material, which The Times found good, but not great. “Given how much was riding on this film’s success in today’s risk-averse Hollywood, not to mention how many different constituencies had to be pleased, the fact that the result is serviceable, delivering enough value to be worth a fan’s time, is about as good as one could reasonably expect,” Turan wrote. 

Read the review: “ ‘Star Trek Beyond' Boldly Goes Kind of Where You Expect It To, but With Style”


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