STAR Trek is back! Director J.J. Abrams will be unveiling Star Trek Into Darkness in May 2013. Can’t wait? Grace Yew has the trailer – plus a short list of original Trek films to tide you over until Kirk and Spock return.
The sequel to the 2009 box-office hit, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness features the heroic crew of the Enterprise returning to Earth. There, they find Starfleet detonated by an unknown, malevolent force within the United Federation of Planets.
Motivated by a personal grudge, Captain Kirk leads his crew on a manhunt to a war-torn planet to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction – a journey that will test Kirk’s bond with his crew like never before.
Excited for the newest outing in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek? Here’s a list of the top Enterprise-centric films to check out before the famous starship cruises back onto the silver screen.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
The Wrath of Khan features traditional Hollywood action, patchy old-school special effects, and hammy acting from William Shatner – in short, it’s a true Trek classic.
After taking the Kobayashi Maru test, Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) female Vulcan protégé, Saavik, joins the crew of the USS Enterprise – only to find the jaded Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) absent from the ship.
Meanwhile, Kirk’s former comrades investigate an abandoned planet. They are ambushed by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), an exiled intellectual and enemy of Kirk’s.
Khan then steals the Genesis Device, a terraforming tool that can be used to destroy and create new planets. Kirk and his crew team up with Carol Marcus, the Genesis Device’s creator, to reclaim it and defeat Khan. The Enterprise survives, but it costs them a major crew member.
Verdict: The iconic quotes and devastating death scene compensate for the film’s visual flaws. The charismatic Montalban steals every scene, while Shatner shines when dwelling on past glories. Worth watching for the iconic “KHAN!” moment.
Star Trek: The Voyage Home (1986)
An explosive opening reveals that a passing space probe is disabling starships and Earth’s power grids. The former Enterprise crew commandeer a Klingon vessel and analyse the probe’s signal, which matches the song of the extinct humpback whale.
The crew travels back in time to find a whale, hoping that its song will calm the probe. What follows is a rollicking fish-out-of-water tale, where the crew try and fail to acclimatise to the “primitive and paranoid culture” of San Francisco circa 1986.
While their shipmates build a whale tank and recharge their vessel with stolen nuclear power, Kirk and Spock join forces with assertive biologist Gillian Taylor in order to save the whales.
Verdict: A light-hearted anti-whaling comedy. Nimoy brings most of the laughs, as he spends the film spouting misplaced profanities while wearing a linen bathrobe. Chekov (Walter Koenig) is another scene-stealer, particularly in his dramatic escape from a naval base full of anti-Russian soldiers.
Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
The Klingon Empire is thrown into disarray upon the explosion of a vital energy source. Starfleet sends the demoted Captain Kirk and his crew to escort the Klingon Chancellor to the subsequent peace talks.
Kirk’s hatred for Klingons lands him in trouble when, unbeknownst to the crew, the Enterprise fires on the Klingon ship and sends two assassins to kill the Chancellor.
While Spock indulges his inner Sherlock Holmes and investigates the murder, Kirk and Dr McCoy (DeForest Kelley) must escape from a wintry Klingon gulag and its feisty inmates. Together, the crew uncover an interplanetary conspiracy to take down the Federation – all while facing their retirement orders.
Verdict: A glorious exit for the ageing original cast. This Cold War-flavoured thriller may be easier for new Trekkies to digest, as the commentary on prejudice remains relevant today. Literary buffs will enjoy the Shakespeare-quoting Klingon general. Shatner’s final voiceover passes the torch to a new crew, ending the first crew’s run on a positive note.