‘Star Trek’ films’ best voyages

The reviews are in and Star Trek Into Darkness, the second big screen adventure helmed by J.J. Abrams, has joined his 2009 reboot with critics’ phasers set on stunning.

Good news for the crew headed by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as the younger Kirk and Spock.

Darkness joins 11 previous films which featured the original 1960s William Shatner-led cast and the Next Generation group led by Patrick Stewart.

Here are the best pre- Darkness cinematic voyages of the Enterprise.

1. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). The one Star Trek film anyone can love. After saving Spock, the stranded crew time-travel back to Earth and the 20th century on a rickety Klingon vessel where they encounter boom boxes, public transportation and a pair of humpback whales who hold the key to the planet’s survival in their songs. Comedy, heart and an ecological message that still resounds, IV, is Star Trek at its most relevant and charming.

2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). The Enterprise crew discover that Ricardo Montalban’s genetically enhanced Khan, the villain of 1967’s classic Space Seed episode, is alive on Ceti Alpha V. He’s gained an impressive chest, some killer quips, and he’s after Project Genesis. No, not the lost Phil Collins album, but rather a terraforming device that can reorganize matter to make, as well as destroy, planets. Hokey but great fun. Originally planned to be the final installment, hence the emotional ending that finds the cast saying farewell to a beloved member. Look for a thin, pre- Dancing With the Stars Kirstie Alley in her first feature film role.

3. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). They say the even-numbered Treks are the best, but we saw Star Trek: Nemesis, the 10th entry, and we say balderdash to that theory. The thrilling III marks the directorial debut of Leonard Nimoy and it’s a grand, darker adventure than the previous two films.

4. Star Trek (2009). Battered by Insurrection and Nemesis, two less than stellar entries featuring the Next Generation cast, the Enterprise appeared to be dry-docked for good. Then Abrams, in a reboot rivaling that of the Batman and James Bond film series’, recaptured the zest Gene Roddenberry’s creation had petered away on one-too-many movies and banal TV spin-offs. Time travel, alternate universes and two Spocks for the price of one helped this eponymous effort outgross every other entry at the box office.

5. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). William Shatner almost killed the series with his ham-fisted direction of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier two years earlier. Khan director Nicholas Meyer returned for a film initially conceived as a prequel (that idea would have to wait for 18 years). Instead, Nimoy suggested a contemporary update pegged to the end of the Cold War as the Enterprise must negotiate a peace treaty with the Klingons. Smart and engaging, VI marked the final film with the original cast. The Next Generation cast would appear in the next four films but only the eighth, Star Trek: First Contact (1996), would score high with critics and fans.

Read Miami Herald movie critic Rene Rodriguez’s review of Star Trek Into Darkness.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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