Star Trek’s Two Worst Movies Are Secretly Perfect

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek the worst

Star Trek fans constantly debate which of the films are the worst: for the original films, The Motion Picture was a disappointment from the very beginning, with critics derisively labeling it “The Motionless Picture” because it was so boring. For Next Gen films, some think Insurrection is the worst for similar reasons, including that it’s too boring and doesn’t offer us the spectacle (albeit a trainwreck of a spectacle) of Nemesis. But here’s something that critics of these Star Trek films always overlook: rather than being the “worst,” these films are secretly perfect because they uphold the ethos of the franchise.

The So-Called Best

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What does that mean in practical terms? Think about it this way: when people discuss the best Star Trek films, they inevitably bring up titles like The Wrath of Khan, The Undiscovered Country, and First Contact. These movies are certainly entertaining, but they are all more or less action films, and the narratives bear little resemblance to the shows they are based on.

Keeping True To Trek

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By comparison, those “worst” movies are actually fully in the spirit of the franchise. The Motion Picture is “boring” to some fans because it eschews action in favor of exploration and understanding. The movie’s marketing proudly proclaimed that “the human adventure is just beginning,” and that film was the last Star Trek movie to emulate the human adventure of The Original Series.

The Changeling (No, Not Those Changelings)

Incidentally, when we say this film (still considered the worst by people who replicated crazy pills) is in the spirit of The Original Series, we are being quite literal. For all intents and purposes, The Motion Picture is an adaptation of the old episode “The Changeling.” Go back and watch and you’ll see that it, too, explores what happens when a deep space probe interacts with technology to create something new and potentially very dangerous.


What about Star Trek: Insurrection? While this “worst” film does have some goofy action sequences, it mostly focuses on Picard’s earnest attempt to rescue a few hundred people that Starfleet is about to forcibly displace, all to take advantage of a planet that could potentially help anyone who lives on it to live forever. Aside from sporadic action scenes, most of the movie is comprised of quiet moments like Data bonding with a young boy and Picard finally putting the moves on someone other than Dr. Crusher.

Journey’s End

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Speaking of Picard, it’s more than far to say that this film is loosely based on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Journey’s End.” In that ep, Picard is fully onboard with the idea of forcibly moving Federation colonists (descendants of Native Americans, no less) because Starfleet signed a treaty with the Cardassians. Rather embarrassingly, the worst Star Trek character, Wesley Crusher, ends up taking the moral high ground here, resigning from Starfleet rather than taking part in Starfleet’s continuation of atrocities against Natives that first began on Earth centuries ago.

Insurrection Lets Picard Redeem Himself

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Insurrection basically gives Picard a second chance to handle a similar situation, and he follows Wesley’s example by renouncing his rank, betraying Starfleet to keep hundreds of people from being moved. Just as The Motion Picture was a big-budget version of “The Changeling,” Insurrection uses its own big budget to continue in the spirit of “Journey’s End” but having Picard finally make the right choice. Fans may still claim these are the worst films, but in terms of actually telling a Star Trek-style story rather than a cool action film with a Star Trek skin, these movies remain secretly perfect.

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