3. Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home (1986)
The only one (barring perhaps JJ Abrams’s 2009 reboot) to be truly accessible to newbies while also being textbook Trek. And what a blast it is. The Voyage Home is a gorgeous fish-out-of-water comedy that transports the crew back to 1980s’ San Francisco for an adventure filled with nuclear ‘wessels’, colourful metaphors and eco politics. OK, so boo hoo, it doesn’t contain much in the way of hard sci-fi. But never have Kirk’s crew been such a pleasure to be with. You’ll have a whale of a time. Pun intended.
2. Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan (1982)
We’re at the stage of top-tier Trek here – two movies helmed by the man who has done as much for Star Trek as its creator Gene Roddenberry: the mighty Nicholas Meyer. His vision of Kirk and Khan’s stand-off is a brilliant game of battleships: claustrophobic, relentless and – as it turns out – not without its casualties. Yes, I refer to the loss of Spock at the movie’s climax and that almost unbearable moment when Kirk has to say goodbye to his best friend. At least until Star Trek III…
1. Star Trek VI – the Undiscovered Country (1991)
A last hurrah for the TOS team that’s fitting in every way. It is, by turns, a meditation on ageing, a neat thriller, a tense sci-fi whodunnit and an emotional sign-off for a crew that has been boldly going together for 25 years. It also pulls off the trick of being a love letter to fans, while also providing something new for these lovable old warhorses to do. And unlike most of the other movies in the series, its guest stars also add to the fun: Kim Cattrall as Spock’s protege Valeris and Christopher Plummer as Shakespeare-quoting Klingon Chang being just two highlights. And isn’t it refreshing to see Starfleet portrayed as a flawed institution rather than just a Utopian ideal? You know, I might even stick my neck out and say that this is the most perfect two hours of Trek ever.