Despite all the controversy surrounding the latest foray into the final frontier, despite the mixed feelings that old school Trekkies hold towards the reboot films, it's official: Star Trek Beyond is excellent. It's managed to impress die hard fans of the series, film critics, and casual moviegoers alike on its way to a respectable (if unspectacular) opening weekend at the box office.
As we all geek out over Beyond, it’s time to remember all the great moments from the rich Star Trek film library (which you can get read a full rundown of HERE). Many of these moments have become etched in film history and showcase dazzling special effects, inspired acting, and expert direction.
To be fair with Star Trek Beyond, as much fun as it is, it will take some repeat viewing to determine if any moment from the latest Star Trek film is worth including on this list but for now, take a look at our take on the 15 Best Moments In Star Trek Movie History.
16 Two Spocks Meet
In the J.J. Abrams 2009 reboot of the series, the two Trek universes were connected with the inclusion of the original Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. It was a smart way to pass the torch to the reimagined characters, and it gave us a final adventure with the original Spock, since he was pivotal to the film’s plot.
However, the perfect passing of this torch came in the film’s conclusion, when the original Spock finally met the new take on the pointy-eared bastard, played by Zachary Quinto. It allowed us the opportunity to see two different, yet similar acting interpretations of the famous Vulcan first officer side by side. At the same time, this meeting gave the original Spock a sense of closure and a new purpose in life to find a new home for his people. As for the new Spock, he was left seeing the possibilities of what lay ahead in his life and career.
15 The Enterprise Nearly Crashes in Star Trek Into Darkness
The poor Enterprise always takes a beating in these Star Trek films, especially in the reboots. Just look at how the ship gets ripped apart in Beyond! Most of the scenes in the films are heart-stopping highlights with incredible special effects, but the best one took place in Into Darkness.
Near Earth’s orbit, the U.S.S. Enterprise was outgunned by the U.S.S. Vengeance, a massive warship commanded by a fanatical Starfleet admiral -- and later, neo-Khan. To be frank, it took a hell of beating from the warship and it actually started plummeting down to Earth. The Enterprise suffered catastrophic failure and was dead in the water (or rather, air). Setting aside the shaky science of how this happens, the chaos onboard the dying vessel as Kirk and Scotty valiantly tried to save it had audiences on the edge of their seats, and those visuals of a smoking Enterprise plunging into the clouds were truly breathtaking, thanks to J.J. Abrams’ intense directorial style. In the end, we all blew a collective sigh of relief when the ship re-emerged from the clouds to sail another day.
14 Star Trek’s Big Screen Fisticuffs
The Star Trek films are usually exciting and echo the original series with pounding hand-to-hand fight scenes between our heroes and the films’ villains. No phasers, no starships -- just muscle, brute strength, and fighting skills. The most recent examples can be seen in Star Trek Beyond as Kirk brawls with Krall, or whenever series newcomer Jayla takes on the bad guys. However, two battles that stand above the rest are featured in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and in Star Trek Into Darkness.
In the former, Kirk confronted Kruge on the dying planet Genesis (the latter was the Klingon commander who had Kirk’s son killed). Naturally, the good captain is personally invested in this particular brawl. The fight itself was perfectly framed by the unstable and exploding environment around them. It seemed as if they were fighting in the pits of hell itself.
In Star Trek Into Darkness, the usually stoic Spock was driven to capture Khan after his best buddy Kirk had just died. In a rare moment, Spock lost his cool when he caught up to Khan and unleashed his full Vulcan fury. The genetically enhanced villain more than held his own though, and the two each dealt each other beatings to remember.
13 Chang Quotes Shakespeare
Trek's tradition of stacking its scripts with quotes from literary giants such as Melville, Tennyson and of course, Shakespeare have helped set it apart from standard sci-fi fare over the years. "The Immortal Bard" is even quoted by Spock as he lays injured in Star Trek Beyond. But who can fault the screenwriters? Shakespeare's dialogue is so rich and suitable for Star Trek. While some iconic characters like Khan have delivered Shakespearean lines with much gusto, one particular character reveled in quoting the Bard of Avon.
That was Klingon General Chang, who was itching to fight Kirk in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Chang lived for delivering Shakespeare's lines, which he claimed were best heard in the original Klingon. That might have been a comical line, but coming from the cunning and devilish Chang, it was pretty disturbing. With that said, Chang's best Shakespearean quoting came in the film's climax as he has his ship attack the Enterprise. His borrowing of lines from Julius Caesar about letting loose "the dogs of war" fit the mood...as was his final line, "to be or not to be," this time from Hamlet, when he realized that he was going to die.
12 Kirk Meets Picard
Although Star Trek Generations has more than its fair share of problems, one of its truest bright spots involved the monumental meeting between Star Trek’s two greatest captains. Even though James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard live in different time periods, the two met when Picard entered the Nexus, an interdimensional realm where time doesn’t exist. Picard found out that Kirk was been stranded there and sought him out for help. After some banter over breakfast, Kirk decided to help Picard save his crew and stop the film’s villain, Soran.
Having the two meet was the centerpiece of the film, and it probably could have had more oomph to it. The team-up against Soran could have been more exciting, and more pointedly, Kirk should have had a more befitting death scene. But none of that takes away the very first time we saw these two sci-fi legends meeting onscreen. It was the culmination of every Star Trek fan’s hope ever since The Next Generation made its debut.
11 Kirk and Scotty Inspect the Refitted Enterprise
Make all the complaints you want about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, they’re all valid. But the very first Star Trek film does have its merits, like its spectacular (for the time) special effects. The clear beneficiary for this virtue is the refitted U.S.S. Enterprise. The starship's best moment in the film came when it was seen for the first glimpsed, as Admiral Kirk inspected it.
Before Kirk boarded the Enterprise, Scotty took him on an impromptu inspection of the gallant vessel as it received its finishing touches in drydock, orbiting the Earth. Thanks to a rich and magnificent score by the late, great Jerry Goldsmith and meticulous special effects, the Enterprise was a sight to behold. For starving fans who had been itching to see the famous ship get its moment on the big screen, it was a rapturous moment. The scene may have went on too long, but in this case, the indulgence in the special effects was justified.
10 George Kirk's Sacrifice as the Kelvin Encounters the Narada
Before 2009's Star Trek, the franchise was tired and out of ideas. It had been running on fumes for several years before it was put to rest and allowed to recharge. This break was exactly what the franchise needed and it announced it was back in the public consciousness in a bold, in-your-face manner with the opening scenes of Star Trek, when the Starfleet vessel the U.S.S. Kelvin investigated an anomaly. From the moment that the U.S.S. Kelvin first appeared on screen in the reboot of Star Trek, there was a feeling that this version of the beloved franchise would be a very different beast.
The anomaly revealed the Narada, a Romulan ship from the future that quickly decimated the Starfleet vessal. With the Kelvin’s captain dead, it was up to George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth before he rocketed to fame as Thor) to evacuate the crew, including his newborn son, the future Enterprise captain, and buy them time. The desperate battle was chaotic and had a dangerous, realistic feel about it. Meanwhile, Hemsworth was so effective as a starship captain that some even say he overshadowed his son later on in the film. We'll find out if this holds true when he returns in the next Star Trek film. But love or hate the reboot, it cannot be denied that it reinvigorated the franchise, and it all started with an unforgettable opening that brought the series screaming into the 21st century.
9 The Borg Battle Near Earth
Ever since the Borg first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, fans have been clamoring for the evil and nearly unstoppable cybernetic race to make their big-screen debut. So anticipation was high when it was revealed they would be the main adversary in Star Trek: First Contact. One thing that many demanded to see was a no-holds barred, effects-heavy space battle with the ominous Borg cube, and this film delivered that in spades.
This occurred early in the film, and the battle set up the film’s main plot of having Picard and his Enterprise time travel to the 21st century to save Earth from the Borg. Before the main story commenced, we were treated to a spectacular battle between an enormous Borg cube and a Starfleet armada. Many of the ships defending Earth had new and innovative designs which allowed Starfleet to put up a worthwhile fight against the superior Borg force. When the Enterprise E joined the fight and Picard helped rally the other ships to destroy the cube, there was a feeling of triumph and relief. It seemed that it was finally possible to take on the Borg and win.
8 Picard's Rant In Star Trek: First Contact
The Jean-Luc Picard seen in The Next Generation films was distinctly different than the cerebral and collected statesman from the TV show. This Picard was a man of action, of fiery passion. This was best shown in Star Trek: First Contact. Picard was traumatized from having been assimilated into the Borg Collective in the TV show. Naturally, when they returned in the film, Picard went after them with a vengeance.
However, it was soon clear that Picard was obsessive, even fanatical about defeating the Borg. This behavior was putting his crew at deadly risk, but it took Lily Sloane, a tough, rescued civilian, to confront him. When this happens, Picard launched into an impromptu rant about how they had to take a stand against the Borg and how he would make them pay for what they did to him. Patrick Stewart showcased some powerful acting as we saw a raw, angry side of Picard, one that's left a lasting impression.
7 The Enterprise A Is Revealed
The original Enterprise met its fiery end in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. As painful as it was for Kirk and his small crew to witness such a sight, it was way worse for the fans who loved the iconic starship. Seeing that beautifully designed vessal explode and burn up in the atmosphere of Genesis was quite the bummer.
However, the crew was rewarded for their actions in the next film with a new Starfleet vessel, the question was, would it be the Excelsior, the next generation in starships? Nope. As the crew approached the Excelsior, raising expectations that it would be their ship, the camera instead passed over the Excelsior to reveal a brand new Enterprise. The Enterprise A to be exact. That was one of the most thrilling moments in Star Trek film history because it respected the legacy of the ship and ensured that the name Enterprise would not fade into history.
6 The Epic Battles Between The Reliant and Enterprise
After the criticisms that the first Star Trek film was dull, the filmmakers behind the sequel, The Wrath of Khan, went out of their way to ensure that this new film would deliver excitement in truckloads. This was accomplished by including epic spaceship battles between the Enterprise and the Reliant, the Starfleet vessel commandeered by Khan and his people.
The first encounter between the starships was well set up, with generous doses of suspense. We knew the Reliant was in the hands of the bad guys, but the Enterprise crew didn’t, and so were caught off guard when the smaller ship fired on the Enterprise. The opening salvo left the Enterprise with ugly scars, as the crew suffered a great many casualties. By the time Scotty walked into the burning bridge holding a dying cadet, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be any old sci-fi adventure.
The final battle between the ships took place inside a colorful nebula that blinded their sensors. This forced them into a tense cat-and-mouse game that set the standard in Star Trek spaceship battles -- and still holds weight today.
5 Any Scene With The Original Khan
Ricardo Montalban's Khan is one of the greatest villains of all time. Left stranded with his genetically enhanced people on a barren planet by Kirk during the original series, Khan's hatred for Kirk grew over the years. By the time the two men confront each other (ironically, they never physically interact with one another in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), all bets are off. Despite his dastardly nature, Khan was quite charismatic and passionate. Much of Khan's appeal is due to Montalban's magnetic and regal demeanor, so it's not a surprise that he is regarded so highly.
Part of his appeal is with his eloquent line delivery. Whether it's original dialogue such as "Revenge is a dish best served cold," or intense Shakespearean quotes like "From hell's heart I stab at thee!" every scene featuring Khan is a delight to watch over and over again. Montalban so owned the role that poor Benedict Cumberbatch couldn't compare when he took over the role in Star Trek Into Darkness, though his Khan is also imposing.
4 Kirk and Spock Say Goodbye To Each Other
When Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan premiered, Spock's fate was a mystery to fans. When he was killed off, it was an emotional gut punch that still resonates with fans today. Much of that is due to the wonderful script and the heartfelt acting by stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, honed by years of working together. They perfectly conveyed the feeling of friendship and loss in that pivotal scene.
With the Enterprise in danger, it was up to Spock to go into the ship's warp core and repair it, but he received a lethal dose of radiation in doing so. By the time Kirk reached his friend, Spock was dying behind safety glass. In their last moments together, a shocked and grief-stricken Kirk watched helplessly as Spock uttered some of the film’s greatest lines and bid his longtime friend farewell. This was a powerful moment in Star Trek history, and even Spock’s resurrection in the next film does not lessen the impact of this scene.
3 The Original Enterprise Crew's Farewell
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was promoted as the last hurrah for the original Star Trek cast. While the film was blast to watch, the ending of it was especially poignant, not just for the characters, but for anyone watching it. As it turned out, it would be the last time we would ever see the original cast together playing their legendary roles.
In the film’s final moments, after Kirk and the Enterprise crew save the day (again), they learn that the Enterprise was set to be decommissioned. In response, Spock, in his typically stoic manner, said for Starfleet to “go to hell”, a line which brings smiles to Trek fans' faces to this day. But it was Kirk’s final words that really resonated long after. He orders the Enterprise to head to the “'first star to the right, and straight on ‘til morning.'” Plus, in his final log report/voiceover, Kirk reported that they were passing the baton to a new generation as the Enterprise flew towards a star. This was undeniably the best and most appropriate way to close the chapter for the legendary crew.
2 The Enterprise Crew’s Adventures In the 20th Century
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is so beloved because of its offbeat nature. No villains, no spaceship battles, no technobabble. Just a classic fish-out-of-water story that gave all of the Enterprise crew their due spotlights, which emphasized the camaraderie that made them so beloved. It has many amusing moments of them trying to fit into the 20th century. Some include Scotty talking to an ancient (to us anyway) computer, Spock applying a Vulcan nerve pinch to an obnoxious punk rocker, Kirk having a dinner date in an Italian restaurant, or Kirk’s horrified reaction to seeing Spock swimming with whales in an aquarium. Pure gold.
The best of these moments has to be when they first arrive in late 20th century San Francisco. The film’s mood brightens up remarkably, with bright sunny scenes and a bouncy urban soundtrack as the crew walked through the streets. They looked outlandish in their futuristic clothing, and their befuddled reaction to what they experienced was priceless. The best scene has to be Kirk being cursed at by an irate car driver who nearly hit him as he crossed the street. In response, Kirk defiantly yelled back “Well a double dumbass on you!” Thirty years later, and that scene hasn’t lost its comedic punch.
1 Bonus: Sabotage!
The latest entry in the film franchise, Star Trek Beyond, is already getting rave reviews for its sense of adventure, fun, and for being more in line with classic Star Trek than the last few outings. The film is filled to the brim with several fantastic moments, many of which will be talked about for years to come. They include the witty banter between the characters, the attack on the Enterprise, the jaw-dropping intro of the Yorktown station, and Krall's surprising backstory.
But one scene that just knocks it out of the park is during the film's climax. Anyone not wanting to be spoiled should stop reading! Kirk and his crew salvaged the derelict Federation starship the U.S.S. Franklin in a last-ditch attempt to stop Krall and his forces from destroying the Yorktown. The solution to stopping the swarm-like enemy ships: broadcasting "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys to interrupt the ships' signal, disrupting their seemingly unstoppable swarm patterns. Seeing all the enemy ships being destroyed in a cascading firewall was a fist-pumping joy to watch. Once again our heroes defiantly beat the odds in an explosive and energetic manner, with some classic Spock and McCoy exchanges as a bonus.
Did your favorite Trek moment make the cut? Make your opinion known by ;eaving your thoughts in the comments.
Star Trek Beyond is now playing in theaters.