Celebrating 45 Years of ‘Star Trek:’ Three Most Important Films

“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise… To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before…” It’s hard to believe that it’s been 45 years since Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise first uttered those iconic words. Who would have known back then that a science fiction television show that struggled to make it three seasons would become such an important part of world culture. In celebration of the anniversary of 45 years of “Star Trek,” let’s look at three of the most important films that were spawned by creator Gene Rodenberry’s vision of humankind’s future.

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”

After the disappointing reunion of the original TV series’ cast in 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” Paramount and creators of the legendary show knew they had to push the limits on a sequel and almost just start from scratch again. 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” definitely upped the ante with tons more action, the humor fans came to expect and enjoy from the original series, and unexpected events that could change the entire future of the franchise. It also helped that one of the most popular villains from the original TV show made a vengeful return in the form of Ricardo Montalban as Kirk’s old nemesis Khan. The death of a major character one movie into attempting to start a new movie franchise set this entry apart and showed “Star Trek” to be unpredictable. “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is regarded by most fans as the best film in the long-running franchise.

“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”

1986’s “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” marked actor/director Leonard Nimoy’s second stint behind the camera on an entry in the franchise. According to NImoy, it is the most well received of the “Star Trek” films, using the subject of environmentalism and animal preservation to pull in moviegoers who were not already fans of the series. Its setting in the present (at the time) and commentary on society made humorous by visitors from the future also helped. The movie has the crew of the Enterprise traveling to the Earth of the past to get two humpback whales that an alien presence is looking for in the future. It will destroy the Earth unless it can make contact with them. They can’t find them because they have become extinct. This grossed more than the second or third films in the “Star Trek” film series and almost matched “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” It was well received by critics and nominated for several awards.

“Star Trek” (2009)

Director/producer J.J. Abrams took the original concept and characters of the first “Star Trek” series and, to the surprise of many long-time “Trekkies,” successfully re-booted the franchise after it was left for dead by the universally detested “Star Trek: Nemesis.” Abrams did this by simultaneously starting over from the beginning with a fresh young cast while paying homage to the past with the presence of one of the three major characters from the original series. Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock, who has tracked down the Kirk of the past to warn him that a Romulan has come back in time to alter history and destroy the Federation. The film kept old fans happy by not denying anything in the past cannon of “Star Trek” history had happened but taking the characters into a different timeline and opening up a whole new world of future possibilities and storylines. It’s the highest grossing movie in the “Star Trek” franchise to date.

Bruce Guthrie, (1986-12-09) “Spock’s Many Happy Returns,” The Telegraph

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