Deep Trek – These Are Not The Treks You’re Looking For

Jedi Spock
Star Trek movies. We all have our favorites. We also have the ones that we most revile. While almost all of them have some redeeming features there is a truth that often even the most die hard of fans does not want to come to terms with. Quite simply most of them stray far from what Trek is supposed to be about. There are three notable exceptions to this, and two of those exceptions are as derided as one of them is beloved.

What We’ve Got Here Is Failure…

The problem with Star Trek in movie form is two fold. The first problem is that the essence of Trek is really only properly realized in the aggregate. This is why so many people insist and rightly so that Trek works best as a television show. There are truths to it that only come to light after many hours of viewing. One of the biggest ones is that fighting is never going to produce as meaningful and lasting a solution to a problem as understanding and openness will. In the hundreds of hours of television the number of those hours where doing battle is the solution to the problem pale in comparison to the hours where the proper course is anything but. Even in what is arguably the most violent of story arcs, the Deep Space Nine, Dominion War arc, the ultimate resolution comes about not because of battle but because Odo risks opening up to the Founders so as to make peace with them.

The movies however, sadly give us a much different message. Out of twelve movies from The Original Series, through The Next Generation and into the JJ movies a full nine of them have a battle of some kind as the main way the problem presented to our characters is solved. The only ones that do not fall into this trap are The Motion Picture, The Voyage Home, and The Final Frontier. Of these three, only one of them manages to fully capture the deepest essence of Trek. The other two are sufficiently flawed as to be considered by many among the least of the movies.

The Motion Picture, while avoiding using combat as a solution is more than a bit plodding, and takes itself far too seriously. The Final Frontier while possessed of some interesting notions suffers from second rate visual effects and a lack of faith in its director.

But the Voyage Home manages to be well paced, full of many genuinely fun and funny moments, and best of all shows our heroes saving the day without throwing so much as a single punch, nor firing a single shot. And it is the one Trek movie that is beloved by both fan and non fan alike.

Now I’m not the sort of person to claim that the other movies have nothing of Trek in them. But they are definitely off the mark. If they were just nine episodes among hundreds it wouldn’t matter all that much. But when they are nine of twelve? Well that leads to some problems.

They Pulled A Mind Scramble…

Somewhere along the way though most of us have allowed ourselves to be convinced that this is the way Trek on the big screen has to be. Many are so convinced of this that Galaxy Quest, a movie that in many ways epitomizes the very problem of which I speak is regarded by some as the best Trek movie ever. A movie that ends with a big space battle.

Galaxy Quest is not quite Star Trek. The problem is that neither are most of the movies that bear the Trek name.


Raised on the desert planet of Vulcanooine Roy is unaware at present of his heritage as the last of the Star Jedi. His greatest hopes are to get over to Tosche Station to pick up some self sealing stembolts and that the really hot Betazoid Princess in R2 Data’s holorecording won’t turn out to be his sister.

2 Comments ON " Deep Trek – These Are Not The Treks You̵... "
  • alt_example

    seannewboy May 15, 2015 at 11:35 am - Reply

    *standing ovation* Bravo.

  • alt_example

    GavinRuneblade May 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Excellent article.

    I think you can take this premise one more step: Why do the movies go one way, and the shows go another?

    It’s not “Hollywood only does action Sci-Fi”. Gravity, 2001, and dozens of more successful and influential sci-fi movies have not been action fests. The movie studio arm absolutely knows how to do drama and character driven story.

    What I most feel is different between the movies and the TV series is that in the movies the Federation is almost never shown as the utopia that it is on TV.

    In Trek lore humans have grown and evolved. As Picard eloquently explains multiple times they’re not perfect but they’re far beyond the Earth of those of us watching the show.

    On TV, issues were social, not usually survival. And the controversy was blunted by making it an alien culture. The Federation held the moral high ground (or searched to find it).

    But Earth, and humans were always shown as a positive influence on the culture of the galaxy, and a source of improvement and inspiration for other species.

    The movie humans are the familiar, violent, paranoid, threatened, fragile humans of modern day Earth.

    I love Trek for its optimism. The movies, could really do with more of it.

    Again, love the article, totally agree with you.

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