The countdown to Star Trek Into Darkness is on... With new posters, images and footage coming out every week, and the first nine minutes of the J.J. Abrams sequel already having blown audiences away on IMAX screens before The Hobbit, fans are getting super excited for the May 17 release. Now, we're breaking down the five best movies of the long-running franchise -- and their best and worst moments.
Star Trek: The Best and Worst Moments
The Plot: A young, rebellious James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) must live up to his heroic father's legacy and join Starfleet when a vengeful Romulan (Eric Bana) seeks out to kill Spock (played young and old by both Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy) by creating planet-killing black holes.
Best Moment: Rather than beam down, Kirk and Sulu (John Cho) skydive at intense speed to land on a drilling platform to battle some Romulan bad guys in spectacular fashion.
Worst Moment: Kirk is jettisoned off the Enterprise because Spock doesn't like him, conveniently landing on a nearby planet that just happens to be where the old, alternate universe Spock lives – and just meters away from where he crash-lands, too. That's the best you've got, highly paid Hollywood screenwriters?
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The Plot: An aging James T. Kirk (William Shatner) finds his youth again when he's confronted by Khan (Ricardo Montalban), an enemy thought to be exiled and long gone, and must rally a ship full of freshmen recruits.
Best Moment: Caught "with his britches down" by Khan in a surprise attack on the Enterprise, Kirk buys time to lower his enemy's shields from his own bridge to launch a counter-attack, rather than surrender his ship.
Worst Moment: It's hard to find the flaws in this one, so the worst moment has to be the heroic death of Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who sacrifices himself in a radiation-filled chamber to get the warp engines back online and save his friends. With Kirk and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) watching his slow death through the thick pane, unable to save their companion, the film establishes the most bittersweet scene of the whole franchise.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
The Plot: It turns out that Spock transferred his Katra, or soul, to McCoy right before he died, and now Kirk and his loyal crew must steal the decommissioned Enterprise and return to the restricted Genesis Planet – which is also blocked by some ambitious Klingons -- to recover Spock's body before it's too late.
Best Moment: As Kirk sits on the Enterprise bridge, his son (Merritt Butrick) is killed by Klingons on the planet below and he's helpless to prevent it. Falling out of his captain's chair, Kirk sputters, "You Klingon bastard, you killed my son!" He then takes the only course of action he can – and sets the beloved Enterprise to self-destruct.
Worst Moment: Aside from Kirstie Alley not returning to play Saavik (with the lackluster Robin Curtis taking her place), the bar scene in which McCoy attempts to hire an alien's ship to take him to the Genesis Planet tries too hard to mine laughs from the Star Wars Cantina scene. It's just plain awkward.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The Plot: When an alien craft wreaks havoc on Earth's surface, Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise crew determine that they must travel back in time to the 20th Century to find and transport some now-extinct humpback whales in order to communicate with the aliens.
Best Moment: The Trek crew find themselves on the streets of 1980s San Francisco, at a loss with the lack of modern technology, finding "exact change" and attempting to blend in -- with Kirk trying on the local jargon for size after almost being hit by a car: "Well, a double-dumb ass on you!"
Worst Moment: Sporting a space Speedo, Spock dives into the whale tank to mind-meld with a pair of humpback whales – and discovers that one of them is pregnant.
Star Trek: First Contact
The Plot: When the Borg attacks Earth and time travels into the past to assimilate the planet, the intrepid Enterprise crew must stop them from preventing the inhabitants of mid-21st Century Earth from initiating First Contact with alien life – the Vulcans.
Best Moment: In addition to the spectacular opening battle scene against the Borg involving pretty much every ship in the Federation, the moment in which Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) blasts Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride when he's about to launch into warp speed for the first time in human history is a classic, human touch.
Worst Moment: Things get a little kinky when the sensual Borg Queen (Alice Krige) makes the moves on Data (Brent Spiner), reactivating his emotion chip and telling him that he hasn't "been properly stimulated yet." After blowing goosebumps on his newly grafted skin, she wiles, "Was that good for you?"