Here's Where You Can Stream Or Rent Every Star Trek Movie

(Welcome to Where to Watch, which provides a clear and simple answer to the question, "Hey, where can I watch this thing?" In this edition: the Star Trek franchise.)

Sometimes you look up and can't believe that a franchise has lasted for even half as long as it has. (Seriously, how many "Die Hard" movies can anyone possibly make?) Other times, the longevity and pop-cultural impact go well beyond self-explanatory, with audiences making their voices heard that there still remains a vociferous fanbase for the foreseeable future. That's the essence of "Star Trek," George Roddenberry and D.C. Fontana's idealistic and aspirational vision for the future. There's a good reason its message of hope, diversity, and unapologetic social commentary has endured for decades.

Whether you're a newcomer to the franchise or a longtime fan, the sheer amount of "Trek" available at a moment's notice can be overwhelming at times. That's where I come in. Think of me as your tour guide, walking you through all thirteen "Star Trek" movies produced thus far and where to stream or rent them.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Where to stream: Paramount+

In "Star Trek," the future is ... beige? Okay, look, not even the immensely popular sci-fi franchise was immune from the "Little Brother Syndrome" of having "The Original Series" airing on television in syndication for as long as it did. Everyone knew that the real prestige came from the big screen, and so "The Motion Picture" misguidedly did away with its iconic color palette in favor of a more grown-up look. I can't question the instinct to play things a little safe for the first-ever cinematic venture, but thankfully this phase didn't last very long, and "The Motion Picture" did enough to justify several more (better-looking) sequels.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Where to stream: Paramount+

"Wrath of Khan" is commonly regarded as the absolute best "Trek" movie, and whoever regarded that in the first place was absolutely right. The jump in quality from movie to movie in terms of both storytelling and visual splendor is shocking, and it's worth noting that "Wrath of Khan" beat the MCU to the bunch by decades in terms of cross-media storytelling. Audiences who maybe weren't as well-versed in "The Original Series," particularly the episode "Space Speed" that featured Khan Noonien Singh's initial appearance, wouldn't have missed a beat as the movie deftly reintroduced the villain in the ultimate test of Captain James T. Kirk's abilities. If any newcomers watched "Star Trek: Into Darkness" and were just as confused as the characters when Benedict Khan-berbatch dramatically snarled out his name to a bunch of people who had never even heard of him, uh, trust me when I say both Khan and the dramatic death of a pivotal member of the crew are handled far better here.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Where to stream: Paramount+

"Star Trek" has never been shy about including absolutely absurd sci-fi concepts, but I would argue that's half the fun in the first place. The mental gymnastics involved in bringing Spock back after the events of the second film don't entirely make sense, but who can deny the pleasures of watching the unparalleled friendship between Spock and Kirk reestablished after everything they went through together in the prior movies and all 79 episodes of "The Original Series." In another instance of following the grand tradition of the franchise, "The Search for Spock" also delves into the spiritual side of the universe and serves as star Leonard Nimoy's feature film directorial debut. What couldn't that man do?

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Where to stream: Paramount+

You've probably heard about the "Star Trek" movie with time travel and all the whales before. But what might surprise you is that the "Star Trek" movie with time travel and all the whales is legitimately a blast. "The Voyage Home" finally brings the franchise's childlike love for time travel to the fore and deposits the beloved crew in a place and time entirely out of their depth: Earth in the late 20th Century. Their mission: save the whales. Once again directed by Nimoy, he fully embraces the inherent goofiness and charm of "Trek" by playing up the "fish out of water" joys of seeing such futuristic voyagers thrown back into then-contemporary times. Pavel Chekov finds himself a victim of Cold War anxiety, Scotty holds a computer mouse to his ear and says "Hello, computer," and it's all wrapped up in an extremely unsubtle environmental metaphor. This is as pure "Trek" as it gets.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Where to stream: Paramount+

Every franchise has its dud. "The Final Frontier" is the result of a tonal mishmash, a bit of an ego trip (William Shatner takes over directing duties on this one with ... interesting results), and some really bizarre ideas as a result of a shaky script. For example, Kirk goes mountain climbing and is saved from a nasty death by Spock showing up in a pair of rocket-powered shoes. And that's in the very first scene! The rest of the plot isn't much to write home about, but as far as franchise low points go ... well, it could've been much worse. High praise, I know.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Where to stream: Paramount+

Early "Star Trek" did much to build up Klingons as the Soviets to Starfleet's United States and "The Undiscovered Country" marks the point where Kirk's unease and mistrust towards the alien race turns into outright bigotry. It's an unexpectedly dark place to bring such a famous character, but the planned send-off for the original crew asked for high stakes to match. In their totality, the original crew would never share a scene together again, but the ending is as fitting a farewell as any fan could ask for.

Star Trek: Generations

Where to stream: Paramount+

As you can probably tell, "Star Trek Generations" is the franchise's most dour, self-serious installment yet. Okay, not really. If anything, this movie only suffers from trying too hard to give us the crossover we've been waiting for between Jean Luc Picard from "The Next Generation" and the esteemed James T. Kirk from the originals. Its heart is in the right place, even if production difficulties and cast availability didn't quite make this one as special as it could've been. Regardless, there's an undeniable joy in seeing "The Next Generation" crew come into their own on the big screen as well as the fleeting moments that Picard and Kirk share.

Star Trek: First Contact

Where to stream: Paramount+

Despite only taking some tentative first steps towards serialization, it's impressive how much "The Next Generation" established the Borg as a terrifying force to be reckoned with. This next phase of "Trek" doesn't quite work as well for those who haven't seen the television series that gave the new crew their start in the first place, but "First Contact" mostly justifies those years of fan investment by pitting Picard & Co. against the might of the Borg Queen. Jonathan Frakes as William Ryker carries on the Nimoy tradition of pulling double-duty as actor and director, the Borg Queen chews up the scenery alongside a frazzled Data, and Picard gets a monologue to end all monologues.

Star Trek: Insurrection

Where to stream: Paramount+

Making a movie is hard, folks. It's even harder when trying to take the foundation of a beloved television series and adapt it to the big screen in a way that doesn't merely come across like an extended episode. That's the tricky pitfall that "Stark Trek: Insurrection" falls into and doesn't quite make its way out of. But at this point, the strong attachment to the cast and characters likely overrides any fans' logic-based assessments of the film's quality. We tend to be more like Kirk than Spock if you will.

Star Trek: Nemesis

Where to stream: Paramount+

In the annals of "Star Trek" history, only "Nemesis" has the distinct honor of being the one that causes viewers to point to the screen and go, "Wait, is that Tom Hardy?!" This mixed bag of a movie also shares many of the ups and downs of the previous "Generation" entries, though with the added complication of a whole host of deleted scenes and scrapped character moments that surely would've added much more heart to the proceedings. Unfortunately, plans for future sequels would eventually be put on hold and the franchise's big-screen future seemed uncertain ... that is until J.J. Abrams came along.

Star Trek (2009)

Where to stream: Netflix

What's better than a reboot/prequel? Why, a reboot/prequel that bends over backward to avoid erasing prior continuity, thereby establishing a whole new alternate universe in which new stories can be told without affecting what came before, of course! In all honesty, this goofy approach to revitalizing a franchise is as quintessentially "Trek" as it gets. With a steady dose of time travel and wormhole shenanigans, J.J. Abrams took the series in a much more action-oriented direction, perfectly casting a new crew to embody the familiar roles of the original cast and introducing a new generation of fans to the series. It's not without its fair share of the typical style-over-substance problems that plague many a modern blockbuster, but it gets the job done well enough and sets the new movies up for a clean slate of endless possibilities, truly going where no one had gone before.

... and then the next movie happened.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Where to stream: Paramount+

Folks, I can't even pretend to remain objective about this one. Many find "Star Trek Into Darkness" enjoyable as an edgy, darker-toned addition to the franchise. Others find it to be an unforgivable blight on the classic series that should be stripped from canon altogether. I'm more in the camp that the performances of this cast have never been better and that Abrams' direction has rarely been slicker, but almost every instinct on a script level couldn't be more wrongheaded. It's simply a waste that rather than following up on his own previous movie and jumping headfirst into original stories, Abrams essentially remakes the most famous entry in "Trek" lore but does so with very little understanding of what worked in "Wrath of Khan" and why. It's a slog, but an eminently rewatchable one. If that makes any sense.

Star Trek Beyond

Where to stream: Hulu, Paramount+

Now, this is podracing! 

Whoa, sorry, wrong franchise. 

Now, this is what I'm talkin' about! "Star Trek" needed something of a course correction after "Into Darkness," and director Justin Lin couldn't have been better suited for the job with "Beyond." For my money, this is the franchise's most mature, philosophical, and forward-looking film that perfectly marries the idea of an extended "The Original Series" episode with the demands of blockbuster filmmaking. Chris Pine's Kirk has never felt more lived-in and human, his bond with Spock and Bones has never been more believable, and the sheer exhaustion everyone feels with being stuck in space for such a prolonged amount of time reflects an intriguing and bold idea that few "Trek" stories have explored before. It's an extremely worthy sequel and one that feels profoundly bittersweet amid the passing of both Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy. "Beyond" is a minor miracle of a film and one that should've spawned several more adventures with this cast by now. Maybe in an alternate universe, yeah?