William Shatner in 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan'

If you've never dived into the Star Trek universe before, you may wonder why anticipation is running so high for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, due in theaters on Friday. A kid on a motorcycle, a guy with pointy ears, some Scottish dude, ships swooshing through space: what's the big deal?

Beyond the early raves, the new Star Trek holds the promise of delivering more of what Star Trek fans have come to demand: cool moments, the kind that make you smile or gasp or nod your head or yell "Yes!!" in a crowded theater. (Guilty as charged on the last one.) The original series, created by Gene Roddenberry, featured a distinctive, multi-racial crew that treated each other like family and dared to ask: "Why?" For example, the episode "The Devil in the Dark" asked: Why did that monster attack? What led up to it? What does the monster want?

The best, coolest moments in the movies that eventually followed were the ones that relied on those two essential elements: the characters and the questions. Here are my seven coolest Star Trek moments, with special meanings noted if you aren't familiar with the franchise.

1. "KHAAANNN!!!!" (from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Captain James Tiberius Kirk (William Shatner) is constantly being hailed for his intelligence. He has a unique ability to think outside the box in order to solve problems, but when he's marooned on a dead planet with the prospect of being buried alive, courtesy of the wrathful Khan (the great, late Ricardo Montalban), all he can do is furiously shout his adversary's name. What makes it cool: We rarely see the calm, collected Kirk lose it entirely. His vulnerability and impotence in the apparent face of death make him all the more human.

categories Cinematical