Robert Wise is the best director of the bunch but we're supposed to disregard everything but their Trek contribution... I love TMP but I'm not sure it was the best directed of the bunch.
Nicholas Meyer is the best writer of the bunch and a solid-if workmanlike director-and he did direct my favorite movie of the bunch. But does that make him the best director? Who is to say if Stuart Baird or Jonathan Frakes or Shatner or whomever
had the script to TWOK that it wouldn't have been just as good? This will require more thinking...
Leonard Nimoy did a fine job on TSFS and TVH but... I am going to disqualify him right now. His work with the actors is terrific and it should be because he's an actor himself but... directing actors isn't the only thing directors are responsible for. Visuals matter too. Nimoy's visual presentation is television quality at best so I'm disqualifying him right here.
William Shatner takes a lot of shit for TFF and a lot of it is unfair. He had a lot riding against him from the start. Paramount not only cut the budget to his film requiring him to pull back on his FX heavy sequences but they also forced him to tack on a lot of humor to what is at heart a serious adventure story. Besides that ILM was unavailable to do the FX sequences they had budgeted so he had to settle for a third rate FX house. Considering how many obstacles he had in his way the performances in TFF are solider. The visual style was brisk and exciting. And the movie did attempt to bring Trek a little closer to the style of the series it was based on while still being a movie. It was Lawrence of Arabia
on a Larry the Cable Guy
budget. Shatner has not
been disqualified just because TFF is a flawed flick.
David Carson falls in the Leonard Nimoy camp. He coaxed some fine performances from his actors but his vision is strictly television. I don't know why more television directors can't bust free of the restrictions of the medium. Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner both started as television directors and they transitioned from the small to big screen with nary a sign of effort.
Jonathan Frakes was-as expected for an actor-good at coaxing performances from his costars. His visual style? Actually pretty decent. I mean he's no Spielberg or Donner but he's also better than David Carson. The man can certainly direct action well. The deflector dish scene in First Contact
was just plain epic. I want to mark him down a little for the tackiness of Insurrection
but much like Shatner he was working from a weak script. Sadly his script was far, faaar weaker than Shatner's. He's still in the running for me though.
Stuart Baird is a mixed bad. I don't consider him an actors director. Aside from Tom Hardy I thought most of the performances were kinda... paint by numbers. The actors seemed bored in that movie. Visually he wasn't half bad but then he was the bet editor and worked with the best directors. He knows what makes a good shot. Also the movie was fairly well edited but again... He's a great editor. Not a great director though. I'm disqualifying him.
JJ Abrams is good with actors. Visually pretty daring. He certainly knows his way around an action scene. A damn good director. One of the best on this list.
Who am I going with? Believe it or not.. Shatner. He had far more roadblocks and budgetary restrictions to deal with than any of the other directors. It can't be easy to make a movie when you're handcuffed and blindfolded but he not only made a movie but he made a movie with heart that was totally watchable.
The Final Frontier
is far from my favorite Trek movie and it is flawed but the fact that it isn't completely unwatchable is a testament to what a fine director William Shatner really is.
I'm just sorry he didn't get a second chance later on with a better script.
Overall I consider Robert Wise and JJ Abrams the best directors on the list. I consider TWOK the best movie on the list. I do feel that Shatner does deserve an A
for effort and that's what my vote is for.