In Love With Star Trek - My Full Reaction to J.J. Abrams' Presentation!
by Alex Billington
November 20, 2008
Live long and prosper. Those few words, unlike the lack of "Bond, James Bond" in Quantum of Solace, are uttered by Leonard Nimoy himself in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. Their inclusion is only one of so many elements that keeps this newest Star Trek true to its roots. Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend Paramount's final Star Trek special presentation in Los Angeles. Abrams himself was on hand to introduce 20 minutes of footage, comprised within 4 scenes, to a large audience of fans and filmmakers alike on the Paramount lot. By this point, everyone knows exactly what was shown (you can find good write-ups online), so I'm not going to provide an additional breakdown. Instead, I thought I'd look at some of the reasons why I think Star Trek looks absolutely amazing and why Abrams was the right guy to reboot this franchise.
Before I begin, let me just say that the footage was outstanding. It felt like they took everything that's great about the Star Trek universe and re-imagined into one of the most epic and exciting reboots I've seen in a long time. To give everyone an idea of how important this presentation was, directly in front of me sat Zachary Quinto (who plays Spock), John Cho (who plays Sulu), and Bruce Greenwood (who plays Captain Pike), while directly behind me sat Kevin Feige, Marvel's president of production. It was an exciting presentation that I couldn't wait to see and didn't want to end. Abrams introduced the 4 scenes and from there we were quickly pulled into his vision of Star Trek and damn was it unbelievably incredible.
J.J. Abrams has become an increasing controversial choice for director since the trailer hit. However, I have complete faith in him, even though he isn't the biggest Trekkie (or Trekker) out there. He explained that he grew up a bigger fan of series like Planet of the Apes and The Twilight Zone than Star Trek. At first he wasn't initially that interested in directing this, but it was the great script (written by Transformers writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) that sold him. What little glimpse we got of the full film did have some great writing. Or at least made me realize this wasn't just a glossy throwaway summer movie - it had a lot of substance and a lot of extensive and exhilarating storytelling. When Abrams took over, he wanted it to be epic but intimate and encompass "everything", from romance to adventure and so much more.
After seeing this footage, I was finally able to interpret what the plot is actually about. As we all know, it's essentially about how all of the entire USS Enterprise crew get to their current positions, with a focus on Captain James T. Kirk. However, it's also about the maiden voyage of the Enterprise as well. By the time it leaves (on an emergency mission to assist with a lightning storm at planet Vulcan) with Captain Pike at the helm, every crew member that eventually comes to run the ship is on it, in various ways. One comical scene shows us how Kirk gets his friend Bones McCoy (played by Karl Urban) to inject him with a virus, making him sick and allowing him to get on board via a technicality since he is in his care. It may be a little off-putting at first, but that kind of quirky comedy is what makes the Star Trek universe so fun.
From there the ship gets to Vulcan only to realize that the lightning storm was a trap set by a mysterious Romulan ship. Through various extreme circumstances, we get to see Bones become the head medical officer, Uhura become the head communications officer, and Spock eventually be given command of the ship before Kirk challenges him for it (in a scene we didn't get to see). For a mild fan of Star Trek, it was very exciting to see all this happening, all set amidst an emergency mission that the Enterprise was sent out on. How's that for intensity? And if you think that plot is intense, just wait until you see some of the "extreme" scenes, like the free fall from space that Kirk and Sulu do to get down to Vulcan.
What I really loved about Abrams' casting choices are that the biggest actors are in the smaller roles. For example, Karl Urban and Eric Bana seem to be the biggest names, and both do have big roles, but Abrams' choices for Kirk, Spock, and even Chekov, are all lesser-known actors but some of the best in the whole movie. For example, Anton Yelchin, who plays the Russian engineer Chekov, has a thick accent that I was shocked to hear in one of the scenes. But by the end of it, I was more than impressed. This kid could really pull it off and I was amazed that it didn't sound tacky or cheesy, it felt like it fit but also had that quirky nature to it, just like the original show. I don't think I even need to begin talking about Chris Pine or Zachary Quinto - because they had the biggest shoes to fill and pulled it off without question.
My favorite scene (seen below), and the one that really convinced me that Abrams was the right guy, was the last one we were shown. Everyone got a glimpse of it in the trailer: it involves the giant beam of energy that is being shot from space down onto the planet. Without giving away too much, that beam is a drill that is extending down from the Romulan ship. Captain Pike sends Kirk and Sulu down to the planet to the edge of the drilling platform to blow it up and disrupt the beam. Pike heads out in a transporter and the two of them (along with a "red shirt") dive out of it in futuristic suits and free fall all the way down to the planet. Eventually they encounter some Romulans on the platform and must fight to live, but the effects, the beautiful futuristic look, the action, the intensity - all of it was all utterly unbelievable.
Or at least unbelievable in a sense that someone was actually making this all real. I've been a big fan of Abrams ever since Mission: Impossible III. I think the reason why I loved that movie so much was that he took a great script and turned it into something as thrilling and exciting as the first movie. The action scenes in M:I:III were a huge step up from anything in the series previously. Abrams put that same level of energy in Star Trek and took its action up a notch, too - this ain't you dad's Trek anymore. It's not just that the last scene where they free fall looked completely and utterly real, but the intensity, the way it was shot, and everything about it was something that I felt like only Abrams could genuinely pull off.
Other journalist out there might try to dissuade you about Abrams' vision of this franchise and claim that he's taking something classic and turning it a pile of glossy Hollywood crap, but I couldn't disagree more. What Abrams is doing is taking a franchise that has progressively lost its magic over the years and is pumping it full of modern-day energy and excitement - which is exactly what it needs. It's not only fun, but it's intense, it looks great, and it's a true Star Trek film at its core with massive space battles and epic fight scenes. If you're curious to delve into more details from the Star Trek presentation, our good friend Peter at SlashFilm has a great write-up on the footage, too. And now that I've seen nearly 20 minutes from both movies, I'll make a confession - I'm more excited for Star Trek than I am Watchmen.
Reader Feedback - 25 Comments
Some good progression there, I can't wait for this film! Hopefully it will live up to the hype, but is the film not a prequel? Can you stop saying "Reboot" the word sends chills down my spine now
Tom Dearsley on Nov 20, 2008
Ive never been much of a Star Trek fan. Vaguely seen some part of the original show then watched a few episodes of Next Generation. And when I heard about this movie I was the least bit interested... but I gave the trailer a spin and wow, I am pretty exited now. Should be cool!! James Bond is back badder than ever, Star Trek looks to be a huge reboot... now if only Lucas could get his head out of his ___, then maybe Star Wars could come back with a punch... I can only dream.
Tomi on Nov 20, 2008
More excited for Trek than Watchmen? Now that's a compliment.
Carl Denham on Nov 20, 2008
This will be awesome but I'd rather see watchmen without a doubt
Scott McHenry on Nov 20, 2008
I wish i could go back and revisit the old episodes of star trek, they were so boring looking when it was on tv. I never could get myself to watch it, but im more than excited to this new moive. Thanks for the write-up Alex i cant wait!
big r on Nov 20, 2008
You can't be serious, MI:III is an awful movie. No suspense, no fun and no impossible mission...
Narf on Nov 20, 2008
I'll agree that Star Trek needed some new blood, at the production helm. The latter day TV series ( DS 9, Voyager and Enterprise) and the last two films had a very cookie-cutter / production line feel to them. The stories had been in the hands of the same people for far too long. There hadn't been a real feeling of suspense, in a Star Trek film since The Wrath of Khan; while on TV the peak of Star Trek came in The Next Generation third season finale / fourth season premiere episode "The Best of Both Worlds". I'll give an honorable mention to Star Trek: First Contact, that was not a bad effort. Everything else has felt like they have been treading water, for a very long time. I like the trailer for J.J.'s Star Trek, it looks pretty cool; but I'm reserving final judgement until after I get to see it.
Dave Lister, JMC on Nov 20, 2008
So let me get this straight... The team that gets sent down to disrupt the beam consists of Captain Pike, Kirk, Sulu....and Yeoman Johnson?
Divad on Nov 20, 2008
I hated all ST movies up until First Contact, and I also liked Resurrection, I know alot of people didn't but its one of my favorites, maybe because Data kicks so much ass, but anyway I agree I want to see this more then Watchmen too, I have no doubt it will be better, maybe not by all that much but as a whole I think it will be, as well as more financially successful.
Richard on Nov 20, 2008
Did anyone else notice that paramount ran a 1 minuted ad on fox this week during JJ Abrams's "FRINGE" for a movie that doesn't come out 7 months from now.
Arsenal215 on Nov 20, 2008
Alright. It looks good. In what is essentially a 20 minute trailer with talent on hand to stoke you for the flick, of course it does. The press screenings are swell and I'm glad that they're getting buzz up for the movie....BUT.... more excited for this REBOOT (ugh) than the adaptation of the "unfilmable" Watchmen? Thems be crazy pills you're taking. I love Star Trek. I am looking forward to this movie, but this is not the second coming of Surak. The last time JJ got a movie overly hyped it was called Cloverfield and it was worse that a handjob with no climax. I'll dance a jig and jump for joy that Abrams brought Star Trek back from the gates of Bermanian hell. I'll cheer like a ten year old at a Hulk Hogan comeback match. But I am gonna wait until after the friggin movie. Not while I'm watching the commercials.
ScottyR on Nov 20, 2008
I have to sincerely disagree with you Alex. But I do respect your opinion that you are outlandishly more excited for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek than Zack Snyder's Watchmen - although its really no contest, Watchmen will blow Star Trek out of the sky (no pun intended). The trailer I saw only makes me agree with other reviewers that Abrams is simply glossing this up to appeal to the generation Y audience. That plot point about Kirk getting himself sick and sneaking onto the Enterprise via his friend Bones - that's what they came up with? A cheesy idea like that actually flies? (pun intended). Couldn't really careless for this reboot. I'd rather watch the classic Star Trek movies esp. Star Trek VI!
Conrad on Nov 20, 2008
The music for the trailer was really awesome. It complemented all the action scenes really well.
Sparklene on Nov 20, 2008
Great job Alex! As a Abram's fan this is exciting as Hell. Ssw the sort new trailor on "Fringe" and at Solice the full version. With the exception of "Lost" this will put him over the top! Haters like t-boner, please don't ruin it for the rest of us.
Tim"Cloverfield" on Nov 20, 2008
REBOOT! REBOOT! REBOOT! That word is such a buzzword for you now isn't it? I'm sticking with prequel, since that more properly describes the film (this ain't James Bond, where they're ignoring everything that happened before - otherwise Leonard Nimoy probably wouldn't even be in the film).
Sean Kelly on Nov 20, 2008
Don't care what SOME say, saw the trailer this weekend at Bond. Looks impressive to me, with the art direction jumping out of the screen. JJ is showing his range and I like it. After his brilliance with Clover, maybe he can do anything! ( you hated that as well did you not bonerT?)
D-9 on Nov 20, 2008
"J.J. Abrams has become an increasing controversial choice for director since the trailer hit. " Which part of this sentence is grammatically incorrect? Come on Alex, please proof read what you write.
John on Nov 20, 2008
Ya just know Pike is gonna bite it,,, There goes the Menagerie.
790 on Nov 20, 2008
"I'm more excited for Star Trek than I am Watchmen." really? wow. i hope its all we want and more. im a big trekkie and treat it like my baby but ive never been so excited for any "reboot".... EVER.
nick on Nov 20, 2008
Some call it prequel, others reboot... but still looks like this movie is really a sequel since it involves time travel in a very interesting way. The actual old Spock goes to the past for some reason and then it comes all the reimaginingprequel stuff... this new backstory of the original crew. Just that now they're all played by different actors. Even if the movie begins with a young Kirk it's still connected to the old franchise by Leonard Nimoy who, apparently, plays the same character in the same universe/continuity. So, this story happens in the past, but after Spock is sent there, after all he have lived, all we've seen in the previous films/series. It's just a bucle in time. So it seems like it is a prequel, a sequel and a reboot at the same time. Either way, who cares? We just wanna watch a new Star Trek movey properly made. I liked the trailer, not a big Trek fan... hope Abramas make this a good one.
Christ on Nov 20, 2008
Im just glad that someone like JJ has the reigns on this film someone whos movies i love i know im going to love this. I grew up on STTNG and watched the classics DS9 Voyager and Enterprise wich i dont know why they canned it for but neway i will probly see this a cople times lol.
WERDNAFAZ on Nov 21, 2008
I am just glad to know that Star Trek got a reboot. I am a Sci Fi fan, and there has not been any quality to them. Let alone any real good budgets for them. It is good to see a re-image of it. I just want to be sure the story is good and not just flashy sequences that end up looking like Fast and Furious, which is apalling. If everything is about speed and intensity without the story to match, we all can see through that and get bored equally as much. I liked Star Trek II the most, with IV and First Contact. Other than that, the Generation Series was the best, but there were hits and misses, mostly with the holodeck and Troi's Mother. Once the borg was introduce, the suspence was there, it kept things in dispair for the crew. Another problem I have with Star Trek, movies and Series. I understand the wait until fired upon notion, but it seems everytime someone attacks a Starfleet vessel, it is always crippling. The shields are always in the red, phasors dont work, and warp speed is down. Is redundacy not an option. For example, the A-10 Thunderbolt, has several backup to prevent it from being knocked out of the sky immediately, it can sustain a considerable amount of damage before going home. I am sure that someone will point out that there are episodes where this is not the case, but a majority of the time, it really is. But overall, am looking forward to this movie.
Bishopsring on Nov 21, 2008
I hated the thought of star trek.. it was and looked really corny and dumb i thought.. after watching the trailer for this one i fell in love! i Loved it!! Bring on 2009!
Max Russian on Nov 21, 2008
I'm waiting for the finished film before rating this The Best Film Ever. It's just a flashy trailer so far. Action and effects don't make a good movie.
avoidz on Nov 21, 2008
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