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J.J. Abrams Finally Apologizes for All Those Lens Flares in 'Star Trek'

by
September 30, 2013
Source: CraveOnline

Star Trek Into Darkness

This is definitely going to rile up the Trekkies. Over the last four years since J.J. Abrams directed and delivered Star Trek, Super 8 and the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, many (many) people have complained about his overuse of lens flare in the movies. In an interview conducted just a few weeks ago (likely for the Blu-ray release of Into Darkness), Abrams finally manned up and admitted he has a problem: he's addicted to lens flares. "I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery," he said. J.J. explains it was his wife, of all people, who finally got him to realize just how much he went overboard with lens flares.

Here's the complete quote from CraveOnline (found via io9) where J.J. Abrams finally says he went too far:

"I know I get a lot of grief for that," says Abrams. "But I'll tell you, there are times when I'm working on a shot, I think, 'Oh this would be really cool... with a lens flare.' But I know it's too much, and I apologize. I'm so aware of it now. I was showing my wife an early cut of Star Trek Into Darkness and there was this one scene where she was literally like, 'I just can't see what's going on. I don't understand what that is.' I was like, 'Yeah, I went too nuts on this.'"

"This is how stupid it was," J.J. Abrams added. "I actually had to use ILM [Industrial Light & Magic] to remove lens flare in a couple of shots, which is, I know, moronic. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery."

For the full interview and quote in context, head to CraveOnline. Of course it was his wife, whom he has said is an important person in many ways in his life (she was the one who convinced him to do Star Wars), that made him look at all the lens flares in a different light (no pun intended). For me personally, Abrams' lens flares never really bothered me in the way they really bothered many other moviegoers. Unless they were obnoxiously overused, I felt they added to the atmosphere. Luckily I haven't ended up in many debates, however I'm well aware there was always a bitter discussion about his lens flares every time a trailer would hit. Maybe this is a hint there won't be any in Star Wars? We'll have to wait and see. What do you think?

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  • OfficialJab
    Pretty sure most people didn't notice until calling them out became a fad. I won't miss them, but I didn't dislike them either.
  • DAVIDPD
    I also was not mad that he intentionally put so many lens flares in STAR TREK, but I almost would have rather him not made this apology. Accept that it was a mistake, but at the time he thought it was a good idea. Stand behind your decisions.
    • OfficialJab
      Politely disagree. I think it shows good character to humbly admit a mistake (even if the mistake part is under debate). No director or film is perfect, and honest hindsight observations by film-makers is interesting to me. Like Joss Whedon saying he was never really happy with the 'queen-bee' style defeat of the Chitauri army in Avengers.
      • axalon
        "Like Joss Whedon saying he was never really happy with the 'queen-bee' style defeat of the Chitauri army in Avengers." That's interesting, how come he didn't use something else? Was there a time crunch and they just didn't have the time to come up with another way to defeat them?
        • OfficialJab
          I forget the reason it wasn't changed, it's on the commentary though, check it out. I maybe shouldn't have said 'always', I'm not positive if he said it that way. I always thought they should have surrendered after seeing their base destroyed. Would make them seem more intelligent, slightly humanized. Could have good shots of the Leviathans circling in the sky.
        • Chris Groves
          Well, without the Phantom-Menace-esque "cut the strings of the puppets" moment...the Avengers would then have to finish off all of the remaining Chitauri in the city after the mothership is defeated. You either have to show that, or do some kind of montage...both of which are kind of unnecessary. PLUS they didn't have infinite time and money on that first film. Also, he talked about how he wanted to give the Avengers the 'moment of victory', and for the bomb to be the grand finale. I mean, we just saw them fighting for 15-20 minutes. To have the bomb go off, and for them to still have more fighting to do...it just kind of would have been overkill and dragged on a bit too much. It wasn't the most creative solution, but it's not one that ruins the film. The pros of the film far outweigh the cons.
    • https://twitter.com/dnwilliams dnwilliams
      I wish he hadn't let other people convince him it was a mistake. It was a fun characteristic that was humorous when pointed out and riffed on, that's all. Like Shyamalan's twists. Shyamalan movies started sucking when he bowed to pressure/mockery and dropped the twists... I'm sure Abrams movies will be cool without the lens flare, but I found his addiction endearing.
  • http://twitter.com/jertown Jertown
    By the time I saw his first Star Trek film people were already whining about the lens flares so I went in expecting to be annoyed. I actually enjoyed them almost immediately. They added something vaguely futuristic to the feeling you got from each shot, similar to the way the handheld camera added an organic feeling to Firefly.
  • Chuckee Knowlton
    Much ado about nothing. I never understood the controversy. Just don't put em in Star Wars
    • Dan Hibiki
      Star Wars is the one place they'd fit in. Star Wars is grimy and when dirt gets on the lens you should see glowing and flares when people whip out light sabers.
  • Linkfx
    i always liked the lens flares.
    • bugger_butt
      me too
  • Have Hope
    Lens Flares are only the BEGINNING of my issues with this OVER-RATED man
  • ObliqueStrategy
    He needs to apologize for making everything teal. Conference rooms, spaceships and the empty void of outer space shouldn't all be the same color.
  • SV7
    Making a parody of Wrath of Khan bothered me. Killing Kirk when it was obvious how this would resolve itself creating no emotional pay off, that lazy scene setting up the cure with the tribble and Uhura's constant whining. These things bothered me. I thought the lens flares looked kinda cool :)
    • Dominic
      it was ONLY obvious because they had the scene with McCoy and the Tribble and using Khan's blood ... really this is a stupid criticism , because in EVERY hero-type movie you know he/she's not dying no matter what . Cause if they did you'd know about it before u saw the movie . no sequel if u kill the hero Right ?? Actually Saldana was great , and JJ gave her much more influence and involvement than Nichelle Nichols ever had . Esp. in the beginning ; nichelle didn't get good stuff to work with until "The Kiss" in the Thrall episode I don't get this hate of the movie . It's a reboot but they've changed enough to make it somewhat unique . It actually make more sense for KIRK to die for the ship , while Spock is the only person on the ship that can last more than 30 secs with him in a fight . Spock also needed the emotional reason to fight . Matter of fact here it's not Kirk that humanizes him it's Uhura . Kirk's dying words is what opens him up finally , because it's SUPPOSED to . and all this is really just a Prequel since NOW the 5-year bid starts .. JJ had to compress all we love about Trek in two movies and 5 hours you may not be pleased about it bt it's not a bad movie ...( just watched again last N )
      • SV7
        If you didn't find the same issues, that's fine. But I find these things bad and lazy writing. It's no different to a dumb time travel ending where the climax is reset. It sucks. Not because you didn't know the god guy was going to win, because it is contrived and obvious and because of the lack or emotional pay off. The swapping of the Kirk/Spock roles made me laugh out loud. It was a joke. I just re-watched it the other night too. It's a pretty fun ride for most of it, until this stuff. I don't like that they used Khan, but I can live with it. But the stuff listed above is bad screenwriting and creative choices and I (and apparently millions of other movie goers) had a problem with that.
        • Dominic
          u could say then that all movies are contrived . There are no new stories ; just different ways to preset them . Some work some don't . as I said tho if u think killing Kirk instead was bad screenwriting , then ur gonna hate a lot of movies . Cause they're not killing the man star , no matter what sit he gets put in . Would you say the same of Riddick ?, which also has been described as a bad flick but a fun ride ... i will grant you a lot of films just suck now . so u go with the best ride and forget the lens flashes lol A time travel reset . Hmm wouldn't that be compelling if it happened in the villian's favor ? Or like Kirk having to watch Joan Collins die cause saving her royally screws things up .. I meant to ask u if u hate them using Nimoy (shrugs ) they've established him in their ui , so they might as well make the across-galaxies call to him ... .. OR is this REALLY hate for Lindelof ??? forgot that he was Exec Producer .. a lot of ur " millions "just have a negative hard-on for him ... Khan tried to reset time didn't he ?
          • Dominic
            The only thing JJ really can't do is kill the Enterprise ... gotta tell a few more stories 1st ... ahh you didn't like making Khan an anti-hero ? In custody he became a sympathetic figure . all a ruse to get on the Black 'Prise tho ...thus used to rise Spock's ire.
          • Dominic
            Try to remember Original Trek . The Kirk-Spock bond is assumed already and almost cemented ( the 'Awakening Spock's emotions cause Kirk died " story came in the Amok Time epi .) . Thus TWOK can use it for full dramatic advantage . JJ is telling you the history BEFORE the 5-year mission , and used an ASLEEP time traveler's actions TO cement the bond . They crammed as much of the mythology in as they could .... I forgot how funny it was !
          • OfficialJab
            Already expressed my thoughts on the movie to that other guy a minute ago, but I think that you have an interesting point here about something else. With Abrams trying his best to sell the Kirk/Spock relationship, you hear a lot about how they have not had enough screen time so it doesn't feel like they've earned it. To build on your thought though, and to echo something JJ said about the first, the relationship IS there already. They're compatible people in the right way, something needs to bring it out. Instead of a series of hundreds of adventures, it's one profound moment. In fact, the moment that made me feel it the most wasn't the radiation chamber scene, though I liked it, it was when he told Spock that he should be the one in command instead, just before he leaves with Khan.
          • Dominic
            I can agree with that . But it doesn't make Spock cry . He needed the breakthrough . Grief - Rage Kirk was thinking " Pike was right I'm too bull-headed to be in this focachta Starfleet ...."
          • OfficialJab
            The chamber scene where he cries is the key moment, but it achieves that, I think, because of some of their moments, like the 'you're in command' one, and also just before the HQ attack, when he asks "Do you understand, why I went back for you?" - a line that Pine killed on. I think he did better than Cumberpatch actually, and really carried most of the movie for me. I liked him the first time around, but ID made me a Chris Pine fan. And to consolidate our other conversation into this one, I knew the purpose of that scene, but I don't think it was a good idea, and the dialogue writing kept it from impressing me - and Ben's delivery. Cliché dramatic pauses for no reason, and "I'm better" and you just know what the next two lines are already. "At what?" "Everything." Duh. Yawn.
          • Dan Hibiki
            no he doesn't, because you see his betrayal coming a mile away.
          • Dominic
            well yes it's 'telegraphed " from our knowledge of the character from original Trek . We already know he wants to wake his people soon as we see the torpedos . But in THIS movie SPECIFICALLY , u feel sympathy for him because Starflleet is just as much of a villian . i.e. Pike wouldn't have died if Marcus hadn't given Kahn reason to go after him . Or woken him up in the 1st place , for Marcus' own meglomaniac reasons .... Really u guys show u don't understand what ur watching ...
          • Dan Hibiki
            The movie phoned up old Spock and he literally told the audience that Khan is evil and will betray Kirk in the next few minutes.
          • Dominic
            umm have u forgotten the 1st movie ? Original Trek Spock IS alive in JJ's universe no phonying needed .. I forget how Spock figured out to ask Spock about Khan maybe they mindmelded so New Spock had the warning of the name in shared memories
        • OfficialJab
          I agree with you in this, mostly. I think Kirk should have been dead, or they shouldn't have killed him period. On one hand killing him and not bringing him back is brave, but then the next one will just feel too much like SfS. Not having a sacrifice scene probably would have been better. There are a million other ways to raise the stakes, unfortunately none of them filled the story need of having Kirk learn the sacrifice play to truly earn the Chair going forward. And for Khan.... I think it went fine, but his dialogue wasn't written quite well enough for me, particularly in the holding cell reveal scene. I think if the film had been about a terrorist named John Harrison wearing a sweet long coat, then it would have been orders better overall. Yeah, I ramble.
          • Dominic
            Well that scene is when JJ tries to get sympathy for Khan . Even tho WE know, because of the # of torpedos matches Khan's 'Family " , that he's just trying to awaken his crew .. so he had to be soft and placating while still NOT sharing all the info to Kirk . It's comparable to the Space Seed scene where Kirk is interviewing Khan for the 1st time , before they find out he's a criminal . Kahn is very pleasant then , until " I find myself growing fatigued again .." With JJ he was known as a criminal from the start
  • Chris Groves
    I'm one of those people that LOVED Into Darkness. I feel that these two new Star Trek movies are how you make 'reboots/re-imaginings'...you take what came before, and play off of it. Sometimes you emulate how it went, sometimes you play against it to invert expectations. I loved it. That being said, I'm glad that Abrams is willing to admit that there are things he can adjust to be better. Even if it is as simple as avoiding lens flares. I hope Episode 7 is given a more 'cleaner' style that is more in line with the visual aesthetic of the original trilogy. I like that directors come out and talk about improving. Whedon is open about Avengers NOT being a perfect movie, and how he intends to improve the next time around. "I can't make it bigger, but I can make it better." I love that. Even when Cameron came out and announced that he would have co-writers for each of the Avatar sequels...that is pretty much an admission that the script for Avatar was not as complex as it could have been(I still loved the movie, but there is room for improvement)
  • Dominic
    I've never noticed these things so I'd laugh when somebody complained about them . How about watching the CHARACTERS speak 1st ? and worrying about the scenery on the 2nd or 3rd viewing ... maybe he sees it as conveying reality , cause if u had the camera that was pointing at real events you'd see 'em ....
  • Xerxexx
    People bitch about anything. And everything for that matter. Lens flares did not hinder the film.
    • cobrazombie
      The shitty script did though.
      • http://www.jimmylove.com/ Jimmy Love
        Yeah you can blame that on shitty fans! I hate that movie studios feel they have to do things for the fans! All anyone said after the first trek was we want Kahn! well you got him now shut the fuck up and deal with it!
  • avconsumer2
    Haha, while he did go crazy on the first one, you could tell there was some healthy restraint on the 2nd Trek. Everything in moderation J.J.! (except Star Destroyers... you can't have too many Star Destroyers)
    • wobbles9094
      I'd have taken more lens flares in exchange for a better story
      • OfficialJab
        Me too. I liked it a lot the first time I saw it, but each time I see it, I like it a bit less. Even Cumberpatch's performance bugs me sometimes, and I would have considered that heresy when I first saw it.
  • TheOct8pus
    There were less lens flares in the second one because it was "Into Darkness" and there's less light there....
  • Such heroic nonsense
    what! i found nothing wrong with the flares. If people have sensitive eyes, dont watch movies with CGI in them and stick to black and white movies.
  • cobrazombie
    Maybe he has talent, maybe not. His JJ Trek movies were very very average. Get better script writers and maybe his skills will show. Those fucking lens flares are just ridiculous. At least he has some balls to admit it.
  • blkstar
    I don't mind the flare. That's how you know its him, its what separates him from other directors.
    • Manuel Granados
      So a gimmick is what should separate him? How about being awesome or something? I think he'd prefer that.
  • FU
    He should work that hard on the story line..
  • Manuel Granados
    I am ok with his Star Treks, I am not a huge trekkie so they are alright, not something I'd go out of my way to own special editions of. But I did have a huge problem with Super 8. I hated the corny tone of the movie and the "omg let's bring tears to your eyes just like Spielberg does in his worst moments". It didn't help that you had weird lens flares all of a sudden in the movie but you couldn't get a clear shot of the spidermonsteralien.

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