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The Wrath Of Khan’s Director Shares His Thoughts On The Star Trek Reboot

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MeyerIt takes a certain amount of chutzpah to take on the task of rebooting the venerable Star Trek franchise in the first place. It takes an extra-special brand of crazy to tackle arguably the greatest villain of the franchise, who starred in arguably the greatest film of the franchise. But that’s precisely what director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof did with last year’s controversial Star Trek Into Darkness. Trek fans have certainly let the world know how they felt about nü-Khan, but does the guy who actually directed The Wrath of Khan think?

Director Nicholas Meyer (seen above, with actor Ricardo Montalbán) was recently doing the rounds to promote the History Channel’s Houdini miniseries, which he directed. At one of those press conferences, a reporter asked the very question we posed above. At first Meyer deflected by recalling a story about how he gave J.J. Abrams a copy of The Annotated Sherlock Holmes for his Bar Mitzvah, but one of CraveOnline’s journos pressed the question by asking, “So, you liked his movies, or…?” Meyer’s response was both diplomatic and insightful:

I think, and I’ve made this analogy before, that Star Trek is a bottle into which different vintages can be poured. Over the years a lot of different vintages have been poured. Give you another way of looking at it: if you know the Catholic Mass, you know that many, many composers have set that mass to music. You know that the Brahm’s German Requiem has no relation to the Mozart Coronation Requiem, or the Haydn Mass… you would never know you were listening to the same piece because the music transforms the words, and the vintage may transform the bottle.

So my reaction, and I remember somebody saying ‘Not your grandfather’s Star Trek‘ when they were talking about J.J.’s stuff. And I was thinking, I can’t really be a judge of this because it is so different from what I understood. I made a lot of changes when I came to that Star Trek thing, because I used to say, ‘Well, why are they all wearing pajamas?’ I made it into the Navy. It was about the Navy in space. But I didn’t think I changed the characters. I thought Kirk and Spock and those people were who they were.

And I think the biggest thing that shocked me about J.J. was Spock beating the shit out of somebody, and thinking, ‘No, that’s changing the shape of the bottle.’ And it may be very entertaining, and it may make a gazillion dollars, but that’s changing the shape of the bottle. I guess that was my thought.

That’s about as eloquent a criticism of the flaws of the Abrams’ Trek as I’ve heard. I enjoyed the movies for what they were, while also recognizing their flaws and completely understanding why they pissed off many long-time fans. I think the cast is the strongest part of the reboot movies, but there’s no question that, especially with Spock, there have been some fundamental changes to their characters. Now, you could argue that he’s younger than we knew him in the original timeline, and he’s all messed up by having his homeworld blown up, but still — I can’t picture Leonard Nimoy screaming “Khaaaaaaaannnn!”

Abrams has occasionally been accused of making Star Trek movies that were a lot more like Star Wars, and I think that’s a valid observation. Now, of course, he’s actually making a real Star Wars movie with Episode VII, and Star Trek 3 has screenwriter Roberto Orci in the director’s chair, who co-wrote the last two Treks, as well as co-creating Fox’s Fringe and Sleepy Hollow. He also co-wrote the first two Transformers movies with his writing partner Alex Kurtzman, as well as Cowboys & Aliens and The Island. Kurtzman won’t be involved on Trek 3, nor will co-writer Damon Lindelof; instead, Orci will be partnering with newcomers Patrick McKay and John D. Payne (who also penned a script for a new Flash Gordon movie).

Star Trek 3 doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it’s slated to begin filming next year for release in 2016, to tie in with the 50th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s franchise.

Comments

  1. Orionsangel says:

    I’m not a big fan of Zachary Quinto’s Spock. He’s got the look down, but he’s too soft spoken and talks like a robot. It reminds me of the female Vulcan in STIII. Spock has a deep and commanding voice. Every word out of his mouth gets your attention. I know it was Nimoy who made that role amazing and Quinto has to do his own thing, but at least try. Quinto sounds like gay Spock and that’s not a knock at him or gay people.

    • Michael Kelly says:

      While I could agree with you on Quinto’s Spock we have to realize that these movies are the Star Trek equivalent to “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Presumably they are 10 or 15 years younger than the people from the original series and they are a alternate dimension version so the backstories and influences are slightly different.

    • JC says:

      Nor can he raise an eyebrow. Watch carefully — he never does — can’t do it.

      • Terry L Rosario Jr says:

        he cant? wow, what kind of actor cant raise an eyebrow? I will have to look at that again

    • sounder says:

      Fascinating.

    • JessSayin says:

      Agree. I think Chris Pine is dead on, but you’re right, Quinto as Spock doesn’t do it for me either.

  2. Mark Maranta says:

    Right on. Very well put. I’m agreeing with everything being said here. Or to put it another way: Pon Farr, JJ, you forgot the Pon Farr.

    • Rob Taylor says:

      But surely stuff like Pon Farr is taken out of the equation cos he is banging Uhura and more emotional than original Spock? The way the original thing was they would “bottle up” all emotion/urges etc for 7 years and then Pon Far releases it…This Spock is always releasing, either attacking Kirk, banging Uhura or yelling…

  3. JC says:

    Go, NICK MEYER. JJ is a hack and his movies have lots of cool-looking stuff and practically no internal logic. Nick Meyer should be writing/directing every major franchise. Read his book sometime. The guy’s SMART, and that is something missing in the JJ films.

  4. GeordiLaForge says:

    Meyer is too nice. JJ Abrams didn’t just change the wine’s vintage. He turned it into grape soda.

  5. Dark Blue says:

    Spock has lost his temper in the past; mainly due to mind altering flowers and things like that, but they made it clear, even in the original series, he was capable of it.

  6. Lee Mastroddi says:

    He’s showing some restraint in his remarks about Abrams’ OCD Trek movies, both of which I thought were awful, but notice how he also calls it “the Star Trek thing” and the characters “those people.” Doesn’t sound like he cares all that much about Trek in the first place, and that shows in his own movies. They also changed the shape of the bottle in less obvious ways which, nevertheless, have always annoyed me (the “Navy in space” concept being one of them). He got away with it because the movies overall were good and the original cast was at the top of their game.

  7. MarkP says:

    It doesn’t fill me with confidence that Orci was a writer on the first two new era ST movies. The writing and plot of both of those movies were moronic and that would be the nicest thing I could say about it. But truthfully I have given up on this new ST. I won’t go to the theater to see it and Paramount will never get one cent of my money for anything to do with these terrible, terrible movies.

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