Editorial: James Cawley On The New Star Trek Movie

Exactly one year ago tomorrow Star Trek Phase II star and executive producer James Cawley made news with his editorial here at TrekMovie regarding his thoughts on early designs he had seen of the new USS Enterprise from JJ Abrams new “Star Trek” film. Now that the pictures are out, he has sent in and update on his thoughts on this new Trek.


To Boldy Go……

Upon reading all the comments and some fans backlash this morning after finally seeing the newly released image of J.J. Abram’s new Starship Enterprise, I wanted to breath a sigh of relief that " I could finally talk about the design" and yes, with a few changes this IS in fact the design I saw last year. But all the negativity I was reading got me thinking that I really needed to speak to my fellow fans about the new feature itself, beyond the new Enterprise. So let me start off by saying that Yes, this film will be different! And What is wrong with that?

That is probably a pretty strange sentiment coming from such a die hard, canon obsessed – whore fan as me! (lol, yes I can admit that!) You see, I want to put this new film into comparison with another high profile franchise that is doing quite well these days, and in the end see if you don’t agree with me.

Right now as I write this there are no less than 4 different versions of Batman available to the mainstream viewing audience. On tv we have "The Batman", "Batman: The Animated Series," The forthcoming "Batman: The Brave and The Bold" and of course "BATMAN" starring Adam West. There is also, the current successful film series (Batman Begins & Dark Knight) starring Christian Bale, and the Tim Burton era films. They are all wildly different interpretations of the character, and no one confuses one with the other, they are all Batman! And all of these enhance that franchise and all, to some degree, are successful.

So, why can’t Star Trek do the same? No one will confuse this new feature with The Original, or vice versa. This new feature will hopefully be a slam-bang adventure with some of Gene’s morals thrown in for good measure. This is simply another take on Trek. No one will punish the die hard fans, if in the end they enjoy it.

This New Trek, will hopefully serve to remind people why they Loved Star Trek so much to begin with. I believe it will re-awaken people to the fact that The Original Series was so good, and prompt them to buy the DVDs and get reacquainted with old friends. It will also, more importantly, introduce those legendary characters to a new generation of kids who have no idea who Kirk and Spock are, and what the heck is Star Trek.

I understand this is a new way of doing things, after all the Star Trek franchise was unique (with the possible exception of Star Wars). Trek is a single franchise that respected it’s own fictional universe and history and made each of it’s sequels fit fairly snugly (despite a few small errors over time) into it’s own 40 year canon, which is remarkable! That being said, Relax. The Original Series isn’t going anywhere. SO GO SEE THE NEW MOVIE! GIVE IT A CHANCE. This is a NEW STAR TREK! as a fan it really is okay if you like them both!


James Cawley is the star and executive producer of Star Trek Phase II. Cawley also has a non-speaking cameo in the "Star Trek" film.

As with all guest editorials, the opinions are those of the writer and not necessarily those of TrekMovie.com

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November 12, 2008 1:10 pm

You tell ’em James!!!!

I am well excited to see this new Trek.

Jeffries Tuber
November 12, 2008 1:10 pm

What a mensch!

ensign joe
November 12, 2008 1:10 pm

word up

November 12, 2008 1:12 pm

Thanks for a more objective point of view…or at least as obejective as a Star Trek fan can be…

November 12, 2008 1:13 pm

Well said

November 12, 2008 1:13 pm

Well, that’s certainly a sensible way of looking at it. “Batman” is probably the best analogy out there, since it’s been through the greatest number of *successful* iterations and variations in different media over the last half-century.

November 12, 2008 1:15 pm

I still have yet to see or hear anything bad.

November 12, 2008 1:15 pm

The only thing I don’t get is, if this “take” on TOS is “the way it really looked”, then that completely invalidates episodes like “Trials and Tribble-lations” and the entire TOS-remastered releases.

November 12, 2008 1:15 pm

I get what he is saying, and I kinda agree. However, if there’s something I dislike, then there’s something I dislike.

Why can’t anyone get over that aspect? There’s aspects about this project I like, aspects that I dislike.

Deal with it and move on. My dislike doesn’t affect your liking. I can’t believe that it’s so importanbt to others that I do.

November 12, 2008 1:15 pm

I know some of the negativity is permeating but for the most part I think the disappointment in the ship has been limited to the ship alone, the way it should be. And it’s entirely justified.

I love the recent batman movies but I know the Batsuits leave a lot to be desired as well, though I kind of like the TDK version. That’s no different from the Enterprise, except the design of the ship is far more important and far more disappointing.

Annoyed ANimator
November 12, 2008 1:16 pm

NOT CANNON! my crew and I will never submit to a non cannon feature that destroys the laws written in marble by our beloved gene. Huzzah!!!

Nick Cook
November 12, 2008 1:16 pm

Here’s hoping James is right. I don’t believe this movie is going to completely erase the last forty years of Trek, despite the obvious visual changes to the TOS setting.

If we get a good movie, with a thoughtful, exciting story, I’ll be mostly happy.

November 12, 2008 1:16 pm

I’m taking your word for it James. I beleive Kevin Smith gave it thumbs up too. Despite all the controversy I’m looking forward to seeing the movie.

November 12, 2008 1:17 pm

I heart JC™.

Now izzen up and EAR me now… this is me main geezah, JC™, Captain James T, mister new voyages, that’s Phase II to you…

if he can accept it… a year ago no less…

now of course we all can’t have small roles in the movie, visits to the set, and a chat with sir JJ himself… but still.

Listen to JC™. Listen to AP. Listen to hitch1969.



Tony Whitehead
November 12, 2008 1:17 pm

I wholeheartedly agree. It’s good to see you continue to publicly throw your support behind this project. It would have been sad to see Nemesis be the epitaph on the coffin of Trek’s movie franchise. Now that Trek has a new lease on life, we can nitpick the carcass or we can join you and get everyone fired up to make the opening weekend as big as possible for future onscreen journeys.

D. P. McGuire
November 12, 2008 1:17 pm

In TUC Kirk stated something like people have trouble with change. 1960’s Star Trek would look silly on the big screen today. TNG looks dated. People yelled like crazy over the new Bond. Guys, just deal with change and go watch the movie. If it is entertaining, awesome. People yelled like crazy with STTMP Enterprise. I wasn’t sure at first either but later grew to like it more than the original. Maybe apply IDIC to the Star Trek universe and just enjoy.

Universal Tim
November 12, 2008 1:17 pm

Very well said.
However, I think I need to state that some people are upset because they were told this was going to be faithful to TOS and not a reboot. However, it is a reboot of sorts, and they should have been up front about it, which is why I can understand to some degree the disappointment of a few.
Now, I’m not upset at all. I’ll happily go see this movie. I may not be thrilled by some aspects of it, but I can accept it in it’s own continuity as a reboot. No problem. It is after, Star Trek reborn.
If I can accept whatever Trek has thrown my way for the last couple of decades I’ve been a fan, then I can accept this.

November 12, 2008 1:18 pm

#8—Let me help you.

Everything that happened before (ENT-NEM) is inherently relevant to the story in this film. It is that long series of events which leads Nero and his cohorts to make a decision to take action to alter the past.

Everything we have seen beforew has to happen in order for the story to progress to that point.

Nothing before is invalidated, as long as it took place before the timeline incursion.

If you have to “make it fit”, then that’s how you do it….

November 12, 2008 1:18 pm

Well said! I really do think a lot of folks visit this site each day, so they can decide what next they can say is wrong with Trek… That aint being a fan. That is making sure you kill what you say you love, stone dead.

November 12, 2008 1:18 pm

Thank you.

Now, let’s see this puppy in action on the big screen.

November 12, 2008 1:19 pm

I completely agree with James! Right on! Why can’t we love both?!

November 12, 2008 1:19 pm


1. not alike in character or quality; differing; dissimilar: The two are different.

In other words: Not Star Trek

If you want to make something different, make something different. Don’t call it Star Trek.

November 12, 2008 1:19 pm

Does anyone wonder if the ‘new cast’ will stick around more than 1 or 2 movies? What happens when Kieth Urban gets bored and they have to re-cast him? What if its Chris Pine who suddenly gets famous and takes other roles leaving trek..can they really replace the principles every other movie like they do with Bond or Batman (of old) would we stand for seein them played by different actors every few years, assuming the new franchise is successful?

November 12, 2008 1:20 pm

I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Cawley.

In fact I have to credit you with helping me separate the character of James Kirk from the actor who originated the role. Your work made it easier to accept this new work.

In other posts I have used Sherlock Holmes the way you used Batman. It is some testament to how well we can accept these changes in a franchise that I did not see Batman as an example. I had obviously accepted the variations so well ( or it may be that I’m more of a fan of Holmes)

I am simply pleased that the “bottom-line-obsessed” world of Hollywood is still keeping the characters and the universe alive. Period.

November 12, 2008 1:21 pm

#17—“…some people are upset because they were told this was going to be faithful to TOS and not a reboot. However, it is a reboot of sorts, and they should have been up front about it, which is why I can understand to some degree the disappointment of a few.”

How can it be a reboot if everything depicted before has to happen in order to get the story to the point where the Romulans take action to alter the past?

It is not a “reboot”, nor is it a “prequel”. In fact, it has more attributes of a sequel, since none of this can happen without ENT-NEM…

November 12, 2008 1:21 pm

Sooo…what do you think of the redesigned Enterprise Mr. Cawley?

Decker's Stubble
November 12, 2008 1:21 pm

I doubt any design would satisfy everyone. Even if they cloned the original vessel, there would be a sizable number of detractors.

While the design is not my fave, the ship is merely the scenery for the show. It’s the story and the acting that will decide the matter.

November 12, 2008 1:21 pm

12. Nick Cook.

Agreed. If you watch this movie and end up liking it, your existing Star Trek DVD collections will not up and leave in protest. They will not dematerialize. They will still be there.

November 12, 2008 1:22 pm

Somebody had to speak some sense. Thank you Jim!

November 12, 2008 1:22 pm

#23—“Does anyone wonder if the ‘new cast’ will stick around more than 1 or 2 movies? What happens when Kieth Urban gets bored and they have to re-cast him? What if its Chris Pine who suddenly gets famous and takes other roles leaving trek..”

They are all signed for 3 films. And if the money is big enough, they’ll stick around after that…

November 12, 2008 1:23 pm

JC™, November 13, 2007:

“Much has been made about me not liking the design. So, let me explain why I don’t.

I have been a fan for 35 years. I grew up with TOS. I am a TOS purist. I see Matt Jefferies designs as “Timeless” not dated. To me they are pure Sci-Fi, we do not have anything that looks like them at all… But, Just because that is my opinion, does not mean that many more of you, won’t like the possible New Look.

That being said I do not know who started the rumor that that the new Enterprise “has wings,” but I certainly did not. I have been asked by Anthony to try and describe what I saw, and all I will say is that the ship design seems to borrow heavily from “Contemporary Trek”. That is as much as I feel comfortable in sharing.”



November 12, 2008 1:23 pm

First, thank you James, and indeed thank you for YOUR additions to the Trek universe so I can still watch those as new Star Trek if I don’t like the new take!

Perhaps it is just me, but I think my biggest issue is just the idea the studio/producers sold this film to me as how the Classic characters come together. It would seem that is not the case, but rather we get this new timeline created in the course of the film. I don’t think that is a bad idea, and I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong or canon-smashing about it. It is however not what I thought we were getting. I wanted to see the Jim Kirk I grew up with cheat on the Kobayashi Maru. Now I am seeing a Jim Kirk whose history is altered by timeline issues. It may be a great story, but it is not “my” James Kirk, and therefore diminishes my interest. I think repeated comments of “this is just the next Trek movie” though technically accurate, were a bit disingenuous (or true from a “certain point of view” to quote another franchise!).

I will give it a shot, but I would certainly have preferred “my” Kirk’s history rather than the retelling. Perhaps in seven months I will be singing a different tune…

Thank you again James.

Tom Dick & Larry
November 12, 2008 1:24 pm

I will go see this movie if only to get up & walk out while giving the movie screen the finger.

November 12, 2008 1:25 pm

They’ve been doing it with some obscure group of plays by some guy named Shakespeare for 400 years so I guess it would work for Trek.

November 12, 2008 1:25 pm

I have a huge respect for James and what he has done for Star Trek.
In my opinion James Cawley helped to save Star Trek and get this movie project going. I think that by creating his fan films (the most downloaded SF fanfilms in history) he proved to CBS execs how much we all love the original trek characters. I think this got them more in touch with the idea of a reboot/pre-TOS movie.

I think we all owe James a thank you for keeping the spirit of TOS alive after Enterprise!

If JJ’s movie is as good as “World Enough and Time” I will be very pleased. Keep up the great work James! I can’t wait to see your next 2 part web episode soon.

Universal Tim
November 12, 2008 1:29 pm

to #25
I guess I didn’t make myself clear. I should have reworded what I said. I meant it is a reboot “of sorts”. It isn’t a reboot exactly. Events have to happen for other events to change. Yep, I get it. However, I was just saying I understand some of the reasons why a few fans were disappointed, not that I’m unhappy or anything.
I agree with much of what James said here. I may not like all of this new movie, but I’ll be there. I didn’t like many things about Trek that came before, but I’m still a fan. Just wanted to clear that up.

November 12, 2008 1:29 pm

to all the naysayers:
“you´re afraid! you wanna run away and destroy the ship! you cowards!”

November 12, 2008 1:29 pm

Star Trek does not compare to any of the other franchises often mentioned here. Bat Man! PLEASE! On it’s best day Bat Man was never Star Trek. Trek is what it is because it has it’s own highly detailed and lengthy cannon. This is a mine field for JJ and Co. Look, Paramount and JJ are using Trek to make money, not tell a story and get weepy about cannon. These people have jobs and shareholders to think about. Think about everything else you love in the public realm and tell me if it hasn’t already been compromised, maybe Star Trek is just the last old binky to be trivialized and debased. I hope there is a catch in all of this and all us old trekkers will be happy. I hope so…..

November 12, 2008 1:30 pm
Folks, Well…if the reason for the changes to the universe we so know and love has to do with Nero “Yesterday’s Enterprising” the entire classic Trek universe, then I say to everyone involved, “Wicked cool, I’m totally down with that.” Keeping this altered universe, wonky Enterprise and all, would be a real stroke of genius and I think a PERFECT way to reset the Trek universe, while still maintaining ALL canon. I think this may actually be a possiblity, what with “Prime Spock” being identified on the upcoming Playmates toys. The Classic Trek universe is the Prime Universe, the Abrams Universe is th NEW Trek Universe. Elegant and perfect solution, while making everything old new again. Love it. That being said: Folks, I’ve been thinking about this all day…and I have to say, judging from the scene descriptions and now this first glimpse of the new Enterprise, I’m not very optomistic about the upcoming film. In my experience, the original series is viewed one of two ways; for those who grew up with it, love it and continue to enjoy it, we take it seriously. The best episodes have storylines which are both intellectually compelling, vastly entertaining and certainly of an adult nature. The actors and the characters they play are striving to tell illuminating stories about the human condition. It’s all very serious to us. But most importantly, we BELIEVE it. Utterly. We never see paper mache rocks, fake planetscapes or substandard visual effects (which were, at the time,… Read more »
Spock with a Crowbar
November 12, 2008 1:31 pm

The more I learn about this new Trek, the more I’m reminded of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (non-comics readers should wiki for a brief description).

It was the best thing that ever happened to the DC Comics Universe and it paved the way for more updated interpretations of the characters and their surroundings w/o breaking canon.

“Crisis on Infinite Enterprises” anyone?

I think that might be what is happening here, and I welcome it.

November 12, 2008 1:31 pm

If Star Trek really does have pretensions of long term mythology status, it has to be re-interpreted, re examined. Superman, Batman, James Bond, the more they change the more they stay the same.

Trek needs to do this too, or dwindling audience figures will lead to it’s death.

November 12, 2008 1:33 pm

8. Dorothy: As an alternative to what ClosetTrekker said… (of course, his/her idea is perfectly valid also)

To come at it from the angle of “if this is what it looked like, does that invalidate TOS, and retro-episodes like ‘Relics’ and ‘Tribble-ations’?” No, it’s just that TOS is how it was made to look in the ’60s, and those retro-episodes referenced that imagery to provide the context and setting of the past. If you want to think of it this way, the stories are all still perfectly valid, you might imaging a re-tooled version of “Tribble-ations” in which Sisko et al are dressed in the “new” uniforms, and strolling the decks of the ship that was just revealed to us. The story still counts, it was just filmed to look different than this new movie will look.

Now personally, I’m prepared to look at it both this way, or to say indeed we are starting over and we’ll see where this new version goes. The old version is still a valid work of 40 years worth of art, and still valid to watch and think about. Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood had the big duel with the Sheriff of Nottingham; Errol Flynn had his with Sir Guy. They’re both great, fun movies for different reasons, and you can still like the Robin Hood legend and enjoy them both. (Myself, I really enjoy the Patrick Bergen version as well.)

November 12, 2008 1:34 pm

hey, the new movie is going to be great… don’t get me wrong.

but nothing matches the greatness of phase dos.

and the fact that we get both the new movie… and more and more phase II… well, that just tickles me. it’s kind of like getting a threesome with a really really hot chick and just a hot chick. like the hot chick alone would be good, or the really really hot chick alone would be a lil better. but then you get to mix the chocolate and strawlberry and mash up that van halen with beastie boys, throw in some travis barker on drums working with the DJ AM… rotate the landing tires on the lear jet so you can take off *proper* and no one gets burned!!!

thats what old h69 is talking about. safety first, party down the project runway to the mile high club with at Invesco Field. JC™ knows what I am saying. and that is what he is telling you here, today. at the trekmovies dot com dot org.



Capt Mike From the Terran Empire
November 12, 2008 1:34 pm

I am like james Cawley. Im a Diehard original Fan and fan of all the Trek Series and All 10 Movies. I have Watched Trek Since i was 7 or 8 and im 39. I have also seen All of cawleys Work over on Phase 2 and am looking forward to the new Shows he has got cooking. On Trek 11 Coming out im looking forward to it. As long as they Keep to the Principles Of Gene Roddenberry then im fine with the Movie and it’s Suttle Differences. Keep wioth the Core of the Franchase and i believe theyhave other wise Men Like James Cawley and Lenoerd Nimoy would not be in the new Movie as they would not like the script and the Fx of the New Enterprise. So with true MEn like them and many others then im very content as a cannon and Fanatic Trek Fan to be there opening night at Midnight and watch the latest Movie of Star Trek. This Movie needs and has to Appeal to the rest of the Movies going audence and not just the Die hard Trek Fans like myself and james Cawley and others.

John from Cincinnati
November 12, 2008 1:35 pm

Like I said before:

New Star Trek movie = Never Say Never Again

November 12, 2008 1:36 pm

Thank you Cawley. Some sense, finally.

More examples to go along with Batman:

Godzilla. There have been at the VERY LEAST seven different Godzilla timelines, of which only ONE is treated as “not Godzilla” (that “one”, of course, being the American made movie).

Transformers. As Mr. Orci and Mr. Kurtzman no doubt know, there have been so many versions of Transformers that the name “Optimus Prime” or “Megatron” doesn’t so much refer to a specific character so much as a Archetype.

James Bond. Probably the best parallel to the Star Trek Movie Series having a semi-reboot. I remember when they announced “Casino Royale” would be a reboot: “Wait, you are throwing away 20 movies of Continuity to start over!?!?! HERESY!”. Now, the Bond movies rarely would do continuity nods like Star Trek does (yeah, they’d mention Bond’s wife every once and a while, and Q would make a quip referring to an old gadget sometimes, but nothing like what Trek would do), but it is easily the largest amount of history every thrown onto the Continuity backburner of doom.

Frankenstein. Oh dear god, Frankenstein, and all the other public domain characters.

November 12, 2008 1:36 pm

This uproar reminds me of 2006, when Nintendo decided to to name their new console, codenamed Revolution, the Wii. Fans were up in arms, but the general public fell in love. That was a disruptive strategy to create a newbie market because the diehards could no longer support the market alone. Without such bold strategies existing markets die. Why would anyone here want Star Trek to die? Chill people.

Capt Mike From the Terran Empire
November 12, 2008 1:36 pm

Thank you Mr Cawley for your editorial and By the Way. Im A big fan Of phase 2 and your doing some fantastic work. Keep it up.

November 12, 2008 1:37 pm

James, well said, sir.

As Kirk said once, “People can be very frightened of change”.

I think the merits of the movie as either a reboot or a Canon prequel to the Original Series should be properly assessed after the movie is released.

Now – your critique of the Enterprise design ;-)

November 12, 2008 1:38 pm

Yes Captain.
You of all people have treated the Enterprise with the respect she deserves…
but you do have to remember, many of us take Scotty’s view of the ship – “Laddie, don’t you think you should rephrase that”…..
That ship is loved by a lot of people. It is difficult for us to see it mocked (for instance having 1950’s headlights being put on the nacelles, or replacing the secondary hull with an upside down Wrath of Khan phaser).

Gabe’s version would have been fine with me. This just makes me mad. This ship isn’t an improvement….. it is like Abrams wants us to just suck it up. I am tired of people telling us fans what we want.

Good work, James, I will take your advice.
Hopefully Paramount will trust you with the franchise soon – you actually ‘get’ the concept.