With the imminent release of his new Star Trek movie on home video, TrekMovie thought it would be nice to check in again with director JJ Abrams to talk about the DVD and Blu-rays and look back on what worked (and maybe what didn’t). See below for (part 1) of our TrekMovie’s exclusive new interview with JJ Abrams.
Trek Interview: JJ Abrams on Star Trek coming home
TrekMovie: What aspect of the DVDs and Blu-rays are you most excited about? What things you wanted to make sure were on there?
J.J. Abrams: A lot. The crew was so extraordinary, that anything that would highlight the work that they did and show them off was something I wanted to see. I think the Ben Burtt segment is wonderful, and as a huge fan of his, it is a thrill that he got a great piece in there. I think looking at the work–the visual effects are obviously a huge part of this–so to see the specifics of what went into that is a terrific thing. The Gag Reel really made me laugh. The whole process of Casting and finding the people and see the audition sections is fun. The design of a movie like this, it is easy to take it for granted, because there is so much in it, but when you get to sort of break down the sort of work that people like [Creature Designer] Neville Page did and [Concept Illustrator] James Clyne did, under the supervision of [Production Designer] Scott Chambliss, it is a terrific thing to see. You get a sense of how much work went into it, not just the construction and execution, but the
conception and design of it. There were thousands of hours that went into it, that if the job is done well, is invisible. So to get to see it highlit in this way, and as a fan of movies, I really appreciate it.
JJ Abrams (with DP Daniel Mindel background right) sets up a flare on the DVD/Blu-ray special features
TrekMovie: You mentioned the Gag Reel, which is hilarious, and I noticed it started off with Chris Pine do the classic "Space, the final frontier…" speech. Was that something you guys recorded as an alternative for the end of the movie, or just for the gag reel?
J.J. Abrams: No, that is something we recorded because we thought "it has got to be Kirk, right?" And that was even something that Kevin Smith said that it has to be Kirk at the end. But, at the end of the day, it just felt right that we give that to Nimoy, and give Spock Prime the last word.
TrekMovie: I totally get that, but I am with Kevin Smith. I think that you just spent two hours selling us on Kirk, so now it’s his ship and he should have done it. But, that’s just me.
J.J. Abrams: To me what it was, honestly, was when you heard it was more a send-off, than it was Kirk’s moment. I understand that, and I think either would have worked, but there is something, especially given the legacy of Nimoy and his involvement in this, it somehow felt right. And frankly, his voice is so evocative, that it felt to me emotionally stronger, although intellectually I don’t know how you can argue your point, which is obviously correct.
TrekMovie: It may be one of those things where there is no right answer.
J.J. Abrams: Right.
Abrams with Nimoy on set from DVD/Blu-ray: Abrams felt Nimoy’s voice was best to send off the film
TrekMovie: I didn’t notice any, but did you guys make any tweaks to the film for the DVD or Blu-ray, maybe fix some audio or something?
J.J. Abrams: I don’t think we did. I think that we just did a transfer.
TrekMovie: In our last interview right before the movie came out we talked about the deleted scenes, most of which are back-story stuff. Your point was that may be of interest to us Trekkies, but wasn’t working for a general audience, especially the Klingon diversion, which was very cool. Now after watching them, I agree with that, but in the world DVD, you suggested maybe it is possible we could see an extended version. What do you think of that idea? Where you put the deleted scenes in. It would be mostly of interest to the fans, but that kind of thing is being done, like with Watchmen.
J.J. Abrams: It is funny. I have never been moved yet to put together a version that was an extended or Director’s cut of something. Whenever I have worked on something that has been transferred to DVD, I sort of felt like ‘The movie was the movie’ and it should be left as is. Certainly there are times where the director has conflicts with the studio and it is a way of getting the last word in and getting your version out, and I can see that, and if and when that happens to me, I am sure I will moved to do it. But for this, frankly, it felt like losing those scenes was what was best for the film. And an extended version certainly could exist, and someone could come in and cut it together, but I think the movie is better served without those scenes. While I loved aspects of everything that was cut, ultimately they were cut for a reason.
Deleted Klingons: Abrams not interested in putting deleted scenes into ‘extended edition’
TrekMovie: Looking at all the feedback on the film, was there any that you are most proud of? And also, any possible negative feedback that you took to heart, things you might want to change?
J.J. Abrams: Having read a lot and heart a lot, at the end of the day, the thing I am most happy about is that the thing that many were saying was insurmountable, that ‘how do you possibly recast this movie, how do you possibly have these characters live on without these original actors playing them?’. That that challenge seemed to have been met. That this cast was watchable, likeable, relatable, and the actors were talented enough, that that criticism was silenced and we were able to allow the crew of the Enterprise to live on with a new generation of actors. And that to me is the biggest accomplishment, which goes completely to the actors and the work that they did.
Abrams with his new crew, most proud of how well they were received
J.J. Abrams: In terms of criticisms, I agree with almost every criticism I read. It is hard not to be hard on the work that you do. So when I hear someone say "Nero was not complicated enough" I say "yeah, that’s right." Or if I hear "there are some moments–that crazy coincidence that Kirk meets Spock in the ice cave and that took me out of it", I can see that. I don’t really hear much that I don’t agree with. If someone were to say "Giacchino’s music doesn’t work" I would disagree with that, but that is a taste issue and you can’t really account for that. So for the most part I am incredibly proud of the cast, really honored to be involved in this movie. It was an incredible experience.
Abrams with Eric Bana, agrees that Nero could have been more fleshed out
More from Abrams coming up
Look for the rest of the exclusive TrekMovie interview with JJ Abrams, where we talk about the next Star Trek movie.
Star Trek is coming home
Star Trek hits home video on November 17th, You can pre-order your copy now.