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Exclusive Interview: JJ Abrams Talks DVD/Blu-ray and About What Worked (and didn’t) with Star Trek 2009

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.

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Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Hat Rick
November 15, 2009 6:44 pm

Great article. It would have been great, as well, to have both Kirks do the opening monologue — a segue from the old Kirk to the new Kirk.

Jeff Bond
November 15, 2009 6:47 pm

Well I can’t possibly be first…

Jeff Bond
November 15, 2009 6:47 pm

I was right!

Robofuzz
November 15, 2009 6:48 pm

I’ve got my Fedex tracking number from Amazon! I can hardly wait!

Simon
November 15, 2009 6:53 pm

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…
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

Ya hear that people? NO DIRECTOR’S EDITION. *Ever*. Period. End of story. Now go out and buy the discs (preferably the Blu-ray).

November 15, 2009 6:56 pm

As I have noted before, the theatrical version of star Trek *is* a ‘Director’s Cut’ since Abrams had final cut. I have to admit that before the film came out I really felt it needed the Klingon scenes, but now after seeing them, I think that all the cuts were the right decision. We have the comic books for more back-story.

Prologic9
November 15, 2009 6:57 pm

I think Nimoy worked better at the end. It helps that he has precidence.

As good as Pine was as Kirk, it becomes much harder to do when you have to recite that monologue, and I don’t think he can pull it off.

Adam C
November 15, 2009 6:58 pm

thanks

parts of me is angry this isn’t a new series, cant believe we gotta wait years before the next movie that might suffer the same creative decisions this movie had, with the constraints of a 2 hour movie.

but this will fall on deaf ears being that star trek is now a massive cash cow of a franchise again.

November 15, 2009 6:59 pm

You people seem to be getting a lot of exclusives these past few days…

Adam C
November 15, 2009 7:01 pm

thats because they are superbly awesome!

Gotta balance my negatives with some positives

They did more things right with this movie then bad creative decisions. I own the Blu-ray and have watched, listened to nearly everything on it.

roll on 2 years! :(

November 15, 2009 7:04 pm

6: “I have to admit that before the film came out I really felt it needed the Klingon scenes, but now after seeing them, I think that all the cuts were the right decision. We have the comic books for more back-story.”

The only thing I thought the movie lacked was more detail about how Kirk pulled off beating the KM “test.” Did you see those scenes, and did they not work?

November 15, 2009 7:12 pm

again, the extended version of the KM shows how Kirk cheated, but again I felt that it took away from the scene. It makes kirk seem like a dick, how he used the Orion girl to plant the virus, plus makes starfleet look stupid to not have norton antivirus

I think it is another case of less is more, leave it a mystery. Do we have to know everything.

As Nicholas Meyer likes to ask “why does Khan wear one glove?…do we need to explain that to the audience?…no, it enhances his mystery”

and as I noted in my review. the opening if the film is so much better going from the attack on the Kelvin straight to the title card with the music….that is powerful

The original version had it open with spocks birth, then kelvin attack, then klingons board Narada…it would just not as been as dramatic and opening

JohnD
November 15, 2009 7:13 pm

Abrams criticisms of the movie seem to be the conservative ones, I really wished the actually made Kirk and Spock’s friendship out something. When exactly did they start to like each other in this movie?

Blake Powers
November 15, 2009 7:18 pm

THANK YOU!!!!

Happy Russia
November 15, 2009 7:29 pm

@ 13–

I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, it’s a very bad lack of exposition and development on the writers’ parts (seems to be a lot of that in this flick, huh? :P)

But, it’s like, “Look! They hate each other! CONFLICT!!!” and at the end of the film, without any kind of real cooperation or understanding of one another, the film tells us, “They’re friends now! FRIENDSHIP!!!” Are we really supposed to believe that? It’s just another thing that’s hard to swallow….

Hat Rick
November 15, 2009 7:34 pm

I quite liked JJ’s answers to all of TM’s questions. They showed intelligence and frankness and I think that, in itself, is a tip of the hat to the fans. I think JJ and everyone involved know that any attempt at BS whatsoever would be met with the utmost displeasure, not to mention derision, disdain, and some other “d” words I can’t think of right now.

I look forward to more of this goodness in the next part of the interview!

Sean4000
November 15, 2009 7:36 pm

“Countdown” and “Nero” did a great job of fleshing out Nero whether they are or are not canon, it didn’t matter to me.

Pragmaticus
November 15, 2009 7:57 pm

Giacchino deserves to win Best Original Score at the Oscars this year. If he loses, he’ll have been robbed. I still get chills listening to “Enterprising Young Men”.

PJ
November 15, 2009 7:58 pm

@13 & 15
did you miss the movie? spock spazzed out and choked kirk, had a moment with his father then realized “hey, there’s something to this kirk kid” and decides to trust his emotions over logic. that was spock’s real conflict. he didnt hate kirk, he couldnt come to terms with his own issues of logic over emotions (where kirk is someone who as he once put it in trek vi rushes in where angels fear to tread). they’re more of the odd couple type than two guys who seriously hate each other. a tight friendship was bound to evolve, with or without spock prime prodding it along.
hopefully that explanation helps.

Kirk's Kid
November 15, 2009 7:58 pm

I thought Kirk and Spock got to like each other while they worked together on Nero’s ship. That’s the kind of thing that plants the seeds of true friendship.

PJ
November 15, 2009 8:03 pm

besides, there was a newbie in my platoon that i couldnt stand being around. after my first deployment & going on patrols together, we ended up bonding. we’re no kirk/spock, but you get my point i think.

Scott
November 15, 2009 8:05 pm

re: “[Nimoy’s] voice is so evocative, that it felt to me emotionally stronger”

One thing I noticed about much of the cast… as much as I like them, their voices don’t have the gravitas of their predecessors. The voices of the new Kirk and Spock and some of the others just don’t seem to have the body and depth of the originals.

As for coincidences, I actually thought meeting Scotty the way they did was worse than Kirk meeting Spock Prime there! (And why *did* new Spock send him to Delta Vega in a pod instead of beaming him right to the federation outpost nearby?)

Al Hartman
November 15, 2009 8:06 pm

The only thing I didn’t like about Giacchino’s score for the movie (and McCarthy’s score for Generations) was that the main title was too weak, and wasn’t up to par with the other movies.

I liked most allof the rest of the soundtrack, especially the Vulcan pieces, the piece just before the main title, and when the Enterprise rises out of the clouds.

I just want a really cool main title.

Gene L. Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease.
November 15, 2009 8:06 pm

JJ is right about Nimoy’s voice. Which is why he was wrong about Quinto. As fine a performance as Quinto put in as Spock (he was good), he ultimately falls short, and the movie suffers because of his voice. I posted that concern here last winter. As JJ says, “And frankly, his voice is so evocative…” Spock/Nimoy has that distinctive baritone. While not quite the Voice of God, it is the Voice of The Answer. The voice of the smartest being in the galaxy. Quinto simply does not have the pipes. Nearly every other detail of the film was either great or good. The Voice of Spock was a big miss.

(Not for nothing was Nimoy the voice of “In Search of…”!!)

Also, it was done before. Spock ended Wrath of Khan by doing Kirk’s speech as well. Only that time he didn’t blow the line. Where no MAN has gone before!

Star Trek Movie Score Misses
November 15, 2009 8:07 pm

18. Sorry. I don’t think Giacchino’s score deserves Oscar. It was hardly in the league of Goldsmith, even James Horner or even Leonard Rosenthal, who by the way, is the only other Trek composer to be Oscar nominated for his Trek work. There’s no strong theme to bring the movie together, no sense of home/family. While the Courage theme at the end was a half decent homage, it plays too fast with the also too fast moving credits to properly savor it.

Maybe in the next film, they’ll hire John Williams to do one. That would be one Trek score that could be truly Trektacular.

Trekenstein
November 15, 2009 8:10 pm

#18 – I think that is a bit premature, especially with Avatar yet to arrive with James Horner’s score. The last time those two teamed up, Horner took all the prizes. But more importantly have you really heard most of the scores for movies released this year? There was some really wonderful music, to say Giacchino “was robbed” in the face of some of his competition is hyperbole indeed. You don’t win Oscar’s for one cue and his entire score had some missteps in my opinion. I would almost want to give him the award for UP instead, if I had to chose between them.

Jason
November 15, 2009 8:17 pm

On the Giacchino argument, I’m a huge fan of his work, ever since the opening notes of The Incredibles. And I think ST09 is probably one of his better scores, just listen to the soundtrack and tell me you don’t see a mental picture of where its from in the film, especially the Enterprising Young Men cue, which is up there with TMP’s reveal of the Enterprise.

As for the narration at the end, it should have been one of the new cast members, if not Pine than Quinto. As was said, the point is for 120 minute you just tried to sell to me that these characters are the ones we know and love, so why not give them the most important lines in the film. It’s like ending a Daniel Craig Bond film with the opening from a Sean Connery film.

Son of a Maui Portagee
November 15, 2009 8:22 pm

Too bad the interview appears to be concluded. I would have liked to have suggested the question “Given your commercial television experience do you think you will be making editing choices for ST’s eventual network TV airing that you wouldn’t have dreamed doing for the theatrical/DVD releases.?”

Hat Rick
November 15, 2009 8:33 pm

23, 27, interesting thoughts. About the Vulcan pieces: I thought that the use of the erhu was inspired. That instrument by nature has a sad, nostalgic tonality that fit what happened to Vulcan perfectly.

Gene L. Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease.
November 15, 2009 8:35 pm

27 “It’s like ending a Daniel Craig Bond film with the opening from a Sean Connery film.”

If Connery is in it, you do! Nimoy was in it. Sort of the same reasoning, that they would be too big NOT to give them the last word.

Mark Anton
November 15, 2009 8:52 pm

Since we’re talking criticism…

Pine really should have said the “Space, the final frontier” speech at the end of the movie. It was his moment to shine, and to establish that he was in fact heading that mission into space as captain of the Enterprise. This may be the only time we get to hear that classic speech in these new movies. I love Leonard Nimoy, but this sounded too much like a retread of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I also missed hearing the original television score, which wasn’t used until the very end. I realize that this is just an opinion, but it should have been integrated into the new music during different parts of the picture.One final irritation with this movie is it’s beginning to sound like it’s going to be quite a while before we get to see a second one. Quality is very important, but I also believe that a project like Star trek needs to come out on a regular basis. If it takes three years for each one to come out, that means we’ll probably get to see this crew on only three or four missions. What a shame. There should be enough talent and technology out there to deliver a great product faster than that.

sensor ghost
November 15, 2009 9:11 pm

I’m going to have to wait until December to buy it because I’m too broke to even buy dog food, let alone movies ;______;

I’m VERY glad they had Nimoy do the voiceover at the end. That’s just about my favorite part of the movie. If it had been Chris Pine that wouldn’t have had that effect, it would be an “Oh cool” moment, but with Nimoy it’s poignant and evocative and very emotional. Definitely the right choice, 100%.

Rach
November 15, 2009 9:13 pm

JJ’s a genius. And I don’t think any composer but Giacchino could have made it as epic as it was.

And I personally think, looking back, that Chris should have done the end speech. It’s tradition for the captain of the Enterprise to do that. Shatner did it, Stewart did it, and Pine should have.

But Leonard is a legend. He IS the embodiment of Star Trek. Plus, I agree with JJ, his voice is so recognizable, and easy to assosiate with Spock.

:)

Bill
November 15, 2009 9:25 pm

I must say having Nimoy do the voice over was well done. The only thing I could have seen better, is the “Scene” that was discussed for William Shanter and it closing with him doing it. I am not a Shanter freako, but the Chris Pine version, now I am sure it would have sounded better after adjustment, sounded flat and the Nimoy version sealed the deal for me.

The very only critique of the movie. Could you have perhaps three longer shots of the exterior pf the Enterprise? I need a long beauty pass to properly appreciate the work the art designers took in redesigning the Enterprise. Don’t get me wrong, the rising out of Titan was great, but even one more shot like that would have been fantastic.

Well you already got $75 from me and my family at the theater and now you will get just a bit more. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for not making it another Nemesis.

somethoughts
November 15, 2009 9:30 pm

#13 and #15

When Spock came back to the crew and volunteered to go on board the Narada to steal the black hole device, Kirk denies him and said that he would join him. Spock: “I would cite regulation, but I know you would simply ignore it.” Pause, Kirk: smile, “See, we are getting to know each other.” Spanks Spocks body like a buddy playing a baseball game.

Their hate for each other was slowly turning into love from this point on.

Allen Williams
November 15, 2009 9:30 pm

OK who voted for Shatner? He wasn’t even in the movie. That would have been completely retarded. Shatner as Kirk is dead. Hes been dead so get over it.

I’m surprised they didn’t mention the lens flares in the criticisms. I hope he doesn’t do that again in the next movie. If he does I’ll remember to bring sunglasses. It makes the movie look cheep. Please don’t do it again.

Charla- Trek KUDOS to JJ, BOB and ALEX!!!
November 15, 2009 9:38 pm

JJ is a genius, and is also way too hard on himself! He shouldn’t worry so much about what is said after the fact, and be extremely PROUD of HIMSELF!!

JJ also paid a wonderful tribute to Nimoy at the end which was very classy to do.

Michael Giacchino was the best – can’t imagine it with anyone else!

I hope that we don’t have to wait until 2012 to see the next one- too much time between allows people to relax too much and forget about it for too long. I think Star Trek needs a 1-2 punch after such an incredibly well received debut of the reboot! It would be such a great time for the movie industry and fans- (Fingers crossed)

Mr. Delicious
November 15, 2009 9:42 pm

And Kevin Smith’s opinion matters WHY?

Charla-
November 15, 2009 9:44 pm

Gene L. Koons,
Sorry but you are so wrong about Quinto’s voice. He has the perfect voice for Spock. He just does. There. :P

November 15, 2009 9:51 pm

RE: Kevin Smith

If you remember, Kevin Smith was one of the first people to see a cut of STAR TREK. Back in the summer of 2008 he also started the buzz on the film
http://trekmovie.com/2008/09/19/kevin-smith-star-trek-almost-as-good-as-dark-knight/

JJ has a circle of trust of people that he uses for feedback. People like like Smith, Akiva Goldsmith, Matt Reeves and others

Gene L. Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease.
November 15, 2009 9:55 pm

39 I think you just stuck your tongue out at me! lol!

OK, OK, I am sure I am just old. Glad you like him.

Here’s a Spock raised-eyebrow thingy.
^o_O^

somethoughts
November 15, 2009 9:58 pm
#36 Yea, I think if they left the lens flares at the beginning of the film when the Narada was being attacked, to illustrate it was in the past. I am real curious what happens in the next movie. If they use Shatner, he can be in it for 15mins, where Kirk/Pine contracts some aging virus on some “away mission/landing party.” Allows for more McCoy Doctor scenes. Would also be great tribute to Shatner to see him on that captains chair again, even if it’s for 15mins tops. If you can imagine all the TOS episodes and movies with the new cast, sets, and special effects, it definitely gives you chills. Send the Enterprise to another Galaxy, one that is not pin wheel like, in a Indiana Jones type adventure where they have to find some great powerful relic before x antagonist. More exotic aliens, creatures, planets, special effects. Kirk has visions of his Dad ala Obi Wan from Star Wars and/or Spock has visions of his mom and is convinced she is not dead. True Science Fiction Action Adventure and tie it in with a message about humanity and ethics/morals. Just no more movies about Earth is going to blow up if Kirk and crew don’t act fast. Have it so the stakes are one of the crews lives or the race of a pre/post warp society where the Prime directive is inhibiting the crew from doing the right thing. Showcase Kirks commanding powers by going heads up against… Read more »
somethoughts
November 15, 2009 9:59 pm

*Kelvin

Eric
November 15, 2009 10:10 pm

My biggest issues with the film is when Spoke prime assumed Kirk was already captain of the Enterprise when they met in the cave. Didn’t he assume by seeing how young Kirk was that he still had a few years to go? The other issue was that Kirk became captain like weeks after graduating from the academy. They should have waited until the second film to give him that promotion, not that Pine didn’t look good with the gold shirt and sitting in that chair. Everything else in the film was fine with me.

November 15, 2009 10:15 pm

I LOVE Giacchino’s score. I bought it. And I can’t praise it highly enough. I thought it was on par with the best of what Goldsmith wrote for TMP and the excellent theme from Voyager, and far better than anything else done for Trek since then.

Syn4Ever
November 15, 2009 10:20 pm

I loved that Nimoy had the final word… it felt like his final send off. Plus, ever since I’ve watched Trek, I’ve loved his voice. It meant more to me that he did the end monologue.

I also love Quinto’s voice. So no complaints from this corner!

Oh! And Abram’s shouldn’t be so hard on himself, I loved the movie the way it was! (Blu-Ray here I come!)

ximpa
November 15, 2009 10:22 pm

Should have asked why he promoted the heck out of it being “bold”, “new directions”, etc while in the end the movie plays it safe 100% of the time.

Enterprise
November 15, 2009 10:34 pm

Kevun Smith doesn’t make or brake a movie for me. I can’t stand the guy.

Trekluver
November 15, 2009 10:52 pm

@1

Hopefully next time around if JJ’s smart enough to put The Shat in there! The Shat is the best action hero! Up there with Vin Diesiel, Bruce Willis, Christian Bale, and Chuck Norris! :)

Trekluver
November 15, 2009 10:55 pm

@45

I have it too! It’s not as good as Jerry Goldsmith and it never will but it certanly was good. The end title was just the greatist and really gave this crew a great send off!

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