More from Rick Berman: Reflects On TNG Films + Calls Star Trek 2009 “Wonderful” but lacking “Heart of Star Trek”

There are now more comments from the official Star Trek site’s interview with former Star Trek producer Rick Berman. The final part of the interview includes Berman opining on the Next Generation films and the 2009 Star Trek movie. Excerpts below.

 

Rick Berman reflects on TNG films + Star Trek 2009

Excerpts from official Star Trek site interview with Star Trek producer Berman on his four TNG movies and on the 2009 Star Trek movie:

Berman on Generations:

It was kind of naïve for myself and Brannon (Braga) and Ron (Moore) to jump into the movie business with really very little experience on how it worked…We got a lot of criticism for the way Kirk was handled, which I felt was unfortunate.

on First Contact

Everything that perhaps went wrong on the first movie went right on the second movie…it just worked on a huge number of levels…and it made a sh-tload of money for the studio, so they were very happy.

on Insurrection

The script ended up having input from Patrick Stewart, from the studio, from me, and slowly the story started changing. I think maybe it’s a little like that old story about a camel being a horse made by committee….it was a less-than-stellar follow-up to First Contact, which had been so up and so exciting.

on Nemesis

The head of the studio had really tried to convince me to do a movie without the TNG cast. The feeling was “These guys have all gotten kind of older. It’s time to introduce some new, fresh blood.” … I felt strongly against that for two reasons. One reason was that when we were developing this movie, the Enterprise series was coming out. So the Star Trek audience was about to get introduced to a whole new cast of young characters on television..The other reason was I felt that after a four-year absence from the screen, the fans really wanted to see Patrick, Brent, Jonathan and company again.

…everyone from the studio to me thought we’d crafted a really good movie. And nobody came to see it. It wasn’t even a question of not getting good reviews. Any Star Trek movie opened and it’d have a huge opening weekend, but this one didn’t. Now, why? I understand and appreciate the criticisms of the production or script, but I, to this day, have some difficulty understanding why it met with such a poor reception.

On Star Trek (2009)

I thought it was a wonderful movie. It was very, very big. You have to remember, I did four movies with incredibly restrictive budgets. The philosophy when I made movies was, “We know we can make X number of dollars off a Star Trek movie, so don’t spend more than Y number of dollars.” The lengths that (Abrams’) film went with its visual effects and production values were so astonishing to me. I thought the story was wonderful and a lot of the acting was terrific. I’ve just gotten to a point where these big action films filled with computer-generated stuff from beginning to end are starting to wear on me a little bit. To me, the movie, like Iron Man or any of these big, incredibly expensive films dealing with tens upon tens of millions of dollars worth of visual effects… it was a very, very exciting movie. In terms of it having the heart of Star Trek, I think it could have perhaps had a little bit more of that. But I liked it very much.

 

For much more read the full interview at StarTrek.com.

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I agree with Berman that Star Trek XI should have had a bit more of the heart of Star Trek.

It is perhaps the one thing I have been getting at about what was missing when I say that Star Trek XI captured the fun of TOS but not all the ideals of good Star Trek.

One thing he was right about Nemesis was thatafter 4 years I was wanting to see Picard, Data, Riker et all one last time.

My only regret with Star Trek XI being a reboot in a parallel universe is that the TNG crew never got the proper movie send off that the original crew got in Undiscovered Country. They deserved a good send off.

Generations: I agree, First Contact: I totally agree, Insurrection: I see his point, Nemesis: Should’ve been better than it was. Diector had NO feel for Star Trek or sci-fi. He shot it as just another action flick

On how they bungled the use of Kirk in the film, and his senseless, pointless death, all Berman can say is, “We got a lot of criticism for the way Kirk was handled, which I felt was unfortunate”?????

Not exactly owning up to his incompetence, is he? They killed off the best character in Trek history just to prove they could do it! Arrogant bastards!

I saw Generations on opening night, and when Kirk says to Picard (in the house), “something’s missing”…..a member of the theatre audience yelled out, “yeah! it’s called A PLOT!” Everyone roared with laughter because they knew he was right!

Now, where did I put that horse whip?

I loved the film anyway :)

2

Agreed on First Contact, that is an awesome movie.

4

Now I love the new movie, just feel he is right in what I felt was missing in the new movie. It’s still a cool film but I feel it moves a little bit away from the heart of Trek to get mainstream in. But so much to cram in a 2 hour film.

Thing is would Gene have been happy with Star Trek XI?
I heard that Majel said he would have.

3

I guess that is the one thing that Generaations shares with Star Trek XI. In both films the scripts require contrivances to get the characters together. The nexus to get Kirk and Picard together and Alt Kirk running into Spock Prime in the cave.

Although contrived I understand the necessity of them, they were required to move things along.

I would argue that Generations has a plot but still not the strongest of plots and a tick nox of requirements were needed to be done. Same in Star Trek XI, which to me also has very little plot.

Star Trek XI is the more enjoyable movie as a visual experience. But these two films have troubled stories with many holes.

Generations was never high on my list.

It has its problems but still enjoyed it.

I have gripes with Star Trek XI but also enjoyed it too.

“…. it was a very, very exciting movie. In terms of it having the heart of Star Trek, I think it could have perhaps had a little bit more of that. But I liked it very much.”

Are you kidding me? Spock’s inner struggle…losing his mother…his WORLD? There was more real heart and emotion in Kirk’s dad’s sacrifice for his wife and new son in the first few minutes than 7 years of TNG combined! talk about bitter grapes. That just seals what we already know…the man never “got” the original series…which should have been the blueprint for all that followed, and he never will.

Two points.

If First Contact had the budget of ST 2009, it could have gone down as the best SCI Fi Movie ever.

Nemesis’ problem was two fold. Baird should have never directed the film and the separation of ST Enterprise’s production values vs the movie were not enough to produce a wow in the movie.

Why so angry about the treatment of Kirk in Generations? Of course, no one wants their all-time hero to die – “There is no good way to die”, James Kirk from TOS episode, That Which Survives.

I just don’t understand all the aggro.

Kirk should have liived and beamed up to that ship with Picard and Riker from the wrecked Enterprise bridge.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire

Generations could have been wonderful if they had Kirk Live and join them in the 24th Century. They missed that one big time.
First Contact was an amazing film. It had Action and a great Story to go with it.
Insurrection was a good Tv 2 parter with some good Fx. But they missed the boat on that one because they should have done something with the Enterprise during the Dominion War.Would have loved to have known what the Big E was doing during the War. Missed the Boat on that one.
Nemises was ok. The Fx with the Enterprise Fighting the Semitar was great. But the Clone Story was just to much and the Directer just did not get Star Trek..
Star Trek 09 had everything. A Great plot. Great Acting and it had a lot of Hart of Trek. Not as Much as could have been but it was a recoot of sorts. Getting Nimoy to be in Trek to me was what brought Hart to the Movie.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire

Oops. I meant Reboot. Harry. Quit Distracting me.

I agree mostly with what he said. I think Nemesis gets bashed way to much by fans. What makes Nemesis a worse movie than Final Frontier or Insurrection? I think what it comes down to is that there have been 11 (counting Abrams’) Trek films and out of those 11 only a small handful have actually been good (II, IV, VI, First Contact) movies, not just good Trek but good movies. Why is that? I think the problem is that the previous Trek movies were all made for Star Trek audiences. Star Trek 2009 was the first movie that I feel was made to appeal to a non-Trek audience, yet it was made with love and care so most old-time Trek fans could appreciate it. The only movies I can think of that come close to having a good appeal to a non-Trek audience are IV and First Contact. Yes, we all know Wrath of Khan is a perfect Trek movie but when I talk to casual fans who became re-interested in Trek because of the 2009 film I get one of two responses: Wait, there were HOW many movies before this one? or: “I remember the one with the whales” I sincerely hope that Abrams and whoever follows (because I think we all know that at SOME point in time Abrams is going to step down and someone else will take over for him) continues to make movies with this in mind – a healthy respect for what has… Read more »

I think the death was poignant – Kirk said he knew he would always die alone (without bones or spock being there) perhaps it was the fact if how he died rather then who he was with that grated people so much?

First of all, thanks to Anthony for keeping this site going. I know it can’t be all that easy.

Second, I’m glad Berman likes the new Trek. I wish he would also address, once and for all, comments made in various places that the producing team was running out of ideas. Maybe he has elsewhere.

Now I’m just worried that the new Trek actors aren’t in love with Trek enough to make sure they are available when the new movie shoots.

Also, I’m still getting a bit worried about the lateness of the script.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire

Bob Orci poster on another Thred that he was working on Trek as we speak.

^^ Awesome, 17. Then by all means, we need to speak more!

;-)

I didn’t care much for Nemesis because it was a story retread of The Wrath of Khan! It ended on a downer with the death of Data.

First Contact is mostly just a big sci-fi/action flick. How does it represent the “heart of Trek” more than XI?

Rick Berman hit it on the head when he said he had restrictive budgets.

If you are going to make a movie get movie people to do it, don’t allow folks who make Television shows to make a Movie.

Nemesis, Insurrection etc. failed because they had the wrong people for the jobs. Ie Berman, Stuart Baird etc.

Failing to invest in special effects for a space movie is a mistake, nobody wants to see college level cgi effects on the big screen, go big or go home, hire ILM.

First Contact worked because they had a new ship, new uniforms and dealth with TNGs baddies, the Borg. Imagine how much better First Contact could have been if they had more money and a better story.

Rick Berman was responsible for some of the most memorable TNG episodes and for that he is a good guy. Leave the movies for James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Spielberg etc.

@19, even worse, did we really need B4 and Shinzon? The same story could have been told with maybe Sela and Lore. Also, do they even use wheels in the 24th century? Picard driving around on the planet was totally unneeded.

I likes all 11 films to varying extents. People are bashing Berman because of a very slight complaint about Star Trek (2011). The man said he thought it was a wonderful movie otherwise. What more do you want. I think that’s a pretty ringing endorsement. Cut the guy a break. I also think people forget regarding the 4 TNG movies that they were dealing with a studio. They wanted to squeeze every last dollar out of Star Trek without putting up a lot of money. Re: Generations, I thinks Kirk’s death should have been handled better. More should have been made of the fact that Kirk gave his life to save an entire civilizations. By the end of the film, I had all but forgotten about the civilization on Veridian IV. First Contact was a great film all around. I liked Insurrection, though I had a hard time relating to the So’na. I would have preferred a known villain involving the Dominion. I know they wanted to keep the Dominion War mostly relegated to DS9, but having the Enterprise battle a crising involving the Dominion would have been a nice tie in to the period. I thought Nemesis was a fairly decent film, Good special effects, good music score, I liked that Romulans were the villain, but they should have centered more on the Romulans. I still say Nemesis was a victim of poor timing. It was going against Die Another Day, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. That… Read more »

@22 Agreed! B-4 was nothing more than a contrivance to resurrect Data after his death.

They weren’t ready for the movies. They should have stuck to TV. Like I said in the other Berman thread. And like I said on the day it was announced that TNG was going to end it’s run.

Was TNG like TOS? No, It wasn’t. It was a product of it’s time, just as TOS was. And it wa to be different from it’s predecessor, as per the wishes of Gene Roddenberry. Given that, I think both series did what they were trying go for very well..

But TNG was really cruising along nicely after the third season. If it was allowed to continue without the distraction of a whole other series, or some prospective move to movies, it would have hit a very high quality stride.

Both series had clunkers. But both series had some absolute gems, too. Some of the finest TV moments ever. Give TNG it’s own 10 or 12 year run on it’s own with all of the creative and talented people that worked on it and it would have been interesting to see where it would have gone.

Kudos to Rick-

He gets a raw deal in many ways, IMO. While his batting average with the features was spotty at best, he did FAR more good than harm to Trek.

I’m tired of the bashing of he and Braga….enough already.

Nemesis had little or no buzz before it was released. Friends of mine who didn’t miss any previous Star Trek movie somehow missed Nemesis.

I’d ask them why they didn’t go see it, and they’d say, “Well, I planned on going to see, but just didn’t get around to it.”

To me, that says that the previous movie was the cause for the failure of that one. It left a blah taste in fans’ mouths, and they really weren’t left wanting more. There was little or no anticipation for another movie.

Then four years went by, and people kind of forgot about Star Trek. Plus, too, so many of my friends said that they’d just wait and buy it on video. So again, I blame the failure on Nemesis on Insurrection.

That said, I find myself bored when I watched Nemesis. It doesn’t hold up well, and it doesn’t compel me to pop it in the DVD player for repeat viewing. But I don’t think that impacted the opening weekend at the box office. I think the casual fans just weren’t excited to go see another Star Trek movie — even if it was a 5-star-rated movie.

#23

Seriously, I totally agree with you. Berman was singing its praises for the most part. Some people are just going to cling to that man’s every syllable until either he dies or they die.

#25

Without going into my own personal thoughts on the matter, a great many Trek fans tend to think TNG was getting kind of stale in the last couple of years, especially with season seven. So maybe it would have gone on a sudden upswing for them within a couple more years but a lot of people thought the creative juices just weren’t flowing so well anymore.

There was zero reason for Kirk/Shatner to be in Generations except for Berman and co. to kill him off. Kirk’s death is the worst death of any major fictional character in the history of film.

If they insisted on having Shatner in the film it should have been a big fun adventure that united the two crews. Instead we got a unnecessary funeral and a film that had more plot holes (ex you can think your way out of the nexus) in history.

Generations ranks right up there with the Star Wars prequels as one of the biggest missed opportunities is the history of cinema.

As for the other films.

Insurrection – In my humble opinion is the worst film in the entire series. There was barely enough here for a TNG tv episode. It did not look cinematic at all…Who thought it was a good idea that Data and Worf sang?

First Contact – Well done all around.

Nemesis – This film was a bore. The whole B4 thing was an insult to the audience as was Picard’s clone who looked nothing like Picard. Did we really need to hear Brent Spiner sing “Blue Eyes”? What were these people thinking? This is the second worst film in the entire series.

I would love to see TNG go out with a better ending. Hopefully a tv film or mini series some day. I’m sure there is a big enough audience that it would recieve very solid ratings.

I was so excited to hear Nemesis first cut came in at almost 3 hours. Considering the writer and his prior ability to pull off long form drama I was hopeful.
Several mistakes were made, but none fatal.
1. Jonathan Frakes should have directed. They knew it was probably the final film and it was no time to bring in a rookie. But Paramount apparently owed Baird and the suits ruled.
2. Patrick Stewart should have played both roles. The gravitas he would have brought to Shinzon would have made the plotline more palpable.
3. Data’s death scene should have been so much more than “Goodbye”.
That laundry list, plus trying it long form on a bigger budget, an appropriate goodbye, might have made a difference. And if it didn’t it couldn’t have fared any worse in retrospect; it would have set it apart from every other Trek movie.

#28

And to counter, I believe the lack of “forward motion” during the last two seasons of TNG can be attributed directly to the “spreading too thin” of the production talents. Producing TNG and DS9 at the same time, while already planning the end of one series and the start of a movie franchise totally took the wind out of TNG’s sails. But years 3, 4, and 5 were getting better and better.

If there were a great many fans that thought it was getting stale the last couple years, I would lay money on it that there were a lot more fans who wanted it to stay on the air.

I fantasize about how boborci and crew will take on tng and give it the blockbuster ending it deserves.

TNG movies never showed any glorious alien worlds or even future earth or any epic starbases, do they know they were making a movie?

Piss off with the cheap sets and budgets.

I just have to say that I am still very confused when I see people sharing the sentiment that “Star Trek” didn’t have as much of the heart or spirit or whatever of the Original Series. I am an unabashedly huge fan of the film, and I have been a Trekkie/Trekker/Whatever since TNG, when I saw my first episode at age 7. I love every incarnation of Trek (some not quite as much a s others lol) and I like to think I have an excellent idea of what the hear or spirit of Star Trek is. When I watch the film, I feel as though I am watching TOS, but TOS as though it was created for me, not my parents. Is this bad? Maybe, maybe not, but i can tell you that while so much about the film is new and different, at its core, it really IS Trek. If you let go of the visuals, and the punchier, more modern characterizations and dialogue, the heart of the film is Star Trek: Bold adventure, punctuated with drama, grounded by character. The film is a character film, thru and thru. Is it as deep as, say, Star Trek II? No, but it also can’t rely on a three years of television and one previous film to enrich the characters. We are just meeting them, and though the film pays homage to and originates from the established continuity, it exists in in its own refreshed universe. But Star Trek is… Read more »

Berman said “And nobody came to see it. It wasn’t even a question of not getting good reviews. Any Star Trek movie opened and it’d have a huge opening weekend, but this one didn’t. Now, why?”

Wasn’t Nemesis released around the same time the Two Towers came out? If I wasn’t a such a die hard Trek fan, I probably would have spent my hard earned cash seeing that movie instead, given the big hype about its release and the awesomeness of the first Lord Of The Rings movie.

I am amazed that Berman is still baffled about how things turned out with Nemesis. I mean, REALLY?

Don’t even get me started on the negative reviews.

Thanks to the Trekmovie guys for starting up regular updates once again. I am glad that it looks that nothing serious was going on with Anthony or anyone else on the crew. You guys are awesome. And this Rick Berman interview is very…….Fascinating?! :)

I liked the New Trek but boy was the script a mess. At least some of the older films had coherence to their writing. Here’s some of the moments that bothered me in the 2009 film. So a black hole can destroy the whole universe? Kirk rigs the Kobayashi Maru test openly as though he did rig it by mocking the whole experience. Wouldn’t you try to cover up something like that instead of looking obvious that you did rig it? Starfleet cadets getting into bloody bar fights and beating a civilian senseless is not very Starfleet behavior and material IMHO. Nero blames Spock for the death of his world because Spock was to late to save it, WTF? If Spock took out the Super Nova everyone on Romulus would then of died anyway from the planet freezing, since life can’t exist on a planet without a sun! So Kirk needed to take over the ship as captain and so he does it by be a jerk to Spock to get him to kick his ass, not very captain behavior! The end justifies the means I guess! Scotty is comedic value for the movie, as J.J says in the new cast behind the scenes featurette on Disc two of the DVD release, I guess Scotty is now a big joke! The tiny amount of Red Matter that was released to absorb Vulcan to the amount used at the end of the film should have created a black hole the size… Read more »

Simply put, Nemesis was not a good movie. 9 years later and this guy is still wondering what went wrong.

Someone has to tell Berman that what he did with Kirk in Generations was a COMPLETE AND INEXCUSABLE ABOMINATION. It’s still an open wound, a pulsating sore on the ass of every Star Trek fan who has ever or will ever live. So there, I told him.

As others have said regarding Nemesis…

1. Stewart should have played both roles.
2. Frakes should have directed, not a rookie who had little or no Trek background.

I want to love this film… But… Meh.

CK

The whole movie [Generations] was a travesty, not just the death of Kirk.

It’s not even “so bad it’s good,” like Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Generations is just BAD.

21 one problem with what you said though.
Stuart Baird was a film director/Editor.
And had directed/edited some pretty decent movies in his career.
having said that he was the wrong choice for this movie, cause he just didnt get what made star trek work.
and on the other hand saying that television ppl should stick to televison and not direct films is wrong as well.
look at how well First contact turned out directed by Frakes.

#39 It would appear that you have lead a very safe and painless existence so far if you still feel this way about a film that came out almost 15 years ago. Grief.

I think it’s a little disingenuous of Mr. Berman to point to small budgets as the reason 3 of the 4 TNG films weren’t huge successes. imdb says the budgets were $35 M, $45 M, $58 M, and $60 Million for the 4 TNG films, respectively. A $60 Million film ain’t a indie production, and certainly isn’t “incredibly restrictive”.

The trouble was the script, in each case. First Contact had a great script; it earned its high box office return. Generations and Insurrection were well-intentioned, but flawed in their plots. Nemesis was a half-hearted retread of Wrath of Khan, only it replaced a vengeful adversary with a bizzaro villain, swapped the inspired Genesis Device/weapon for a crummy special effect with double technobabble, then tried to turn the last 4 minutes of the movie into “The Search for Spock”, complete with B4’s resurrection with Data’s Katra.

Nemesis, arguably, looks even better than “First Contact” in terms of effects, but it failed on the story side, and didn’t service the characters well. As Spiner has said many times, “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.”

Had Berman said “we didn’t have the time to get a great script” for Nemesis, I might believe that. But “we didn’t have the money, only $60 Million?” C’mon.

#3 Ditto what Harry said there!
#8 Ditto was Jonboc said there!

#10 Keachick, perhaps you are a relative newcomer to Trek? That would explain your lack of understanding maybe? Many of us on here grew up on a diet of Star Trek and Captain Kirk and crew. His hideous death pained us greatly.
We get enough pain in real life. Killing Kirk was just senseless and pointless and meaningless and could have been avoided. And it should have been. Certainly in the manner in which it was done.
Still, we have James T. Kirk back now and thank god for it!

I think it’s absurd this guy is still mouthing off and defending his “Trek” to this day.

Thank god he never got his paws on getting to bring Trek back to the Silver Screen. Abrams and co. did in one movie what really hadn’t been done in 4 Next Gen movies: He made Trek feel absolutely epic and exciting.

Generations should have been the breaking point to where the studio execs said no more Berman. However, it made enough $$$ to justify not making a change in their eyes.

The TV show was great, but Berman had no idea how to produce good Trek films.

And don’t think Berman wasn’t a primary reason an “Original series” show was never created again, with Captain Sulu, because it was. He stood to make no money off the royalties due the Roddenberry estate for using original series characters.

All in all Berman SUCKS. Voyager sucked, Enterprise sucked (until Manny Coto came along). Not sure why this guy is still getting face time w the media.

Nemesis just stank. It’s not really the fault of any one person, but rather the failure of a group of people to look at a flawed idea and say “we should not make this movie”.

#4 Trekprincess – you really don’t have to KEEP telling us you loved the film. We know now. You loved it. We geddit.
Still, at least you’ve given up insisting you were the only one that did, so thats a step forward.

everyone is entitled to an opinion,

and if any fan said what he said about the heart of trek, I would say, “much respect to your opinion.” But from a former Court Justice, I can only say:

F#&! you, Berman.

and i love you

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