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Exclusive: Nick Meyer Talks Star Trek II Director’s Blu-ray & Reacts To ‘Into Darkness’ Death Scene + more

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Nicholas Meyer didn’t know anything about Star Trek before he was hired as the director for the second film in the franchise – which is still considered by most to be the best. TrekMovie talked to Meyer about taking on Star Trek II, his hopes for a director’s cut on Blu-ray, and what he though of the homage to Wrath of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.

Interview: Nicholas Meyer

Interview conduced at Destination Star Trek 3 – London

TrekMovie: Star Trek II was such a different film than ‘The Motion Picture.’ How much of a challenge was it for you to take on the role of director (and un-credited writer) of Wrath of Khan?

Nicholas Meyer: I was sort of free to do what I wanted because they didn’t know what was going to work after Star Trek: The Motion Picture. So in a funny way – aside from slashing the budget – they really left me to my own devices. And I was encouraged by the cast. And I think the biggest single thing was everybody really liked the script. And since they liked the script everybody was like "OK, do that." So that is what I did. Nobody was thinking about saving the franchise, we were just thinking about making a movie.

TrekMovie: We you aware of the impact that killing off Spock was going to have?

Nicholas Meyer: Well, there were a lot of rumors and yes I got threatening letters – "If Spock dies, you die" and that sort of thing. But I don’t think people know what they really want. Things that sound bad in theory, may not be so bad when you see them worked out in practice. And so the death of Spock was such a heroic act of self-sacrifice, I think a lot of people had no trouble buying into it.

TrekMovie: Do you know if there is there is a possibility of a Blu-ray release of the director’s cut of Wrath of Khan?

Nicholas Meyer: I don’t know is the short answer. I wish there were, because I like my version – the few changes that I made I think improve the movie, and I was disappointed when they didn’t release it in Blu-ray with my changes.

stiidir
Meyer is "disappointed" the director’s edition of Star Trek II (available on DVD) has not been released on Blu-ray

TrekMovie: Would you be open to talking to Paramount about releasing it on Blu-ray?

Nicholas Meyer: Oh, I am open to talking to Paramount. The question is, is Paramount open to talking to me?

TrekMovie: You have also talked in the past about ‘fixing’ things in the film and I know you are not particularly fond of the Star Wars fixes. But what about the Genesis cave scene in Star Trek II? You have mentioned in the past that you didn’t think it was done right.

Nicholas Meyer: Well, we didn’t have the money to do what we needed there. But no, I don’t really believe in re-writing movies. Movies are in some way part of the historical record. I think things get confused when you start futzing with them and changing them around. This [holds up book on the Hollywood Blacklist in the 1940s & 50s] is a book about the blacklist. Recently – and when I say recently I mean in the last 25 years – they’ve started restoring the names onto those blacklisted movies, which they really wrote. And I think that on the one hand, that is a very laudable thing to do. If you wrote Lawrence of Arabia, your name should be on it. On the other hand, if you restore those names with no explanation there, you are changing history and people will never know about that particularly shameful episode in American history and Hollywood history. So I am very leery. It’s as though you re-cut a Shirley Temple movie and you didn’t like how the black person is the shifty bulging-eyed maid because it is a racist stereotype, and it is, but we shouldn’t forget it. We shouldn’t forget that we did that – we had that. You cut it out and you are changing the record. I don’t want to change my movie with updated special effects is a long-winded answer to your question.

Genesis_cave_1
Nick Meyer may not be happy with how the Genesis Cave in Star Trek II turned out – but he doesn’t think it ‘fixed’ with new CGI

TrekMovie: Have you see seen the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movies and do you have an opinion on them?

Nicholas Meyer: Yes, I have. My biggest opinion is that I am having a hard time understanding them. I may be too old to understand them. But I don’t understand Spock going around slugging people. That doesn’t seem in character with Spock. And I sometimes don’t understand what they are about – what the theme is – other than making another Star Trek movie.

TrekMovie: How did you feel about the death scene between your ‘Wrath of Khan’ and the one in ‘Into Darkness?’ Some fans felt it was a bit of a rip-off of the scene in Star Trek II. Did you see it as an homage to Star Trek II? Did you feel privileged that the scene was recreated in such a way?

Nicholas Meyer: Well, you have to be flattered that somebody wants to sort of try and make your movie again. But the difference is between a rip-off and an homage is that you are supposed to add something.

twokstid
The death of Spock in "Wrath of Khan" and the death of Kirk in "Into Darkness"

Still more DST to come

Believe it or not, we still have more content from DST coming up, including Star Trek celebrities picking who they want to see reboot their characters and more.

If you missed it, check out our interviews with Bruce Greenwood and Michael Dorn.

…and our other coverage from DST 3

Top photo by Idil Sukan, taken at DST 3.

Ronan O’Flaherty is an Irish based, life-long Star Trek fan, software engineer and radio presenter. His site is currently under revamp at www.ronanoflaherty.ie.

 

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Wow. He doesnt pull any punches.

What do you think BobOrci? Should Nick F*#K Off? Or is he just a lazy viewer?

Bob Orci can’t be happy with this stuff. But it needs to be said.

By the way, that’s a weird photo of Nick.

A hahaha hahaha..

Magnificent. Good on ya nick.

I’m delighted to see his comments on the new movies, especially the complete disaster that is the new Spock’s character.

There’s no defending it boys and girls, they’ve ruined one of the greatest science fiction characters of all time with their, now clear, inability to make proper characterisation.

Plus, the death scene into the latest movie…appalling isn’t the word to describe it.

Too long we’ve waited for confirmation of what has been said above. I can’t wait to see how anyone tries to argue with what nick says.

I think he’s dead-on. INTO DARKNESS had some good moments in it. But parts of it were a ripoff of WOK, especially the Kirk death scene–and the original plays out much better. I’m not into the JJ- or Orci-hating camp–I want to make that clear, lest I get lumped in with people like Herbert. But I do think the last film had a lot of problems, and what Meyer describes above is a big part of those problems. Spock with fists of fury? No.

The death scene was wonderfully acted and filmed. The music was also special and memorable. Problem was it was pointless. Groundbreaking would have been to allow Kirk to die. I’m sure this has all been said before, but that’s my view.

This is exactly why I love NICK MEYER; He tells it like it is; homage, nahhh rip off. Yep. If you haven’t listened to his commentaries on the Trek films, please do. They are awesome. At first, in that photo, I thought it was Mark Lenard.

Themes. That’s right. In Star Trek, people live. People survive. That was a fundamental theme, that we would make it through the cold war. That the bomb wouldn’t go off. That in the 24th Century, man would still be here. I felt like killing Pike was a Star Wars “leave the hero to forge out on his own after eliminating his master” move. It wasn’t Trek. And then they made a joke of the death with Khan’s blood. I think Trek needs to look long and hard at it’s themes again.

Nicholas Meyer: “Yes, I have. My biggest opinion is that I am having a hard time understanding them. I may be too old to understand them. But I don’t understand Spock going around slugging people. That doesn’t seem in character with Spock. And I sometimes don’t understand what they are about – what the theme is – other than making another Star Trek movie. ”

…….

Well said.

Oh, I suspect that Mr. Orci is well aware of the criticisms of STID. I also suspect that, a movie being a creative endeavor, that opinions are subject to interpretation.

“Well, you have to be flattered that somebody wants to sort of try and make your movie again. But the difference is between a rip-off and an homage is that you are supposed to add something.”

Hmmm.

This series of interviews is quite beautifully done, by the way.

TWOK is really the best film. I was stunned by everything in in it when I first saw in back in 1982. I still rememeber standing in a long line of fans to watch it and the excitement once the line started to move into the theater.

Once the film started and I saw the crew in the new marroon jackets and black trousers, I thought this is going to be great…. it put me on a quest to obtain my own uniform some day.

Nick Meyers book is a fantastic read, if you want to know more about Trek and TWOK, read his book.

Just watched Into Darkness for the first time since the cinema. I enjoyed it far more this time around but I suppose my main problem with the film is this: if you’re going to do something new then do something new! The movie didn’t need Khan at all and we certainly didn’t need a copy and paste scene from a superior film.
It completely took me out of the film both times and just smacked of lazy story telling.. For the third film I hope we get (a) no villain revenge plot and (b) an original story. When you have such a rich universe to pick from, why keep rehashing ideas from a sucessful movie 32 years ago?

I Khan Believe it's not Butter

The Kirk death scene was simply the worst most cringe setting scene ever committed to film.
WTF were they thinking?
Oh…that’s right, they weren’t thinking.
STID certainly show cases the lack of original thinking by this current team of bumbling buffoons in control.
The scary part is that there are people who want more of the same…unbelievable.

So Nick Meyer does not understand these new movies? Oh dear…

Prime Spock, in his youth, did not have to deal with the kind of tragedy that nuSpock has had to cope with. What is so hard to understand here?

Also, TOS made it clear that Vulcans can be prone to having quite deep and often violent emotions, along with physical display of such, which is why Surak came on the scene to show the Vulcan race a better way. However, these emotions are still within Vulcans and given a certain set of circumstances, meditation practices taught and practised, may not be enough to stem violent outbursts, such as what we saw occur with nuSpock. Most of the time, nuSpock was in control, something which naysayers and idiots seem to conveniently ignore.

Nick Meyer says he did not know much about TOS Star Trek when he came to do the Wrath of Khan and it certainly shows in this interview!

Well said, Nick Meyer!

Nicely said, sir.

I think I like that Nicholas Meyer.

Keachick (Rose) is a bit star struck with the new films. Nick Meyers only mistake were the No SMOKING signs on the bridge. Last time I checked we don’t have those signs on the ISS.

JJ, Orci and Kutrzman should listen to Nick Meyer instead of imitating him in the worst possible ways.

An argument can be made that nu-Spock’s more physically aggressive, emotional nature is due to the events of the first film changing his personality in this universe.

And maybe that twist fits in better with the more action-oriented, less-cerebral take on the franchise.

I half suspect we’ll see Nimoy (playing an older nu-Spock, not Prime-Spock) smashing a Romulan Ale bottle in half, demanding that a threatening Klingon “immediately reduce the distance between us, if you are at all logical, bro”.

@14. Agreed. I’ve caught it a few times on cable, and it’s not nearly the abomination that a handful of people here claim. Also agree – they don’t need to be mining Trek’s tailings for material – the Trek universe is mighty big, there has to be original tales out there….somewhere that don’t hinge on old villains or resurrecting dead characters.

I was always disappointed that the WoK Director’s cut wasn’t released on Blu-Ray. Ironic, I want the Directors cut for a Star Trek film, but got the theatrical version, and I want a theatrical version of the original Star Wars films, but I got the “Directors cut”.

#1… Meyer is basically keeping it real. he’s telling it like it is. Lazy? Hardly. What’s lazy is the creativity behind these new Star Wars—I mean Star Trek movies.

Im going to get flamed for this…but I didnt *hate* the WoK rip off scene. But my reactions were sort of interesting. The moment Scotty called Spock and told him he’d better get down there…and better hurry, I had chills. It was like seeing that iconic scene, updated. I was riveted. Then I saw it again. And it took me out of the film. Third time, I was ready to FF through it. My buddy who is a huge Trek nerd (like posters plastered on walls, shelves full of toys etc), as the scene was happening he looked at and rolled his eyes. After, he said he loved the movie but that scene was “stupid”. Meyer isnt perfect but he “gets” Trek. In fact he gets it so much he revitalized it, filled in much needed blanks in terms of structure and narrative. His believe that Star Fleet is a naval operation was unbelievably important in terms of giving the films and the franchise an identity. I get the impression the writers are more fans of Spock then Star Trek. Many fans have their favourite between Kirk and Spock. But Trek IS James Kirk. Without Kirk, there is no Star Trek (obviously excluding the non TOS versions). But these writers have made Spock the central character. And they seem determined to make him a cookie cutter human character. Bullied as a kid. Mama’s boys. Disappoints father by not following in his footsteps. Emotional girlfriend (which, by the way, was a… Read more »

Respect.

@14 – I *kinda* get what they were going for… “certain events will always happen” kind of thing, but we already blew that trick on getting the crew together in the first flick. It was deep, and kind of necessary then.

But just there wasn’t enough gas in the tank, so to speak, to make lifting an entire scene almost verbatim from another movie, work. It wasn’t earned, and it ripped me out of the flick almost instantly. At LEAST they could have dropped the godawful scream. They inadvertently crossed the line into solid parody territory at that point. :P

But yeah, that whole quasi-spiritual “destiny”, “some things will always happen” mindset is more, say, Doctor Who’s domain than Star Trek’s.

@26 – Spot on. Slapping the phaser out of her hand is one of my favorite parts of the movie. It’s especially powerful after he essentially passes the torch to her at the beginning of the flick. So much good in that movie. Definitely ended on a high note.

Of course the poor man doesn’t understand the movies: that’s what happens when you have watched another movie.
I’m also glad to hear that someone who admits he didn’t know a thing about star trek still knows what can qualify as in character. ;)

I think you can criticize or appreciate a movie but stating that you don’t understand it makes you sound stupid, unless you are talking about Kubrik’s movies.
I also think that criticing the work of other directors or writers for movies that aren’t a box office or critics fail compared to yours might come across as bad taste and a tiny bit of bitterness of the old who is envious of the new.
This is not to say that one cannot express a negative opinion. It’s about the way you do that.

Cont; 30
And this is said by someone who didn’t like the death scene from stid or that the villain was Khan either. Just saying.

So Meyer isnt allowed to have an opinion or to state that opinion?

He might not have known Trek when was hired but he sure knows Trek now.

Bob Orci, Bob Orci, Bob Orci!

Your opinion on Mr. Meyer’s opinion?

@32 – Aye, considering the flicks he gave us were the best of the franchise, I think he’s more than proven he knows what’s up. :P

I think Khan would’ve been a better choice to sacrifice his life saving the Enterprise. That would’ve been far more clever in my opinion. And that would’ve been something new and ironic, instead of just switching the roles of Kirk and Spock. The way they did it, especially lifting lines directly from the TWOK script, was lazy.

Meyer shouldn’t be just flattered; he should’ve gotten paid for it as well.

TUP – You never fail in how silly your comments can be and in how repetitive they can be as well.

Who says that Meyer isn’t allow to have an opinion or state it? He just has, hasn’t he?

“But the difference is between a rip-off and an homage is that you are supposed to add something.”

Very diplomatic how he avoided saying whether or not STID *did* add anything.

@36 – I’m pretty sure he was responding to #30, not the article itself.

Emperor Mike of the Terran Empire

I wish mic Meyer would direct another Star Trek movie.

Hey everyone. Just because one person doesn’t like the end of Into Darkness – remember it’s ok for other people to like it.

If another person shares your opinion – that’s not “proof”.

You are correct 38. Rose, try to keep up and stop attacking people. If you want to engage in a discussion, maybe try to do that. You come across an immature child with your constant snipes at people that dont agree with your narrow vision.

If Meyer had praised these movies some people here would have said that a. he wasn’t a trek fan anyway and b. that he was just trying to be nice lol
So predictable

38. Fortyseven – October 10, 2014
@36 – I’m pretty sure he was responding to #30, not the article itself.

_____

Meyer isn’t the only one who ‘doesn’t understand things’. Clearly TUP has a similar problem with simple comments in this site.

Mr. Meyer knows it’s in his best interest to be diplomatic, because he’s also aware that his association with the franchise isn’t beyond question. His accolades for WOK are very well deserved. TVH, while very popular, is a bottle movie that any competent maker of rom-coms could have directed, and really doesn’t add much to Trek lore, and TUC has aged badly, as numerous others here have observed. It is strange for him to be questioning Spock’s development in the new universe, when he had no problem turning Kirk into a less then closeted racist in TUC, simply because it fit the needs of the script.

#35 – “The way they did it, especially lifting lines directly from the TWOK script, was lazy.”

Not lazy. I saw that as a lovely homage to the original TWOK scene. I almost feel sorry for some of you. You just can’t see and feel…

When I first saw it (and since), I thought, “Oh no, they haven’t…Oh yes, they have” and I kept watching. I love(d) it!

Meyer’ is right on the money.

My only hope that is who is writing the next Star Trek be able to get his head out of the sand, listen to Meyer’s wise words and finally gave us a good Star Trek movie. Hopefully one without rip offs, corny scenes or pointlessly go were someone has gone before. But the most important thing of all is, that if I want to see Star Wars I’m going to see something called Star Wars and not something called Star Trek.

Nahhh… that would be hope for too much.

My “narrow vision”? LOL

43. Phil – October 10, 2014
. It is strange for him to be questioning Spock’s development in the new universe, when he had no problem turning Kirk into a less then closeted racist in TUC, simply because it fit the needs of the script.
_______

Not to mention that he made Uhura use a dictionary to speak Klingon and when Nichelle Nichols complained that with the Klingons as the Federation’s primary enemy, a good communications officer would be able to speak at least basic Klingon, Meyer didn’t care and kept the scene as it was just for “the laugh” regardless if it made sense or not for the character

I wonder what he thinks about reboot Uhura who called her klingon ‘rusty’ and yet managed to intercept and translate the message that saved the enterprise in the first movie AND she did have a conversation with the klingon in stid in attempt to give to her crew mates a chance.

And I still think that the TOS movies lacked character development for all the characters, including Spock, saved maybe for Kirk.

I wasn’t overly impressed with STID when I saw it at the cinema but have grown to appreciate it more over time and although it certainly has problems I think on the whole it’s not so bad you take it for what it is, an action-oriented homage to TOS with elements borrowed from various incarnations of Trek (see Harry Plinketts excellent Star Trek: Into Reference YouTube video for more on that).

I myself openly laughed at the Spock “Khaaaaan!” scene and am in agreement that it was a pointless scene and is indicative of the main problem with the movie. They created this alternate universe in order to separate it from the prime one but they’ve yet to present us with much of anything new.

Using the most well known Trek villain then doing what they did with him was a bit weak IMO but I still like the movie.

@1. (TUP): Dude, give it a REST. It’s over and done with, and even the poster who lobbed the first wave of criticism at STiD has let things go, while boborci apologized for his overreaction of the criticism. Don’t be like that annoying housewife that can’t let things go, shall we?

@4 (Remington Steele): And yet STiD was still a success. Imagine that?

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