Orci & Kurtzman: Star Trek Needed A Little Rock and Roll

TrekMovie just got its hands on a recent issue of the UK’s SciFiNow Magazine which has a feature story on the new Star Trek movie, complete with an interview with co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. The pair talk about Trek’s move to a summer movie, canon, Nimoy, and even weigh into the whole Star Trek v Star Wars thing. Excerpts below.


Orci & Kurtzman SciFiNow interview excerpts

on Trek as Summer movie, like another franchise
The interview starts off with the pair’s views on Paramount’s decision to move Star Trek from the Fall/Christmas season (where most Trek films have been released) to the bigger and more competitive Summer season of 2009, and this brought in the inevitable comparison to that other big franchise that has had some big summer movies…

Roberto Orci: Obviously we were comfortable for Christmas, because that was its niche. But we all feel it can sustain what it needs to sustain in the summer. One of the things we said early on is that Star Wars and Star Trek are always the ones being compared to each other by certain people. Why is Star Wars able to surpass all of that even though they’re all in space and some characters are similar? It just felt like Star Wars had a little more rock and roll than Star Trek had.

Alex Kurtzman: so we figured the missing ingredient for this one was it needed a little rock and roll. And if we succeeded in doing that, I think it will meet the summer expectations. Star Trek was essentially a submarine naval battle, except in space. Star Wars was flying down the trench of the Death Star at the speed of mach 70,000 to shoot a little bullet into a hold. The experience as a viewer you have is different: there’s a speed I think associated with that experience. To my mind, there was no reason they had to be mutually exclusive. Obviously you have to be very true to spirit of what Star Trek is and you cannot violate canon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some of that as well.

Orci and Kurtzman want to bring a little Rock and Roll to Trek

on the importance of being Nimoy
The interview also discussed Leonard Nimoy’s involvement and Orci again talked about how the script was written with him in mind, and doing much more than just a cameo flashback. Kurtzman elaborated…

Kurtzman: He is also there because he wants to be there, and that actually was the highest compliment for all of us and in many ways was our compass…Because he had said he absolutely would not do it again, and it’s not like he needed the money. If he’s going to do it, it’s because he genuinely believes in it and actually feels that it is going in the right direction. For us that was the barometer.

Nimoy signing on was their ‘barometer’

on not letting Trek fade away
The interview concluded with a discussion about how Trek has declined in ratings and ticket sales in recent years and how that was one of the reasons these two in-demand writers took up the task of rejuvenating Trek…

Kurtzman: That’s what motivated it for us. It would have broken our hearts if Star Trek just faded away.

Orci: It just meant too much to us in varying degrees and ways. Obviously the opportunity to inherit that mantle is so epic that you cannot go forward if you don’t believe in it with your soul. All of us call ourselves the supreme court of Star Trek, and this is our term right now.

With a script from Orci & Kurtzman, Star Trek rocks back May 2009


More from Orci and Kurtzman in the full interview and feature is in SciFiNow issue 22, which also includes a report from the UK press 20 minute preview Star Trek screening from last November. It is probably off newsstands, but is available as a backorder at Imagineshop.co.uk.

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These two scare me sometimes. Especially when I think of Transformers.

I’m glad they made a point of saying they didn’t want to see Trek fade away. Trek means a lot to me and it’s nice to see that it does to them, too.

It will be interesting to see how the success of this movie influences new interest in a new TNG movie with the original characters. TNG’s potential has never really been pushed and what better way to test those waters than for J.J. Abrams and company to tell their version of the story.

Ciao Tutti!I

Give ’em a chance

#1 Haha

Well as long as the rock n roll is things like the skydiving sequence and not the enterprise doing barrell rolls I think it’ll be ok

We can all use a little rock n roll in our lives… Trek included….

I agree. Transformers was ok from a teenage boy fantasy boob-chick fast car-duuuuude standpoint, but it was so spoonfed. I like the cerebral aspect of Star Trek over Star Wars and really really really hope they GET that and dont go overboard on the Rock and Roll. Crossing my fingers this is NOT like Trasformers, at all

Hmmm…my last name is Jordan…exactly why are you so scared, Jordan? Everything they said in the article sounded well thought through and on target. Refreshing after Rick “we are very pleased” Berman and Brannon “A Valentine to Star Trek fans” Braga. Sorry you didn’t like Transformers. Hard for me to comment on that since I’ve never liked Transformers at any time since they were first created, Frankly, I think they’ll do just fine and I think the “barometer” will be right on target!


Star Trek does not need “a little rock and roll”. It needs a good, thoughts provoking script that emphasize the content rather than the visual effects.

I would not get too worked up over the idea that their work on Transformers is a harbinger of what will see in Star Trek. After all the Transformers was a story shaped around a collection of toys so I can forgive it for going over the top at several points….

That said, I still expect their approach to Star Trek will have our hearts pounding a bit more than in the last few films. I consider it a good thing and long overdue…

#10 I partially agree with you. A good story is key. TOS had cheap special effects but the stories were what made the show as great as it is. A good comparison to this was the original Twilight Zone and Outer Limits television series. Cardboard sets, super cheezy special effects were the order of the day. But … the stories were nothing short of supurb, that why the shows are so well remembered. Today however, a lot of folks like explosions, super cool ships, mind boggling special effects or the movie is dubbed boring because of too much dialogue, and not enough action. I’m greedy, I want both, and I’m hoping that the new Star Trek movie will provide both ingredients.

I think people have to remember that Michael Bay directed Transformers, and JJ Abrams directed Star Trek ’09. Michael Bay is all about nonstop action and ridiculous explosions (as he even parodied himself in a recent TV commercial), and JJ Abrams, to the best of my knowledge, is not.

JJ Abrams is someone who loves cult fiction. If you’ve seen Alias or Lost then you know he loves deeply entangled plotlines and character development. He is a fan of movies in general — to me, as an ex-student of cinema, having someone make a Star Trek movie as a movie and not a warmed-over TV episode is extremely welcome.

The trailer emphasizes visual eye-candy to be sure, but those who have seen the preview footage say that all the character-building moments are there. I’m sure it’ll be different…but it’ll be good.

The last watchable Star Wars movie was Return of the Jedi. Sad but true.

I’m glad AK picked a scene from A New Hope to define “Rock and Roll”.


I have to disagree with some of you.. I for one hope this IS like Transformers.. it appealed to a wide market.. even a 40 year old like me. Don’t forget.. it was adapted from a child’s toy then into a cartoon and then into a live action movie… people tend to forget that. It was fun and it was exciting to watch. And it certainly did need some “rock and roll” in it to get it out of it’s duldrums. It can be both you know.. it can be actiony and exciting as well as being thought provoking.

I feel that the franchise is in great hands right now. And judging from the MAJORITY of fans.. it will do fantastic. It’s a few small and judgemental voices that make the most noise. I have no worries about this movie or the franchise.. and this is coming from a die hard TOS 40 year old fan.

The rest of you just have to embrace change and stop badmouthing a movie you haven’t even seen yet. If you go in with that attitude.. you aren’t even giving you a change to like it. Your mind is already made up and won’t ever change.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘a little rock n’ roll’. Star Trek has *always* had a little rock n’ roll. ‘The Doomsday Machine’ had rock n’ roll. TWOK had rock n’ roll. TUC had rock n’ roll. Star Wars does not have a monopoly on rock n’ roll (as evidenced by the prequels). I have no problem with this movie having some of that. The key is to balance it out with the quiet, character moments. Yeah, yeah, thought-provoking, blah blah sci-fi. The fact remains that if no one can sympathize or empathize with the characters on screen, none of that will matter. That’s a big part of why – despite the whizz-bang-pow visuals – the prequel trilogy just didn’t resonate in the same way the original trilogy did. Who identifies with emotionless statues? They made Spock and Data look downright passionate.

Everything Orci, Abrams & Kurtzman have said so far feels right to me. You can clearly see that Bob & Alex really, *really* care about Star Trek. It means something to them. I hope that translates on screen (I have every confidence it will at this point).

“Obviously you have to be very true to spirit of what Star Trek is and you cannot violate canon …”

Oh, that is so hilarious.

By the end of the sumemr, “Star Trek” is going to be an afterthought. One good weekend, two at the most, and it gets eaten up by the big summer movies. It should have stayed a Christmas release.

No I agree it did need a little rock and roll! It was beginning to stagnate on the story front and it needs to be rocked up about if it is to live in the 21st century…people just need to accept that!

Thats not to say too much, nor at the detrement of core Trek, but pepping it up a little to make it more successful really can’t hurt…can it?

I agree that Trek probably works best at a slower, more thought-provoking pace (and I for one love the submarine battles in space)…. but at the same time I’m also excited to see a radically new take and style after so many years of the same old thing.

The franchise had become so dull and lifeless, that it really NEEDED a huge energy boost like this.

Plus let’s not forget that TOS was always a lot more gung-ho and action-packed than the quieter and more subdued spinoffs anyway. All JJ is doing is bringing that style into the 21st century.

#1 – WTF? Did they jump out of your bedroom closet when you were a kid and scream “Boo?” Did they pose as IRS agents and do an audit of your taxes for the last ten years? Were they your dentists and told you that you needed three roots canals?

Just as long as Trek doesn’t devolve into showing planets full of marketable carebears or pod races involving the entire cast of the Muppet Show, I think it’ll be ok. Star Wars derailed when Lucas started focusing solely on selling Star Wars instead of telling it.

12 – It looks to me like it is likely to provide both.

One thing I think is misunderstood is when JJ or anyone else on the production begins to talk about putting more “Star Wars” into “Star Trek”.

I think they mean adding a faster pace, more dynamic visuals (lots of movement, lots going on, less stately, less “by the numbers”, skydiving sequence etc.)

Also, in the live material, more movement, more dynamic acting (the actors and cameras moving more, rather than saying their lines and more standing on the mark for instance).

An example:

In the trailer, we see a handheld camera moving in front of the helm console as Chekov delivers a line, and there’s a lot of movement in the background.

In the Original Series, or Star Trek in general, the shot might be a static one as he delivers his line, and he might not have the same intensity or sense of urgency.

Same scene, same line, but more exciting and dynamic.

Another example, a space shot:

Old school, you’d see a two-shot:

– The Kelvin moving close to the camera, looking up and left, with the camera level with the Kelvin, and phasers firing, and weapons going past her in the other direction.
– The next shot, showing the Kelvin moving towards the Narada, the same weapons going, with a couple of explosions.
– The star blazing in the background.

Essentially, two static shots.

New Movie style (from trailer):

– Kelvin at an angle, the camera and Kelving naturally, with a degree of rotation, more directly at the camera. Weapons are more than beam weapons, and those missile type weapons splitting out, spreading chaotic death on the Kelvin, the camera moving close as parts of the hull explode from the weapons, and the phaser turrets expand and fire.
– Second shot, the Kelvin’s engine passes close to the camera to reveal the large, imposing flared star, more of those weapons, the hull looking beaten down, but the camera moving almost as if it’s on a steadycam, and again, the weapons fire and those missiles bringing even more chaos to the shot.

From what I’ve seen, this is what this film should do, and perhaps what Star Trek should have attempted before visually.

This is not so much to do with the script, but more the style of the movie.

I liked Transformers. It was what it was and entertained me for a couple of hours. I look forward to the sequel.

I do however wish people would stop with the Star Wars versus Star Trek. Two very different things and they aren’t meant to be the same. SW is bigger and on a broad canvas while Trek has been smaller and more about character and storyline, at least to me.

I just hope it doesn’t get lost with all the other big summer films. it’s so brutal. I can’t help but think it would have owned Christmas.

“Star Trek” needed to stop diluting itself with series and characters that nobody cared about. They needed their most popular characters to bring the franchise back from the abyss.

By the time the series got to it’s 5th spinoff the it was no longer vital and was simply a copy of a copy of a copy.

By returning to the series most popular and iconic characters, Star Trek has become an “event” again. Someone finally gave the huge fanbase what it wants to see.

Isn’t it funny that when you combine the iconic characters with new creative blood and a legitimate budget ,”Star Trek” suddenly matters again? It wasn’t rocket science to figure out why “Star Trek” was dying, nor was it rocket science to figure out how to restore it to it’s past glory.

Haven’t many of us been saying that Paramount should have used this formula years ago?

Orci and Kurtzman are totally right. And, by the way, I am a hard-core TOS fan. Saying that Star Wars and Star Trek are not mutually exclusive is pure wisdom, in my opinion.

Turn down that blasted rock n’ roll, you whippersnappers!

And we like our Trek populated with old fogies like us, cruising around slowly and shooting one out occasionally!

#14: Actually, i thought that Return of the Jedi should have been titled “The Muppets’ Galactic Adventure.” And it was obvious that Harrison Ford was sleepwalking through the movie just to pick up a paycheck. I’m fascinated to think what David Lynch would have done with the film, given that he was in the running to direct. But despite all that, I agree that I’d rather watch Jedi over any of the prequels.

And please, everyone… a new TNG theatrical film will never, ever happen. It’s either a high-quality animated series with the voices of the actors we know and love (with possibly a few exceptions like Patrick Stewart) or a TV reboot with new actors. But a theatrical film? No way. *Especially* if the new movie does well.

I don’t think a lot of Trek fans realize what a massive undertaking Trek ’09 is for Paramount, and what that means for the direction of the franchise. The slate has been wiped clean in many ways.

Hmm, have to say I agree with what has been said about ‘Transformers’ – I didn’t particularly rate the film.

However, I recently saw MI:III, and thought is was very cool, so who knows? Something about men, meat and poison, I think…

IMO, some Trek is better than no Trek. Unless it’s ST:V.

I’m glad they believe in what they’re doing. I think Trek is in great hands. It needs to change a bit in order to be successful, so more power to ’em!

Imagine a Titan series with Frakes but told 120 years after the new film… Hmmm.

DS9 broke a lot of the molds on what Trek space battles could be. They still had the Star Wars problem of spaceships swooping like airplanes. I hope the new movie follows a bit of Babylon 5/BSG type space battles… you know, physics?

If I hear one more of those ghastly Star Trek/Star Wars comparisons… I will start to roll out the photon torpedoes!

With the added “rock n roll” and obvious added flare geared toward todays t.v. and movie audiences makes for a Star Trek movie more in line with today’s viewer appeal.

#14. I respectfully disagree with ” a new TNG theatrical film will never, ever happen.” In Hollywood, money talks and is the driving force behind any theatrical decision making. Even with the new ST movie more than likely breaking some box office records, don’t be surprised if you see a resurgence of TNG movie franchise, especially with all the actors voicing their support.

As far as Star Trek the franchise goes, the new movie brings an “upside” to every aspect of what’s already been done so as Picard said at the end of “All Good Things,” “the skies the limit.”

JMO . . .

Ciao Tutti!!!


I used to bull’s-eye womp rats with photon torpedos in my T-16 back home!

#27– never say never when it comes to Trek. Trek’s been coming back from the dead since the 60s — TOS’s 3rd season; STTMP was a miracle and we got 6 more Classic films; then a new series, let alone so many spinoffs; and this movie coming so soon and being so huge after everyone thought Trek was really dead after Enterprise’s cancellation and the failure of the last TNG movie. One day it might swing back to TNG too. I’m not particularly a fan but there is still a fan base for it (just not on this site).

Orci is exactly right, and i have stated in the past that watching a Star Trek space battle is like watching two submarines fight. Slow and lumbering in the weightlessness of space. I don’t need slow motion to imply size and mass, these are self-evident. There is no up or down in space and ships doing “barrel rolls” should be perfectly fine to reflect this. What I find ironic is during the final battle in TWOK, Spock points out that Kahn “thinks two-dimensionally” and they proceed to lower the Enterprise to pass under him. They forget, though, that space takes advantage of all three dimensions at once, there isn’t any “up”, and they remain UPRIGHT as they fight, and they continue to think almost as ignorantly as Kahn (well, the director does). And these are space travelers?

I hope JJ and crew take full advantage of the fact that Star Trek has long taken a back seat to what Star Wars did for space combat. It’s fast and exciting, and if you want to attract a lot of people to see it, that’s what you gotta do. If you want the same group of people that have been watching Star Trek over the years to come see it, them stick with the old formulas (which have been working real well, lemme tell ya) and you’ll make a couple of buck, please a small demographic of fans, and alienate the rest of the movie going populous.

If the opening car chase scene going over the cliff is any indicator as to the pace of the film, many of you are going to be disappointed. This is not the TV Trek many of you are superglued to.

30. weerd1 “I hope the new movie follows a bit of Babylon 5/BSG type space battles… you know, physics?”

I don’t follow, could you please explain “space battle physics”?


B5 Space battle? The White Stars and the Star Furys pretty much swooped about, if you ask me.

#22 nicely observed!

Have to say I’m really looking forward to a new take on Trek. It’s been a long time coming and as others have already stated this was the only way to go. Pushing further in to the future with a new crew in the 25-6 pf 27th century is just gettting too far away from now and Star Trek was always really about “now”

36- All the X-wings fly like WWII airplanes as if there is friction and aerodynamics in space. Even in Trek, we see ships lose power and grind to a halt as if air friction will slow or stop them if the engines aren’t providing thrust. On both B5 and BSG the battles are shown to adhere to the actual physics one would find in a vacuum with no gravity acting on your ship. To me that’s one of the differences between Science Fiction and space fantasy. I undertand there needs to be some tweaking for the story’s sake (artificial gravity and inertial dampeners), but I think it would be a lot more interesting to see science drive the space manuevers.

35 – This is a common conceit. In “All Good Things”, we saw the Enterprise come up from “below”, displaying a perchant for 3 dimentional thinking.

However, the shots should look good visually, and aid with the story.

Seeing over the shoulder of the Enterprise, roughly level with her hull, while the other ship is turning from a different plane to face her is a great way to do this.

The ships could face each other at different angles, for instance, and still have that head-t-ohead effect.

One should be careful though, since the wrong angles may incorrectly suggest visually that a ship may be damaged or in trouble, when really it is simply at a different orientation than another ship in the shot.

The best Star Wars was the first one, Episode IV. It had a serious tone to the movie as did season one of Star Trek TOS. Even George Lucas got away from that seriousness with all his silly aliens he added in later movies to appease the bubblegum crowd.

I just hope this new movie has a serious tone with action/adventure and humor. As opposed to a light-hearted romp.

#16 -dont forget First Contact ‘Lets Roack n Roll!’

#27 – Ford looked like he was counting the hours until he starting filming Temple of Doom…..i dont think any other actor of the modern era has had such a consecutive string of classic films as Ford from 1977- 1985 (SW, Apocalypse Now, Empire, Raiders, Blade Runner, Jedi, Doom, Witness)

27. Marvin the Martian – February 18, 2009

” #14: Actually, i thought that Return of the Jedi should have been titled “The Muppets’ Galactic Adventure.” And it was obvious that Harrison Ford was sleepwalking through the movie just to pick up a paycheck.”

Marvin, you are absolutely right. I was trying to be kind. However, I will say that when compared to any of the prequel films, ROTJ is like TWOK.

I like acronyms.



Light-hearted + science fiction = campy

41 – Episode IV was the classic, though it wasn’t all THAT serious in tone.

Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, had a much darker, and more serious tone to it. Luke losing his hand, there were repercussions, and we went to a dark place with Luke.

Epssode VI, Return of the Jedi, had some serious, dark parts (Luke, Vader and the Emporor, Leia’s relationship to Luke etc.), plenty of space battle adventure (Death Star space battle was kick-ass), and then introduced the silly stuff, the Ewoks, and the strange creatures were expanded beyond the Cantina in Episode IV with Jabba’s Palace.

All 3 films had varying amounts of Adventure, Drama, Comedy and Strange Creatures. Jedi is actually a movie I enjoy a great deal, though the Ewoks were a little overdone.

I knew we were in trouble with the Prequels when Taxes and Trade entered into the opening scroll, and JarJar Binks showed up and annoyed everyone over the age of 8.

I love how passionate Orci and Kurtzman are about Star Trek, YOU may not like their style but I have faith in these guys because they have faith in Star Trek. I belive them to be genuine and I feel at its current state Star Trek is safe in their hands. I agree Canon to me is important but it was even more important to give Star Trek some action. For me it was not dry, but being honest Star Trek was boring for some people. Some of my friends did not like it until I explained the humanity, the morals of Star Trek, the fact it is based on our reality and not in a galaxy far far away. I told them Star Trek is basically the history of the future and eventually I turned many of my non loving Star Trek friends into Star Trek fans. But you cant do that with every person who does not like Star Trek. Some times you have a make a big action Star Trek movie to catch peoples attentions, and I do no object to that. I like how Kurtzman said you cannot violate canon but that does not mean you cant have rock and roll, agreed. At the end of Nemesis I said “how great would it be for Star Trek to do a big space action movie, with lots of weapons and space battles,” well….my with came true.

I liked Transformers, and I am hardly the target demographic. I also liked M:I:III.

Also: #24. Voodoo, I agree with you. Years before this movie was announced I felt strongly that the franchise needed to return to its core characters & iconic beginnings. It was absolutely the right way to go. If those characters are re-animated with fidelity and force, I’m all for it — even if the whole thing is sexed up with dogfights. Yeah, Star Trek often behaves like a submarine drama, but it’s the people in that submarine who hold the interest for me.

#25. Paulaner, I agree with you, too. I’m tired of the peevish responses every time someone mentions “Star Wars.” So long as Abrams & Orci & Kurtzman are taking their inspiration from Lucas’s better elements and ideas, and not his worst, then what’s the big deal? Unless Jar-Jar Banks is on the bridge, I frankly don’t care.

The strongpoints of “Star Wars” are the zoominess of its action and the breadth of its imagined universe. The weak points are its wooden dialogue, wooden acting, and overall propensity for goofiness. If the new “Star Trek” takes some of the zoominess & imagination and grafts them onto a smart script with those marvelous old characters, I’m all for it. And it might actually lure non-Trekkies box office, which, may I remind everyone, IS A GOOD THING. We need un-nerds to join our ranks, people!

#48. Binks. I meant Binks.

I don’t understand why people bash on Transformers. It was a massive blockbuster that raked in a tonne of cash, and the sequel looks amazing. If Star Trek is half as good as what these guys did with Transformers, we’re in for a treat and a reinvigorated franchise.

Which makes my point:

Episode IV cantina had GREAT creatures, they all looked devilish or werewolf like, and they looked REAL. Even the Cantina band had a jazz-like sound.

Then came Sy Snoodles and her CGI lips, Blue elephant keyboard player, Ewoks, Gamorrean Guards that looked like part Muppets, Jar Jar Binks, a Separatist banker that looks straight out of a Disney movie, another one whose electronic voice module inexplicably malfunctions (was supposed to be funny but was really really dumb), an escapade of C-3PO through a battle droid factory straight out of Cartoon Network.

Even Star Trek TAS with all it’s silliness is light years better than the Clone Wars animated movie/series.