TrekMovie.com now continues our look back at Trek films past…
Feature Films (TMP-NEM)
The American Film Institute has released their nominations for its “10 Top 10,” in which they will honor what they believe to be the ten greatest films of ten different film genres. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was among the fifty science fiction films nominated. The winners will be revealed when AFI’s 10 Top 10 TV special airs on CBS this June.
The current Star Trek film is well known for it secrecy. Even Leonard Nimoy has commented here about it, but 22 years ago when he directed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home it was a whole different world. My parents just happened to be at the Monterey Bay Aquarium while Paramount was on location to shoot STIV and my dad was allowed to videotape the action, including scenes with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. Check it out below.
Oscar-winning screenwriter John Logan is looking forward to the Christmas release of his next film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, but he is still gets questions about being associated with the only bona fide flop of the Trek franchise: Star Trek Nemesis. The Edmonton Sun quotes Logan defending his time on Trek and giving the new Star Trek his endorsement as well:
Happy Star Trek film franchise anniversary day! On December 7th 1979* the epic turn of the Star Trek TV series hit the big screen in the form of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The UK’s EnvironmentalGraffiti.com, one of the top 3 environmental sites worldwide, has nominated Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as one of the Greatest Environmental Movies of All Time. Other nominees include the dystopian Soylent Green and the Al Gore global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The site states that the literal ‘save the whales’ plotline was “the most believable of the Star Trek films.”
After the failure of Star Trek Nemesis and Before JJ Abrams came along, there was a project in development at Paramount called “Star Trek The Beginning.” It was written by Band of Brothers producer/writer Erik Jendresen and was being shepherded through the system by producer Jordon Kerner (although Rick Berman was reportedly involved, he actually had very little to do with the project beyond being contractually attached to any Trek project at the time). The story covered the events of the Romulan War and was set shortly after Star Trek Enterprise, but without using the Enterprise cast. In 2005 the project stalled for a variety of reasons and then Abrams and his team came along and that was that. Now AICN has revealed details of the first draft of the script…CLICK HERE to read a Star Trek that never was.
TrekMovie.com returns to our look back at past Trek films and what can be learned from them. Paramount monitored Leonard Nimoy’s every move as director of Star Trek III, but when it came time for IV, studio president Jeff Katzenberg told him, “the training wheels are off. Give us your vision of Star Trek.” Years later, when I interviewed him in 2004, Nimoy said that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was his “Star Trek statement.” So now that Nimoy is conspicuously associated with the next Star Trek movie, as well as being Trek’s most active elder statesman, what did he mean? What makes this movie his Star Trek statement?
Dorothy Fontana (aka D.C. Fontana) was with Star Trek since the beginning as both a writer and Story Editor for Star Trek: The Original Series. She had the same job for The Animated Series and went on to write episodes for both TNG and DS9 (and even for the recent Trek game and New Voyages fan series). Fontana is interviewed in the new ‘Focus on Trek’ from IDW Comics. The interview covers a number of subjects, but her comments on the often debated issues of canon were noteworthy. Regarding TAS and canon Fontana says that Gene Roddenberry never took TAS seriously. She also does not seem happy with the makers of Star Trek V who gave Spock a half brother (details below)
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The film is considered by many (including J.J. Abrams) to be the best of the 10 film series and the benchmark by which other films are compared. The film was directed (and written) by Nicholas Meyer, who went on to co-write Star Trek IV and VI (which he also directed. Meyer recently appeared at the screening of the film (part of Geek Magazine’s ‘1982 Geekiest Year Ever’ Series). I had a moment to talk to Mr. Meyer at the event about his views on the film so many years later, if he would make any CGI changes, why he isn’t credited as a writer and his views of the franchise going forward. (Interview below)
For our Friday Night Movie we bring you the lazy man’s version of of ST: TMP…but first a commercial break. …and now for our special feature…ST:TMP in 10 minutes (via the talking book)
A brand new audio commentary for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s edition is now available at STARTREK.COM. The commentary features the production crew behind the DE: Daren R. Dochterman, David C. Fein and Michael Matessino. The commentary was recorded just last month and covers things not discussed in director Robert Wise’s commentary on the original disks. Go to STARTREK.COM to download it. If you don’t have it you will need to pick up Star Trek – The Motion Picture: The Director’s Cut (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition) at Amazon.
At last weekend’s FedCon 16 in Germany Jonathan Frakes let loose on Paramount and the last Trek movie, but then had some nice things to say about JJ Abrams and the next movie. Regarding the box office failure Star Trek Nemesis, the director of two previous films joked "there was a perfectly good director available." He then used a couple empty seats reserved for Paramount to poke some fun at the studio. Holding up the chair signs he yelled out "this is a perfect example, see who is not here…Paramount…need I say more? That speaks volumes." To cheers from the audience he continued, "Paramount doesn’t show up. Paramount doesn’t know what to do with the franchise."
videoholic2007 has more golden oldies…first is a PM Magazine feature on ST:TMP and then a two part ET feature from 1986 (before STIV came out).
June 4th 1982 Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett saved Star Trek.
The editors of Entertainment Weekly magazine have picked what they consider to be the best 25 sci-fi TV shows and movies of the last 25 years. Two Star Trek items make the top 10: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (#5) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (#8). Topping the list was the 1999 film The Matrix and former TNG/DS9 writer/producer Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica got 2nd place. Star Trek XI producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof also made the list via their show Lost coming in at eleventh place. Excerpts and the complete list below.
Before Paramount handed the Trek keys over to JJ Abrams, Rick Berman produced the last 4 Trek films (Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis). In the latest issue of Star Trek Magazine, Rick Berman reflects on his time helming the Trek film franchise. Berman’s film tenure certainly hit a high point with the hit film First Contact which he describes as “a delight to work on from beginning to end.” But it all came to an end with Nemesis which is the only real bomb of the Trek franchise. Berman considers Nemesis his “biggest and greatest disappointment,” going on to say “I think Nemesis was a far, far better film than you’d believe from the way it was received.” The former Trek honcho just cannot figure out why it didn’t perform as well as he (and studio tracking) predicted: “I, to this day, don’t quite understand what went wrong.” .
Issue 4 of Titan’s Star Trek Magazine is a 100 page discussion primarily of the 10 Star Trek films. Each feature is discussed, including filmmaker interviews and trivia (such as how Harve Bennett hoped Ron Howard would direct Star Trek II). Bennett also discusses his views regarding Star Trek XI. It is well known that in 1989 Harve Bennet (along with writer David Loughery) wrote a script called Star Trek The Academy Years which, like Star Trek XI, featured younger versions of Kirk and Spock. Bennett seems to feel that if Trek XI is truly an ‘academy movie’ he should be getting a call.
In a recent ShatnerVision, The Shat Talks about how it came to be that Kirk died in Generations. Shatner Responds: The Death Of Captain Kirk
Leonard Nimoy has had a long and successful career and now says he can trace much of that success back to Star Trek. In a new interview with FatFreeFilms he talks about how Trek opened up many opportunities for him to both act and direct. After directing Star Trek III, Nimoy went on to direct a number of films including the hit comedy 3 Men and a Baby. Regarding humor, the man who portrayed the original emotionless Vulcan talks about why he wanted Star Trek IV to have a sense of humor: when we developed Star Trek IV I said going in "this film has to lighten up". We have been dealing with death and destruction in these Star Trek movies and we have had enough of that. Spock died and Kirk’s son died and the Klingons were all being killed, and I said "Enough – lets find a way to have a lighter tone. In spite of the fact that Earth is being jeopardized we have got to find some humor." And I think we did.
In the latest issue of Star Trek Magazine, Brent Spiner (Data) talks about the last Trek movie, Star Trek Nemesis. Not only did Spiner star in Nemesis, but he co-wrote the story (along with screenwriter John Logan). Spiner on why the film failed We worked on the story with the intention of making it for the fans. With every Star Trek movie prior to that we tried to find a way to bridge the gap between the fans and the general public. Even reading the latest quotes from J.J. Abrams about the next movie, it makes sense for the movie to be as inclusive as possible. With Nemesis we said, ‘Forget that! Lets make a movie for the fans, because that’s the people who actually go to see the films.’ And what happened? They didn’t go! Usually the films opened big, even if they had a lot of competition, but Nemesis didn’t even do that. This was a message from the fans that they were done with us.
It looks like 2007 may be the year we start seeing Star Trek on High Definition media. Both The Hollywood Reporter and Home Media Retailing quote CBS Home Entertainment head Ken Ross as saying that Star Trek: The Original Series is going to be released on DVD/HD-DVD Combo format at the end of 2007. "The reason we chose to do that is to give us the ability to make high-definition transfers of the show available to people who don’t yet have high-definition players," Ross says in the interview. However the same piece also notes that while a Blu-ray Disc release hasn’t yet been scheduled, CBS will support both formats like Paramount does. So, to cut through all the hype, this likely means that while the HD-DVD camp can probably accurately say that The Original Series will be an HD-DVD exclusive in 2007, the release almost certainly won’t happen until the very end of the year (simply due to the fact that it’s going to take that long to finish at least a season’s worth of remastered episodes) and a Blu-ray Disc release probably won’t be far behind. There is also movement on the movie side as well. Exepct to see at least one of the Trek films on HD-DVD by the end of the year, with Blu-ray likely to follow.
There have been some reports that Trek Remastered may be released on HD DVD as early as this year. Last we heard they wouldn’t be finished with all the episodes until next year. TrekMovie is looking into this and will report back when we get it all sorted out. Of course HD versions of TOS-R are showing up on XBox Live already if you cannot wait. Babylon 5’s Claudia Christian claims that William Shatner made some unwanted advances on her when she was a guest star on T.J. Hooker. In an interview with retroCRUSH the actress says the Shat tried to ‘shove his tongue’ down her throat. She also says she wished she punched him in his corset.
part 3 of our series reviewing past Trek movies In the wake of 1982’s enormously successful The Wrath of Khan, and particularly before the universally despised Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, Star Trek III, was the whipping boy of the burgeoning Star Trek movie franchise. On the face of it the movie was a success—feverishly anticipated, given extra buzz by Nimoy’s presence behind the camera, the mystery of the fate of Spock after his death in Trek II, and the “final mission of the starship Enterprise” tagline that teased the movie’s shocking destruction of the beloved space vessel at the movie’s climax. Reviews were good, if not as glowing as the ones for Nicholas Meyer’s Wrath of Khan (one of the few Trek movies to garner non-condescending raves from the mainstream press), and box office business was brisk.
This is the second of our series of looking back to past Trek films and seeing what they can teach us about how to make Trek work again on the big screen. In the wake of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP), which did solid business but was very expensive, Trek’s future remained uncertain. At one point there was even a rumor (reported in the New York Times) that Trek would return to the small screen with a new series involving all the leads. In the end Paramount decided to keep going with feature films, but make some big personnel changes. They bought out Roddenberry’s remaining interest in the Trek property, and handed the reins over to veteran TV producer Harve Bennett (best known for producing The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman). Bennett tells the story about how Gulf+Western CEO Charles Bluhdorn gave him marching orders “to make a movie that isn’t boring for less than 45 f—ing million dollars.” Coming from the low budget world of TV, Bennett assured Bluhdorn he could make 3 movies for that amount, and he just about did. Bennett then set off to learn everything about Trek and got to work on what would be the first of a trilogy of successful Trek films.
IGN Filmforce have been counting down the top 25 film franchises and Star Trek ended up as #5. Eric Moro, IGN Editor in Chief sums Trek up thusly: Ever since The Original Series debuted on NBC back in 1966, there’s been a steady stream of Trek within the pop culture zeitgeist. Sure, I can spew off franchise facts like six TV series, 10 feature films (with an 11th currently in development from J.J. Abrams), tons of videogames, action figures, novels, comic books and two Las Vegas themed attractions. But perhaps more impressive is the impact the property has made on fandom itself—I’m talking the fan fiction, the fan films (most found on the Internet) and the yearly conventions. Even more impressive still is the impact these fans have made on the mainstream. One of many examples: After a massive letter writing campaign, NASA names the first space shuttle the Enterprise. Now that’s a powerhouse franchise!
For weeks without TOS-R episodes to review, TrekMovie.com will instead review a Trek film to see where it went right and where it went wrong, and what Trek XI can learn from it. The year: 1979. Ten years had passed since NBC cancelled “Star Trek” and in that time it had become a hit in syndicated reruns. A growing fan base began holding conventions and were continually teased with the posibility of a return of their heroes from the 23rd century. After a short lived animated series in the early 70s, Paramount Paramount greenlit a low-budget “Trek” film entitled “Planet of the Titans.” About two weeks before “Star Wars” exploded onto American movie screens in May 1977, Paramount pulled the plug and then a few months later committed to bringing back “Star Trek” as a TV show. “Star Trek II” (which would have included all the original stars except for Leonard Nimoy) would be the cornerstone of a new ‘Paramount Network’. No sooner did Paramount move on that project then they did a complete about-face, killing the new network, canceling “Phase II,” and transforming its two-hour pilot script “In Thy Image” into a big-budget motion picture. The script was heavily rewritten, Nimoy came back to the fold, and legendary Oscar-winning director Robert Wise took the helm. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. STVI is in my top 3, and some days is my favorite Trek film. At a recent event I attended, director Nicholas Meyer said of the three Trek films he worked on (II, IV and VI) Star Trek VI was also his favorite. The site with the best Trek artwork, TrekCore.com has put up a nice gallery of rare images to honor the last film for the original crew. Click here to see the TrekCore STVI Gallery If you don’t own Star Trek VI…BUY IT!!
Harve Bennett was the producer for the golden age of Star Trek films back in the 1980s. After the lackluster performance of Star Trek V in 1989, Bennett (along with writer David Laurie) developed a script called ‘Star Trek: The Academy Years’ which was to reboot the franchise with younger actors playing Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy. In the end the studio decided to give the original cast one more go and Bennett left the franchise. Earlier this year when Variety broke the first news about Trek XI and used the word ‘Academy’ in their brief plot outline many thought that Bennett’s script was back. Even after J.J. Abrams called the Variety article ‘not entirely accurate’ many still speculated there was some link, including Mr. Bennett himself.
In ‘Shatner is Kirk’ news: UPI reports that William Shatner told the crowd at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival that ‘there is a part of me in him…and Kirk in me’. The original Kirk also told the Massachusetts Republican that he is not going to retire anytime soon, saying "ss I shakily take my last breath, maybe that’s when I will whisper, ‘I quit.’"…did he just paraphrase Khan’s last words? Want to see classic Trek without all that Remastering and CGI?…well TV Land has got you covered.The home of retro TV starts airing the classic show later this month and have already started offering full episodes on their new Star Trek website (for one week only). The site offers a number of other Trek related video features and will host a live chat with Original Series stars Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei on Nov. 19th. Oh My.