Tasked to breathe new life into the waning [movie id="305755"]“Star Trek”[/movie] mega-franchise, [movieperson id="206514"]J.J. Abrams[/movieperson] is a man on a mission. And unlike Captain Kirk, Abrams doesn’t have five years to do it … his film opens in less than five months.
So how does the “Lost” creator assemble a sprawling sci-fi epic that’s accessible to mainstream audiences, while also navigating the dangerous waters of a rabid existing fanbase? According to him, you do it by looking to the past, namely the academy days of a younger and equally rebellious James Tiberius Kirk (played by relative newcomer Chris Pine) and his pre-Enterprise crew.
With editing on the film now complete, Abrams chatted with MTV News to dish out the latest on his budding blockbuster, where it’s boldly going and how a onetime outsider like him wound up falling in love with seven strangers from outer space.
(Get an exclusive look at the cool new banner for the “Star Trek” movie, featuring the cast of the film, which is due in May.)
MTV: Where do you currently stand in the process?
Abrams: We’re all done with the [final] cut. We’re finishing the mix next week.
MTV: Have scenes been left on the cutting-room floor?
Abrams: Oh, sure. You make a movie, and I think you always find yourself losing things here and there, embellishing things. It’s sort of par for the course. They’ll probably end up as deleted scenes on the DVD.
MTV: Having been fortunate enough to view a few scenes recently, do you think fans will be surprised by the amount of humor in the film? [Editor’s note: In one sequence, an allergic reaction to medication results in massive swelling of Kirk’s hands and face … think “Nutty Professor.”]
Abrams: It’s funny, because when you see a quarter of something or less, it’s easy to draw conclusions about what the whole thing is. The thing with the hands is probably the most extreme sort of borderline-silly thing that happens in the movie. But the humor in the movie is constant within the wit of the characters. And I think when you look at the original “Star Trek” show, there was actually a great deal of humor.
MTV: I couldn’t help but notice the Slusho! reference from “Cloverfield” in the bar scene where Kirk first meets Uhura. Will we see other J.J.-isms peppered throughout the film?
Abrams: No. That was sort of the only one, and it was just sort of a goof.
MTV: Having [movieperson id="92492"]Leonard Nimoy[/movieperson] back as Spock and Majel-Barrett Roddenberry return as the ship’s computer are both major bridges between the “old” universe and your new one. Are there others we should look for?
Abrams: I think what you’ll see is there are — both story-wise and performance-wise, visually and aurally — many connections to what is familiar and what has come before. Which for the new fans of “Star Trek,” the newcomers to the world, will be irrelevant. But for those people who are fans and who hope for or expect certain familiar nods, they will undoubtedly get those.
MTV: We’ve seen Nimoy delivering his classic “Live long and prosper” line in the trailer. Is he fundamental to the story line, or is it more or less a glorified cameo?
Abrams: No, it’s no cameo. He’s in the movie, and his role is critical. I always think “cameo” feels like a role that the movie could exist without. This is critical, emotional and also a story element.
MTV: When you look at the other “Star Trek” films, what are they missing that you wanted to bring to yours?
Abrams: There are a number of things that I think are unique to this movie. There’s a level of relevance that I think is really because of the actors playing the part. I didn’t want to just re-create or reset everything, I thought going back to those characters was important. [In previous films] when we met those characters, we met them pre-established. They’d already been working together, they already knew each other. They had this history. And for some reason, the origin of those relationships of those characters was something that probably would have helped me, at least, connect to them and understand why I should care about them and who they were.
So on those fundamental levels, none of the movies have had that before. But on a much more practical level, “Star Trek” has never had the opportunity, nor the resources, to be realized in this way. Things like the ships and the battles and the planets and the chases and the action sequences … and do them in a way that felt thrilling and terrifying and entertaining in a way that the show and the prior movies simply couldn’t afford to do. I feel we were able to bring to life, in a way we’ve never seen before, what it is to be a member of Starfleet. And that’s kind of cool.
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