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J.J. Abrams talks about 'Star Trek,' the moviemaking process

8 Comments
By RocketNews24

Up until a few days ago, our Japanese-language correspondent P.K. had never seen anything from the "Star Trek" franchise. He hadn’t watched any of the movies, reboots or otherwise, nor a single episode of the myriad TV series that are part of the sci-fi classic’s complete body of work.

Then he went to a press screening of "Star Trek Beyond" (which was finally released in Japan on October 21) and was completely blown away. As a matter of fact, he came out of the screening so amped up that he immediately rented the 2009 "Star Trek" and 2013’s "Star Trek Into Darkness," went home, and watched them back-to-back that very same day.

Given how quickly he’s taken to the series, we decided P.K. would be the perfect member of the RocketNews24 team to send out for an exclusive interview with J.J. Abrams, producer of "Star Trek Beyond" and director of the two preceding "Star Trek" films. P.K. met up with the multi-talented movie icon at his Tokyo hotel, where he was staying during his trip to Japan to promote the film’s opening, where the two had the following conversation.

P.K.: I attended the screening for "Star Trek Beyond." I can say, without exaggeration, that it was awesome.

Abrams: Thank you! I’m glad to hear that.

P.K.: To be totally honest, I’m a "Star Wars" fan, but I’d never seen any of the "Star Trek" series before "Beyond." I think there might be many other fans who love "Star Wars" but haven’t watched any of the "Star Trek" movies, but how do you feel about that?

Abrams: Well, "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" are different, very different, series. I know a lot of people like to try to compare them to one another, but I don’t think that’s something you can really do.

So, for people who aren’t already fans of "Star Trek," I’d say this: "Star Trek Beyond" is a great entry point to the franchise. The portrayal of the characters and outer space environments are all well-done. The characters are relatable, and the action is great too.

Movies of such a large scale don’t come around very often. You could say this is the first. So because of that, I think "Star Trek Beyond" is really a great entry point. Justin Lin has done a fantastic job as director.

P.K.: After watching "Beyond," I watched the 2009 "Star Trek" and "Star Trek Into Darkness." I feel like "Beyond" is the best of the three.

Abrams: Haha thanks. I’ll let Justin know!

P.K.: Aside from "Star Trek," you’re also involved with the "Mission Impossible" and "Star Wars" franchises, both of which have very passionate fan bases. It must be satisfying to work on such highly anticipated projects, but I imagine those high expectations must also make things difficult. Do you worry about taking on such big challenges?

Abrams: Of course I worry. I think about the good and bad of any project. But what I think first is, “Wow, how lucky am I?” I’m really fortunate to be part of films that people expect so much from.

P.K.: You’ve worked as both a film and TV director, as well as a producer, scriptwriter, and a composer. Which do you feel suits you best?

Abrams: First, I have to say that I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to have done all of them. But I guess I’d say that what I like best is directing. Directors are engaged with all aspects of the film, from the script to editing. I like being able to take part in all of the different processes of filmmaking.

This time, for "Star Trek Beyond," I’m a producer, but the producer’s job is to support the director’s vision, so I was always thinking of how to provide that support to Justin, who’s an immensely talented director.

P.K.: It’s sort of changing the subject, but I’ve always thought, “I’d love to be in a 'Star Wars' movie someday,” and now I feel the same way about 'Star Trek.' Do you think I’ve got a shot?

Abrams: Sure, you probably do. You know, we had an open audition for "Star Wars." If you want work as an extra, you could try getting in touch with people who’ve done that sort of thing before.

A big thanks to J.J. for taking the time to talk with us, and we hope to sit down for another chat the next time he’s in Japan!

Related: Star Trek Beyond official website

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- J.J. Abrams reveals that he wanted an AKB48 idol in the cast for Star Trek -- Twitter photo collection of Hollywood celebrities doing Japanese things in Japan -- We talk to Matt Damon in Tokyo about films, Tommy Lee Jones and how to be cool like Jason Bourne

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8 Comments
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The Star trek movies have gotten worse and worse. The new one is awful. I hope the new TV show will take a different tack.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I thought the new one was ok, but not as good as the previous two.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It has been downhill for trek since tng and ds9 ended. Voy and ent tried to keep it alive. Jj trek perverted it, the new show is definitely in the wrong direction.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The first Star Trek. Effects by Douglas Trumbull gave it a very classy look for it's time. Directed by Robert Wise, who edited Citizen Kane, and directed The Day The Earth Stood Still. I think John Dyrkstra also worked on the Vger. So, there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Beyond was like a giant TOS episode!!! Best of the reboots!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Abrams has turned what was a classy franchise into just another space opera, zipping about zapping with masses of lens flares and shaking cameras. The Motion Picture was boring, but was so beautiful to look at. In my humble opinion the last good Trek film was "First Contact".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kuribo1, Thunderbird2

Mostly agreed. I've been watching Star Trek since I was 5-6 years old. I remember seeing 'First Contact' in the theatre. I'm maybe not hardcore - and heretically also like Star Wars - but I'm definitely a 'Trekker'. However, I just can't get into the reboot - I only made the effort to see the first in the theatre, to give it its fair chance. My opinion, however, is that they've sacrificed the message for the action, i.e., they don't make me think. The action gets them big money, but the spirit is gone.

'First Contact' set the standard for TNG films, although personally, I enjoyed 'Generations' more. The problem with 'Nemesis' was that they tried to out-Khan Khan, which you just can't do. As for TV, I think that by the 2000s, even fans were suffering Trek-exhaustion. From TNG to Enterprise, the was a least one show for 17 years, and two running concurrently for six). DS9 is my favorite now, but at the time I was really into Voyager. I think it also drew the producers into complacency which robbed the final seasons of Voyager and first two of Enterprise of memorable episodes. I think Enterprise finally found its footing in its third and fourth seasons, but by then it was too late.

The one thing I might be grateful to the reboot for is showing 'Star Trek' still has some vitality to it, otherwise Enterprise may have been the end. Still don't think the reboot is good storytelling.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Then he went to a press screening of “Star Trek Beyond” (which was finally released in Japan on October 21) and was completely blown away. As a matter of fact, he came out of the screening so amped up that he immediately rented the 2009 “Star Trek” and 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” went home, and watched them back-to-back that very same day."

He needs to see the episode 1 of the original series and go from there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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