J.J. Abrams expresses his frustrations about Star Trek Into Darkness
With the release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS a mere two days away, J.J. Abrams is taking the opportunity to look back on his previous films. While speaking with Buzzfeed, Abrams spilled some details about MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, SUPER 8, and STAR TREK, but he was most forthcoming about STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, taking full responsibility for what many call the worst of the Star Trek franchise.
While J.J. Abrams considers the first film to have “very strong story” about “two orphans who are completely at odds, who then come to realize they need to work together to survive,” he unfortunately didn't have the same feelings for the second film's script when it came to Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto).
What was their issue? What was their dynamic? What was their problem? And it wasn’t really clear. It was a little bit lightweight, ultimately, that Kirk was disappointed that Spock didn’t feel that their friendship was as meaningful to him as it did to Kirk, which is sort of what we’re saying, and that Spock’s arc is coming to unabashedly love his friend Kirk.
Just last month J.J. Abrams admitted that there were too many nods to STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, but while talking with Buzzfeed he went one step further and took full responsibility for the flaws of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.
I take full responsibility for this — I was encouraging the writers in certain directions, and we were working on the script and putting it together, but by the time we started shooting, and this was literally at the very beginning of the shoot, there were certain things I was unsure of. Any movie, any story has a fundamental conversation happening during it. There’s a fundamental argument; there’s a central question. And I didn’t have it.
One of the issues that fans had with the film was the secrecy surrounding just who Benedict Cumberbatch was playing; even after fans guessed who it would be, J.J. Abrams and crew tried to deny it. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS co-writer Damon Lindelof has already admitted that trying to keep fans in the dark was a mistake, and while J.J. Abrams agrees with him, he still says that he was just trying to preserve the fun for the audience.
At the end of the day, while I agree with Damon Lindelof that withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience, and not just tell them something that the characters don’t learn for 45 minutes into the movie, so the audience wouldn’t be so ahead of it. But it was Simon Pegg who lied outright, and I adore him for doing so. I remember when I read that he basically said, ‘He doesn’t play Khan,’ and I thought, 'Oh my god, Simon Pegg!'
In the end, J.J. Abrams says that the issues with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS were "not anyone’s fault but mine, or, frankly, anyone’s problem but mine." Abrams still considers STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS to be a "fun" film, but believes that it could have been, and should have been, much better.
I felt like, in a weird way, it was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends — brilliantly talented writers — who I somehow misled in trying to do certain things. And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story, so then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible. Thank god I had the cast that we have, who are so unbelievably fun to watch. And an incredible new villain in Benedict Cumberbatch. I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working, but I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.
STAR TREK BEYOND, the next film in the "nu-trek" saga, opens on July 22, 2016.
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