JoBlo visits Bad Robot to get a Behind the Scenes Look at Star Trek Into Darkness
It would be awfully silly for me to complain about having the opportunity to get an early look at STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. This is especially true since we were given the added bonus of seeing many of the props and the costumes from the movie while on a tour of Bad Robot in Santa Monica – home to J.J. Abrams very own Production Company. So what is the one complaint I have about this incredible experience? I still have to wait until May 17th to see the entire film!
Since this weekend, I was able to share my thoughts on the first nine minutes of the film which you can see here . And there is most assuredly tons of speculation about who is this “John Harrison” that the talented Benedict Cumberbatch is playing… Is he really the iconic character Khan? Is this a giant rouse by J.J. Abrams to throw us off track? There was just so much to take in on my very first time at Bad Robot.
Once we arrived we were given a brief glimpse at the teaser trailer for the film. Abrams himself stopped by to say hello and give us a short introduction to what we were about to see. Of course, after having already viewed the first nine minutes, we knew what we were getting into. It is no surprise that all the players involved were careful to not let any spoilers out since this production – not unlike most of Abrams films – is shrouded in secrecy. However, the teaser trailer felt more solid to me after watching the nine minute preview which you will be able to see if you catch THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY this weekend in IMAX.
After Abrams’ brief introduction, the group of journalists I was with made their way to a costume and prop presentation with Ann Foley (Costumes) and Andy Siegel (Props). In the beginning, most of what we were shown was featured in what we had already watched. The most impressive for me was Spock’s heat resistant space suit. Since he is unexpectedly left to his own devices to try and stop a volcano from erupting he needed all the support he can get. We were also shown the metal suitcase meant to save the planet from this monstrous volcano eruption. This sequence was easily one of the most impressive from the preview, and what was equally impressive was the fact that looking at the suit and the case in person, I believed that it would absolutely be possible to do such a thing… ah the magic of moviemaking!
As we were guided through a series of costumes including Uhura’s wetsuit, Captain Kirk’s official uniform as well as Klingon armor, they spoke about the process of creating the costumes and props and how they attempted to remain true to the series. “We just updated the insignia on some of the uniforms that you guys will see in the next room. We wanted to really stay true to the previous film, and also to the series.”
Now to be fair, I didn’t notice a huge difference when I saw it on the uniforms, but I’m sure the hard core STAR TREK fans will. Either way, the costume design feels very appropriate for the STAR TREK universe.
Next up we spent a little time with David LeRoy Anderson from Afx Studio – along with his wife Heather Langenkamp Anderson (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) who is also featured in the film in a small role as an alien. He showed us a number of alien busts that we can look forward to seeing in the film. It was refreshing to hear him talk about the value of doing make-up the old-fashioned way, “In all honesty, my preference is the old school way. This is foam rubber. The same foam rubber they used in the Thirties… some things are just better off the original way.”
One of the biggest challenges Anderson faced was getting Zachary Quinto’s eyebrows just right. “Zach had the make-up done by another team on the last one and they won an Academy Award for it. They weren’t available to come in on this film because of the schedules, so I had huge shoes to fill. He [was a bit concerned] because I would be mutilating his face by shaving off his eyebrows, It made me nervous, it made him nervous, so I approached that very delicately.”
Mr. Anderson then proceeded to show us the steps he had to take by quite literally “little piece by little piece, because there was no going back.”
The process included dealing with the eyebrows one hair at a time. Once they realized how difficult the task was, they came to the conclusion that he would have to do this particular job on a day to day basis because nobody else could just step into it. “It took me forty-five minutes every day to do one side.”
It is always amazing to me how something as seemingly simple as eyebrows can be so painstaking and difficult to apply.
What was probably the biggest treat for me personally was to get a chance to listen to the very talented Michael Giacchino talk about his work on this particular film. The composer has created a number of my favorite film scores, and his music stood out in the footage we were shown. When we walked in, he addressed one complaint that I’ve heard more than once from moviegoers, that the score can be used to manipulate the audience.
“Everything that JJ wants you to feel and follow I’m there to help yank you through. And yes, you can call that manipulation. It is manipulation. Any film is manipulation really. None of this is real, so anyone who says that ‘oh, you were manipulating me’ well no shit, of course we are. That’s why you go to the movies. To be manipulated.”
In essence, the process of creating music for a film helps lead you through as an audience, depending on what is happening on screen. Giacchino is a master at building emotion and expression with his score. I’ll never forget his outstanding work for Pixar’s UP which can bring anybody to tears.
As we re-watched two short sequences from the nine minute preview, Giacchino lead us step by step through his inspiration for this particular score. The scenes include Kirk and Bones running for their lives from angry natives on the planet Nibiru. We also looked at the surprisingly earth bound element of two parents with a sick daughter in the opening sequence. The composer went on to talk about how it was the not so out of this world element that helped him get through STAR TREK the first time around.
“When I first started writing that [STAR TREK] music, I was so concerned about what other people would think of it and what it should be. I didn’t think of what this music SHOULD be. And I went through eighteen to twenty different versions of a theme that never felt right because I was kind of worried about what everyone else would think. And it was Damon Lindelof and I having a conversation about it and he just said forget all that, forget all the space stuff. It’s not a space movie. It’s just a movie about two guys who meet and become the best of friends. Why don’t we start from there? Oh my God, that’s such a great idea!”
At our last official stop of the day, we spent some time with Roger Guyett in the visual effect department to get a glimpse at the CG element required to bring J.J. Abrams STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS alive. It was fascinating to see what images featured in the footage were computer generated as opposed to the practical elements. The use of practical can go a long way in making the more fantastical computer driven visuals come to life. This was especially true in regards to the volcano eruption. Seeing Quinto on a large man-made rock formation with spurts of fire surrounding him was impressive enough. And yes, the effects added are astounding, especially in IMAX 3D.
While showing us the volcano sequence, Goyett said, “The fact that it is in 3D, and it’s an IMAX movie, suddenly that kind of immersive quality that I hope you felt when you watched it, that you are really in there and the embers are blowing and the heat shimmers… it’s a lot of fun to do all that stuff.”
Well, thankfully it is a lot of fun to watch as well.
Over the course of the next few months, I look forward to hearing more about what looks to be one of the highlights of 2013. I am beyond excited to be traveling again with Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Zachary Quinto, John Cho and of course Simon Pegg. With all this early STAR TREK goodness, now may be a good time to experience THE HOBBIT in IMAX and see what is in store for the USS Enterprise!
|Extra Tidbit:||How many of you will be going to see THE HOBBIT in IMAX to get an early taste of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS?|