Star Trek

JJ Abrams gives me a nice plug in the new May edition of Wired magazine. So in return (though he barely needs it!) let me plug his new movie, Star Trek, which I just came home from seeing at its Leicester Square UK premiere.

He’s done a fantastic job with this, staying very true to the original TV series but providing a touching, engaging backstory which does far more to justify the behaviour of Kirk, Spock and co than Gene Roddenberry probably ever imagined. Kirk is a wreckless, brilliant, green chick-humping tearaway, and Spock is hopelessly caught between his bipolar natures, the logical Vulcan with human flaws. But they’re both completely believable as adolescents who take an instant dislike to each other which of course it evolves into a mutual respect and then friendship. The sets, props and effects are beautiful, and the script is fresh and edgy. It’s gratifying in the way that Dark Knight or Casino Royale were to their respective franchises.

The premiere was a huge Leicester Sq paparazzi bash, with cordons and lots of police and banks of photographers, who kind of looked at me askance as if to say, is this someone we need to snap a picture of? Thankfully I slipped by anonymously. I was holding three too many tickets as I had decided against taking my kids, who go back to school tomorrow morning. So in the middle of the stampede of people trying to catch a glimpse of the celebs on the red carpet, I tried to give away three tickets to the movie along with after show party passes. I looked around for someone deserving. The first guy I spotted was a cool-looking Japanese dude. When I approached him he backed off as if I was a pickpocket, or some hawker trying to sell him something! And he disappeared into the crowd of tourists and anoraks with their cameraphones. Then next couple I approached asked me how much I wanted for the tickets. No no I said, they’re free! They looked at me very suspiciously but finally accepted the tickets. Then I gave the last one to a small single girl, maybe 17. The couple showed up inside and sat in their numbered seats next to us, but the single girl never showed. That ticket is probably in a Leicester Sq trash bin.

JJ was somewhere in the vast Empire auditorium, as was I, and we were texting each other from our smartphones. But he was whisked off to press interviews and the aftershow party, while I had to rush to British Rail Liverpool St to catch the last train home; so I never got to see him face to face this trip.

22 Responses to “Star Trek”

  1. checkersspeech says:

    The best part of the Wired mention (to me, anyway) was the fact that you took the name of your “dry dock studio” from a Patrick O’Brian novel (and/or a ship in that novel). Sweet!

    Anyway, great to hear about the new album! Can’t wait!

  2. jnanagarbha says:

    Sure I’m not the only London resident sobbing at the idea of that wasted ticket!

  3. Wireless says:

    The film sounds great and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’m a big fan of the original series.

    So annoying about trains out of London, why can’t we have the occasional train running into the early hours. My last train is 11:30pm and that’s always packed full of people who just fell out of the pub, dribbling into their burgers…….. nice!

  4. TMDR says:

    checkersspeech:

    Speaking of Patrick O’Brian, it always seemed to me that the characters of Kirk and Spock, and their relationship, were heavily influenced by Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the heroes of O’Brian’s ‘Master And Commander’ series. (Not that you would know this from seeing the movie of the same name, which was great apart from the wimpy portrayal of Maturin.)

    I’d be interested to know if Roddenberry was a fan. The kinds of problems they faced and the contrasting ways they dealt with them are similar in both series. Granted, Maturin was an opium addict, which would be a little out of character for Spock! But he has a vast knowledge of facts and approaches things in a logical and pragmatic fashion, while Aubrey is valiant, instinctual, an incurable womaniser….. and a little too plump for his uniform!

  5. BeechwoodAve says:

    Glad to get your stamp of approval on this film. I’ve been worried about J.J.’s re-invigoration of the original crew, which I watched faithfully as a kid. Not that I wanted this to look like the 1960′s cardboard-set view of the future, but I did want there to be enough of the original that it felt familiar.

    Thanks for sharing about the experience!

    Beech

  6. merujo says:

    The reviews so far have been pretty dang good, and I’m really glad that JJ has done justice to the Star Trek legacy (which had been tarnished by some of the recent lame movies.) Personally, I can’t wait to see what he does with Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga.

    My copy of Wired arrived in the mail yesterday. When I saw it was the “JJ Abrams is our guest editor” issue, I decided to wait until the weekend to savor it with some overpriced coffee somewhere.

  7. Darren Pillans says:

    Hey Thomas,

    Part of me totally understands the capricious nature of our media saturated culture and the limited memory spans of the masses, but part of me is saddened by it.

    Hearing about your experience at the premiere, how you went by unnoticed and anonymous, and how you humbly caught the train home while the “celebrities” enjoyed their after party, was both sweet and a little sad to me, as you’ve created work far greater than most of the people there ever have, or possible ever will.

    I guess you have a wiser and more balanced perspective of it of all, than I.

    P.S. It’s cool that JJ loves The Golden Age Of Wireless. He really appears to be a switched on guy and I can’t wait to see the movie.

    Darren

  8. bricameron says:

    I’ve got the original series on DVD.I don’t need anything more & I don’t see the point in trying to fabricate a history of a television program.

    Count me out.

  9. TMDR says:

    Darren, you’re missing a crucial point: I much prefer sneaking in unnoticed to posing for photogs. And face it, YOU prefer it too, because you’d much rather follow an obscure cult artist than someone who’s in the tabloids every day just for being famous and turning up at premieres.

    My wife being away in the US, I went with a friend and neighbour of ours who as it happens is quite glamorous. In the old days my privacy was invaded to the extent I couldn’t have done that without triggering snide remarks in the press. But it will start up all over again if my new album makes me famous; so for now I’m enjoying the respite!

    And as for the train home–I live a ways out of London and it’s easier for me than driving. Even if someone sent me a stretch limo door to door I’d decline. So don’t be sad!

  10. ProfessorHiggins says:

    I love the parallels between Trek and the Aubrey-Maturin books, and even tried writing a short story where Kirk/Spock swapped places with Aubrey/Maturin… but as it played heavily on the pun that when you warp a sailing ship you’re travelling pretty much as slowly as you can (for Jack, warping is pulling your ship by oarsmen in a small boat), it’s perhaps best it never saw the light of the cosmos. There was even a Welsh bosun called Dai LLithium whose crushed toes canna take it.

    You see what I mean.

    But it’s not likely that Roddenberry was influenced by O’Brian: Star Trek hit in 1965, and Master and Commander in 1970. The relationships between the protagonists are certainly very similar, but then they’re similar sorts of people in similar situations, and war stories have many examples of a strong bond between a gifted, intuitive CO counterbalanced by a talented, logical 2 I/C or NCO.

  11. Airwaves says:

    I recall several instances of Roddenberry saying there was a Horatio Hornblower influence, but I can’t track them down at the moment so YMMV.

    From growing up with “The Original Series” to now knowing and working with Brannon Braga’s dad for quite a number of years, I very much want J.J. Abrams to nail it with the re-imagined Star Trek. The casting of Zachary Quinto as Spock looks to be spot-on, but I want to see Chris Pine’s Kirk – that will seal the deal. Getting from Pine’s young, brash Kirk to Shatner’s almost debonair TOS Kirk believably will be the key for me.

    I’m by no means a Trek “fanatic”, but I’m proud to have a signed Voyager script from Brannon that included signed photos of Robert Beltran (Chakotay) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine). Being only two degrees away from Roddenberry, Shatner, and Nimoy, makes this movie kinda important to me. :)

  12. d.owen says:

    not a massive trekkie but in the early nineties i owned an indonesian restaurant in liverpool.to my suprise one night in walked scotty and his family,originally from liverpool the family moved to canada,but had come back for a wedding.i was well impressed with my guest,and he was a charming geezer.further to that a couple of years later,i took my oldest 2 kids to disney florida.at some weird space convention, i rather clumsily bumped into lt uhura.what a lovely lady!think i have a pic somewhere,will try to post it soon. energise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. White City says:

    Well this is very heartening news.

    I am a Luddite when it comes to series/movies. I LOVED Star Trek as a kid, the real Star Trek, and all this nonsense they have done since left me very cold and bored.
    Star Trek was about humour. I do hope that JJA has come back to that. According to the reviews is sounds really promising.

    It was the same with Batman. Batman and Robin were before my time but of course I caught the re-runs and loved it dearly. All this Dark Knight Shite (I apply copyright to that term) was completely devoid of, again, humour.

    Why do they always do that? They take a perfectly functioning concept and completely change the genre. Fashion I suppose. It doesn’t work for me although your milesage may vary considerably.

    Personally I found the writers of Lost produced a crock of it. It was well made but incredulous. If JJA has brought Star Trek home I will be well pleased.

    -If it aint broke, don’t fix it. By all means tune it up but don’t FIX it.

    Jon

  14. ProfessorHiggins says:

    “Captain Kirk is Capt. Hornblower of the sailing ships. [He] was a great hero, and Hemingway said [Hornblower] is the most exciting adventure fiction in the human language.”

    —Gene Roddenberry, from the “Star Trek” 25th Anniversary special, 1991

  15. Lunesse says:

    “And face it, YOU prefer it too, because you’d much rather follow an obscure cult artist than someone who’s in the tabloids every day just for being famous and turning up at premieres.”

    I’m not even going to comment on that. I just like seeing it again. ;)

  16. Harold1 says:

    Hey just to change the subject slightly.

    Thomas check out this website…I can imagine you with something like this:

    Video at bottom of screen:

    http://www.nervoussquirrel.com/tweedrunner.html

    This guy builds and makes wonderful electronic instruments…kinda mad scientist like.

    http://www.nervoussquirrel.com/circuitbent.html

    I am going to commission him to build something for my studio.

    Very best

    David Pickvance

    (Big fan and composer of ‘Fireman Sam’ kid’s TV series)

  17. Airwaves says:

    I was going to comment on your non-comment, but decided against it. To anyone passing by via JJA’s plug from Wired, just go buy The Golden Age of Wireless. Mr. Abrams was not blowing smoke. ;) ‘Nuff said.

  18. Mr.Pab says:

    I can’t believe that no one mentioned that “Nothing But Dodo” would make a great name for a band …

  19. mizmusic says:

    The headline that never was [as far as I know]: “Dolby ‘Treks’ With
    Other *Other* Woman.” ;)

    Byline begins: “Last seen squiring Imogen Heap around a Stevie Wonder
    concert…” etc. etc., and hee hee. And if ya don’t want to scare off cool-
    looking Asian bystanders, Thomas, next time wear something *under-
    neath* the trenchcoat! :P I wonder what the Japanese phrase is for
    “bulldozer fetish”??! Ah well, these days there’s no diff between ‘famous’
    and ‘infamous’, so keep up the good work.

  20. mizmusic says:

    Hmm, my tongue-sticking-out smiley vanished! Please mentally insert one of,
    uh, these (?) :p before ‘I wonder’. [Colon plus *small* p?]

    Peace and “Oh gawd, it’s THAT guy…!”
    Kooky Kara

  21. looseSpark says:

    White City, I have to point out that the “Dark Knight” Batman came first in the comics—the “comedy Batman” came long after in the TV series and was well-hated by lovers of the original who said it was an unforgivable betrayal of the original concept and genre. The recent “Dark” movies are a return to the original form.

    Having said that, I must say I do prefer the TV series myself ;) BOOOP!! BAAAMM!! Comedy genius IMHO!