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To Boldly Go

J.J. Abrams Is Officially Not Directing The Next Star Trek Movie

Good news! Or bad news—your mileage may vary. But something tells me most of you are going to come down on the “Yes!” side of things. J.J. Abrams has confirmed that he’s stepping down from the director’s chair for the next Star Trek film. That and other bits of reboot Trek miscellany (Khan almost wasn’t in Into Darkness! Abrams talks about his decision to make the villain reveal a secret! Another BS explanation of the Carol Marcus underwear scene!) are behind the jump.

Seeing that Abrams is going to be a busy dude with directing Star Wars: Episode VII and all, it’s no surprise that he won’t have time to direct more Trek. He’s not saying goodbye to the franchise, though; he’ll still be on-board as a producer, and he’ll have a hand in choosing his successor. The director said in an interview with IGN that it’ll be “a little bittersweet” to let someone else take the reins, but:

“…it definitely feels like the right time to let someone come in and do their own thing. I certainly don’t want someone to come in and try to do what I would have done. We want to hire someone who’s gonna come in and bring their own sensibility. I’m very excited to see what comes next, despite feeling jealous of whoever that person is.”

Agreed. And not just because I didn’t like Into Darkness. I don’t love Abrams, but I don’t hate him, either. Trek is a franchise that transcends a single director, so I’m excited to see what a different person will bring to it.

Maybe, just maybe, this new person won’t be so obsessed with secrecy as Abrams. He and the Star Trek writers have been doing a lot of interviews timed to Into Darkness‘s home video release, and in one of those interviews Abrams was asked about his infamous decision to keep the true identity of the Cumbervillain (KHAAAAAAN!) a tightly held secret.

“…if people wish they had known beforehand, OK, I totally get it. But we just were trying to preserve the experience. But it’s not like we saved it until the end of the movie where there was a big, final, shocking reveal. This was something that was revealed by the middle of the movie to the audience… I think at the end of the day, the withholding of story elements for me is something I would far rather have as an audience member than someone ruining a good first or second-act twist. But look, for people who want to have that information in advance, there’s no shortage of access to that information if you want to see it. And I’m sure anybody who wanted to knew before they went to the theater that it was Khan.”

I’ve got Abrams’ back on this one, to be honest. If a plot twist is good (or bad), it’ll be good (or bad) whether you know about it first or not. But there is something to be said for learning about that plot twist as the characters do, not before. But hey, that’s a personal preference, and if you wanted to know in advance who the Cumbervillain was all you really needed to do was not see a midnight showing and then Google it.

I’m less satisfied with writer Alex Kurtzman‘s explanation of Carol Marcus’ infamously gratuitous shower scene:

“Well, it’s funny, we had tons of story conversations, and spent a whole lot of time talking about how we were going to justify that. And ultimately, I think it’s one of those things that you either accept is part of the scene dynamic – you know, she is bold, and certainly Carol Marcus as we knew her was bold from the first movie. That was part of what was fun about her relationship with Jim, and yet obviously it’s a different Carol Marcus than before. And we figured, how do we harness the spirit of that in this scene, and that’s ultimately where we came to it from. But certainly it’s been criticized as egregious, and I guess everybody has their own point of view of that. All I can tell you is that it’s not something we went into blindly, and certainly we all sat in a room going, okay, we’re going to be criticized for this, but how do we justify this in a way that feels like it was thought about? And either you go for it or you don’t.”

Her stripping down to her skivvies is an act of… boldness? That’s funny. I thought she just needed to change her clothes, and then Kirk creeped on her despite the fact that she explicitly asked him not to. That’s less an indicator of Carol being bold than Kirk being a giant jerkbag, at least to me. And you knew you’d be criticized for it—ie, you know people would take offense at the scene—so you decided to justify it and make it non-gratuitous… how, exactly? Did you take a coffee break and then just forget about it? What am I missing?

And finally, Roberto Orci, the Into Darkness writer who’s made headlines most recently for telling people who didn’t like his movie to “f*** off, said to 1701 News that at one point they decided not to use Khan in the movie, only to go back to him later: “We felt like we were falling into the trap of using a villain based on previous knowledge of the villain, and we were somehow relying on the audience’s expectation to love or hate Khan to make that work.” So they scrapped Khan and made a new villain, John Harrison, with new motivations. “Once we had that story,” Orci continues, “then it became, ‘Now can it be Khan?’”

Orci’s comment about “using a villain based on previous knowledge of the villain” reads as ironic to me, as I felt one of the major flaws of the film was how it did piggyback on the emotional resonance of The Wrath of Khan without having really earned the right to do that with the rest of the movie. But hey, obviously Orci feels differently. Maybe you do, too.

(via: The Hollywood Reporter, blastr, Comic Book Resources, Tumblr)

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  • Adrian

    I misread the headline and thought it said “officially not directing next Star WARS” and got excited for a sec. I really have to think more positively…

  • James Gardiner

    This is kind of a loss. Abrams’ direction was fine; it was the bottom of the barrel screenplay by Kurzman & Orci that sunk Into Darkness, so I guess the new timeline won’t have the odd ones be the good ones.

  • Anonymous

    So can we have less lensflares next time…? And maybe a bit more plot…?

  • Anonymous

    Fans rejoice in hopes of hating someone new…

  • Dan Wohl

    Personally, I’m sorry to see Abrams not direct. The things I didn’t like about the film (Marcus underwear scene, Khan, transwarp beaming, hairless Klingons) were far outweighed by his talent as a director in my opinion.

    BTW, it looks pretty likely that the director of Star Trek 3 will be Rupert Wyatt of Rise of the Planet of the Apes fame.

  • Mike Chen

    I’m a TNG fan married to a TNG fan with a TOS fan as a father. We all really enjoyed Into Darkness. Our only real major complaint (and we all agreed on this) was that the final act was too action-packed, that it would have been better for Spock and Khan to have a battle of wits rather than fists. Frankly, the gigantic blowback STID has gotten over the past month or two seems really surprising, particularly when the same site (TrekMovie) that wrote the “It needs to be fixed” editorial also had a poll immediately after release where the majority of people voted it as a Good/Great Trek movie (with outliers for Best/Worst).

    The action nature of JJ Treks, I’ll chalk that up to equal parts JJ and the studio. Trek works best as a TV series with time to breathe and explore. The films themselves are well-paced, well-acted, and reasonably written with some clever bits and some clunkers — certainly not the worst Trek movie by far. A few months back, I gambled on “I haven’t seen Insurrection in a while, it can’t be that bad” but OH YES IT IS.

  • AnnaB

    I actually used to like him a lot and I was always optimistic about his films, but then the whole Into Darkness kerfuffle made me like him less. I don’t hate him, so it’s not like I’m thrilled he’s not doing this, but it makes me all the more optimistic about what someone new could bring to the franchise.

  • Captain ZADL


  • Captain ZADL

    His choice of using a beer factory for Engineering pretty much sucked. I’ve seen too many low-budget sci-fi movies use factories for sets to think that a high-budget movie using one was anything other than a lazy choice.

    No, I’m glad to see the back of him.

  • Anonymous

    What grated me about it (and as it happens I’ve watched it twice the past two nights, first from Netflix then yesterday I received the 3D blu ray) is the lack of originality both in scenes and particularly dialogue. Something I hadn’t noticed until the 3D last night was Kirk’s haircut (neck anyway) was very reminiscent of the young William Shatner. Obviously intended, but it was still interesting on its own. Peter Weller was great, glad he got back into acting.

    A minor standout for me was the father in the beginning of the film who along with his wife expressed anguish simply by standing over his daughter’s hospital bed. I thought the stillness and look on his face was riveting. I forget what acting technique that is, but assuming his accent is genuine I expect he has a lot of Shakespeare stage experience.

  • Mike Chen

    You mean MICKEY SMITH (Noel Clarke)! ;)

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you, I liked the movie. Not great, but it wasn’t god awful. It was fun, Cumberbatch was entertaining, and it might not have been as thoughtful as some Star Trek films, but it wasn’t totally brainless either. Frankly, Trek films seem to work better when they’re action with a bit of heart, like Wrath of Khan, or First Contact. When they try to be too thoughtful, you get Insurrection. Which is the absolute worst. Not that action is infallible… see Nemesis, but I can’t fault the film for being an action film. Maybe more like Wrath of Khan, which had the characters pulling out a lot more strategy, would have been good. But the films just can’t be like the show. It doesn’t work that way.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. I don’t know his other work, but its hard to imagine he wouldn’t be great at it.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s what caught me eye in regards to the Get Carol In Her Undies moment: “All I can tell you is that it’s not something we went into blindly, and
    certainly we all sat in a room going, okay, we’re going to be criticized
    for this, but HOW DO WE JUSTIFY THIS in a way that feels like it was
    thought about?” Hey…here’s a thought. Don’t shoehorn in Teh Nekkid and then you won’t have to justify it after the fact.

  • Herbert West


    … and absolutely nothing of value was lost.

  • Mike Chen

    Nemesis had a lot of good nature vs. nurture ideas that got squashed for a Riker fist-fights. Apparently, there was a lot of strife with the director and the original cut of the John Logan script was three hours long. I bet there’s a good Trek movie in there if the right person cut the material together. Plus, Wesley!

    As for Insurrection, the original pitch was originally supposed to be Trek Heart Of Darkness with a real gritty tone as the TNG crew tracked down a rogue Starfleet officer. Good ol’ studio interference, as Paramount wanted something lighter in tone after the sci-fi heavy First Contact. Hey, they were about ten years too early on the “gritty, realistic” stuff!

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    I am the only one who loved it?

  • Anonymous

    in the context of the movie that scene did bother me, though i eye-rolled, but i really found it completely out of place (and context) in the trailers.

  • Anonymous

    I could see Nemesis being a good movie, you’re right. It does have the idea that could have been the heart to the film to make it better. Sadly, even the nature v nurture that we did get never worked for me, because Shinzon never reminded me of Picard. He didn’t feel like a person Picard could have been. He didn’t even really look much like Picard. It was hard to take the issue seriously when he seems less like Picard gone wrong, and more like some random bald jerk.

    it’s not to say the idea couldn’t have worked, just that, even when they were trying to put time into it, it never really clicked for me. That film had a lot of issues with writing, and logic, really. There’s a good film deep down in there somewhere, but it just didn’t work.

    … Which is more than I can say for Insurrection. I don’t think there’s a good film in there. Not a good Star Trek film anyway.

  • Travis

    Wait a second. Marcus starts stripping down during the middle of a conversation in a semi-public place and Kirk is the jerkbag creeper for looking? How is Marcus’ modesty in any way Kirk’s responsibility in that scenario? If anything, he showed far more restraint than he really had to.

    Anyway, somebody start a campaign to put Jonathan Frakes back in the director’s chair.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Nope. She was changing for a mission and SPECIFICALLY ASKED Kirk to turn around. Now, I’m sorry, but I don’t care what the circumstances are: If someone’s in the underwear and asks you not to look at them, YOU DO NOT LOOK AT THEM.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    He showed far more restraint than he HAD to? With a woman who asked him to turn? One of his officers even? What, he had the right to grope or rape her for doing that?

  • Ben English

    Wait, wait, wait… Beneidict Cumberbatch played Khan? As in, The Wrath of Khan, Eugenics warrior of the 90s, Moby Dick-quoting Khan?

    But…. he’s… white…

  • Anonymous

    I did the same and had a “oh for goodness sake, make up your mind!” moment. But it’s fine, it turns out making up his mind is exactly what he’s done.

  • Nirali

    I really enjoyed the movie when I saw it, but there were problems with it. The only real problem I had was with the Carol Marcus thing, but I haven’t seen the Wrath of The Khan or many previous Star Trek series, so I don’t know what the problem is with that. I think what people had an issue with is that Abrams tried to make it a big action movie when Star Trek is inherently philosophical and thought provoking.

  • Anonymous

    I really like how most of the old films have a kind of common thread leading them on, namely focusing on the importance of adventure. Bear with me on this:

    I: Kirk is an admiral, realizes it sucks
    II: Kirk feels old, Spock dies, says he feels young, hopeful
    III: Rescue mission, disobey orders to save the day
    IV: Another crazy, maverick mission. Kirk reinstated as captain as “punishment”
    V: Suck fest, move on
    VI: Rescue mission, disobey orders to save the day
    G (VII): Picard and Kirk meet. They’ve got this very limited time together. Kirk’s one message to Picard: stay a captain. Kirk leaves “paradise” for one more adventure
    N (VIII): Disobey orders to save the day.
    Ins (IX): (Sucked, but) Rescue mission, disobey orders to save the day. Plus fountain of youth treatment for everyone
    N (X): Order are to “go there and do stuff”. Stuff happens

    So there was this basis of the rogue, well-seasoned crew that knew they could disobey orders for the greater good, and have a hell of an adventure on the way. The basis for the 2 Abrams movies are that the Enterprise is given orders from the top. The two movies are very “Earth-centric”, military-mission (albeit gone wrong). The fun lies in what made the old episodes work: a lone crew, far from home, and going on an adventure, head first if possible.

  • Kit Whelan

    I, lifelong Trekkie raised on TNG & DS9, like it too! I mean, I hated the Carol Marcus naked scene and definitely want the next movie to be it’s own story instead of a rehash, but I definitely liked it!

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    Yeah I agree! But why is there this notion that things either have to be action packed or thought provoking? Personally I though it was both

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    Yeah it was stupid that they cut Benedict’s shower scene but kept her demeaning and unnecessary scene in. I haven’t seen much star trek apart from the these 2 films, a bit before my time, but I’m defiantly a fan now and would watch the TV shows.

  • Anonymous

    I really liked the throwbacks to Wrath of Kahn. I just watched it again the other day. I like that they called up a lot of those elements, showing that this is the same world, but then subverted them, showing that it’s an alternate universe. I thought the emotional tension was there just fine. I feel like the only person who liked it.
    I will grant that Cumberbatch is too white, and that they accidentally cured Death, but will never mention it again. But the first movie had the same flaws and, honestly, have you watched TOS? Same kind of crap happens all the time. It was a good movie.

  • Brent Jones

    Abrams just doesn’t get it. It’s not about finding out who the bad guy is, it’s about rooting for/against the bad guy. If Abrams directed The Dark Knight, he would have hidden the fact that Heath Ledger played the Joker and kept him out of makeup until the midpoint.

  • Travis

    If somebody is in their underwear, that is THEIR problem. Not anybody else’s. It was her choice to strip down during the middle of a conversation in common space. Her being half-naked doesn’t give her the magical authority to dictate the actions of others.

    Politeness says that you should turn away but the choice to look or not still belongs to the person with the eyes.

  • Travis

    That is an absurd comparison on a multitude of levels and you know it.

    Kirk never had the right to rape or grope her. That doesn’t change whether she was clothed or not.

    Kirk did have the right to look at her during a conversation in a public place. That also doesn’t change because she decided to strip down in front of him.

    I don’t get dressed in the living room and then demand that my roommates stay in their rooms until I’m finished.

  • Brian

    Jeez, Orci is a moron. I totally agree with you Rebecca, the writers practically expected viewers to bring along with love of WoK to fill in all the blanks and like this movie with no grounding whatsoever for it to stand on its own feet. And his comment proves why the villain shouldn’t have been Khan at the end of the day.

    I really have to stop talking about how much I dislike this movie because it just makes me want to rant and rave for hours. lol On a positive note, I hope that Abrams can now go and be a much better director with a franchise he understands. Most of the issues in his iTrek movies could have been avoided if he knew the writers were ruining everything.

  • Brian

    Without getting too in-depth, I personally liked Insurrection, for the most part, because it felt like a big episode of TNG (there were still a number of things that didn’t work).

    Nemesis failed for many of the same reasons I disliked Into Darkness; the ideals of Star Trek (which should be timeless) and pre-established factors (even those just from the 2009 movie if you want to allow for an alternate timeline to somehow have totally different physics) are totally ignored for what someone thinks looks cool.

    In both cases you had a director who didn’t know Trek and allowed dumb things like hull breaches being exactly the same as what was on the view screen, the ARGO, reversed women’s liberation, or warp speed basically becoming hyperdrive (enter any of a million stupid Into Darkness examples if you don’t like the last two).

    Having said that, I do agree that there were still good elements that could probably have worked if executed differently.

  • Anonymous

    Right. I can’t even believe that they would fess up to planning the shot and then trying to justify it after the fact. The fact that they thought they could get away with this half-assed objectification is kind of shocking.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    No please, tell me what you meant by ” If anything, he showed far more restraint than he really had to.” Because you’re saying he could have done more than he already did in that situation. Showing less restraint than just looking would be what, exactly? Because if it’s not going to touch her physically, I don’t know what it would be.

    Did he have the “right” to look at her? Yes, just as we all have the “right” to look any direction we please when we’re outside. The difference here is, she specifically asked him not to look before she started to change. What he did was a violation pure and simple.

    In the context of the movie, she was stripped down BEHIND him to save time while she talked about what they were going to do. I’ve gotten dressed in the same room as my roommate instead of going into another room to save time. Asked the roommate to turn around, they did, I changed and said it was ok to turn back, they did. That’s how those scenarios are supposed to go.

    What they had Kirk do showed he had a complete lack of respect for the wishes of his officer because he wanted to see her naked.

  • Anonymous

    It’s all about respect for your fellow officer. No, he didn’t have a legal (or, you could argue, moral obligation) to look away. But common decency and respect dictate that when a friend/colleague asks you to turn away for a few seconds, you should do so if you claim to respect them as a person. It’s no different from me covering my mouth when I cough so as not to spray all over anyone in my vicinity; I could be a jerk and not give a damn about anyone but myself, or I could show others the respect that I would like them to show me, especially if I was a leader who was expected to lead by example.

  • Jenny

    No! I’m a huge TOS fan, and I loved it unreservedly and saw it four times in the theater. I was slightly annoyed by the Carol Marcus undies scene, but it didn’t really bother me that much, Everything else was freaking great. I think it stands up as one of the best “Star Trek” movies, personally. I don’t know what everyone’s problem is with it!

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Look at the way you’re phrasing this. It looks just like people saying a women dressed a certain way deserved to get raped. “Well she was wearing a short skit, that’s her problem.”

    It was her choice to strip, YES, but you keep leaving out the only important part here – her ASKING him to turn around, and him initially complying, leaving her feeling comfortable enough to continue. If she hadn’t asked him to turn around we wouldn’t be having this conversation!

  • Anonymous

    Oddly, I dislike Insurrection for similar reasons for your dislike of Into Darkness. The idea of technology overall improving people’s lives, part of the Star Trek ideal I really appreciated, was utterly stomped on. That’s what pushed the film, for me, from being bad to being unforgivable. It drove me crazy the entire film. But that’s not really important. I don’t like it. If you like it, I envy you, because I want to like Trek films.

    I don’t think the ideals of Star Trek are ignored in Into Darkness though. In fact, I think they’re in the film more than in Star Trek 2009. I’m not bothered by corrupt Admirals and the like, because they’re almost a staple of the show. I think there were more TNG Admirals that our heroes had to fight, than Admirals they agreed with. The end message of the film was against revenge. I thought Into Darkness actually treated Trek ideals a lot better than, for example, DS9.

    Most of the other things, besides the feminist aspect, I don’t really care about. For me, they’re minor errors that don’t matter much. Warp speed doesn’t matter much in a film. It’s the thing that goes at the speed the plot says it does. I’d rather they didn’t waste too much time trying to deal with announcing warp factors and such. Annoying, sure, but I try never to let the little things get in the way too much.

    Honestly, I never got the feeling that Abrams didn’t know Trek. I always felt more like the new Trek films are more of a Trek adaptation. Sure, they’re supposed to be in an alternate timeline, but I think they work better as their own films. Trek really needed a reboot because after such a long run, it was getting bogged down in continuity. You couldn’t sneeze without violating something. I rarely like reboots, but I thought that re-introducing some creative freedom was a good idea. I think that might be why there’s such a split over these films. If you wanted more Star Trek, like it was… yeah, you’re going to be disappointed, and legitimately so. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to want. If you’re expecting something very different, it’s a whole new story.

  • Anonymous

    I always felt like he didn’t know exactly why he was being asked to turn around. … In fact I seem to remember him asking and being told something like “Just do it.” And… well this Kirk isn’t the brightest. I can understand him turning around simply because he doesn’t know why he’s facing away in the first place. … But that doesn’t excuse the scene at all, because he turned around and then gawked instead of turning right back away from her again and apologizing profusely.

  • Thomas Hayes

    If I recall correctly, it really was a budget-induced decision to shoot that in a brewery. They’d already run out of money! No idea how they managed that, ST2009 had a budget way in excess of any film in the previous film series. I was relieved that STID had something that looked like it belonged on the Enterprise, including an engine. Actually one of my favourite design decisions of STID – it looked halfway between a classic warp core and something you’d see in a real physics lab. Although Kirk kicking part of it to fix it was a big let down…

  • Brian

    Actually the whole rouge Admiral thing wasn’t what I meant about the ideals of Star Trek. Having someone deviate from the ‘utopian’ goals is a good way to add conflict. It was more the sexual and racial factors that Gene strived to remove right from episode one. And while they did touch on the folly of seeking revenge I felt like Kirk didn’t so much learn a lesson as just change his mind.

    I totally get what you mean about the new movies being an adaptation, and accept that as such there will be many changes to the original technology (Enterprise is a great example; they had to bring TOS tech into a time when we’ve surpassed a lot of it), but there were so many inconsistencies between both Abram films. Warp travel was depicted as very similar to the original idea and then in Into Darkness we’re basically seeing hyperdrive. You can cut to the end of a journey without having to change the entire basis of space travel just to make the trip happen quicker ‘in character’.

    But that didn’t annoy me half as much as things like the gravity on the ship changing. I can overlook things like the aforementioned hyperdrive travel and not feel like I’m being brought out of the movie, but when you ignore basic physics just to have people toppling around it’s much harder. Especially when the last part of the movie became a bad parody of The Wrath of Khan. People were laughing at the screening I was in and that shouldn’t happen in what was meant to be a serious, dramatic moment.

    You do bring up a good point about Into Darkness holding to one ideal of the original Star Trek though; it can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people, even if we can’t all agree on which parts.

  • Travis

    I meant that he didn’t have to turn around at all.
    He could have stood there and said, “Look, we’re talking here. If you’re uncomfortable with stripping down, which you clearly are not since you’re already half naked, then either do it in an appropriate place or wait until we are finished.”

    I’m pretty sure you’re remembering the movie wrong. She was already down to her skivvies before asking Kirk to turn around. That’s what made the scene so weird to begin with. She didn’t even address the fact that she was stripping down until she was halfway done changing.

  • Anonymous

    He was white the last time, too, so . . . .

  • Marian Hilliard

    It’s far too late to save nuTrek no matter what, so my reaction is “meh”. The news I *want* to hear is that he’s not doing the next Star WARS movie. There’s still hope for that one.

  • Mike Frett

    Thankfully, NuTrek 3 will probably be the last. In most films, when a new director comes on board (Like Nemesis) it ends up being a really terrible movie; thus ending it’s run.

    J.J. Will most likely ruin the first two movies of Starwars before handing it over to a new Director. Disney will most likely reboot the entire series if it goes down hill. That’s what happens these days, three movies and then a reboot. Batman, Superman and even Ironman are all on schedule for a reboot which most of you probably know if you follow studio schedules.

  • cumberbitch

    I don’t get what’s the big fucking deal with the fucking carol/kirk scene. It was just a cute little fluffy scene in an otherwise action-packed +angst filled movie. It seems like you guys just don’t like anything / are just looking for things to complain about the star trek franchise. If you hate it so much stop fucking watching it; and certainly stop discussing it.