Tagged: Roberto Orci

REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness

STID_ComboFor years, I have railed against how often Paramount Pictures demonstrates their lack of understanding their Star Trek fans. One misguided decision after another dating back to the 1970s builds a fairly convincing case. The latest misfire is the release pattern to Star Trek Into Darkness, out on disc this week. In case you missed it, the combo pack includes the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy we have all come to expect. You do get Bonus Materail on the Blu-ray disc, but it’s a mere 42 minutes of fairly perfunctory material, discussed a little later. On the other hand, there’s roughly another 60 minutes of features plus an audio commentary that exists but you have to be willing to buy retailer exclusive editions to get them or download the film from iTunes. Hopefully the outcry from consumers and failure to ignite massive sales to fans who must have everything will make this a one-time doomed experiment.

In a summer filled with disappointment, the release of the film is a reminder of what a squandered opportunity J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot had to sustain their reboot of the storied franchise. After making us wait four years, we get a fairly inept story with logic gaps the size of Qo’noS, raising themes but refusing to explore them in the Gene Roddenberry style, favoring action sequences that are prolonged and largely pointless. There are some very strong ideas presented here and given a surface presentation, not allowing the characters to chew over what it means to violate the laws and their oath or to interfere with a civilization’s destiny.

I09 has a brilliant deconstruction of the film’s major plot holes and I commend your attention over there.Khan escorted

Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof appear to have taken the most obvious traits the mass audience knows about James T. Kirk and ignored the rest. This means Chris Pine gets to play a hotheaded jerk who is all instinct and no intellect. Let’s compare: the TOS Kirk knew his ship inside and out, and kept current with the tech, otherwise he never would have known what to do to the deflector dish in Star Trek Generations. Pine’s Kirk kicked the hardware into place. Gary Mitchell chided Kirk for studying too hard, striving too hard to be perfect and still, Kirk had enough outside-the-box thinking to outthink the Kobyashi Maru test. Pine’s Kirk is smug and seems to skate through without effort. The television Kirk loved books and was pensive, quoting the Constitution of the United Sates and John Masefield. Pine’s Kirk gives us no clue he has such depth and dimension.

StarshipsThe biggest issue is how the Kirk approached the Prime Directive. On television, every time Kirk skirted or violated the law, it was for the good of the people (see Vaal, Landru) or to undo the contamination from other Starfleet personnel (see John Gill, Ron Tracy). In this film, the story starts with Kirk breaking the laws to save Spock’s life, a selfish, thoughtless act that led to his omitting vital information from Starfleet.

It’s as if the production crew at Bad Robot loved Star Trek without understanding it. The sloppiness in the plotting, what I termed a Swiss cheese script, is a deep shame given they took four years to write this disappointment and then tell us they waited for the right story to present itself.

By remaking Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, they demonstrated a complete misreading of why that film worked. We had invested sixteen years with these actors and characters so the themes of age and renewal, sacrifice and friendship worked. Here, we had to wait four years for a second installment and we’re still coming to terms with new actors in familiar roles so killing Kirk and making a big deal out of it fell flat.

Star Trek Into DarknessI’m also really tried of military-minded rogue Starfleet officers, too easy a plot device. (I didn’t quite get how the detonation of Vulcan meant it was time to start a war with the Klingons.) Peter Weller is wasted as the bad guy and the movie’s closing scenes totally ignore the questions his crimes raised. Let’s see: how did the conspiracy work? Were there others involved and have they been arrested? Where’s the dreadnought’s construction crew? With Starfleet command compromised, who is vetting the new command structure? Are we that much closer to war with the Klingons after Weller’s unsanctioned visit to Qo’noS (the proper spelling damn it).

Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant and mesmerizing to watch. But his Khan is cold and apparently an enigma to the historians since no one troubled to look him up in the databanks. Instead, Spock-2 calls Spock-1 for the most pointless cameo yet. While the film is chockfull of winks and nods to the TV series it is distancing itself from, it doesn’t mention the Eugenics Wars or properly explain Khan’s amazing intellect and physique (he appears as invulnerable as Superman and has genesis blood so no one will ever die again).

star-trek-into-darkness-image-300x175After he craftily lures Starfleet’s brain trust into one room, he casually flies to HQ and opens fire. Here’s where I lost it. It’s a heightened security situation so they sit in a room full of windows and the airspace around Starfleet Command apparently isn’t patrolled. Similarly, two Federation ships cross the Klingon border and are undetected, then orbit the homeworld and remain undetected for a while. Really? The warrior race just lets anyone come visit?

The script had some terrific ideas buried under pacing that called for a loud, messy, lens-flare filled action sequence to interrupt every few minutes. It began to feel like a script written with an egg timer. The new characters are introduced and left to be underdeveloped so Admiral Marcus and his daughter, the curvaceous Carol, are pretty much cyphers while the supporting cast gets a few token moments of screen time. (Chekov being a transporter genius sort of makes sense since it’s an extension of navigation but being an engineering whiz stretches the point.)

08-05_star_trek_3_jpg_300x300_upscale_q90Michael Giacchino’s wonderful score and Cumberbatch salvage the film from being a complete misfire. We should be thankful that director J.J. Abrams will be a galaxy far, far away when the third film is prepped for the series’ golden anniversary in 2016. Maybe they can actually hire a script editor to smooth over the rough spots.

That said, the film transfer is stunning in its beauty. The 1080p, 2.40:1-framed image is rich with color and detail. Similarly, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack means business is just about flawless.

As for the paltry features, they’re all short and focus on elements of the production with cast and crew discussing how things were created or determined. While interesting, it all leaves you wanting more detail and information, especially Abrams’ conclusion that Khan was the most compelling opponent from the original 79 epsidoes, echoing Harve Bennett’s conclusion thirty years ago. He never addresses why they didn’t just create someone new.

Anyway, you get: Creating the Red Planet (8:28), Attack on Starfleet (5:25); The Klingon Home World (7:30); The Enemy of My Enemy (7:03); Ship to Ship (6:03); Brawl by the Bay (5:44); Continuing the Mission (1:57): A look at Star Trek‘s work with returning veterans and public service projects; and, The Mission Continues (1:29).

Robert Greenberger is the author of Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History.

Watch “Star Trek Into Darkness” trailer now!

If you didn’t make it to a theater this weekend to see The Hobbit, you haven’t yet seen the full-length trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, so let’s take a look now…

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Star Trek: Into Darkness brings back Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, and Bruce Greenwood, and adds Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Weller to the cast. It’s written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Damon Lindelof, and directed by J.J. Abrams. The film is scheduled to hit theaters May 17, 2013.

And here’s a quick pic from the film of Quinto, Cumberbatch, and Pine…

Watch “Star Trek Into Darkness” Teaser Now

Here’s the Star Trek Into Darkness announcement teaser. So what do we know so far?

When the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is called home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within Starfleet has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Star Trek: Into Darkness brings back Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, and Bruce Greenwood, and adds Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Weller to the cast. It’s written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Damon Lindelof, and directed by J.J. Abrams. The film is scheduled to hit theaters May 17, 2013.

‘Human Target’ cancelled, ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Locke & Key’ not picked up for TV

This has not been a good week for comics on TV.

On Tuesday, Fox announced that it was canceling [[[Human Target]]] (starring Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earl Haley and based on the DC Comics character created by Len Wein, Carmine Infantino, and Dick Giordano) after two seasons, and also declined to pick up Locke & Key, the pilot from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (the minds behind Fringe and the Star Trek reboot) based on the IDW comic from Joe Hill.

Now word has come from Deadline Hollywood that NBC will not be picking up [[[Wonder Woman]]], the series that would have been produced by David E. Kelley and starred Adrianne Palacki as the amazing Amazon.

Between these developments, and Smallville ending its decade long run tonight, we are suddenly going from a lot of comics adaptations in broadcast prime time to none at all for the first time since 1996– and that was when Sabrina the Teenage Witch first aired.

Right now, all eyes are on whether Disney’s fabled corporate synergy will mean sister companies Marvel and ABC will go ahead with a new version of Hulk with Guillermo del Toro and David Eick, and/or AKA Jessica Jones with Melissa Rosenberg– or whether they’ll be shunted to ABC Family or some such solution.

The Point Radio: Orci & Kurtzman Reboot HAWAII 5-O

The Point Radio: Orci & Kurtzman Reboot HAWAII 5-O

There’s probably nobody in Hollywood better at The Reboot than Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Tonight CBS unveils their revamped HAWAII 5-O and today we talk to them on how it was carefully re-crafting a classic. Plus (say it with us) BOWLING FOR BOOBIES. Really. Honest.

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Didn’t like ‘Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’? Blame the Writer’s Strike.

Didn’t like ‘Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’? Blame the Writer’s Strike.

First, let’s get the opening numbers for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen out of the way:

3-day weekend total is $112M and 5-day overall is $201.2M from 4,234 theaters. Those figures include a Sunday estimate of around $34+M mirroring that day’s -15% play on the first Transformers.
The breakdown is $40.6M for Saturday, $36.7M Friday, $28.6M Thursday,
and a record smashing $60.6M Wednesday. Included are 169 IMAX screens
which contributed a giant $14.4 million to the five day total.
Internationally, the robot sequel made $162M with a cume of $187M
including the early debuts in Japan and the UK. So that makes for $387M
worldwide, a nice haul for the 100%-owned Viacom title.

So it’s #2 off all time openings, behind The Dark Knight, in spite of brutal reviews. I mean, mind-crunchingly bad. The shortest is T:ROTFL. Some of the roughest comes from Topless Robot, who I think is taking this as an affront to robots everywhere.

But the question no one seems to be asking is: How could this movie be so disjointed, with plot holes you could fly a teleporting jet plane through? Weren’t there writers?

Actually, for a decent part of the movie’s production– no, there weren’t any writers. They were all on strike.

The Writer’s Guild of America, the union that represents all writers in Hollywood, went on strike on November 5, 2007, ending three months later on February 12, 2008. During those hundred days, writing on all movie and TV projects stopped cold, no matter where they were. Foreseeing the possibility of a strike, production companies accelerated production of films and television episodes in an effort to stockpile enough material to continue regular film releases and TV
schedules during the strike period. And one of the films in that rush period was Transformers.

With Transformers, the timing issue was even more critical. Delays for the project were deadly; a summer 2009 release date was already planned and was critical for generating the most income. The visual effects were another problem. You’ve probably already seen articles on how many years of computing time went into making this movie, and that they literally blew up servers rendering the film. Once again, very little time to spare.

So they had to go into production with what they had, and hope that they would be able to pull it all together later. Reanimate a robot here and there for new lines, and cover the rest with explosions and fast movement, and hope that the audience would be dazzled enough not to notice the problems.

And the final cost is now apparent.

UPDATE: Edward Douglas has the pull quotes from screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to match what I’d been hearing off the record:

Roberto Orci: We took the job with
Ehren Kruger two weeks before the strike so in that two weeks, we had
to generate a 20-page outline that we handed in, and then during the
strike, Michael and the amazing (producer) Ian Bryce tried to prep
everything they could off of that outline. Then from the day the strike
ended to the first day of shooting was three months, so we had to write
the script in those three months, handing in pages at the end of every
day so they could be prepped. It was crazy. We finished writing the
movie two weeks ago, literally.
Alex Kurtzman: Because you’re writing lines for the robots in
post. Not only did we rewrite on set but we spent the last six months
with Michael in post, cutting the movie and writing the lines for the
robots, just making jokes or making plot points more clear. Literally,
they had to just rip it out of our dead hands the other day. (chuckles)

This is not the way to make a coherent movie. Suddenly, I’m even more worried about what the G.I.Joe movie is going to be like.

The Latest ‘Star Trek’ News

The Latest ‘Star Trek’ News

First Showing is reporting that Star Trek will not only beam into multiplexes around the nation, but can also be found on IMAX.

Other IMAX releases are scheduled to include Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

In other Star Trek news, Paramount released two more teaser posters featuring Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the villain Nero (Eric Bana) as seen here.

IDW released the cover to the first issue of Star Trek: Countdown #1, the prequel miniseries coming in January.

The story is plotted by Trek screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and scripted by Mike Johnson (Superman/Batman) and Tim Jones, with  art by David Messina (Star Trek: Mirror Images). Messina also provides covers for the series.

“There was a lot of back and forth about doing this project, how to do it, what it would be about, but what all parties agreed on was that we needed the right story and that it needed to matter. It had to count both on its own merits and when read in conjunction with the new movie,” said series editor Andy Schmidt in a release. “I couldn’t be happier with the project and what it means to the overall Star Trek franchise!”

"Star Trek: Countdown lays the groundwork for what happens in the movie," said Roberto Orci. "It’s our way of passing the baton from the Next Generation characters and their movies to the new film." 


Trek-ulation begins

Paramount has announced the next Star Trek movie (number XI, for those of you counting Roman-style) will premiere on Christmas Day 2008, no doubt delighting many Jewish Trekkers, as going to the movies on December 25 is almost as popular among Jews as going out for Chinese food.

Eleven is  being helmed by fan favorite director J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias, etc.) and speculation has already started as to what actors will be chosen to play younger versions of James Kirk, Mr. Spock and so forth, since the screenplay from M:I 3 writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci is said to follow those familiar characters during their Starfleet Academy years and into their first space mission.  If Abrams & co. are smart, they’ll go with unknowns.  If they’re smarter they’ll hold and publicize open auditions.

Meanwhile, Saw IV director Darren Lynn Bousman is said to be remaking Scanners, scripted by another fan favorite and sometimes comic writer, David Goyer.  That should be coming out right around the same time.