The Star Trek sequel countdown returns with a milestone for the sequel, an update on recent spoilers, plus brand new spoilers, the hope of a Capt. Worf movie and my thoughts on why Star Trek: TNG in HD is just as big of a deal as the new movie.
Star Trek Sequel Production Wrapped - Except For A Bit in Iceland
Well, it's a wrap. Since the last update here at Movies.com, J.J. Abrams' (still untitled) Star Trek sequel has wrapped up its production and sent the cast home. The last day of principal photography was May 8th on location in in Livermore, CA. The team was there to shoot scenes at the Lawrence Livermore Lab inside the very high tech National Ignition Facility (which conducts fusion research with the world's largest laser). The lab offers a very futuristic looked location. Even some of the NIF's terminology sounds like it came from Star Trek - see the "laser bay" and "target chamber" below.
Star Trek sequel wrapped up its production with location shooting at Lawrence Livermore
While the actors and main crew have been dismissed, work continues for the sequel which is due in theaters May 17, 2013 (that's about 50 weeks away!). Much of the focus now is on post-production with editing, effects work, sound design, music, etc. However, it was recently confirmed (by yours truly) that the Star Trek sequel's second unit is headed to Iceland. None of the main cast are going to the island nestled against the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic. The second unit will be filming visual effects shots for what is likely some alien landscape. This is the first time a Star Trek feature has filmed outside the United States, but Iceland (known as "the land of fire and ice") is growing in popularity for location shooting (in the last year it has been used for Prometheus and Game of Thrones).
The Star Trek sequel is doing some effects location shooting in Iceland
OK....lets talk about spoilers
You have been warned
Actors deny (and decry) spoilers + producers promise a new story
The last update had the big spoiler news that Leonard Nimoy would be returning for his role as Spock Prime and the Benedict Cumberbatch was playing the classic villain role of Khan Noonien Singh. Now both of these spoilers are (apparently) being denied.
First up is Nimoy. He is the one who got the ball rolling when he told CNN he was "talking" to J.J. Abrams about a role in sequel. He later backtracked on that by saying they were "just talking" and that they talk all the time, like pals do. He also sent out a tweet saying "Does 'talking' sound like 'appearing?'" Then, ironically while promoting how he had once again come out of retirement to appear in JJ Abrams' Fringe, the actor responded to the Star Trek reports by saying:
My feeling is they don’t need me. They’ve got a wonderful cast. Zachary Quinto has taken on the character of Spock and I think he is wonderfully suited. He is a talented guy. He is a very intelligent actor, very well trained. They’ve got a great company of people replacing all of us. I don’t think they need me, frankly. It’s flattering to be talked about, but I just don’t think they need me.
Nimoy came out of retirement for JJ Abrams in "Star Trek" (2009) and Fringe (2012), but says he isn't needed for the next Trek
Next up is Cumberbatch and the reports that he is playing Khan. The actor himself isn't issuing any denials and, in fact, the LA Times reports that when asked about it he literally "flinched at the topic." Sounds like the notoriously secretive J.J. Abrams has Cumberbatch trained with a Pavlovian response rejecting any talk of spoilers. The only thing the actor is willing to say about the sequel is he thinks the film is "blindingly brilliant" and that believes Abrams "is a god" (see, very well trained).
However, Cumberbatch's sequel co-star Simon Pegg (the new Scotty) is not afraid to jump into it. Just today a new interview was published where the actor flatly denies the Khan reports, and he clearly isn't happy about them:
“It’s not Khan,” replies Pegg, annoyed. “That’s a myth. Everyone’s saying it is, but it’s not.”
So you have the internet reports from Aint it Cool News, Latino Review, FirstShowing, Vulture, my own TrekMovie.com and others, and then there are the denials by the above actors. I have always said that all the spoiler reports should be considered as rumors, officially. Paramount does not even comment on what they consider rumor. Is it possible that my reporting (and that of other sites) is wrong? Yes, of course it is possible. This is the most secretive project in Hollywood, so anything is possible.
I would also like to point out that knowing a character is in a movie is not really much of a spoiler anyway. Other films make no secret about the main characters For example, we have known about Catwoman and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and Zod in Man of Steel since those roles were cast. But did knowing about the character tell us anything about the film? Not really. We all knew the Joker was part of The Dark Knight and that film went on to make $1B and was a huge critical success. The point is that character ≠ story.
It is also important to note that there is no expectation that this team would ever turn the sequel into a redo of a past episode (like "Space Seed") or film (like Wrath of Khan). In fact, co-writer producer Roberto Orci joined in on the debate at in the TrekMovie.com comments and said "No remakes. No rehashes." This statement echoed a comment by Star Trek sequel producer Bryan Burk who told MTV last December that (with regards to the villain) "we chose to do something that would be original and unique and different."
By the way, if Cumberbatch is actually Khan, there is one concern that can be put aside. Some fans had worried that the skinny British actor might not be able to match Ricardo Montalban's physique. However, before he started on the film, Cumberbatch had said that he was working out "non-stop" and based on some pictures of the actor at the beach (taken after shooting wrapped), he isn't looking to wimpy either.
If Cumberbatch (L) was trying to get into Khan (R) shape - he did a decent job pumping up
First clues to roles for Peter Weller and Alice Eve + Cupcake is back
Now for some potential spoilers that cannot be denied. First up comes an on-the-record comment by Peter Weller. We haven't heard much about his role except that his agent said it was a "CEO." While doing the red carpet at a 25th anniversary screening of Robocop, Weller (talking to TrekMovie) made it clear he isn't going to be donning alien latex make-up for his role. He also dropped a hint about his character, saying:
Do I look like an alien to you? No man. Let me put it this way. I have my own ship
Speculation has now moved to Weller being the captain of a ship (either in Starfleet or some kind of other organization within the Federation). Not much, but better than nothing and one of the very few things said on the record about this film.
Another new face for the Star Trek sequel we know little about is Alice Eve. But we can now put a little more to the face all thanks to a guy catering the set on the last day of shooting. A Facebook posting for a dessert truck ended up being the first image Alice Eve from Star Trek. She was pictured with the truck's owner and co-star Zachary Quinto. From the picture (below) Eve can be seen wearing the same type of outfit as Quinto.
The implication is that Eve, like Quinto's Spock, is a member of Starfleet. While it doesn't tell us much, it does remove a lot of possibilities, including Eve playing some kind of alien (or at least aliens outside the Federation or aliens who don't look human). And astute fans also note how the jumpsuit outfit Quinto and Eve are wearing is new for this film, but it is also the same one that Zoe Saldana (Uhura) and John Cho (Sulu) were seen wearing back in March.
Also I was recently clued into another little spoiler-ette. There is another character who is returning for the Star Trek sequel. If you remember the fight scene at the bar early in the movie, Kirk gave a cadet defending Uhura the nickname "Cupcake." We later saw this "Cupcake" guy on board the USS Enterprise as a security officer apprehending Kirk and Scotty when they on board the ship (after Spock kicked Kirk off). Well this "Cupcake" (played by actor Jason Matthew Smith) is returning for the Star Trek sequel, and now he has a name (Mr. Hendorff, which was the name of an original Star Trek series character (an ill-fated red shirt in the episode "The Apple.") The name for this character was actually first revealed in a recent issue of the ongoing Star Trek comic book series. So, as reported in the first countdown article here, the comics are indeed dropping bits of the new movie along the way, if you know where to look.
"Cupcake" (aka Hendorff) in 2009's "Star Trek" and 2012's Star Trek comics
There are couple of other bits of sequel character news. Firstly, JJ Abrams reached out to voice actor Nolan North to do a cameo in the movie. Abrams is a huge gaming nerd and North does voices in just about every game, including playing the lead in the Uncharted series, a favorite for Abrams and his son. Another nerdy cameo Abrams wanted was for Norwegian chess master Magnus Carlsen. The director was hoping Carlsen, the youngest ever #1 ranked player in the world, could appear as a chess player from the future, however a work visa could not be secured in time.
Dorn almost had sequel role + now wants to make his own Mr. Worf Star Trek movie
So far the only main series actor from one of the five Star Trek series who has appeared in JJ Abrams new movie universe is Leonard Nimoy who reprised his role as Spock. But, Michael Dorn (aka Mr. Worf) told me over the weekend that he got a call about appearing in the new JJ Abrams sequel. The idea was for Dorn to appear as a Starfleet officer (and not Worf). However, after the initial inquiry from the casting office someone changed their mind, apparently concerned about mixing the old era of Trek with the new.
While he didn't make it into the sequel, Dorn is still interested in doing more Trek. He already has actually appeared in more Star Trek than any other actor (by far). He was a series regular for all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He then went on to join the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for four seasons. He was also in all four of the Next Generation feature films and even had a small role in the last original cast movie (Star Trek VI) playing an ancestor of Worf's (as the Klingon lawyer who unsuccessfully defended Kirk and McCoy on trial for murdering the chancellor).
And now Dorn tells me that he is currently writing a Star Trek TV movie featuring himself as Captain Worf. He hopes to pitch it to CBS sometime this year. He wants to do something "edgier," with Capt. Worf fighting terrorists on the Federation borderlands.
Michael Dorn as Worf commanding the USS Defiant (Star Trek: First Contact – 1996) – plans to pitch Captain Worf TV movie
Next Gen Blu-ray available for pre-order for $78 - and worth it
Before I wrap up, a reminder that the Star Trek sequel isn't the only big project going on. On July 24th the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation will be released on Blu-ray. The set was just recently made available for pre-order. The official MSRP is $118.00, but both Amazon andWal-Mart have pre-order prices of $78.86.
Star Trek: TNG Season One Blu-ray coming in July
Paying almost 80 bucks for a season of TV may seem like a lot, but this is a very special project. Very very few shows from the pre-HD era ever even get the Blu-ray treatment. And the astounding thing about TNG going Blu-ray is the effort CBS is putting into this project. Traditionally a pre-digital era show is converted to Blu-ray by running the final cut film through a digitizer to remaster in in HD. However, while TNG was shot on film, post-production was done on videotape. So there is no final film to run through the machine, and upscaling the final video just doesn't cut it.
To turn TNG into HD CBS has chosen to essentially redo post-production for each episode, but finding the original film elements of each scene (finding the right take) and the re-editing each show digitally. On top of that they are creating new CGI shots to replace the effects shots which were done in video (transporters, phasers, photons and some others). On top of that, they are also making brand new special features. All in all this is an enormous undertaking and, to be honest, I'm kind of shocked CBS is putting the time, effort and money into it. And so it costs $78. And even at that price, at $3/episode it still works out cheaper than many other new Blu-ray releases (for example, at $43.96 Season 1 of Game of Thrones works out to $4.40 each episode).
preview for Star Trek TNG S1 on Blu-ray
The upcoming week in Trek
Here are some rapid-fire news bits for you from the world of Star Trek for the next week:
The first issue of the Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover comic comes out on Wednesday (check out a preview)
Also due on Wednesday (in the UK, later in the US) is a special edition of SFX magazine featuring a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: TNG (see preview)
All five Star Trek TV captains to be seen on stage together for the first time at Philadelphia Comic Con this weekend.
A 3-CD "complete" set of Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-nominated score from Star Trek: The Motion Picture will be released on June 5th
Also due out on the 5th is John Scalzi's "Red Shirts" an (unofficial) Star Trek parody novel about those crewmembers who never seem to make it back from landing parties
And on 5th the big gaming show E3 kicks off with an expected release of more information, video and images from the very exciting Star Trek console game (look for details and impressions in my next update)
The Star Trek Sequel Warps Into Theaters In 352 Days
Anthony Pascale is the owner/editor-in-chief of the number one independent Star Trek site: TrekMovie.com. You can find his Star Trek Sequelcolumn here at Movies.com every other Monday. Follow Anthony on Twitter @TrekMovie.