Field Report: J.J. Abrams Boldly Shows Star Trek Footage in NYC

Star Trek: The Enterprise Crew

This evening our own Cole Abaius had the opportunity to join a small group of journalists in New York City for a special presentation by director J.J. Abrams. The director, whose latest project is the long-awaited eleventh film in the Star Trek franchise, a franchise reboot that will show us the origins of the USS Enterprise and her crew. It will star Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk and Heroes star Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock, among others. But you already knew that — you are reading this to get the latest digs about what was shown this evening in New York, are you not?

For those interested, I just got off the phone with Mr. Abaius who was kind enough to pass along some details of what he saw and what he thought. I am happy to share them with you below, but beware, some of the information does include spoilers.

Before we get into the specifics, here are a few overall bullet points about the footage:

  • Chris Pine is very natural as Kirk. He delivers a very cocky (in a good way) and gritty performance. His attitude is reminiscent of Indiana Jones in his prime — very cocksure and cynical.
  • Bruce Greenwood has great command of the screen and brings a great mature presence to his scenes with Kirk. A very classic Americana vision of leadership.
  • John Cho gets to kick some serious ass as Sulu.
  • The action sequences are very intense and well-orchestrated.
  • Overall, the film works in a very realistic and authentic way. Not just as a Star Trek movie, but as a sci-fi action movie as well.
  • It is hard to say whether Trekkies will get into it, but action and sci-fi junkies will find plenty to like.

There were four scenes that were shown, all of which were awesome. J.J. Abrams was there to introduce the scenes. Here is a more in-depth rundown of what was shown. Beware, this section includes a few potentially major spoilers:

Scene 1:

We meet Kirk for the first time. Every single shot is super-stylized, ultra-realistic. In the fields of Iowa we follow a girl who ends up being Uhuru (played by Zoe Saldana). She enters a bar and begins ordering drinks. The shot to a cool looking alien in the bar, which is a very poignant moment — creating the stark realization that there are aliens mixing it up with humans in Iowa. We then see Kirk, who leans in to try and pick up Uhura. They have a very interesting exchange in which Kirk tries to give Uhura his name, she responds with “I’m fine without it.” Kirk fires back with “She is fine, without it,” Showing a little bit of classic Kirk swagger.

The scene ends with Kirk getting into a brutal, huge bar fight. Very realistic. He holds his own against 4 other cadets. Fight gets broken up by Pike, who talks to Kirk afterward, trying to get him to enlist in the Federation. “You can settle for a less than ordinary life…” And talks about the bravery of Kirk’s father, finishing with “I dare you to do better.” He then tells Kirk that if he was half the man his father was, then he should be able to be promoted in 4 years and have his own ship in 8 years.

Next shot shows Kirk riding his motorcycle on a lonely dirt road, comes up to a massive launch area in a field in Iowa (shot from the trailer). He finds Pike and abandons his motorcycle and tells Pike, “Four years? I’ll do it in three.”

Scene 2:

Three years later. Kirk’s rebelious nature has gotten him into some trouble, causing him to lose a chance at being on a ship. But in order to circumvent the system, his good buddy Bones, played by Karl Urban, makes him sick and sneaks him onto the sick bay of the Enterprise.

We meet the Enterprise as it is responding to an electrical storm near Vulcan. They are in warp speed headed to respond. Here is where we first see John Cho in action as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov. There are a few choice funny moments involving Chekov’s Russian accent and authorization codes. It stays away from being campy and works in a very genuine and authentic way.

Kirk has an alergic reaction to the sickness that Bones gives him causing his hands to swell up really big. It turns into a big hand gag that actually works. After that they run to the bridge to tell Pike and Spock that they are headed into a trap — Kirk knows this based on a story his father told him. After arguing a bit, Pike accepts that Kirk might be right and orders the ship’s shields to be put up. As soon as they come of warp speed an epic battle with fantastic CGI ensues.

Scene 3:

This scene is a bit confusing because I don’t know a ton about Star Trek history, but it centers on disagreements between Spock and Kirk. We find that Kirk has been expelled from the ship by Spock and sent to a desolate ice planet. There he meets up with old Spock from the future, played by Leonard Nimoy. We can only assume that this is explained better in the rest of the movie, but at the onset of the scene Kirk has already made contact with old Spock. They then go to find Scotty, played by Simon Pegg. It is clear when we meet Scotty that they have really reigned in Simon Pegg a bit — he is very funny, but not his usual brand of absurd-funny. It is very cool to see Pegg playing a much different character from what we’ve seen in the past.

Future Spock then tells Scotty that his trans-warp theory is accurate, helping him figure out a way to beam Scotty and Kirk up to the Enterprise while it is in warp speed. Most of the scene is just a really good introduciton to Scotty. We also learn that at this point Kirk needs to take command of the ship from Spock. Another notable thing is that there is a very self-aware moment at the end of the scene where Kirk looks at old Spock and tells him that going back in time is essentially cheating. Spock responds by saying that he learned it from an old friend. Nimoy then throws up the Vulcan hand sign and delivers a badass “Live long and prosper.”

Scene 4:

Pike is headed to meet Nero, played by Eric Bana. But before he goes, Pike instructs Kirk, Sulu and a random red shirt to go and stop a giant drill — as in, a drill the size of New York — that the Romulans are using to drill into Vulcan. The drill has this ridiculously huge, 100-mile long flame going into the planet that looks very badass in scale — it has a very massive presence on screen.

From there the scene is all action. Kirk and Sulu have to free-fall 5,000 feet, land on the drill’s tiny platform, fight some Romulan guards and blow up the drill with a few space machine guns. And before they can get beamed back up to the Enterprise, Sulu falls off the platform and Kirk dives after him, causing them both to free-fall toward the desert terrain of Vulcan. And in the interest of not spoiling the whole movie, I won’t reveal how it all ends — but know this: While Kirk and Sulu fall toward their death, Spock and the Enterprise crew have a matter of minutes to save the entire planet of Vulcan. Its pretty intense and, for lack of a better word, awesome.

Sorry for using the words “awesome” and “badass” so much, but they were just the most fitting sentiments from the night’s events.

How does this report make you feel about Star Trek? Hopeful? Optimistic? Frightened for your life?

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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