A day at Bad Robot gives us a better look at 'Star Trek Into Darkness'
Plus we share a crazy theory about the secrets JJ Abrams is hiding in plain sight
After we watched the trailer, we were shown around the rest of the Bad Robot building. There were tons of journalists there today, and we were walked through in groups. We visited Props and Costumes first, where, as if to make people crazy, Alice Eve was revealed to us today to be playing Carol Marcus. You know… the woman from "Wrath Of Khan" who had an affair with Kirk and who is raising his son? That does not appear to be her role here, though, so it'll be fun to see how they introduce her. For example, also in the film? Admiral Marcus, who is evidently her father.
Qo'noS, the home planet of the Klingons, is definitely in the film, and we saw an outfit of hers (a formal dress Naval miniskirt ensemble that did a great job of evoking the awesome aesthetic of the original show), an outfit of his, and most notably, a Klingon warrior's armor. They've been sure to incorporate things like the original design elements like the Klingon's symbol, but with lots of new touches as well. We saw Spock's volcano suit, a great practical bit of design that took four months from idea to final execution, and we heard how important it was for Abrams to make sure you'd see the flames reflecting on the suit to help sell the volcano sequence. We saw Uhura's wetsuit, complete with jetboots to help propel her underwater, which you'll see on Zoe Saldana in the 9-minute IMAX 3D prologue that's playing in front of these engagements of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". 3D IMAX wetsuit-wearing Zoe Saldana? Are you sure this isn't a Christmas movie?
We also saw the robes that Kirk and Bones (Karl Urban) are wearing when they're fleeing from a group of aliens in that same prologue, and some of the props designed for the film as well. Things like the phasers and the communicators and the tricorders are all careful to fit into the new design of the film while still evoking the classic designs. For example, you'll see there's a mesh piece on the communicator cover now that wasn't there before but that suggests the look of the originals. Little details like that don't make or break a film, of course, but they sure do sell the idea that they're committed to really playing with "the five year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations." I want a "Trek" that encourages exploration, and I'll tell you why it's important.
Kids today are indeed falling in love with this "Trek." Toshi enjoys watching the original series and we're still sort of tiptoeing through the first season of "Next Generation," but for him, the feature films are it, and the 2009 film was the moment where he really seemed to click on as a film fan. Before that, he was a little kid who had seen some movies. After that, he was a movie watcher. When he saw the trailer for the new film, he was shaky in that excited little-kid way, thrilled at the prospect. He thinks it already looks better than the first one, and I love seeing the optimism in him, the pure excitement. There comes a point where some film fans are incapable of being that wide open to a movie, and that's a shame. Watching him, I'm reminded what a gift that anticipation is, and how much fun it is to be teased without being told everything.
And when he and I talk about the Mars rover or go to the Planetarium or play with the star maps app on my phone sitting outside in our front yard, the enthusiasm he has for the idea of space and what it could contain is fueled in no small part by his belief in "Star Trek." He sees a time in our future where we have gotten our shit together and we have shaken loose of the planet in a very real way. We're not there yet, and we'll never get there if we don't re-inspire kids to want to go. We need a next generation of astronauts, and if you talk to people who really did work in or around the space program, there are a whooooole lot of "Star Trek" fans in there. It helps, but only if that's part of the equation. I know that my first fascination with the show came from that notion of exploring the larger universe and meeting new races every week. Anything that encourages that sort of dreaming about exploration and expansion is okay by me.
During the props and costumes presentation, we were shown the device that Spock tries to use in the film to defuse a volcano. It started out as a slick single-function device, but Abrams pushed them to make it look more cobbled together. It's supposed to be something that Spock and Scotty and whoever else had to improvise for this particular situation. One of the reporters asked about people in the cast taking souvenirs, and the response was delivered with a huge smile that seemed vaguely menacing: "They know better."
We also spent some time with the make-up department looking at the designs they put together for the Klingons, and they went through some serious adjustments as they tried to find a look that worked and that gave whatever actors they hired free to perform through the make-up. We saw some of the other races you'll see in the film, some in the background, some in featured sequences, and we saw how those designs evolved over the pre-production period. It's interesting to see how high-tech some of the tricks in the film are, and how low-tech others are. Some of the aliens took six hours to apply to performers, some were just masks that someone could slip on while on-set. That wide array of things on display is important to sell the idea that it's a big universe and that Starfleet is definitely not alone.
Michael Giacchino walked us through the scoring of the IMAX 3D prologue, which is all he's recorded for the film so far. He won't really get started on the rest of the score until Abrams has a final cut he likes, and there's still some time to go before they reach that point. I had to run at that point in the afternoon to get across town for my "This Is 40" interviews, and as I waited for the valet to bring my car, both Robert Orci and Damon Lindelof arrived to drop their cars off. I talked to them both for a moment just to share some thoughts about what they've shown us in the last few days, then jumped into my car so I could split.