May 28 2024

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Meyer: Revitalizing Star Trek

2 min read

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After the rather lackluster Star Trek: The Motion Picture, bringing in Trek newcomer Nicholas Meyer put the Trek movies back on the right track.

Meyer  didn’t hold a high opinion of Star Trek at first. When told by a Paramount executive that he should take the job of directing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he said, “Is that the one with the guy with pointy ears and they all wear pajamas?”

But Meyer decided to go for it after seeing the original movie and some of the television episodes. “…this reminded me of something that I really loved, and it may have taken me a while to put it together,” said Meyer. “But, what I realized was it reminded me of the books by C.S. Forester that I read when I was about thirteen or fourteen, the Captain Hornblower books. And I thought, ‘Oh, this is Hornblower in outer space. That could be a lot of fun.’ I could make my own submarine movie. And that really appealed to me.”

Dealing with William Shatner wasn’t one of Meyer’s favorite memories. “I had a good time with the cast,” said Meyer. “They were very respectful. I know that, originally, Bill Shatner didn’t like the script at all, and I was very floored by this because everybody else did like it. And I sort of listened to his complaints with mounting alarm, and the form it took was that I just kept having to get up and go to the men’s room. Just kept peeing and peeing and peeing as though I was either very humiliated or very enraged or some combination of both. When he left, I was in a real depression.”

But Harve Bennett gave Meyer some useful advice on what to do about the problem. “Harve said, ‘Well, you know, just a minute. If you parse this into bite sizes, it basically boils down that he wants to be the first man through the door.’ So, I could understand that. I went back and twenty-four hours later I’d done a rewrite, and he was very pleased.”

Other than that, “…they were remarkably open to direction,” said Meyer. And the director was the one responsible for the more military look in The Wrath of Khan. “I want it to look like a submarine. I want them to talk like they’re in the Navy.”

Fans attending Destination Star Trek 3 in London next weekend will have the rare opportunity to see Meyer in person. Meyer almost never appears at conventions.

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27 thoughts on “Meyer: Revitalizing Star Trek

  1. I like a less militaristic Star Trek, so I wish Mr. Meyer hadn’t added quite so much “in the Navy” to the movies he was involved with. The TV show had some military elements, but they didn’t do things like shriek “Captain on the Bridge,” and I thought that version worked better. Roddenberry’s positive future felt more positive to me without quite so much military stuff.

  2. That’s what you get when people accept a job without knowing much about what they are about to do. ST II was just the beginning – bringing him back for ST VI was even worse. Lame jokes and a very obnoxious Kim Cattrall as Valeris trying to imitate the (then) lovely Kirstie Alley.

  3. And I prefer the militaristic version. They use military ranks, they have the chain of command, it makes sense. STII was the best of all the Original Trek movies. IV wasn’t bad. The rest, not so much. And it sounds like dealing with Shatner was quite the pain to deal with.

  4. I agree that ST should be much less militaristic. It doesn’t make sense to have them all militaristic when they’re explorers, scientists, anthropologists, development specialists, etc. It’s an enlightened force for good and progress with less military dogma and trappings. The increasing militarism of ST is one of the things I find most distasteful about JJ-Trek.

  5. Love the militaristic and nautical themes. Nick Meyer and Harve Bennett were among the best things ever to happen to Trek; without them there’d have been no continuing film series and no TNG, and we wouldn’t be talking about Trek nearly so much today.

  6. I agree. No militaristc stuff in ST. We expect our crew to be primarily explorers, it is only in unfortunate situations when there is some kind of (intergalactic) war that they have to act as military.

  7. Exploration is all well and good, but if you want ticket sales, the phasers eventually have to come out.

  8. No question Meyer is a great writer and director, but his vision of Star Trek differs from the original concept. He got the pacing and color of Trek right, though. I liked Trek II, but it veered the movies completely away from exploration and Roddenberry’s theme of tolerance (at least initially) towards aliens. Only the Genesis concept (and the aging themes) kept the movie from becoming 80s good guy/bad guy action fare. It took two more movies to get back on track. I’m not sure it saved the series, STIII and IV pretty much jettisoned the military stuff altogether. And who’s to say Roddenberry’s time travel followup (once refined) wouldn’t have worked? That said, STII is a great movie with great dialogue.

  9. Unfortunately you’re probably right when it comes to box office receipts and phasers, which is why Trek is better on TV. Trying to turn Picard into an action hero is one of the big reasons the TNG movies were not good Trek or particularly entertaining.

  10. I don’t think Gene’s vision for Star Trek has ever been very easy to put into film format. The whole exploration thing works a lot better for weekly episodes when the pacing can be slower. I agree that the good guy vs. bad guy movie format gets old but it’s a difficult to do anything else while keeping it entertaining and exciting.

  11. This is true. When one of the movies tried to be a long TV episode with it’s story, it usually didn’t do well in theaters.

  12. Meyer always strikes me as a cocky and arrogant prick. In the “Trek” world he is almost revered as almost a God. Outside of trek, he is a zero with shoes, no one looks at him, gives him any projects, nothing, what’s he had like two, three movie, that’s about it. So he very much needs Trek to feel any kind of fulfillment in life. It sad when you’re only known for one thing, and ride that pony for many, many years.

  13. Just think of it, in a few years, Stuart Baird will be regarded as another great Trek director. SMH.

  14. Star Trek has always been very military. For all of the protestations of a more evolved humanity, peaceful exploration and “Gene’s Vision,” more often than not, problems were ultimately solved by blowing something up or punching somebody.
    Meyer just introduced a military aesthetic to go along with the already military actions.

  15. I thought it was a great change; the ship was awesome, the uniforms were great, the story was intense. Starfleet is both the exploration / scientific wing and the military institution of the Federation – they are one in the same; exploring can bring peace, knowledge, or threats from the unknown. In my mind, something happens during the post ST:TMP 5 year mission, perhaps tensions with the Klingons after their fleet was killed by an object of Earth origin (V’Ger), or perhaps some awesome unseen story that we haven’t seen yet, which ends with Kirk losing the ship and the crew being disbanded for awhile. A stricter adherence to protocol (including the uniforms) during a period of high tensions or war is completely believable to me. For all we know they where the original color coded types beneath the jacket. 🙂

  16. It worked for the movies though. Frankly, the Meyers films are the best Star Trek films ever made IMO.

  17. I agree. The militaristic versions of Trek (Meyers films, the latter half of DS9, and First Contact) were definitely the most entertaining to watch in the Trek universe.

  18. I thought Wrath of Kahn had everything. I just wish current Trek writers would stop trying to copy it. Do something on your own. Every Trek movie doesnt have to be Wrath of Kahn. Nemesis was Wrath of Kahn with zero feeling and Into Darkness was just disastrous Wrath of Kahn with no sense. I loved the battle scenes of Wrath of Kahn and the whole feel. I was not a big fan of the uniforms, they looked a little too much but I come to like them. I do like the uniforms in the Trek reboot.

  19. Of course it differs from the original intent of Roddenberry…Good that is what makes TWOK a classic and TMP a steaming pile of doo. Optimism blah blah blah ….. optimism is boring….peace is boring…and Roddenberry’s vision is nothing more than a LSD trip.

  20. I genuinely never knew people hated TMP until this article/comment thread. I think it’s a masterpiece.

  21. I did know it was hated but I agree with you. It’s the only movie that’s even close to being what the show was like.

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