Even as he basks in the glory of directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams is still contending with the fallout from Star Trek Into Darkness.
From the near-unanimous positive reviews for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it seems clear that Abrams has successfully relaunched this beloved franchise. But while he was also praised for rebooting Star Trek with his 2009 film of the same name, the 2013 followup continues to be one of the most criticized sequels in recent memory and a film that many Star Trek fans scorn outright.
In a new interview with Buzzfeed, Abrams takes a hard look at Star Trek Into Darkness and admits to the film's problems:
“I take full responsibility for this -- I was encouraging the writers in certain directions, and we were working on the script and putting it together. But by the time we started shooting, and this was literally at the very beginning of the shoot, there were certain things I was unsure of.”
Abrams feels that the script for Star Trek Into Darkness -- on which he worked with longtime collaborators Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof -- was missing the "fundamental argument" or "central question" that a strong story needs. Speaking about the main characters of Kirk and Spock, he says, “What was their issue? What was their dynamic? What was their problem? And it wasn’t really clear.”
As for making Khan the main villain and then trying to keep that a secret -- a ploy that Lindelof recently said was a mistake -- Abrams sticks to his guns a bit:
“At the end of the day, while I agree with Damon Lindelof that withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience, and not just tell them something that the characters don’t learn for 45 minutes into the movie, so the audience wouldn’t be so ahead of it.”
But he acknowledges that the movie's fundamental plot issues were not "anyone’s fault but mine, or, frankly, anyone’s problem but mine," adding:
“I felt like, in a weird way, it was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends -- brilliantly talented writers -- who I somehow misled in trying to do certain things. And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story. So then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible...I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.”
What could those better decisions have been? Well, losing a poorly conceived villain, getting rid of the "magic blood" idea and not attempting a half-baked remake of The Wrath of Khan might have been a start. It's too late now, but at least Abrams is owning up to the fact that Star Trek Into Darkness was a mess. And now that we've seen the wonderful Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we can find it in our heart to forgive him.