I am a huge Star Trek fan. Love all the incarnations of Star Trek, the animated series, the novels, vid games, et cetera. And absolutely loved the JJ Abrams first outing despite die hard ST fans telling me it was way off, and I felt their opinions to be very extreme. But this second outing was too much for me. First, it smacked of Lindelof's constant obsession with rewriting past cinematic glories but doing nothing more than putting a "spin" on things. The most clever aspect of this film is the way it inverts "Wrath of Khan" to help Kirk and Spock to develop in characters in albeit different ways than the first film. HOWEVER, if every time we get a new Star Trek film, I have to expect it to be an inversion of one of the previous "Star Trek" movies, then you can count me out. Why the hell do I want to watch "Wrath of Khan" part II? Khan was not the worst villain the crew ever faced -- Khan was just the most popular from a film franchise standpoint. I mean even after we find out Khan is Khan -- Khan doesn't do anything truly Khan like. It's like Lindelof expected that just by invoking Khan's name everyone should know what a big deal this fucker is. But what about non Star Trek fans? I saw this movie with people who had never seen Khan and asked me what the big deal was. Considering that this movie does little to show the type of terrifying figure Khan supposedly is, I can see why they were confused.
Moving past Khan - the film was replete with Abrams typical beats. The only thing worse than Abrams constant AE generated lens flares, is his overuse of crisis situations. Everything is a fucking crisis in this movie. Actually, it's worse than that -- it's CRISIS interrupted by untimely HUMOR succeeded by LOUD CRASH OR LASER BLAST to jerk you back into the original CRISIS, from which point the CRISIS then iterates to a NEW FUCKING CRISIS and then repeats the template. Some crises only last a few seconds, some last minutes. It just makes it complete overkill.
Now I love Leonard Nimoy as much as the next fan, but Abrams said we were only supposed to see Spock in the first one. The assumption being that at some point Spock is able to return to the original timeline. Then when the writers don't know what to throw at the audience next, they insert obligatory Leonard Nimoy moment. This means now Nimoy has to be in the third because he's no longer a catalyst in the franchise; he's now a staple of this alternate Star Trek universe (does he ever get back to the original universe? Or does this pretty much destroy the original fucking timeline for good and remember all those stories where we saw Spock later in life? Are all those moot now?) What the fuck? I have to take all of this shit in because Lindelof wants to get his nut off by recreating Wrath of Khan.
I know it's Lindelof. He's the only fucker arrogant enough and adept enough at convincing filmmakers they are making the right decisions even when they're not. He's the dumbass who said no the people in Lost are not in purgatory. Oh really? You think the average fucking guy on the street knows the difference between purgatory and the shit that happened to the characters in Lost? Good one motard. What about his rewriting Prometheus so that it's basically a rip off of Alien except undercooked and done with slightly different themes? This kook needs to stop plagiarizing Stephen King and needs to stop fucking rewriting every cinematic moment he loved as a kid. COME UP WITH SOMETHING NEW!!! GIVE US A NEW VILLAIN. THERE WERE OTHER VILLAINS DURING THE EUGENICS WARS.
JJ Abrams did a great job with the visuals as always, and the action was stellar. I still think Spock should have unleashed a FLURRY of pinches and pressure points (not just two major ones) on Khan but overall, I don't want to see Wrath of Khan again. Fuck I don't even want to see Khan again. Star Trek had amazing villains and characters they encountered. Bring those on. And get rid of Lindelof. Fucker had the balls to tell George Martin he was wrong about Lost. Loser.
@TurtleTub Lindelof was following Ridley Scott's orders on Prometheus. Ridley Scott came up with the story *and* had final cut on the movie. You want to blame somebody for Prometheus, blame Ridley Scott. It was his film from start to finish.
Lindelof was asked if the characters on the island were in purgatory. He said no. This was true. You're blaming him for someone *else* asking a question about purgatory? This is a new level of nerd-rage previously unseen by me. (Also, the fanbase of LOST was pretty damn smart. Certainly smart enough to know what purgatory is.) Also: I think Lindelof (and Cuse) know their own show better than George R.R. Martin, who didn't work on it.
In feature filmmaking, the directors or studios are king. The writerS (and there were three on this, Lindelof worked with Orci and Kurtzman, and they were all credited equally) followed J.J. Abrams' lead. Your comments about Abram's excessive crisis stuff are spot-on.
@InspectorHound @TurtleTub Really? I worked for big Fox in Los Angeles and in Baja and no directors are not kings. The executives are kings. The directors have a limited realm in which to make their creative decisions; they answer to execs. In the director/writer relationship, a great degree of subjectivity holds sway... I have seen terrible writers convince directors that they are making the "right" decision during the development process. There is no accountability and nobody really knows what the final impact of their creative decisions will be until the film is released. To say that Ridley Scott alone bears the burden of responsibility for Lindelof's work negates the role and value of the writer in the creative process and thus perpetuates an age-old Hollywood myth. By the way, I have also seen directors at the mercy of writers because the director has already committed to a particular project and needs to make the project work despite not having all the "kinks" worked out. In that sense, the writer is no different than a visual fx artist whose job it is to simply make a particular effect work. The writer has to make the story work, while the director will offer some advice in terms of character arc and development, but in reality his job is mostly restricted at that point to a visual oversight process.
If you've ever encountered Lindelof you know he occupies that substrate of persuasive writer in Hollywood who knows how to survive the industry, but whose creative decisions create much upheaval and division amongst the individuals to whom the story supposedly caters. About the three writers, I know that Lindelof is Abrams' closer, the way that David Koepp is Spielberg's. I also know his preoccupations include putting a spin on past material. I also know he doesn't really originate ideas but comes in after the script is already written to polish it up.
As a fan of "Lost," I will say that yes, "Lost" fans are pretty smart. But there were a lot of "Lost" fans who felt that making a distinction between purgatory and not was no different than Lucas trying to split hairs between interdimensional beings and extraterrestrials in KOTS.
@InspectorHound @Turtletub Sorry. Wrote the first response in a hurry. You're right, it is Ridley's job as a director, and I do hold him responsible to some degree. But this was one of those instances where Big Fox (which can be difficult at times) told Ridley that they wanted another writer. Jon Spaihts confirmed this in the Blu-ray for Prometheus. He said that although initially his script was received with enthusiasm there was some concern on Fox's part because he was an untried writer. So they suggested that Lindelof be brought in to do some polish. This polish however included a new angle. That's when Ridley decided to go with the new angle, partly because he knew he had to appease the Fox gods and they are infatuated with Lindelof and Abrams (remember that both have some pull at Fox due to Fringe and other projects).
You seem to be speaking about movie making apart from the industrial process. Hollywood is really the art of negotiation and compromise. To some extent, no one individual can be held responsible for every good or bad decision made in a movie. But there are individuals who are venerated and protected by other individuals despite having a clear track record of failure and or inciting controversy. Lindelof is one such individual.
@InspectorHound @Turtletub Lindelof doesn't have ultimate control of Scott true. BUT he is a convincing personality. He has to be, because his work doesn't speak for itself. That's one of the reasons he's used to polish up work done by others. This guy spends more time apologizing or defending his decisions publicly than other screenwriters. Why? He has a track record of being polarizing.
And execs do have say in writers. The company I worked for had a contract with Big Fox. We got our development money through them. We had to bring in writers on concepts and try them out. Ultimately the studio would agree with a certain writer or not. If the studio pushed for another writer, or wanted a particular feel, we went and got that writer. If that writer didn't work out, we tried to get rid of them. In some cases, we were contractually and financially obligated to keep a writer on board AFTER production began and that was a nightmare. Some of our movies had more scenes contributed through interns and assistants than the actual writer who got paid half a mill to write the script.
It ain't pretty. It's not the way I learned in film school back in the day, but that's the way sausage is made in Hollywood. Many times directors don't have final say in the end product.
Is Abrams to blame? Yes, in some ways he is. But he is admittedly not a Star Trek fan. However, Lindelof considers himself (along with the other two writers) to be a Star Trek fan, more specifically Lindelof has expressed his ardent love for "Wrath of Khan." The other two writers have repeatedly demonstrated their capability in writing MANY different movies and genres (some work, some don't), but in this case Lindelof was the closer, just as he was on "Prometheus." Abrams was relying on his long term collaboration with him and "familiarity" with Star Trek to help steer him in the right direction with Trek. Lindelof didn't. Because every time Lindelof is brought in on a project he simply wants to make an alternate version of the one he enjoyed as a child - this includes his work on projects yet to be released.
I'm guessing Lindelof began the story meeting with something like "If only we could get Spock to say "Khannnnn" the way Kirk did. Wouldn't that be something? How can we get these characters to that point?" And then they hamfisted events and details into this script to make it work out like that. Problem is, every beat felt so contrived, it was like a drunk with bad come-ons you've heard a million times before. None of it sincere.
@Turtletub You make a good well-written case--and, yes, studios should be read as "studios/executives," and in a lot of cases, directors have to answer to them. However, that's between the execs and the director (it's extremely rare for execs to specifically side with a feature writer over a feature director once a project's been greenlit). And (speaking as a writer with some on-set experience), feature directors certainly have more power than feature writers. If there was material in the scripts that Scott didn't like, he could've demanded rewriters or fired Lindelof (as he did with the initial writer). Lindelof didn't have *more*power than Scott.
In the specific case of Ridley Scott & Prometheus, it seems pretty clear he was the guy in charge. He initiated the project (http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/apr/27/ridley-scott-alien-prequels-3d), he was coming off of Robin Hood, with a respectable box office, so his career was (and still is) in healthy shape.
And a key point: Lindelof was not the first writer on the project--Jon Spaihts was. Scott himself selected Lindelof after Spaihts did several drafts, and Scott sat down with Lindelof for a week to brainstorm concepts and changes after making the decision to hire Lindelof.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_(2012_film)#Development (also writing section)
We both agree that Prometheus is a seriously problematic movie. But I think it's clear in this specific situation--powerful director, multiple writers, clear evidence that director dictated storylines--the flaws are ultimately owned by Ridley Scott.
" I have also seen directors at the mercy of writers because the director has already committed to a particular project and needs to make the project work despite not having all the "kinks" worked out. In that sense, the writer is no different than a visual fx artist whose job it is to simply make a particular effect work. The writer has to make the story work, while the director will offer some advice in terms of character arc and development, but in reality his job is mostly restricted at that point to a visual oversight process."
I'm a writer who's had other people direct my work (plays/short film/webseries) and have directed work by other writers. It's *both* parties' job to make the story work.
If I'm directing something with my initial concept, but written by someone else--and, for whatever reason, I can't write it myself--it is my job, point blank, to communicate what I want to a writer. If I can't communicate to a specific writer, it's my job to fire that writer and hire another one (as Scott did with Spaihts). I know the bizarre nature of the business sometimes require directors to commit to projects with kinks, but this ain't that: Scott initiated the project and had a very healthy amount of time for pre-production. Damon Lindelof is not a Svengali-like hypnotist who has some weird hold over Ridley Scott. He's a guy who, by all accounts, attempted to deliver what Scott wanted, and Ridley was satisfied enough to film it and the studio satisfied enough to release it.