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Friday, May 22, 2009

J.J. Abrams Responds To 'Star Trek' Fans' Theories

Director says Beastie Boys song isn't a jab at William Shatner.

Are you ready for a sneak peek at tomorrow's blockbusters today? Check out our new series "Behind the Screen" Sunday night at 11 p.m. on MTV for the broadcast premiere of the "Brüno" trailer, an exclusive clip of Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," the very first visit to the set of Russell Brand's "Get Him to the Greek" and much more!

In the weeks since J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot opened to huge numbers, Trekkies all over the world have engaged in a time-honored tradition: Obsessing over minutiae that may or may not have a deeper, off-screen context. Some are brilliant, some are silly, but they're all fun to listen to, aren't they?

With this in mind, we brought four of the more fascinating theories straight to the "Trek" director himself, and he was eager to separate fact, fiction and fantasy:

The "Abrams Sabotaged Shatner" Theory: Some Trekkies have postulated that the new movie's inclusion of the Beastie Boys classic "Sabotage" is a subtle dig at the original Captain Kirk, who has been known to mispronounce the word as "sabotaage."

"Yes, I have heard that theory," laughed Abrams. "It was so funny when I heard it. I wish I could say it was done on purpose, but it was not. I just dig the song."

The "Throw the Old 'Trek' Off a Cliff" Theory: In the same scene as the "Sabotage" song, a young James T. Kirk drives a '60s-era Corvette over a cliff, leaping out at the last minute. Some fans believe that the car is from 1966 — the year "Trek" came on the air — and that it represents a statement about the new film throwing away the trappings of the classic show.

"I'm not sure if it was a '66," Abrams said of the Corvette. "But that was also the year that I was born, so I wouldn't want to do that to the year, for personal reasons. No, the idea was to show the renegade, young Kirk and have a wildly anachronistic scene where you had an earthbound, almost back-looking scene combined with a forward-looking futuristic scene technologically. It had nothing to do with that kind of metaphor."

The "Kelvin Crew Knows Who Romulans Are" Theory: In the classic "Trek" series, humans didn't know what Romulans looked like prior to Captain Kirk's time; in the new film, a Romulan craft kills the humans aboard the U.S.S. Kelvin. According to one fan theory, the attack on the Kelvin leads to a slip-up by Abrams, because the human crew recognize their attackers as Romulans.

"It's not mentioned in the scene on the Kelvin, but they are aware of it," Abrams confirmed, agreeing with the sharp-sighted fans. "Because later in the movie, Kirk mentions that they were Romulan. And we very purposely begin the film with a moment that, for fans of 'Star Trek,' is a left turn from the timeline they are familiar with." For anyone who thinks they "caught" Abrams, however, the director is quick to point out the opposite. "For fans of 'Trek,' yes, the Romulans appearing breaks with what is known to be 'Trek' canon. But that is on purpose."

The "Sleeker, Faster Response" Theory: If the new "Trek" gives us the Enterprise equivalent of a Blu-Ray disk, then the ship on the original "Trek" looks like a Betamax tape. One fan theory is that the attack on the Kelvin forced the Federation to build sleeker, faster spacecraft in the movie's new reality.

"Right," agreed Abrams. "The idea of the story is that at the beginning of the film something happens that changes the course of history. They cross paths with this futuristic ship, and it changes everything that would've been the classic series 'Trek' fans are familiar with. ... One could argue that, based on the readings they got from the [Romulan] ship that showed up, it inspired ideas and technology that wouldn't have advanced otherwise." Hence, the huge difference between the old Enterprise and his version. "On the one hand, you could answer the question by saying that history got a boost, an adjustment, from this moment at the beginning of the film," he grinned. "And if you don't want to answer the question, you could say it's just a movie."