One Trek Mind #27: Trek (2009)'s Deleted Scenes

By Jordan Hoffman - May 09, 2012

It's hard to believe it's been three years since Star Trek (2009) finally launched onto screens. Part of me still thinks of it as “the new one,” but another part of me has already accepted Chris Pine's cocky smile, Zachary Quinto's raised eyebrow and J.J. Abrams' ubiquitous lens flares as a part of Trek legacy.

Like many of you, I followed every half-rumor leading up to the release (remember when it was going to be December 2008?) then analyzed and argued every frame of the movie once it was out. By the time the Blu-ray appeared I was a little exhausted. While I instantly dug into all the bonus features, it wasn't with the ferocity of spirit that marked the theatrical release. To that end, I never watched all those deleted scenes to the point of memorization, or thought much about which ones (if any) should have been left in the film.

Until now...

Let's celebrate the three-year anniversary of Star Trek (2009) by second guessing the editing of Abrams and company, and remind ourselves what's sitting on disc two of the Blu-ray.

1 – Spock's Birth

This is a short and terrific scene. A nice look at Vulcans and their odd wardrobe, and how much Amanda doesn't fit into their culture. Also, a cute baby with pointy ears. It was cut, though, because if you want to establish that Spock is older than Kirk it would have to come before to the destruction of the Kelvin and, let's face it, that is the PERFECT opening.

I wonder if there would have been a way to work this sequence in somewhere as a flashback, maybe when Spock is a child, but I think that would have been trying too hard. There's an expression in editing called “killing your babies,” and this time it is taken literally. This is a great scene, but, for the flow of the film, it had to go.

Verdict: Keep It Out.

2 – Klingons Capture Narada

These few seconds of film really relate to the larger issue of “what the hell did Nero do for 20 years?” That question is, I feel, the biggest problem with Star Trek (2009). This scene and deleted scene number 5 are actually both connected this way, so I'll get into it farther down the list.

Verdict: Jury is Out

3 – Young Kirk, Johnny and Uncle Frank

This scene was probably cut for a number of reasons. It's the beginning of the movie, we're still trying to get our footing, and we're introducing two characters we'll never see again. Plus, it takes you a minute to figure out which of these kids was the one born on the Kelvin. Most importantly, this little domestic drama doesn't have the impact of seeing the car burst out to the Beastie Boys like it does in the final cut, and you don't really learn that much from it. Jim Kirk has a troubled childhood – we get it.

Verdict: Keep It Out.

4 – Amanda and Sarek Argue After Spock's Fight

This is a brief moment rehashing the usual “son of two worlds” bit for Spock. Yeah, it is a little superfluous, but I like it. Firstly, another shot of Spock's green blood! More importantly, it underscores Spock's tight connection to his mother, making her death all the more tragic. Plus, Winona Ryder is wearing a really strange outfit – she almost looks like a crusading Knight. It's a quick few seconds, so I'm not sure why it was cut.

Verdict: Put It Back In.

5 – Interrogation and Escape From Rura Penthe

Okay, now we get to the juicy bowl of writhing gagh. Star Trek (2009) plays out at a such a high warp pace that it isn't until watching it a second time that you wonder, “Hey, what the hell was Nero doing for 20 years until Spock Prime showed up?”

This deleted sequence (and the Klingon capture scene before) answers that question. The problem is – it isn't a very good answer. Nero, as we diehards know, was captured by the Klingons, sent to Rura Penthe and it was there (with the help of the four-eyed, three-faced creature known as Quocch) that he was able to secure information on his foes and slowly plan his revenge.

The main issue is that the audience is still wrapping its head around the newness of the world, seeing Star Trek through a different vision and getting to meet the new Kirk and Spock. Suddenly our villain is engaged in a confusing (some might say dumb) scheme and, in the middle of all this, here come the most iconic Trek villains of all, the Klingons. Abrams' Klingons, with their brutish helmets, are different from the Klingons we know, and we only see them for a moment before the adventure leads us elsewhere (“the wait is over.”). My guess is that test audiences kept wondering when the Klingons were coming back, and that feeling was a distraction.

Abrams and company were extremely lucky that they were able to pluck this entire story thread out and still have a working film. It is absolutely the right thing to do, but the fundamental problem remains – what the hell did Nero do for 20 years?  What the team should have done was recognize that this was always a somewhat dopey solution to that problem and come up with something else.

Also, by cutting this out, we can still be surprised when we see the Klingons in the next film!

(By the way, you can get the full backstory on the Rura Penthe story with the four-issue comic “Star Trek: Nero” from IDW. Not that it makes that much sense upon further scrutiny.)

Verdict: Keep It Out, But There Should Have Been Something Else.

6 – Sarek and Amanda

This is tiny moment when Sarek yells “We must run to safety” to Amanda before the destruction of Vulcan. Watching it isolated like this you think something this short couldn't really affect the movie one way or another, but I'd like to trust Abrams if he thinks it slowed up the pacing.

Verdict: Abstain.

7a – Bedroom Scene

The scene where Kirk is messin' around with Galia and is discovered by Uhura is slightly different here. Kirk makes a reference to a note he sent that she needs to read tomorrow at a specific time (for reasons that will soon be clear) and Uhura makes a reference about overhearing about an “escaped Klingon prisoner.” In the finished version, this is tweaked to just being about “47 destroyed ships.”

It’s funny, because if you watch this deleted scene with the commentary track, the filmmakers can't even spot the difference, but they're there. I say they shoulda' put the first bit back in, but kept the second bit out.

Verdict: Half-and-Half!

7b – Kobayashi Maru

That note to Galia turned out to be how Kirk defeated the Kobayashi Maru. It was cut out because it was felt lifting the veil that far back took out the mystery, but I like it. (It also helps Kirk's muttered line “that's so weird” when they were smooching in the previous scene, which is in the final version, make sense.) I guess it is ultimately a personal choice, but I like seeing how Kirk used his charms to get his way.

Verdict: Put It Back In.

8 – Kirk Apologizes To The Green Girl

By cutting the sequence with Galia, you therefore have to cut this moment when Kirk mistakes a different Orion (played by Diora Baird) for his manipulated lover. It is a nice scene, funny, but also shows that Kirk feels a little guilty for his schmucky move.

Verdict: Put It Back In.

9 – Sarek Sees Spock Prime

A quick glance of the Vulcan spying the Vulcan son. It's a cool shot, but it was right to cut it. This sequence isn't about Sarek, it's about Spock – Quinto's Spock.

Verdict: Keep It Out.

So there, three years later, are my notes. Star Trek (2009) isn't perfect, but, as I'm always quick to remind people who like to put this movie down, the chances of it being a total disaster that disrespected the entire franchises were very, very high. This movie does not do that.

What's your take on the nine deleted scenes? Let me know in the comments.

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Jordan Hoffman is a freelance writer, critic and independent film producer living in New York City. He fell in love with Star Trek through TOS reruns just as TNG was getting ready to launch. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels. He has a funny story about the one time he met Leonard Nimoy. Click HERE to follow him on Twitter.

 

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