Remember The Alamo: Star Trek’s Big Night in Austin

We take one more look back at what is quickly becoming the geek event of 2009, complete with our own Executive Editor making an appearance on G4’s Attack of the Show.
By  · Published on April 8th, 2009

There’s no doubt in my mind that if you’re a reader of this site, you’ve heard all about Monday night’s super secret world premiere of Star Trek that occurred here in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse. At this point it is likely that you’ve already read reviews from both myself and Cole Abaius, among others. But I felt that today would be a good day to go back and take one more look at the event which has quickly become the geek event of 2009.

First of all, there is the hype. And boy is there some hype coming out of this event. In fact, we now know what would happen if you take a large group of Star Trek fans — the kind who would gladly show up for a screening of a 26-year old film on a Monday night at 10pm — and surprise them with a screening of one of the most anticipated movies of the year. They loved it, almost unconditionally. And yes, it has something to do with the experience of having Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, in attendance. But while I am okay with accepting the fact that the experience is driving the hype around this film, I would also urge you not to completely write it off as a bunch of fanboy gooing. In an editorial over on Cinematical, my compadré Eric D. Snider makes a good point, “Given those circumstances, how could the response fail to be deliriously enthusiastic? Even non-Trekkers such as myself hear it and think: Wow, that sounds really cool.” And he’s right, the circumstances of the screening definitely lent to some positivity. Though I would contend — having met one too many hardcore Trek fans in my day — that had the new movie really sucked, it would have caused a damn riot. Aware of this fact were Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the film’s screenwriters. They commented beforehand that they were glad to be showing footage to some real fans, so that they would either totally love it, or kill them and save them further embarrassment. Which seems fair, if you ask me.

But they did love it — the loved it up like crazy. Quint over at Ain’t It Cool News gushed over the characters, saying “I like the way this new universe turns some old Trek landmarks on their heads, while keeping true to what’s really important to each character.” While Moises Chuillan over at Hollywood Elsewhere praised the visuals, saying “Star Trek has never been this visually dynamic. The camera work is full of lens flares, reflections, and focus effects that really sell the atmosphere. You also have a more nuts/bolts/gaskets/pipes styled Enterprise, where the ship feels like a labyrinthine submarine merged with an aircraft carrier. The mixture of practical and CG alien and creature effects are also fantastic, with all kinds of new stuff never seen before in the franchise.” I think you get the point — experience or not, the movie was good.

I suppose the biggest bits of praise should be thrown in a direction other than the filmmakers though, toward the folks in Paramount’s marketing department and Tim League, owner of the Alamo Drafthouse (pictured above). The fact that they had the foresight to put together such an unprecedented event and execute it in such a brilliant way — with the reel for Khan burning up and Leonard Nimoy appearing with a film canister on stage moments later — is a stroke of genius. But to those of us here in Austin, that is just the way it is with Mr. League and the Drafthouse — it is always a unique and fun experience. It is experiences like this that have me psyched for my first run at Fantastic Fest in September. For those not familiar, Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi and action — or whatever Tim League thinks is “really fuckin’ cool.” And it all works because at the heart of it all, League is the ultimate showman, dedicated to connecting real fans with really awesome films. We got a first-hand look at this during this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival and of course, it was reinforced on Monday night with the Star Trek event.

That said, it goes without saying that you should get your ass down to Austin for Fantastic Fest in September. There truly is no other film experience like it — because there’s nothing like seeing a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse — and there’s no better master of ceremonies than Tim League. And if you need proof, well, I think the world saw that this week.

To get more acquainted with how these things go down, check out the video below from Monday night’s surprise Star Trek event:

Also, I would urge all of you to head over to the Alamo Drafthouse Blog and throw that in your RSS feed reader. That way, if you don’t live in Austin, you can see some of the reasons why this is such an awesome place to live — it may also help explain the large gaps in posting here on FSR, as we are constantly disregarding work in order to hit up a Drafthouse event or two. To say that I love the Drafthouse like a fat kid loves cake would be a cliché, but mostly just an understatement. Its a large part of the reason why we uprooted Film School Rejects and moved our base of operations to Austin — and all it took was one trip down here to South by Southwest in ’08 for me to fall head over heels in love. It is, without question, the world’s greatest movie theater.

But enough gushing about the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest, if you’ve been there then you know how wonderful it is. And now thanks to all of the press coverage that the Star Trek event has brought in — including a nice little write-up on the New York Times’ site — hopefully the world will continue to take notice.

One more thing. For those who have written in and asked about it, G4’s Attack of the Show called me up yesterday and asked if I would come on and talk a little bit about the experience and the movie. And while I’m generally not a fan of seeing myself on television, I thought it might be fun to share it with everyone. So you can check out my ugly mug talking to Kevin Peirera during their “In the Loop” segment below.

Photos courtesy of David Hill at More can be found over on the Alamo Drafthouse Flickr page.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)