First came a report from IESB a month ago stating that the ship will have a new design in the movie. Now TrekWeb points us to a post over at the Star Trek New Voyages forum where James Cawley claims that he has seen the new starship Enterprise NCC-1701. Cawley is producer of the New Voyages fan-made Star Trek series and plays Captain Kirk as well.
He was not pleased with the new look of the iconic NCC-1701.
On the forum, Cawley makes clear that he wants the film to succeed:
"I understand the reboot thing, it is simply business and a way to hopefully sell many more new action figures and toys based on new designs, it always comes down to the money to be made. I just don't agree with changing such iconic designs that are so ingrained in pop culture, it is really needless."
"I would be a hypocrite if I did not believe in recasting these iconic roles, I do in fact support it. I just don't want the production design radically changed. I see Matt Jeffries' designs as 'TIMELESS' and as 'Pure Science Fiction', I feel the Big E as designed by Matt deserves it's day on the big screen."
There's no doubt that Cawley is a huge Star Trek fan as evidenced by the fact that he has put together enough money, people and resources to have created multiple "webisodes" of a series with very impressive sets and production values (they even had George Takei guest star in one episode). There's no doubt that's pretty hard core, but I think from his statements that he's at least open to the concept of rebooting the series, even if he's not totally in favor of it.
As to his specific thoughts on the redesigned Enterprise:
"Yes, I have seen the New REBOOTED Enterprise... at any rate, I don't like it. It is supposed to be NCC-1701, no bloody A,B,C,D or E! and it sure does not look like the 1701 I grew up with!"
"I have seen what was purported to be the final design of the New Enterprise, and I don't like the changes. Period."
And what does it look like, exactly?
"...all I will say is that the ship design seems to borrow heavily from 'Contemporary Trek.'"
From his comments it sounds like the ship will retain it's overall saucer, main hull and twin nacelle configuration but within the confines of those elements you can still have a design that is very different from the original.
For reference purposes, here is a history of the design of the USS Enterprise on TV and in the movies:
Finally, here is the prime example of a new take on what is supposed to be a ship built 100 years before the NCC-1701:
Now granted, there is a brand new production team working on the new film. As far as I know no one associated with the old production is on this including any of the art/design team that defined the look of Star Trek for so long. Still, I think they may go a little bit overboard on the Enterprise redesign in order to make it more suitable for the big screen. I would have been ok with them using the same ship as the frame but adding a bit more detail to the exterior, but I get the feeling that they're going to fiddle with the core look of the ship.
It will be interesting to finally see what they come up with, but personally I'm nervous about it. Star Trek is almost as much about the Enterprise as it is about it's crew.
[UPDATE: Here it is, the brand new USS Enterprise]
Oh, and finally... here is one fan's interpretation of what a redesigned NCC-1701 should look like (I think I would have preferred this over what they came up with):(From Star Trek Reborn)
Source: Star Trek New Voyages forum (registration required) and images from Memory Alpha