Friday, January 25, 2013

JJ Abrams Directing Star Wars

I waited for a little while before I posted on this to see if this was just another internet rumor or if it was the real deal.  And since so far no one from Disney or Abrams has rushed to deny it, that tells me that it is fairly certain.

So here are my thoughts on hiring JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars Episode VII.

I think that Abrams is a fantastic choice to launch a new era in this franchise.  Everyone has already pointed out what he has done for Star Trek, and rightly so.  That property had be slowly spiraling out of prominence.  But he take on the movie was important in that it wasn't made for Star Trek fans.  Sure, there were lots of nods and inside gags for the initiated, but it was primarily made for people who had very little familiarity with characters beyond their names.  This was the right decision, because as fun as it is revel in the secret club of nerd-dom, it is more important to share the greatness of these stories with as many people as possible.

Abrams can do the same thing with Star Wars.  He can push the series forward in a bold new direction. And unlike the last trilogy, this will not be a prequel where he will be locked in to a solid conclusion.  He can play around a lot more with our expectations.  Just like in Star Trek, he felt the freedom to hook up Uhura with Spock or turn Pike into Kirk's mentor, Abrams can move away from what has already been done to do something that feels fresh while keeping within the tradition.

I've always found Abrams directing more akin to Spielberg than Lucas, so I feel like his movie will be the closest we will get to seeing a Spielberg Star Wars.  I hope he brings back the sense of wonder that we all had as kids when we saw first saw that galaxy far, far away.  I don't simply want impressive effects or cool visual sequences.  I want something to take my breath away.  I think Abrams has it in him to bring that to Star Wars.

I am a bit cautious.  His last film, Super 8, had some horrible problems in the 3rd act.  It had some truly heart-warming moments, but they were surrounded by massive story problems.  I wonder how much influence he will have in the story development or if Disney will come down with heavy mandates.  I also need to see the next Star Trek to see if his success in epic science fiction are consistent or if it is a fluke.

But overall I am happy with the choice.  Abrams even looks like a young, beardless George Lucas.  He seems to understand that science fiction and fantasy can not only transport us to distant parts of the cosmos, but also deeper into the mystery of the human soul.

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