Well, the news has broken that J.J. Abrams will indeed be the next guy to take a shot at the long-lived Star Wars franchise. This has, naturally, elicited a number of opinions from the populace of this strange little world we call the Internet. Some people are praising the decision, citing Abrams’ work on the Star Trek reboot as proof of his capability at handling a big, fan-favorite property. Others are crying foul, screaming that Abrams should be locked in an iron coffin and dropped to the bottom of the ocean in order to avoid letting him touch our beloved Star Wars. With the shit still flying and landing fresh in the faces of the numerous debaters, I thought I’d throw my two cents into the mix, for better or worse. If you give a damn, check out what I have to say after the jump.
First and foremost, I want to get something out of the way. It is a fact that many choose to ignore, and one that will haunt every damn Star Wars film that Disney puts out over the next 100 years or so. That cold truth is…
No one will ever be good enough for Star Wars.
No matter who sits in the director’s chair for any of the upcoming Star Wars episodes, there will always be a huge pile of people tearing their hair out and threatening to riot. Those in Hollywood can not make the fanboy (and girl) populace happy, no matter what they do. So we need to accept that we will always be a bit disappointed by what we see. The end product will be the same. Some will love what Abrams eventually brings to the big screen, while others will freak out. A few lunatics may even, in their frustration, make claims that Episodes I-III were masterpieces compared to what Abrams puts together. Emotions will override reason and we will see the results flooding through the Internet on an hourly basis.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way…
So, since J.J. Abrams will never be able to reproduce the glory and wonder of the original trilogy, the question shifts to whether he can actually direct a Star Wars film and have it not be complete crap? My opinion, plainly stated, is that he is one of the best people currently out there to undertake this mission.
Let’s look at his track record and see how his achievements apply to the unique difficulties of tackling a new Star Wars storyline.
1) He has worked in television on many series.
If you look at the nature of keeping a series storyline intact, the skills required are very similar to those needed to keep a film franchise consistent. Star Wars has history and will have a much larger future. Abrams already knows what he will need to do with the one film he’s directing so that those who came before him won’t be overstepped and those coming after him will not have to dodge around what he’s creatively thrown into the mix.
2) He did a great job with the new Star Trek reboot (despite what many of you say).
You might not like the finished product, but Abrams took a franchise that had been dragged out to the point of tired and bruised and gave it new life. He used a classic Star Trek cliché (time travel) and turned it into an excuse to create a whole new world of possibilities. No, the old series have not been pissed all over by this move. They were dead long ago and there was likely no way to revive them. Anyone who’s seen Star Trek V or beyond knows that there was nothing left to salvage. Not even the presence of the original, much-beloved actors could save the half-dozen piles of crap that made their way to the screen. By using a tried-and-true Star Trek method, he gave future writers a chance to craft new stories and opened up the franchise so that many generations will be able to see new Star Trek movies and series, much the same way that kids today are watching a show like Doctor Who, ignorant of its past. His approach was both a clever writing maneuver and a hugely marketable way to address the property.
And it was a damn fine movie overall (suck it haters).
3) Super 8.
You may like the movie, you may not, but the execution of the film shows, in my opinion, that Abrams knows how to approach a project with the intent of pleasing both kids and adults. Star Wars is, at its heart, a franchise that appeals across all age ranges. The very fact that Abrams was capable of making a horror film aimed at kids shows that he possesses a certain set of skills that will prove invaluable in the long run. Do you seriously want even the remotest possibility of another Jar Jar Binks situation?
The biggest problem I see with the addition of Abrams to the Star Wars franchise is the potential for it to end up resembling, both visually and stylistically, his work on Star Trek. The two are separate entities and to meld them together could cause irreparable damage. I speak not solely for the fans who may become frustrated that the franchise they loved the most is now indistinguishable from its “time-sworn rival”. I speak also of marketing and the fact that two franchises that appear to copy each other will end up losing credit with new crowds. Old fans may not care as much (assuming they get past all their butt-hurt), but the catch-words of those young initiates just exposed to Star Wars may just end up being “It’s kinda like they ripped off Star Trek.”
Do I think that Abrams is the best choice? Probably not. They could have dug around and found someone more capable. Eventually. But the likelihood of them dropping the ball would have been increased ten-fold. Settling into Abrams is like grabbing someone blind out of the top 10 percent. It may not be the absolute best possible decision, but it’s a damn good one and that’s about as solid as you’re going to get.
Disagree with me? Don’t give a fuck. I’m pleased to have renewed faith in Episode VII.
And now, fair Nerd Readers, let the trolling begin! (in the comments section below, in case you couldn’t figure it out)