J.J. Abrams Named Director of Star Wars
To Boldly Go…From One Universe to Another
Late last week, Lucasfilm confirmed Hollywood heavyweight J.J. Abrams will direct the next installment in the now-Disney’s Star Wars franchise. As announced late last year, the new Star Wars picture will be a continuation of the previous trilogies and thusly titled, Episode VII. As of now, a subtitle has not been released.
The introduction of Abrams to the Star Wars universe has ramifications all throughout Hollywood and the entertainment industry. The first question coming to mind of fans and people of the entertainment industry was, “Will Abrams still be a part of the Star Trek franchise?” Universal Studios responded positively however, Abrams’ involvement will be that of solely producer as his director duties with Star Wars Episode VII would interfere with directing a sequel to May’s Star Trek Into Darkness.
Another rumor making its rounds is that directors Ben Affleck and Matthew Vaughn were hotly considered to take the director’s mantle. While both directors are undoubtedly talented at their respective craft, I side with Lucasfilm’s selection. Abrams experience in the science-fiction genre specifically tailors him for Star Wars. What he accomplished with 2009’s Star Trek was nothing short of spectacular. Taking a page from his hit Fox series, Fringe, Abrams found a way to bridge the gap from the Star Trek films of old to his “reboot” through the use of an alternate universe and a perfectly-placed cameo of Leonard Nimoy. (There are rumors of a George Takei cameo for Into Darkness!) Perhaps Abrams’s talents have been enlisted to create the perfect cameos for Han, Luke, Leia, Lando, et al?
Abrams' experience in the “multi-worlded/specied” universe of Star Trek gave him an edge over Affleck and Vaughn. While both directors certainly know their way around a taut, tense action scene, it certainly makes sense that Lucasfilm/ Kathleen Kennedy would aggressively pursue the “sure thing” with Abrams. Even further, I propose that J.J. Abrams would be about the closest thing to a “Lucasesque” Star Wars than any other director. The only other director that could come close would be Lucas’ long-time collaborator, Steven Spielberg. Spielberg’s long relationship with Lucas certainly put him as the favorite when the film was announced, but he removed his name from the beginning. Spielberg acknowledged, however, that the script would see his desk before the film moved on to further development.
It’s no secret that the dialogue throughout both Star Wars trilogies was greatly lacking. While George Lucas has a miraculous knack for creating entire planets, languages, species, droids, what have you, the speaking parts throughout the trilogies seemed only to serve the most basic ideas. In short, you will not find poetic exchanges between characters…but with Abrams, we just might.
Mission: Impossible III, Abrams’ first directorial effort, is arguably the best in that respective franchise in main part due to the stellar performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman as the villain. We all know Lucas created the greatest villain ever in Darth Vader, but imagine the new Star Wars villain being portrayed by an immensely talented actor with sinister lines to boot. Abrams’s third film, Super 8, contains some of the best character interaction and repartee in the last decade — and it’s all between children! (Children from the 1970s, no less!) The list of filmmakers who can write children (and do it flawlessly) is a short one indeed as Spielberg and Wes Anderson come to mind right off the bat. This also may give credence to the rumor that Matthew Vaughn wanted to cast Chloe Grace Moretz as his potential protagonist for the film.
The prospect of beefed-up dialogue and character interaction begs the question, “Could the new Star Wars trilogy perhaps become the best Star Wars trilogy?” We’ll see you in 2015 to find out where it’s headed.