Friday, 25 January 2013

Some (Very) Brief Thoughts on J.J. Abrams Directing The Next Star Wars Film

So, it's been pretty much confirmed that J.J. Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars film, tentatively just known as Star Wars: Episode VII. As to be expected, when this news was announced, the internet exploded with lens flare jokes and strong opinions about the decision.  Now that the dust has slightly settled (Though I'm preparing for two years worth of MovieBob bitching and moaning, ala The Amazing Spider-Man), I'm going to weigh in with my thoughts. As always with this type of news, I'm decidely mixed. I've pretty much liked all of Abrams's films, especially his reboot of Star Trek, of which I loved the look and feel. Mission: Impossible 3 is the leanest of the Mission Impossible films and while I didn't feel Super 8 lived up to the quality of the early Spielberg films it was homaging, it showed that Abrams could go really low key if he wanted, and the stuff with the kids making the film was wonderful. Abrams strikes me as one of the smarter blockbuster directors working today. Even his visually hetic Star Trek was suprisingly character and plot driven. He wants to create blockbusters with some kind of soul, even if he's still perfecting his craft.

I think one problem with Abrams directing the next Star Wars film is simply that it feels redundant. It's the equivalent of if, after The Dark Knight, or after The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan went on to direct a Superman film (which is not too far off since he's a producer on Zack Snyder's Man of Steel). I've already seen Nolan's superhero saga, I don't need another one, even if Batman and Superman are very different characters. With Abrams, I've already seen his space adventure- and while Star Trek and Star Wars are very different franchises, the way Abrams directed Star Trek, it already felt it owed at least something to Star Wars.

I also feel that being a director of another large franchise, even if it's only for one film, squanders Abrams' potential to grow as a director and create really personal work. Super 8 showed that Abrams can do smaller, less visually busy work, and I'd like to see better versions of that film. Abrams' film career so far has seen him attached to pre-existing material that's made it hard for Abrams to form his own identity as a filmmaker. Even in Super 8, which he wrote, Abrams tried a little too hard to be Steven Spielberg. I want him to finally become an auteur, though I don't know if Abrams has that in mind.

Still, I wish Abrams and crew good luck on this project, which, c'mon, it's Star Wars, I'm definitely anticipating it. It's no doubt extremely exciting for Abrams to take the reigns of a saga that inspired so many people of his generation. It's also a great deal of pressure, and I hope he can work through that pressure and create a really great Star Wars film. Just cool it on the lens flares, okay?

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