Saturday, January 26, 2013

I Guess It's Time to Weigh In on the J.J. Abrams Star Wars...

After much speculation it is finally confirmed. J.J. Abrams has been officially announced as the director of the much anticipated and infinitely discussed Star Wars Episode VII.

As an unapologetic, life-long Star Wars fan find out what I make of all this... after the jump!

Everything is fine.

I'm excited. The announcement of J.J. is, in many ways, an unexpected boon. His name hasn't come up much in the prior rumours and I think that I, and others, felt that he was too entrenched in Star Trek and other projects to feasibly be a contender. The fact that allegedly both Steven Spielberg and uber producer Kathleen Kennedy pursued him doggedly - despite his own claims that put him out of the running - speaks volumes on how valuable Abrams will be to the franchise.

I adore Spielberg's work, regardless of the flak he's dealt with over the years (particularly in regards to his genre films) and I would love to see his take on the Star Wars franchise (the animatics he directed on the Revenge of the Sith Blu-ray showcase far superior takes on scenes than anything that materialised in the final release). But I certainly understand that Star Wars is at a natural point in its life where replacing Lucas with Spielberg would be seen by some sectors as replacing one old, out-of-touch old man with another. Which is a shame, because I think Spielberg is still very vital, but I think audiences now are more into embracing his more mature work and want to see him expand beyond a fantasy space opera.

And then enter J.J. Abrams who is the perfect choice because in many ways he is Steven Spielberg's protege. If you have seen Super 8 you will already know that it is a near perfect homage/tribute to Speilberg's films of the late seventies and early eighties. Abrams has a deep and genuine respect for the films of that era and as such seems the perfect choice to add to the saga that most of us love.

But let's move even further beyond that. I recently had the pleasure of seeing the ten minute preview of Star Trek: Into Darkness that was attached to the IMAX version of The Hobbit. And I have to admit - and I'm not by any means a Star Trek fan - but that clip showcases some incredibly assured filmmaking. If the rest of the film lives up to that ten minute preview then he has an incredibly entertaining sci-fi/action blockbuster up his sleeve. I think it's audacious that they even showed that much and it definitely indicates how confident the studio is in that product. They may as well have started it by having Abrams stroll confidently onto the screen and foreshadow with, "Oh... and by the way... Here's ten minutes of THE BEST MOVIE EVA! POW!! IN YO' FACE!!"

So add all that up and Abrams is the perfect fit. He respects and understands the past, but he also has contemporary sensibility and pace that will appeal to the modern audience (and not just rapidly ageing throwbacks like me!). He has my endorsement and I have no doubt that he's one of the very best people to deliver the Star Wars we need right now.

And maybe, just maybe, it'll open the gateway for Spielberg to direct something in the future? In fact there are plenty of directors who I'd love to see interpret Star Wars and if Disney is willing to expand beyond the sequel trilogy, and perhaps attempt spin off movies as rumoured, then maybe all these different takes will eventually come to fruition. Brad Bird is another name that I would love to see tackle the Wars and the fact that Abrams produced his live action directing debut, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is reassuring.

We live in exciting nerd times. Now I just want to hear the casting...

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