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J.J. Abrams bringing back Star Wars!

February 27, 2013

As the resident Star Wars nerd it may seem strange I haven’t addressed the ideas of the new Star Wars set to be released in the future after Disney acquired LucasFilm and the rights to its IPs, but with the announcement of J.J. Abrams being given the mantle of director of the next Star Wars film, I just have to put my two cents out there for all to read.

Note: I’m not going to discuss possible storylines, characters or events. Honestly, I have no idea what they might be and, really, the endless rumours and conjecture makes my head spin.

Since the announcement of Disney scouting for potential directors, there have been a few names thrown about. Big names that don’t necessarily strike you as a directors who would be fit to take on Star Wars. Directors such as Quentin Tarantino. Of course I’m not saying Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t make a good movie, but it would be less Star Wars and more Tarantino’s bloody, brutal and satirical take on sci-fi/sci-Fantasy.

So, of course, not just any great director could take on the new Star Wars movies, as they would need to balance a fresh approach to the franchise, along with an acknowledgement that these movies and canon are dearly cherished and they have a duty to not forget the roots of the franchise.

So when J.J. Abrams accepted the chance to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, you can understand why he was scouted by Disney. J.J Abrams holds a special place in nerds’ hearts everywhere. He was the man who successfully re-branded Star Trek to appeal to a wider audience, he was the creative force behind the highly perplexing and unimaginably successful LOST, and an unashamed sci-fi nerd with a weakness for using screenflares maybe a little too often (no, seriously, re-watch Super 8 and Star Trek. Good luck ignoring them now that I’ve mentioned them).

Now that we have all digested the news of J.J. Abrams being the director of Episode VII, for me, the first question is: can J.J. Abrams do to Star Wars what he did for Star Trek ? Can he revitalize and satisfy the die-hard fans as well as appeal to the more causal Star Wars fan?

J.J. Abrams and his team made Star Trek more like Star Wars. This gave him plenty of room to experiment with the style of the series, but the problem is that Star Wars already has a clearly defined cinematic style, which feels very intrinsic to its lasting appeal, even if the story and characters were sometimes uninspired in the prequels.

Would J.J. Abrams be allowed to experiment or would he be forced to maintain the stylistic choices that were set down in the 70’s, or would he even want to change the style?

J.J. Abrams changed Star Trek, admittedly for the better in the context of a movie-going experience. He moved it away from its stuffy TV, low-budget roots and gave the brand a more accessible, high-octane appeal. No longer was it about still frames of two starships floating in space, unmoving. But now it has starships thumping into warp speed visibly shaking the camera, explosions, monsters, heart and a pace and energy similar to that of Star Wars. In that case he doesn’t need to change the cinematic feel of Star Wars. It was always a movie, so he doesn’t need to shift Star Wars anywhere cinematically. So, where does J.J. Abrams go with Star Wars?

Perhaps the improvements that could make would be more in the form of story telling and characterization, assuming he is given some creative control over plot and character development.

So in closing, what could J.J. Abrams change to improve from the prequels:

  • 1. No more zany characters. OK, Yoda was completely mental in Episode V, but his change felt more legitimate and made you remember that moment when he switched from crazy swamp frog into wise Jedi swamp frog. Whereas Jar-Jar was a fool. An, apparently, kid oriented funny man that missed the point and annoyed anyone over the age of three. Give us characters we can all laugh at and appreciate for more than just their lovable clumsiness.
  • 2. Explore the themes set up in extended universe. Star Wars was always better when it explored.
  • 3. Make the Jedi more illusive again. To the average Courscant resident, Jedi are more alien than the alien populace. These mysterious figures dressed in cloaks, able to leap, run and fight better than any person alive. There is an aura of mystery that should surround the Jedi. This didn’t happen in the prequels because all good main characters bar one (Padme) were Jedi and involved in the day-to-day routine of the Jedi which was, of course, interesting to see. But it made it harder to believe that the Chancellor managed to fool all of the Republic into believing the Jedi tried to assassinate him – but that’s because we were seeing the Order from the outside. An order of trained warriors who are mostly independent from government legislation and control. You can imagine the fear and awe this would inspire in the average Republic citizen. Now jump forward to the originals and no one but Obi Wan, Yoda and Luke are Jedi. Most of the other characters can’t even fathom what it is to be a Jedi and they don’t understand it. We need more of Han’s healthy cynicism to the force; an outsiders point-of-view. I’m more interested in seeing how ordinary people react to the Jedi. Of course I assume some of the story will revolve around a Jedi character, but can J.J. Abrams try to instill some of that same mystery and intrigue that used to surround the Jedi?
  • 4. Better lightsaber fighting. OK, it was good in the prequels but people have poked holes in it, saying its more flourish that practicality, but it’s a movie, so some would say you are taking it too seriously. But wouldn’t it be great to have the people who did the fights in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Matrix on board for the next Star Wars? That would increase the spectacle that is Star Wars!

Image Link: Screenrant – J.J Abrams directing Episode VII

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