Why I Think JJ Abrams Might Actually Be Able to Save Star Wars
I realize this may get mixed reactions, and I am okay with that. I have to be. The truth is, we all knew Star Wars was way too ripe a franchise to just be left to collect dust. Especially after the awful prequels ruined the taste of the franchise in most fan’s mouths. So we knew it was just a matter of time until we heard there would be more Star Wars films. Well, now we know they are coming, who is in them, and who is at the helm of the ship. This is the moment where I shock everyone by telling you I think JJ Abrams is gonna be able to pull this off. All it took was one video….
This is him, literally, using the force to make me type this.
(Quick update: This piece was written last week, at the tail end of May and saved to be published this week. Yesterday, these set photos leaked to TMZ, and further prove everything I say in this article.)
First things first, I was SHOCKED to find out he got Star Wars, solely because it seemed insane to me he would be in charge of both the rebooted Star Trek universe AND the Star Wars reboot (re imagining, reinvention, whatever you want to call it). Most directors would break under the pressure of having to impress the fan base of both of those franchises. I, for one, have enjoyed the new Star Trek films, but this is as a NON-Star Trek fan up to this point. But to also let him have his hands in the Star Wars universe seemed insane. But you need to take a few things into consideration. One, he has proven he can do sci-fi, and do it right. Not just with Star Trek, but across his body of work. Yes, I hope he learns to chill on the faux lens flair, but besides that, he is one of the better young directors out there right now. Second, he can handle the pressure.That is a big one, I think. A lesser director would look at one page of message boards and hang himself. The thing about Abrams is, he knows about those message boards. But he also knows how to not them get to him and actually help him to create the product he knows the people want. In this case, a better Stars Wars then what we got last time.
Note, these people may look slightly older next time we see them in this get up.
He has already proven he is self-aware and very aware of the fan bases he is stepping into (and potentially, stepping on if he does them wrong). He also has something to work with that those before him did not: The knowledge of why everyone hated the prequels, and what those prequels did wrong. He is not just walking around, numb and unaware that this might be the most fevered fan base in the world, but he is also aware he has to fix what the other movies already fucked up. It is big getting to work with the knowledge of other’s past failures. He knows we don’t want some cheesy, CG laden movie filled with one-dimensional performances for one-dimensional characters. He want something that sort of feels like the first three Star Wars movies felt. In a word, organic. They were not shiny, computer painted worlds. The characters did not look like they had just walked out of a video game cut scene. It felt real. We want that again.
Remember in the intro paragraph, I told you he won me over with one video? Have you seen that video? Well, watch it now. Afterwards, I am gonna tell you why that video gives me a New Hope for the series. Oh man, that is some golden wordplay right there.
This one and a half-minute video is better than the last three Star Wars movies.
First of all, wow, right? So many good things happening, you blink and you miss them. First and foremost, look at the set behind him. He was not standing in some studio with a green screen behind him. That was a genuine, hand-built set that LOOKED like a different plant. That was motherf*cking Tattoine. I know it! To me, that in itself bodes very well for the direction the new series is going. Also brilliant how he showed us so much, but hid it behind some contest. I know what you were doing with this vid, JJ. You were telling us “don’t worry, I got this” and you did it in a very subtle way. That is EXACTLY why you deserve this series.
Seeing that creature and how emotive it was and how old-school and awesome it was is all I needed for my faith to be restored.
Next up, you all know I am gonna talk about that dope creature that walked by, right? That was some classic, Jim Henson Creature Shop style movie making right there, and that said so much than any online speculation has about the new Star Wars movies. What JJ Abrams showed us in that brief video was that there were clearly going to be practical, old-school effects in the new Star Wars movies. That, alone, had me sold. Thing is, we saw one corner of one small set, and we saw one (admittedly amazing) creature. For me to imply the whole movie will feel that organic would be setting myself up for disappointment. But, at least the first bits that are slowly coming out seem to be good. That one creature in that one two-minute bit was cooler and more Star Wars than any CG abomination we saw in the prequels. That tells me JJ Abrams knows where they went wrong, and is doing his best to avoid that. As a fan of old school Stars Wars, I really appreciate that.
Last, we can talk cast. As many of you know, Abrams himself released this pic of the new cast, all hanging out and doing a reading of the script:
This may not look important to you, but it really is to the series. You can’t FORCE chemistry. HAHAHAHAHA.
There is something to be said for actors and actresses having chemistry and good energy together. It was obvious with the prequels, they didn’t realize how essential that was to the series. That sucked any joy that was left to be had out of the last three Star Wars films. (Mostly) wooden performances between actors and actresses who had no chemistry. It FELT like we were watching them acting. If all JJ Abrams did was bring all the cast together for the first time, busted out some wine, and had everyone talk Star Wars, this series is heading in the right direction again. He also cast mostly unknowns and not super stars. This is also very important for the series. I want to be convinced these are actual people who would inhabit that world, and not overlook the fact that it is a superstar playing dress up.
No offense, my flawless angel, but you did suck in those films.
On a quick side note, I know some people were REALLY mad that he had to retcon all the book and comic book and video game stuff up to now (in non-nerd terms: anything that was NOT in the six Star Wars movies no longer counts as a part of that fiction) that was actually completely essential. For him to have to take ALL THAT (dozens of books and comics and games) into account before he wrote script, that script would never be written. Those angry fans just need to understand that there are alternate realities, where these great pieces of Star Wars fiction now exist. Think of alternate timelines and string theory if it helps. But understand, even that shows how serious JJ Abrams is about the new Star Wars.
So before we cast stones, we should take a step back on observe what little we have seen so far. Believe it or not, it does bode very well for the future of this series. Worse comes to worse, there is NO WAY he could give us movies any worse than the last three. In other words, when it comes to space and Star Wars, there is nowhere to go but up, and JJ Abrams knows this.
Please note, I got this through this entire article without a single “Force be with you” joke. That is pretty impressive.