Abrams a natural choice
This may sound sacrilegious to the legions of hardcore Star Wars fans, but having J. J. Abrams direct Episode VII will be a vast improvement and the best thing to happen to the franchise in a long time.
Yes, it was incredibly cool in 2005’s Episode III – Revenge of the Sith to see the completion of Anakin Skywalker’s transformation from plucky, love-struck teen to the embodiment of all that is deeply evil in the galaxy as Darth Vader. But George Lucas’ prequels were, for the most part, soulless, airless affairs, a far cry from the imagination, can-do thrills of his original trilogy.
You don’t go to a Star Wars movie – and watch it 18,000 times, then camp out in front of a theatre with your homemade light sabre and Yoda sleeping bag waiting for the next one – for the smart, complex dialogue or well-drawn characters.
But with Abrams at the helm and Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine screenwriter Michael Arndt crafting the script, there is some hope – a new hope, if you will – that the series finally will be infused with a deeper sense of humanity.
Lucas was correct in calling Abrams ‘‘ an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film’’ in announcing the selection of a director in a late-night news release on Friday.
And when he told the world in October that he was selling his Lucasfilm empire, including the lucrative and beloved Star Wars franchise, to The Walt Disney Co. for US$4.05 billion, Abrams was at the top of many fans’ lists of dream directors.
He certainly was at the top of mine when I pondered what sort of fit various filmmakers might be for this material. Back then, I wrote that Abrams was the most obvious choice, really.
‘‘ His sci- fi bona fides were already beyond reproach, and he solidified them with his reimagining of the Star Trek franchise in 2009 . . . This just makes sense all around.’’
It’s true. If you look at the way he handled the redo of that other revered space series, it has clues as to what his Star Wars might look like.
Abrams clearly aimed to please the broadest possible audience by remaining faithful to the Star Trek mythology in some ways while shaking it up in others; the film made nearly $386 million worldwide.
Some fans were thrilled that he would boldly go to such daring places while some purists balked at the vast departures he took. And that might be true of the response, ‘‘ Episode VII’’ will get in 2015, when it’s scheduled to come out.Abrams’ Super 8 from 2011 is an example of his grasp of the wonder that can accompany the best science fiction experiences.
His homage to late-70s, early80s Steven Spielberg productions is full of childhood innocence. And as he demonstrated in another beloved franchise, 2006’s Mission: Impossible III, the man knows how to direct an action sequence.