Abrams a nat­u­ral choice

South Waikato News - - EVENTS - By CHRISTY LEMIRE

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.

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