Open Thread: J.J. Abrams Picked To Direct Eppy VII

Are you thrilled? Sad? Hopeful? Not sure what to think?

My thoughts and concerns are here.

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22 Responses to “Open Thread: J.J. Abrams Picked To Direct Eppy VII”

  1. Eddie Says:

    I was just about to comment on your LJ post, LP, but I might as well do it here.

    There are a couple of J.J. Abrams-created things that I *love*–like “Lost” and “Super 8”, those feel soulful to me–and others that I like for what they are (like “Star Trek” ’09). Maybe it’s counter-intuitive or stupidly optimistic, but since October 30, 2012, I’ve felt like everything changed, and the Prequels have become *more* important than ever before, because the whole story is now built on them–they’re supporting more weight, in a way…and I don’t think Abrams or anybody else will be permitted to knock down the foundation of the whole Saga, or otherwise defile it. I look at GL’s “succession planning” as being like Luke formulating his plan to rescue Han from Jabba’s Palace–covering all the angles–and Kathleen Kennedy is like Artoo waiting on the deck, ready to launch the lightsaber when needed. I guess I just think that GL put so much thought into passing his legacy on that he wouldn’t be foolish enough to hand it over to somebody who he wasn’t certain would respect it. Maybe my faith in GL is my weakness. 😉

    As for Abrams himself, his prior relationships with Kennedy and Spielberg seem like even more “insurance” that he’ll respect what GL has done–who wants to let down their heroes? He’s also older and more experienced now than he was whenever he expressed his disappointments in the Prequels, and maybe, especially after working on another huge franchise with a hard-to-please fanbase, he had a “Road to Damascus” moment about the PT…who knows, but I hope the fan criticism he received for his take on Trek gave him a little empathy for GL, and caused him to reappraise his own feelings on the PT.

    Otherwise, the biggest fear I have is that no daylight will escape from Abrams’ production for the next 2 years, like with everything else he does. I’m a complete fiend for every spoiler, spy report, blurry picture of action figure prototypes, etc. that I can get my hands on, and I lived and breathed that stuff from the late 90’s through 2005. On the other hand, I’m happy for folks who go spoiler-free, because Abrams is the Ebenezer Scrooge of spoilers and leaks.

    To sum it up, I’m thrilled about Ep. VII until proven otherwise…for all we know, just as the PT added more richness to the OT, the next trilogy could cause us all (even the haters) to approach and appreciate the PT in unforeseen (and positive) ways. Using GL’s “chapters of a book” analogy for the SW Saga, there may be fantastic payoffs to events seen in the PT in these new “chapters”, just like the climax of a great novel can resolve seeds planted in its earliest pages.

    • Paul F. McDonald Says:

      Beautifully said, Eddie. And I have yet to even read LP’s thoughts!

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Very well said. I realized while watching Clone Wars this morning that show is added insurance. Everybody born after 2005 has Anakin and Obi-Wan and even Ahsoka burned into their little brains. Filoni and Co. are too well-respected at Lucasfilm to have someone come in and not only poop on the films but also on the show that kept gas in the Star Wars tank all of these years.

      BTW, I have been spoiler free since 1976. I like to be surprised. I was probably the only one in the theater who said, “Holy crap” when it turned out the Geonosians had designed the Death Star and gave it to the Sith.

    • J. Reeves Says:

      Beautifully written ruminations, Eddie — and a positive counterpoint to my negative. George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy are bound to be a powerful combination. A fan, even a casual observer, is entitled to believe they’ll be able to deliver the goods in one fashion way or another.

      But I do have my doubts/hang-ups where Abrams is concerned. I see him more as a cocky/hotshot pilot than a talented engineer; if that kind of comparison makes any kind of sense. He is skilled, perhaps even preternaturally so, but not in that deeper way — at least, not for me — that people like George Lucas and even the more comic-book-y Steven Spielberg are. I don’t regard him as one of the greats of cinema; but then, maybe you could say the same about Irvin Kershner or Richard Marquand. Sometimes, it’s not about greatness; it’s about many other things. Yet there’s this part of me that tells me I’m living in Bizarro World: first the announcement of Lucasfilm being sold to Disney, then the sequel trilogy announcement right along with it, and now the election of J.J. Abrams as director of the first of the new episodes.

      They’re apparently looking to make a funny — or *gulp* “quirky” — Star Wars adventure movie here. It’s the kind of “hip/fresh” approach critics and fans loved about the last “Star Trek” movie; and Michael Arndt has acclaim — and one Oscar win and one nom respectively — for “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Toy Story 3”. After how bashed the prequels were for being too dry, serious/self-involved, and fitfully humourous at best (although — perhaps that’s the point: “You were banished because you were clumsy?”; said to Jar Jar, the most overtly comedic character in the saga — THUS FAR!!), I can’t help reading between the lines here. This new trilogy, or the first of the films, anyway, might almost be the “road movie” version of Star Wars. On the other hand, the original film was kinda like that; and TPM, the first of its trilogy, is much lighter than the ones that follow; so there is, undoubtedly, a method in their madness here. Ultimately, we can only wait and see.

  2. Kenny Kraly Jr. Says:

    Woo hoo Super excited this is a good day for Star Wars. Good times are here and it starts now. Very happy that J.J. Abrams is going to direct episode 7. I don’t think we have to worry about this I’m sure J.J. will do just fine with the film and will respect the series including the prequels and the saga.

  3. oxward321 Says:

    Even less excited than I was, and that wasn’t very much. Just what we need a PT hater at the helm if the new Star Wars.

  4. PrinceOf Naboo Says:

    It makes me sad to read that J.J. Abrams said he didn’t like the prequels. When did he do that?
    I just remember quotes from a few years ago when he didn’t paise them, but he also didn’t bash them. I remember an interview on starwars.com where he talked about his kids relating to Anakin.

    I share some concerns about the way he perceives Star Wars. Like you said, he seems to be quite nostalgic with a pretty shallow view on Star Wars.

    What disappoints me as well is the fact that they didn’t have the courage to give a young talented director resemling Lucas’ style a chance but chose to go the easiest path with darling Abrams and hateboy hero Kasdan as “consultant”.
    He clearly doesn’t match Lucas’ style.

    Don’t know if anybody else feels like this but what I liked the most about Lost was the hatred Abrams’ basher friend DEmon Lindelof received for its ending 😀

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      “It makes me sad to read that J.J. Abrams said he didn’t like the prequels. When did he do that?” As I have posted below, I have realized that I have accused him of bashing without a real proof.
      Personally, I can live with a director not praising or liking (but still respecting) the prequels.

      I agree with you: “What disappoints me as well is the fact that they didn’t have the courage to give a young talented director resemling Lucas’ style a chance but chose to go the easiest path with darling Abrams and hateboy hero Kasdan as ‘consultant’.”

      “Don’t know if anybody else feels like this but what I liked the most about Lost was the hatred Abrams’ basher friend DEmon Lindelof received for its ending”
      I actually feel the same way (nothing better than give the bashers a taste of their own medicine). On the other hand, this does not make the world a better place… Hate is hate after all.

      • PrinceOfNaboo Says:

        Yes, respect is the key. I’m quite confident J.J. will be capable of that.
        As some of you say: GL is still there to watch and observe 😉

  5. Mike S Says:

    I’ve posted this on fb and on mf.com as well: As long as Abrams sticks to the visual style of Star Wars and doesn’t turn it into another shaky camera extravaganza. I found 2009’s Trek to be completely unwatchable and off-putting, with his odd use of camera angles, and unnecessary shaking camera work. Not to mention that the film itself was basically a remake of the original Star Wars film, which to me was ridiculous, as both franchises have long been considered contemporaries / rivals.

    My biggest concern for the new Star Wars, is that they’re going to completely disregard the camera style established by Lucas and go for this “in vogue” style perpetuated by guys like Abrams, where they cannot keep the camera still for more than a minute. It puzzles me as to why you’d need that kind of camera work, when two actors are doing something as simple, as exchanging lines of dialogue in a room. I find it to be excessive and difficult to have to sit through that.

    When I’m watching a film, I don’t want to be distracted by something that pulls me out of the moment. I want to be able to focus on the characters, the dialogue, the story and not have to wonder if the camera man is having a seizure, or if he’s trying to kill a persistent Wasp that’s been trying to turn his ear canal, into it’s new home.

  6. Stefan Kraft Says:

    My thoughts can also be read on LP’s livejournal page.

    I’ve added a comment (not published yet) that I have accused Abrams of prequel bashing without any real proof. (In fact, I realized that when gallandro1 and Kevin posted their comments.) I am sorry for my accusation of JJ Abrams and have in fact not been better than some haters.

    So, I will wait and see: my fear that JJ Abrams will try to “fix the prequels” is gone. (Still, I fear that someone else might do it… And I still don’t know whether an independent, rather unknown director would have been a better choice or not.)

  7. Aeryn Says:

    Especially after the Trek reboot (“Galaxy Quest” felt closer to “true” Trek to me than the JJA flick), I was less than thrilled over this news. The only JJA work I uninhibitedly enjoyed was the first couple of seasons of “Alias,” a series that IMO ultimately went far downhill by the end. But I’ve had a little more time to process – I’ve heard several good points made, including one crucial difference between Trek and SW: SW’s creator is still around, which gives me a degree of reassurance as far as these new films maintaining GL’s vision of the saga. I’ve also heard more than one person say JJA has made positive comments regarding Anakin’s arc in the PT, and anyone who knows me knows that anything pro-Anakin is a huge boon in my book. 😉 I haven’t read or seen any of those comments for myself, but I’m curious enough to seek them out. This isn’t to say I’ll be joining the JJA fanclub anytime soon, but maybe the bitterness in my palate will at least be tempered somewhat.

    • PrinceOfNaboo Says:

      I’m only aware of the following quote I was refering to in my previous post:

      Abrams: It’s funny how in a weird way sometimes by demystifying a character it takes away from some of the fun that you felt about that character. It takes the mystery out of it. Sometimes a character is more interesting when you don’t know everything about them. Even someone from my generation — and I’m ancient compared to so many of the Star Wars fans out there — for me the character of Darth Vader was always so compelling because you were putting together all these thing in your head and making all these assumptions, that to get to know Anakin as much as we ultimately did changed the way you consider Darth Vader. It’s crazy that my kids relate to Anakin; which to me is criminal because I grew up believing Vader was a bad guy. I related to Luke and Leia and Han Solo. You just don’t relate to Vader! I still think it’s wrong to be on Anakin’s side. So I guess there’s no one character I can point to and say that I want to know more about him or her, it’s just that Star Wars is so vast it would be great to find new characters that have that level of emotional intimacy.

      I don’t know if we can call it “positive”, but it shows a certain respect for what happened in the prequels (no stubborn: they’re not star wars, they don’t exist for me etc.) and he acknowledged (or even noticed, what some hateboy’s miss) the intentional change in the way the audience was supposed to perceive Anakin.

      • PrinceOfNaboo Says:

        And he realizes that fact that Star Wars isn’t solely targeted at his generation, but also at people much younger and he’s doesn’t seem upset because of it.

      • Aeryn Says:

        You’re right, it’s not exactly gushing, but neither is it completely flame-worthy either. And the thing is, he’s not totally off base here – Anakin DOES end up on the wrong side. That’s a no-brainer. *However,* if he’s saying that we’re not even supposed to understand Anakin’s feelings and decisions that do lead to him being on the wrong side, then I would disagree with him there. You can empathize with someone’s feelings but still disagree with the choices they end up making; to me, that was one of the main points of Anakin’s arc, particularly in AOTC/ROTS.

      • J. Reeves Says:

        It’s “criminal to relate” to Anakin, and it’s “wrong to be on Anakin’s side”, and these two are even equivalent? But its not wrong to shove pro-war trash like “Star Trek” into the multiplexes, thereby killing the soul of Roddenberry’s creation, and further dumbing America down, where all problems are solved with shouting and violence, corporate profiteering is still rampant, and the presentation of drama and suffering evokes unironic belief in cornball heroism in a post-9/11 context against implacable, maniacal foes?

        Go right ahead and sacrifice yourself, George Kirk (like your tiny joke of a splintering vessel, more than a century out of date, is any match against an armed-to-the-teeth behemoth that has virtually obliterated it already). Shout and smugly bully your way to victory, Son of George Kirk! Recruit those backwater hicks like recruitment is going out of fashion, Captain Pike! Choke the crap out of Son of George Kirk, Captain Spock, while everyone on the bridge stands by and watches you nearly kill him and destroy precious bridge consoles in the process! Don’t reprimand your security staff, either, Captain Spock — oh, wait, you just resigned from active duty — after they brought a violent stowaway back to the bridge and had him stand right in your face! What’s that? A toxically stupid plan to board an alien craft and end its destructive reign of terror goes without a hitch (minus mind rape, more lethal firearms shooting, more choking, another suicide attack in a much smaller craft, etc.)? Oh, the enemy is on the brink of death and it would be humane to rescue them — especially some of the bridge crew who almost certainly went along with Nero out of misguided loyalty, fear, or delirium — and one final insult means you can just torpedo them to oblivion? What’s that? You hung around too long to pound them into space dust and now you’re caught in a catastrophic gravity well? What’s that? Some firecracker explosions will set you free? SCORE! Finally, Son of Kirk: they’re promoting you, big fella, all the way up to Captain, even though you were just a cadet on academic suspension, are young and inexperienced, have clear signs of psychological trauma owed to the brutal loss of a father figure, a terrible stepdad, and being punched or choked about ten times in as many hours; oh, and you have an ego the size of Montana, too. BTW, you get to command the Enterprise, the most advanced ship in the fleet, too! Scotty? Yeah, he just sticks around with Ewok Binks in Main Engineering — which looks like a water park — for some reason. Okay, all set! Cue Leonard Nimoy delivering the most contrived voice-over of all time! And let’s forget about the million-and-one other contrivances, abuses of continuity and Star Trek lore, idiotically insulting action sequences and feeble stabs at drama, and just about every other piece of artless aspect of this ridiculously bubblegum movie. Dar dar, dar dar dar dar dar….

        Sorry, but no.

        J.J. Abrams is the master of the false dichotomy, the inept analogy. Take these remarks about Star Trek itself, which he made around the time of his first movie’s release: “Star Trek to me was always about infinite possibility and the incredible imagination that Gene Roddenberry brought to that core of characters. It was a show about purpose, about faith versus logic, about science versus emotion, about us vs. them. It was its own world, and yet it was our world.”

        Empty babble which makes no sense if you’re misguided enough to try and take it seriously. The emphasis on characters, though, in Abrams’ remarks, is hard to ignore; it rings out with the shrillness of 1,000 CG explosions; or ten J.J.-approved lens flares. That’s why they’ve got this sound-and-fury-obsessed mammal on board for the first of the sequel movies. He doesn’t get subtlety, nuance, restraint, or what it means to NOT be a marauding, militarily-minded, binary-thinking, trying-to-get-a-peek-of-boobs-driven college fratboy. But he DOES love characters (and explosions), right? The more retarded, the better.

        Star Wars has now decoupled itself from the anachronistic and the arcane. Sensory overload and decayed witticisms will now rule the day. Y’know, like the way Abrams filmed a screenplay that had the temerity to reduce the relationship between Kirk and McCoy to cheap brothers-in-arms, even simplifying — and weakening — the reason Kirk developed the nickname “Bones” for his close friend/confidant, which communicated their bond on a deeper level in the days of Gene Roddenberry. The careful, deliberate plotting of George Lucas, and his mannered eccentricity, to say nothing of the intricate detailing of the visuals — exquisitely blending the brash and the bold with the skewed and the absurd — will now, almost invariably, be lost. This sequel trilogy is being made for the zeitgeist in a way that the prequels, even the originals, never were.

        Of course, I could be wrong about this, and may incline myself to a different view over time. But I doubt it. For now, this news has sucker-punched me enough to serve as a savage reminder of how this world actually works. We don’t get to decide what we’d like to see; and the pursuit of popularity and/or money tends to rule the day.

      • M. Marshall Says:

        Bravo J. Reeves! Bravo!

    • Louis Ghanem (@lgghanem) Says:

      The Star Trek reboot not really feeling like Star Trek has less to do with Abrams betraying the originals’ feel and vision and more to do with the fact that he was making it more like a Star Wars than a Star Trek film (as he’s a much bigger SW fan than a trekkie)–or so I’d assumed anyway. So I’m not at all worried about Episode VII not feeling like Star Wars; he doesn’t strike me as a man who would destroy the original vision–quite the contrary, actually.

  8. Louis Ghanem (@lgghanem) Says:

    I’m very happy about it; I quite like J. J. Abrams, and I know he’s a big Star Wars fan. His first feature film was, at the time, the best Mission: Impossible film yet (and one that paved the way for a very well-received sequel), then he went on to make the only Star Trek film I actually enjoyed (and greatly so), despite it being a franchise I didn’t care about at all, though admittedly he managed that by making it as Star Wars-like as possible (many of the space battle scenes reminded me strongly of RotS’s opening battle, for example, and the structure and story is very ANH-ish). The man was never a trekkie to begin with; my guess is he liked the script and, in the then-absence of a Star Wars opportunity, went on to make the next best thing. But now a Star Wars opportunity fell into his lap, and in my opinion a deserved one. And I absolutely adore LOST, all six seasons–and especially the very polarizing series finale, whose reception reminds me very much of the PT’s.
    I’m not sure what he thinks of the prequels as I’ve never heard him mention them, honestly; I think it was Damon Lindelof who wasn’t very fond of the PT, but I like him as well, thanks to LOST, and I’m hoping at least that his experience with letting down a huge fanbase by sticking to his vision (ie, the unfairly bashed LOST finale) gave him some empathy towards Lucas. I remember the day the LOST finale was to air, Lindelof and his counterpart Carlton Cuse received a letter from George Lucas congratulating them on what they achieved with the show, to which Lindelof replied, “I take back all the bad things I said about the prequels.” Whether he meant this jokingly or not, I always felt he now appreciated how tough Lucas’s task was when it came to fan hype and expectation. He’s certainly no Simon Pegg, that’s for sure–that man is all negativity when it comes to the PT.
    As for Abrams, let’s remember that he would not have been picked without Lucas’s approval; the man has been very meticulous in the tiniest matters related to this transition, let alone the most important one. As a fellow filmmaker, I’m pretty sure Abrams knows how fickle fans can be, how subjective opinions are, and, having tackled two previously existing franchises already, how hard it is to please a fanbase; knowing that, I don’t think he’d diss the prequels. Heck, even if he was a prequel hater, he’s probably already sat down with Lucas multiple times, with many more such meetings to come in the future, during which Lucas would explain his vision, his ideas for the story, justify the direction he took with the prequels, make him understand his mind as well as the Star Wars universe inside out; he’d would make sure Abrams at least understands and accepts Lucas’s intentions with the PT, why he did what he did, why he’s sticking to his decisions, why he believes they’re right, no matter what the fans thought… Lucas, as a creative consultant (on paper, but also as the creator of Star Wars and the man everyone owes everything to) will not want or allow his vision to be betrayed, and he will ensure that Abrams and any other director who helms a Star Wars movie understands, appreciates, and is at peace with everything that came before, prequels included.
    Abrams himself seems like a very enthusiastic guy, a by-the-geeks-for-the-geeks kind of guy who understands what fans want (I’ve no doubt that, while the ST will not neglect or diss the PT, it will stick closer to what made the OT so successful, as evidenced by Kasdan’s return as consultant), but also a guy who understands what makes a good film regardless of what fans want (the amount of trekkies the 2009 reboot pissed off supports that, I think). He is a good director who has made nothing but great and entertaining films to date, in my view at least. I gladly welcome aboard.
    The only disappointment I’ve had with this announcement is its predictability; sure, he’s a great choice, but he’s not exactly a surprising one. And part of me will always wonder what Ben Affleck would have done with it had he been chosen…

  9. Adam D. Bram (Collor Pondrat) Says:

    I do like what he did with Trek. I thought it was an interesting prequel/alternate take. However, I don’t think that approach would work with the Wars at all, and IF he gets picked, I will be rather disappointed if it’s to give that kind of treatment.

    Then again, we don’t know anything for sure right now.

  10. M. Marshall Says:

    “… the Trek film he did in 2009 was an entertaining action film that didn’t feel like Star Trek. I didn’t care for how the canon was changed, conveniently explained by some reality shift that created an alternate universe.” I couldn’t agree with you more, LP. At first I liked the 2009 film but then I realized that it lacked many of the qualities that was at the core of the Star Trek franchise. Where were the mythic connections? The references to the problems society was going through at the time (Would it have hurt to introduce an Iraqi character to the cast? How about a totally new cast?)? What was the moral of the story? And most of all: why was Kirk such a jerk? I saw the teaser trailer and poster of the upcoming Star Trek film-and my reaction was: “I don’t like this”. Even when Abrams stated that he took a Star Wars approach to Star Trek-he missed the point of what the saga was all about: a moral, a mythic connection and references to the problems affecting society.

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