I was working the early shift for the back half of the week and went to bed at 10 last night… So of course the J.J. Abrams thing was confirmed at midnight. He’s directing Episode VII.
Luckily I have minions on the West Coast who were still awake and could post what had been prewritten. But once I got up, I couldn’t just go back to bed, right? So here I am. Thankfully after last week, a 6:30 wake-up was almost sleeping in anyway…
People have asked me what I think of this, and honestly I’ve been in too much of a news mode, pushing aside opinions and just getting stuff up (and fussing over the little details like, oh, accuracy in reporting) to really think about this. First off: I don’t dislike the choice. I’ve seen some of Abrams’ movies (Star Trek, Super 8) and I enjoyed them. I watched parts of Felicity and Alias. I watched Lost, of course, but that one was never 100% his the way the other two shows were.
But I can see some of the criticisms. Yes, it’s a 100% fanboy-pleasing choice. I do scoff at people who say that doing both Trek and Wars is like working for two football teams – this is Hollywood, not the NFL. Sure they compete, but not in the same way.
But Abrams is also fresh, young blood, which is exactly what this franchise needs. The question is – it he enough of a director not to let his fanboy side lead? (Annalee had some great points on this kind of thing a while back in relation to Bryan Singer.) That’s my big fear: I don’t want a fanboy movie. I don’t think Episode VII has any chance of being Boba Fett: Unchumped, but there are plenty of other ways to fail. I mean, they could straight-up film the New Jedi Order books, for fuck’s sake. (Disclaimer: I don’t think they’ll actually film the NJO. Perish the thought.)
But Abrams isn’t someone locked in a downward spiral like Zack Snyder or (worse) M. Night Shyamalan. (Did you know Kathleen Kennedy was one of the executive producers on The Last Airbender? Granted, so were the original ATLA creators, and we see how much influence they had… But still, doesn’t that send a chill down your spine?)
I think Kennedy’s pursuing JJ makes perfect sense – she, of all people, knows how much there is to lose with this. If this franchise is going to thrive, it needs a movie that grabs the mainstream more like 2009’s Star Trek/the original Pirates of the Caribbean/The Avengers and less like The Phantom Menace/the POTC sequels/X3. Yes, the movie will make loads of cash regardless and many SW fans will come back again and again, and the prequel slow burn (and The Clone Wars) shouldn’t be underestimated, but this movie has to work for everyone, not just kids and die-hards. And, Airbender aside, Kathleen Kennedy knows a hell of a lot more about this stuff than I do. So… Wait and see.