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Jan 26

The next Star Wars to be directed by J.J. Abrams – my thoughts

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After days of rumors (or maybe weeks; I don’t get out much), it’s been confirmed that J. J. Abrams has been selected to direct the next installment in the Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney, with an expected release sometime in 2015.

Some additional details:

Screenwriter Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, is penning the script, and Episode VII is being produced by Abrams, Bryan Burk, Abrams’ Bad Robot company and Kennedy under the Disney/Lucasfilm banner.

Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have signed on to be consultants on the project. Kasdan was a screenwriter on two Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Backand Return of the Jedi, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Kinberg was writer onSherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Obviously this, or any news actually, has the Interwebs in an uproar – positively, negatively, and snark-ely.

 

 

I for one am excited, on MANY fronts. And it takes a lot to get a guy my age excited, blue pill notwithstanding. Star Wars, when it was released in ’77, was a seminal moment in my life. I admit, as seminal as anything can get for a 7 year old, but there it is. As silly or trite as it may sound, it was literally life-changing. Every scrap of interest I ever had in science fiction, space exploration, technology, communications, gadgets, and so on can be traced back to that day I saw Star Wars in the theater. Seriously. No joke. If it wasn’t for SW, things may have turned out a lot differently for me.

When Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, was released, I was ten, and still to this day remember how amazed I was at the opening Hoth battle. And I do believe it still holds my record for most number of times watched. Hot Stuff with Dom DeLuise is a close second (strange time in my adolescence, don’t ask), and perhaps The Fifth Element is soon to pass it, but Empire still shocks and awes. So when the announcement was made that a prequel trilogy was going to be filmed, decades after Return of the Jedi, that feeling of impending shock and awe returned. Only to be replaced with disgust and loathing. And Jar Jar.

Yes, the choice of J. J. Abrams may be controversial, as in, “Hey, he’s not a Star Wars guy.” But maybe that’s a good thing considering where Lucas had taken the last three films: great effects, laughable acting and storyline. I’ve been an Abrams fan for quite some time (Alias is still one of my favorite television shows), and he actually does have geek cred: Fringe, Super 8, Cloverfield (say what you want, still entertaining), and a fabulous reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Not to mention he’s got the handle on storylines, both individually (Person of Interest for example) and full arcs (Lost). Yes, I understand he was ‘only’ executive producer on some of those, but still part of his resumé. And he did write Lost…

Back to Star Wars. That 1977 movie set me on a different path. Seriously. I quickly was swept into Battlestar Galactica, Star Blazers after school cartoons, Star Trek TNG, and so on, and never looked back. When the Star Wars prequel was released, I thought maybe this would be a seminal moment in my kids’ lives. Alas and alack, it was not. I can’t expect a movie in the 21st century to hold the same wonder and amazement for today’s youth as it did for mine. But I can expect that they’ll dig it, and maybe their imaginations will be stirred a bit.

What are your thoughts on Abrams’ selection? Looking forward to a new Star Wars? Dubious? Excited? Don’t give a $%&$?

steve

About the author

Steve Umstead

Steve Umstead has been the owner of a Caribbean & Mexico travel company for the past ten+ years, but never forgot his lifelong dream of becoming an author. After a successful stab at National Novel Writing Month, he decided to pursue his dream more vigorously…but hasn’t given up the traveling.
Steve lives in scenic (tongue-in-cheek) New Jersey with his wife, two kids, and several bookshelves full of other authors’ science fiction novels. Gabriel’s Redemption was his debut novel, published in February of 2011.

10 comments

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  1. Shay Fabbro

    I’m pretty stoked about it! :D

    1. Steve Umstead

      Me too – and I’ll take the naysayers’ slings and arrows. Thirty years plus (since ROTJ) is a long time to wait for a new one (I’ve washed Episodes I, II, and III from my memory). And I dig Abrams’ work.

  2. eBlurbus

    I saw Star Wars at age seven in 1977 as well! Life changing, for me, too, in that it established the fantasy landscape of my imagination. In my early twenties, my inner voice was that of Yoda! I was not dissapointed by the prequels, but I had a young child so I felt the choices were appropriate. My favorite moments from the new series? The forge scene, the aquatic army’s dino shields, the pod race, diving through the center of Naboo.

    I had always assumed the series would continue unabated when I was young, and it broke my heart that Lucas didn’t want to continue serially producing them. Now, decades later, it looks like my childhood dream will continue. I don’t care, really, who directs, just glad Disney is giving childhood-me the opportunity to keep watching this seminal series.

    1. Steve Umstead

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, some visually stunning scenes in the prequels. I still remember about two years prior to the release of Episode I the trailers, specifically the ones that showed the beginning of the hover tank battle, and I was super-excited. Then, the movie came out…

  3. Michael Wmilson

    Battlestatr, Star blazers…remember Force Five? I don’t know how many hours we pretended to be giant Japanese robots but it is substantial…
    If you haven’t read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline you must. No…really. I am making it MANDATORY reading for you. Futuristic world where the virtual reality computer gaming world is filled with easter eggs created by a child of the eighties with all the book, movie & gaming references from that decade…
    You Will Love It!

    1. Steve Umstead

      Interesting, Michael – will definitely look for it!

  4. Jeff Mitchell

    Not into it. There were better directors more suited towards Star Wars. I like Abrams, I like what he did for Star TREK. But this is almost becoming the “Googleification” of sci-fi franchises. Abrams’ “touch” is everywhere.

  5. Lou Sytsma (@OldDarth)

    Abrams is the safest choice that could be made. He rebooted Star Trek successfully and with a $4 billion price tag Disney is doing everything to ensure they maximize their profits.

    Abrams will do a solid job but his selection strikes me as predictable and calculated.

    If Brad Bird, Del Toro, or Darabont would have been chosen – then I would have been excited.

  6. Lisa McCourt Hollar

    He’s not a Star Wars guy, but considering what he’s done with Star Trek, he’s not a Star Trek guy either. I regret going to the last movie and refuse to watch any others that he is involved with. I hope he doens’t ruin it for Star Wars too.

  7. Vince Medlock

    Lisa summed it up perfectly. After what he did to Star Trek, I’m not excited about anything JJ Abrams touches. I am excited that the new films are planned, and I’ll probably commit to seeing the first one just out of curiosity. Maybe Disney will at least require him to watch what’s been done already before turning him loose on the franchise.

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