Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Words of Wars

Now that JJ Abrams is locked in for Star Wars: Episode VII, the long wait begins until the film's 2015 (maybe even 2016) debut. Naturally while we know less than nothing now, that's not stopping various voices in the media-sphere adding their voices to the speculative cacophony about what Abrams will do, whether he'll do it well, and whether the whole thing will be worth a darn. Mike Ryan at Huffington Post has an interesting piece up wherein he makes the argument that Abrams in imminently qualified for the task, and looks to the original three films for signs of what he may do with the new trilogy:
I'm not saying Abrams is guaranteed to direct a great Star Wars movie, but the signs are good: he has his own headstrong style (like Kershner), loves strong characters (like Kershner) and possesses a vast knowledge of special effects (like Lucas). At this point, I just don't understand how any Star Wars fan wouldn't be excited about Abrams, considering he's the first director in the history of the franchise who, you know, is actually qualified.
Making the opposing case, Ross Douthat at the New York Times argues that Abrams may not be the guy thanks to the director's professed fandom for the Star Wars films. Says he:
Thanks to Lucas, half of the official Star Wars story is unsalvageable dreck — but it’s canonical dreck, which means it can’t simply be shunted into an alternative timeline in the style of Abrams’ Star Trek, or dropped down the memory hole the way say, Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies were when Christopher Nolan set about making Batman Begins. Instead, the prequels have to be somehow formally accepted as part of the Star Wars story and artistically repudiated at the same time.
While I'm inclined to side with Ryan on this as far as Abrams doing the job, but there's also no doubting the sobering weight of what Douthat (who thinks Ben Affleck, another finalist, would have been a more inspired choice) says vis-a-vis the prequels, and their albatross-like role in weighing the whole thing down. Personally, I think the prequels actually did Abrams a favor, because they've sufficiently lowered the bar that he can do a little and have it seem like a lot, and still come off looking like the Shining Jedi Knight who rode in and saved the day.

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