You’ve heard already but let’s repeat the big news: J.J. Abrams will be directing STAR WARS: EPISODE VII. The bombshell comes courtesy of The Wrap after months and months of speculation. Abrams’s name has always been floated as a possible choice but most assumed he wouldn’t take it on because, well, he said he wouldn’t take it on. But I guess he was either lying or later convinced because it seems the STAR TREK director is heading back to space.
Let’s cut right to it: this is both good news and bad news. It’s good news for STAR WARS fans for two reasons. One, Abrams is a talented filmmaker, despite what you might say about him and his lens flares. Two, the man has a way at keeping things top secret so you can be damn sure much of EPISODE VII will remain spoiler-free until opening day.
So STAR WARS die-hards should be pleased. Do you know who should be a little bummed? J.J. Abrams fans. While Abrams’s choice to helm Lucas’s universe is a massive achievement, it also holds him back from proving himself in some ways.
Listen, I like Abrams. I’m a massive fan of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 and praise his work on STAR TREK. Hell, I’m even on board with SUPER 8 (though it has many, many flaws). But take a look at all those movies and tell me what they have in common.
See it? Okay, well I’ll tell you: none of Abrams’s feature films have been original properties. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 was a sequel, obviously, while STAR TREK was a reboot of a classic series. Sure, SUPER 8 was “new” but let’s not kid ourselves, it was a Spielberg homage through and through. So far, Abrams has yet to give us something fresh and novel. He hasn’t delivered a unique picture. His films have been humongous hits but I still can’t tell you what a J. J. Abrams movie is like. “Big” is not the way you describe a filmmaker or his vision. Make no mistake, he’s a capable filmmaker who understands how to make a blockbuster but he’s yet to give us something that is really, truly his.
I was hoping we’d get that after STAR TREK but SUPER 8 was too heavily influenced by Spielberg to show us the real J.J. So then I was hoping he’d deliver after STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS but we now know he’ll move straight into STAR WARS. It might be fun, it might be a massive hit that pleases audiences for years to come but STAR WARS won’t ever really belong to Abrams. It’s not his creation, he’s just guiding it for awhile.
This isn’t to say that all directors should be screenwriters but I wish Abrams was able to break away from the adaptations and sequels for awhile and give us something that feels authentic and from the heart. He’s brought me plenty of thrills, laughs and enjoyment but I still don’t know who J.J. Abrams. I doubt STAR WARS will fix that.