It’s official. J. J. Abrams is going to direct the new Star Wars movie. The good news? He’s not writing it. Nope. That would be Michael Arndt, who is best known for Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3. That’s good news indeed.
When I set out to write this post, I imagined it would begin and end with a long diatribe about how many times I have been burned by J. J. Abrams since the travesty that was Cloverfield. As a writer, Abrams is, in my opinion, no better than whoever Michael Bay pays to write his bloated scripts of plot-ological stupidity (Transformers 2, anyone?). But he’s not a terrible director, given a good script, and he’s worked with amazing folks like Steven Spielberg.
1) Considering what the Star Wars franchise has become, and the unlikelihood that Disney will make significant changes to the model, I can’t say that Abrams is necessarily a bad choice, given his work on Star Trek. Star Trek, after all, wasn’t necessarily a bad movie in terms of its presentation. It had a lot of the things that the franchise had been missing all lined up in near-perfect order; all of those elements are crucial to Star Wars movies anyway, minus glaring plot holes. On this front, I agree with John Scalzi.
2) Whatever will happen to the Star Wars universe under Abrams, I can’t imagine it can end up any worse than Attack of the Clones. The new movie won’t be another prequel, and is likely to take us away from the stock characters (not that I don’t like Skywalker and Solo or anything). Even if the second half of that sentence isn’t true, at least we’ll have new stories to think about, with different writers and directors behind the helm. At worst, Abrams can only offer a different look at a commercial franchise. At best, he might actually make something that we’ll fondly remember.
3) I care more about the continuation and improvement of the Star Wars franchise in film form than I do about my well-documented dislike of J. J. Abrams. In other words, I will see the new movie whether Abrams is a part of it or not. That Arndt is writing the screenplay leads me to believe I’m not irrational to expect a decent movie.
None of this means that I’m not apprehensive about the selection of Abrams. I’d rather have a different director behind the helm, if I’m honest. But the more I think about the selection, the less inclined I am to think, as I stupidly said on Twitter the other day, that Abrams will have a negative impact on the franchise. Lucas kicked it when it was down well enough on his own…
What do you all think?