February 3, 2013 by Chris Reynolds
There are two kinds of people in this galaxy: those who were delighted to hear this news, and those who clutched their throats as though they were being force-choked by a sith lord…
Either way, the powers-that-be have spoken and the new director of the next Star Wars movie (VII) will be none other than J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost, Super 8). Why might this choice spark controversy? Well, first off, as you can see in his credits above, Abrams has also been directing the new Star Trek movies. Those two fan cultures have been split since the big bang. Although some, like me, enjoy both universes but don’t like to mix their phasers with their blasters.
With that aside, lets take this unique opportunity to look into Abrams’ influence on Star Trek as a sort of litmus test for the future of our favorite galaxy far far away. Now I know one concern I share with most Star Wars fans is: “Will this new film still FEEL like a Star Wars story.” I mean sure, Episodes I, II, and III were certainly different than the original trilogy. But in their essence, they still felt like Star Wars.
Now lets take a look at what Abrams did to the Star Trek franchise with his new movies. As a whole, he took this well known universe and made a successful modern sci fi thriller, while still keeping the Star Trek cinematic perspective. He managed to do this while also edging out of the complacent comfort zone of an outdated franchise. Yes, the corniness is what some people love about Star Trek the Original Series, like the soft scratches heard when listening to a record player… But lets be honest, wouldn’t you rather listen to your favorite song as a high definition MP3 on a modern killer sound system?
Sometimes, in order to cut out the inherent “hokiness” that a dated tv series/movie trilogy brings, you need to reinvent the wheel a little… or remove them entirely and create pod racers…
For me though, one element that needs to remain the same is the feeling I have when I hear those classic sounds that we all associate with Star Wars. The blips and beeps of R2, the satisfying “PEOW” of blaster fire, and the awe inspiring “KSHHHZZZ” of a light saber being activated. Again if we look at what Abrams did with Star Trek, most of those classic sounds were still, in some capacity, a part of the story. The transporter energizing, the whistle of the ship’s com hailing the crew, the subtle “Swish” of opening doors and the overall ambient sound of the Enterprise.
The point is, despite a change in visual effects, character tone, and a few odds and ends, Abrams’ new take on Star Trek still has the spirit of the original series within it, at its heart. So while I too will watch with an objective eye as more details emerge about Star Wars Episode VII, I think this directing choice is a positive one. I believe Abrams will take the Star Wars movies, strip them down to their most distinguished elements and rebuild around them objectively… Making a new adventure with a new shell but while keeping the Star Wars spirit and story telling elements intact… and hopefully making no mention of midichlorians… or time travel…
And before you say, “wait Chris, this is a terrible terrible thing!” Think about it for a second. Do you want to see the same Star Wars movies made again in the same dated style? Or do you want the raw essence of the Star Wars Universe to come barreling at you at hyper speed in a new and dazzling way? As a fan of the Star Wars franchise that is tired of seeing rereleases of the same movies over and over, I say, if Abrams is willing to keep the Star Wars spirit, and Lucas will be by his side as a consultant, let him create a new and amazing story. In the long run, it is what we have been waiting for!
But as always, only time will tell. So in the mean time Future Filmers, I want you to use the comments section below to share what you think about this choice… and may the force be with you.