It is not a simple topic.
As I have been asked repeatedly of late for my opinion on the choice of J J Abrams to direct additional Star Wars sequels — and am tired of repeating myself — I provide this summary, outlining the key points as I perceive them.But to speak of this matter requires me to first reference my issues with his take on Star Trek.
The Abrams reboot is a flashy, thrilling spectacle and quite entertaining in that fashion — but utterly lacks the thoughtfulness or relatively logical realism that Star Trek strives for at its best, driven instead by hackneyed setting cliches, ridiculous narrative contrivances, generic sci-fi tropes, "underage" casting and a technical style that seems 99% visual fluff and flash. As a direction, I fear this tact will lead the franchise to ruin, its distinctive character sacrificed in the name of maximum box-office returns.In short, it is a fine — even great — space adventure film, but a lousy Star Trek one.
Which brings me to the matter at hand. Star Wars is at its best when it delivers fast-paced, high adventure.Star Wars
is, by an large, a sweeping fantasy setting such that grounded realism or thought-provoking social issues are not its prime pursuits. Its epic adventures are driven by its visuals, spectacle and thrills, and its themes are expressed via archetypical figures and morally simplistic polarities. Overall, it has often been a wise practice not to think to hard about it all, as the cracks in the setting logic are not exactly small — but it is nonetheless strongly distinct in character with a deep and meaningful undercurrent to undergird it.I can say with confidence that Abrams' version of Star Wars will likely not be boring in the slightest, and may match the thrill-ride of the original trilogy with ease.
It will not be repeat of the prequels' failings, to be sure. But...My confidence waivers in regard to how well he will respect the character of the setting, or capture the epic scale, subtext and romance of what has come before.
I believe Abrams has the ability, as evidenced by previous work — yet I also fear that he will simply take the easiest route and pump up the spectacle and ignore all but the faintest outlines of the established saga — also as evidenced by previous work. This, ultimately, is what seems to have happened to Star Trek
when he was given free reign to reshape it as he saw fit.To date, there is no official indication that the next chapters will be reboots, so the results may follow the overall setting template.
The very fact that Abrams is being tapped to direct sequels
gives me hope that he might simply bring his energy and eye for visuals to the saga, but be bound by its established conventions. If this is the case, his contribution might be just what is required to refresh the whole franchise and give it new life, recapturing that lighting in a bottle that so amazed audiences in 1977.The question remains if there is any clear direction left to take that will not feel tacked on, let alone advance the epic narrative, but this is another matter of itself...
[image from ScreenCrush.com [link]