George Lucas' announcement last fall that he was selling Lucasfilm to Disney and that there would be a new "Star Wars" film in 2015 was enough of a shock. The deal caught fans by surprise and has led to endless speculation about where the "Star Wars" franchise is heading in the future. But last week, Lucasfilm dropped another news bomb: J.J. Abrams — director of the popular "Star Trek" reboot — had signed on to direct the new "Star Wars" film.
I'll admit, when I first heard the announcement, I thought it was a hoax, or possibly just more speculation. I'd heard that Abrams' name was possibly on the short list of potential "Star Wars" directors, but because he was already tied to the "Star Trek" franchise, I didn't think he'd be available. Originally he even said he wouldn't be able to take on the project, but apparently something has changed, and now he's on board.
Abrams is an unexpected but ultimately, I think, an exciting choice to tackle the new "Star Wars" project. Out of all the names that have been tossed around as possible directors for the project, I think Abrams was probably one of the best choices they could have made (although I also would have been happy with Jon Favreau, who directed "Iron Man"). Overall, I'm pleased by Disney's choice, though I do see a few issues that could arise.
It is a bit unusual that the man who rebooted and re-envisioned "Star Trek" is now being asked to do almost the same thing with a rival science fiction franchise. Although Abrams' selection has already generated some controversy and quite a bit of debate, I don't necessarily have a problem with him directing both "Star Wars" and "Star Trek." I enjoy both series, though I will confess I've always loved "Star Wars" a little more. ;) Abrams created a really bold, fresh vision for the future of "Star Trek," and his first Trek film is one of my all-time favorite movies.
It will be interesting to see what tone the new "Star Wars" film takes, now that Abrams has signed on as the director. Abrams has a very distinctive film making style: his films are briskly-paced and decidedly modern, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. He's not afraid to take risks, such as altering "Star Trek" canon and portraying characters in new ways. My hope is that he will create a "Star Wars" film that utilizes his directing strengths and his own creative flair, while also capturing the grand, space-opera feel the "Star Wars" saga has always had. I believe Abrams has the ability to craft a film that will feel both "fresh" and "familiar." He's a long-time "Star Wars" fan himself, so I think he'll try his hardest to do the series justice.
The challenge for Abrams will be to make sure the new "Star Wars" film doesn't feel too similar to his "Star Trek" films. "Star Trek" tends to be more "science fiction," while "Star Wars" tends to be "science fantasy." I'm curious to see if Abrams continues with both franchises, or if he'll step away from "Star Trek." I personally hope he continues on with both (as long as he can keep the style of the movies separate); I love what he's done with the "Star Trek" franchise, and I'm excited about what he can do for "Star Wars."
While some seem to be disappointed Disney didn't make an even more unconventional choice — such as Christopher Nolan — I'm not sure Nolan would have been the best option. I love Nolan's films; he's one of my favorite directors, and he did an excellent job rebooting the "Batman" franchise. However, I don't think his dark and gritty film making style is the right fit for the "Star Wars" franchise. The previous "Star Wars" films have always had a fun, adventurous feel, and I want the new series to maintain that tone.
That said, I wouldn't mind seeing Nolan take on a stand-alone "Star Wars" film project. I'd love to see him do a movie about bounty hunter Boba Fett, set in the gritty underworld of Coruscant. I also don't know if Joss Whedon (another name rumored to have been on the "Star Wars" short list) would have been the right choice for "Star Wars" either. I love Whedon's work, but I'm not sure he'd be the best fit (just as Abrams wouldn't have been the right choice for "The Avengers").
So, what do you think? Are you excited about Abrams directing the next "Star Wars" film? Or would you have preferred a different director?