I can’t tell you when, where or how old I was the first time I watched “Star Wars.” It was a long time ago.
I can tell you I where I was when I first read the news that Lucasfilm had been sold to Disney for $4.2 billion and oh, by the way, they were going to make Episode VII and it would be released in 2015. Cue the five stages of grief experienced twice, once that day, and then again spread out over the next few months.
But yesterday, my melancholy feelings toward the future of my favorite film series pretty much dissipated with the news (without official confirmation from Disney or Lucasfilm) that J.J. Abrams would be the man to bring the continued adventures from Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Why is Abrams the right man for the job? Because he’s an unabashed fan of the series. He respects the source material and is no stranger to the world and characters. But most importantly, he knows how to craft a story with rich characters – outside of Checkov – and he knows how make it exciting.
But the big elephant in the room is now Abrams’ association with that other sci-fi franchise that starts with “Star,” you know little ole “Trek?”
Well guess what? I couldn’t be happier.
The requel (reboot/sequel) of the more than 40 year old series in 2009 is one of my favorite movies of all time. Abrams and his Bad Robot team were able to breath new life into an franchise that had fell victim to over saturation through the 90s and early 2000s and needed to go in a different direction if it ever wanted to find the main stream appeal that Star Wars had held since its release in 1977.
How did Abrams do that? By using the same “Heroes Journey” template that George Lucas mined for Luke Skywalker’s story. Don’t believe me? The 2009 version of James Tiberius Kirk is basically a Han Solo character put into the shoes of Luke. The story begins with Nero’s giant vessel attacking a much smaller Federation vessel, not much different from Vader’s Star Destroyer bearing down on the Rebel Corvette in the opening of A New Hope.
There’s a few other similarities, like old Spock and Captain Pike playing the surrogate of Obi-Wan Kenobi. But my favorite is this one, two shots that represent the same message: the yearning for more:
Say what you want about “Lost” (he wasn’t really involved past the Pilot save for the season 3 premiere) or about plot holes in “Star Trek” (blame some of that on the writer’s strike) and stop with the lame lens flare jokes.
In my eyes, Abrams was the perfect choice to sit in the director’s chair for at least the first entry in the next trilogy.
He’ll bring old school sensibilities that were present in “Super 8,” an homage to the early 80s Spielberg movies and he’ll know how to entice the audience, from the first teaser trailer to the last frame before the credits.
And after resurrecting a series like Trek, who better than Abrams to give Star Wars a much needed punch in the arm?
I might not remember when I saw Star Wars for the first time, but I sure know where I’ll be in 2015.
I’ve got a good feeling about this.