Thursday, April 25, 2013


If you missed them, here's Part I and here's Part II. All caught up? Good. Let's move on.

Here’s the thing: I don’t mind JJ Abrams. He seems like a nice guy, he’s undeniably talented and I say good for him. He's done an excellent job of getting a ton of projects up and running on both TV and film. Also, he kind of made Keri Russell, who I will love forever, into a household name, so I can never, ever be angry at him for anything.

But having said all that, I don’t give a shit about any “original” film project that Abrams has in development. He’s the perfect work-for-hire guy. He’s kind of obsessed with modeling his career after Steven Spielberg and SUPER 8 was a pretty heavy-handed homage to him (that was still good up until the end). That movie and his Spielberg adoration helped quite a bit, because it turns out that Spielberg had kind of a lot to do with Disney handing the STAR WARS franchise to a guy that just spent the last 5 years in bed with the “enemy” STAR TREK.

Movies are at a weird place right now. Companies need things to make money so they're very picky about who they give big budgets to. A lot of the big directors on studio short-lists have been pretty good about the “one for them, one for me” blueprint. Christopher Nolan might be the best at it. He keeps making BATMAN movies and agreed to produce SUPERMAN and consult on JUSTICE LEAGUE because, if he does, Warner Brothers will pretty much give him however much money he asks for to make any other movie he wants. It works out for everyone.

Darren Aronofsky is kind of the same way, but just never actually follows through. He signs on to direct things like THE WOLVERINE, uses that as leverage to get financing for something that he actually wants to make, then drops out of the former. It’s smart and I’m okay with it. He's done it 4 or 5 times already.

I want fresh new movies from Nolan, Aronofsky, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro, Paul Thomas Anderson and guys like that. These are guys that have clear visions of what kind of movies they want to make and have the clout to get them done.

JJ Abrams is in a group with Peter Jackson. I’m fine with them being work-for-hire guys forever. I'm okay if Peter Jackson keeps making HOBBIT movies forever. He's good at those, so more power to him. I've seen them all one time and will never watch them again. But kudos to him for getting them going.

These guys will turn in solid, enjoyable movies every time out. But there won’t be much of a risk to them.

Low-risk is exactly what Disney is looking for with a new STAR WARS trilogy. I think deep down, even if they won’t admit it, they know how bad the prequels were and are afraid of that happening again. This is kind of their last chance to give the STAR WARS franchise a little credibility. It’ll always be profitable (maybe not 4 billion dollars worth) because there will always be people looking to buy Boba Fett t-shirts and Storm Trooper hoodies, but they want people to be excited about it again.

JJ Abrams can do that. He’ll make a solid, entertaining STAR WARS movie that will be devoid of any chances and adhere to a strict company line. The execs at Disney likely have a bullet list of things they want to see and don't want to see, that was put together from hours of research done by interns scouring the Internet. They will hand that list to Abrams and say “make sure these are all followed.”

He’ll say, “Okay,” work with what he has and still manage to make a solid movie. Will it be great? Who knows? I do know that it will be entertaining.

I’ll see it. There’s no denying that. But I’m not over the moon about it. I got that way once. Then I spent the next three years trying to convince myself EPISODE I wasn’t a pile of garbage.

The real problem here is two-fold.

First, Disney announced last week that they’d be releasing one STAR WARS movie per year for the next six years. EPISODES 7, 8 and 9 will come in 2015, 2017, 2019 respectively and the even years will be filled with one-shot movies set elsewhere in the universe. This is a little like putting the cart before the horse, in my opinion, but I'm not a movie studio executive. I'm a guy with a blog.

Those one-shot movies mean that you should look forward to a Young Han Solo movie in which he acquires the Millennium Falcon. That's an easy one. A stand-alone BOBA FETT film in which the mystique that was already stripped away with EPISODE II is ruined further and run into the ground. Again, pretty easy. And a young, CGI Yoda flipping around with a lightsaber. I hope I'm wrong, but those are probably the safest - and most boring - bets for the first three outside the trilogy.

Maybe eventually they’ll start doing something cool with those, but it won’t be any time soon.

Again, I will be seeing all of these movies, but I’m not exactly thrilled for them. There’s a small part of me holding out hope that something here may surprise me. It’s faint though.

Second, as was the case with the original reports, each movie will be 100% spoiled at least a year before it comes out. Every movie site on the Internet is going to run round-the-clock stories and every image, every scene, every tiny detail will be put online as soon as possible. Sites will spend time piecing together each thing until they have the entire plot online. This will happen. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve stopped visiting a lot of sites. I want to enjoy movies again. I don’t want them to tell me every little detail 8 months before I can see the movie. A lot of people do want that though, so that’s what’s going to happen. It’s kind of a bummer.

There are a few bright sides to this whole thing, though.

One, is that we’re getting new STAR WARS movies. No matter what I've written previously, deep down I'm looking forward to it. I just want them to be good. My fingers are crossed.

Two, and probably most importantly, is that to build good faith, I think (hope) Disney will release a DVD set of the original trilogy. The ORIGINAL trilogy. The three movies as they were when they were released in 1977, 1980 and 1983. Not the ones that George Lucas has been fucking with and adding shit to for the past 15 years. There are enough of those out there and I haven't bought any of them. I just want the original three movies, with their original awesome cover art and all the warts that came with them. I want Greedo shooting first. I want the storm trooper bumping his head. I don’t want to see Jabba the Hutt until RETURN OF THE JEDI. I want them they way I remember them from my childhood. Is that too much to ask?

I’m optimistic about the future of a franchise that I loved as a kid, but not incredibly excited. This could all change the second I see a trailer for EPISODE VII, and I hope it does. I want to be excited. I want to feel like a kid again.

And if it’s terrible, well, we’ll always have Patton Oswalt’s pitch for the new trilogy. That’s almost good enough for me.


  1. Wouldn't it be safer to follow a completely new sideline story with characters no one knows littered with cameos of favorite characters?

    That's the way Star Trek does it. New cast. Same flavor. Different time frame.

  2. that patton oswald thing is great.