Disney/Lucasfilm has finally confirmed what the Twitterverse has known about since Thursday: J.J. Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars movie for Disney.
This comes after he pretty much flatly denied he would be directing back in November. Well played, Mr. Abrams. November is so two months ago.
So, yeah, that about-face was surprising, but honestly he is an obvious choice. He just rebooted another beloved sci-fi franchise in movie form, and for the most part “Star Trek” was well-received (95% on Rotten Tomatoes). He is an avowed fan of Star Wars, and he’s created some of the best-known sci-fi on TV (including Lost and Fringe). I personally like his work (even the lens flares! am I the only one?), so I find this to be a promising start.
While the director is important, an equally critical decision has already been announced (to much less fanfare): Michael Arndt will be writing the script. His screenwriting resume is not long, but it sure is impressive; he’s already won an Oscar for “Little Miss Sunshine” and was nominated again for the wonderful “Toy Story 3.” His “Catching Fire” will be out in theaters this year. Lucas may be a great storyteller, but he is not a great writer, and I think some good dialogue could really breathe some life back into the Star Wars franchise. Even better, Lawrence Kasdan will be “consulting” on Episode VII as well; he was the writer for several Lucasfilm projects, including the critical darling of the original trilogy, “The Empire Strikes Back.”
With director and writer in place, the last thing I want to know is: who’s doing the music?? Anyone with two brain cells would agree that John Williams should be asked first (not that I’m biased or anything; he’s my absolute favorite composer). However, Mr. Williams isn’t young anymore, and he’s been connected to Spielberg for a long time. I am preparing myself for the disappointment that he might turn it down. However, the upside to the selection of Abrams is his connection to Michael Giacchino, who in my mind is kind of the heir to John Williams’ movie music empire. He often uses the same style, with full orchestra and leitmotif. I’ve loved all his work, from “Lost” to “Up.” And he has already worked in the Star Wars universe, arranging the music for the re-designed “Star Tours” ride at Disney. If anyone could take Williams’ place, it would be him.
No more news on plot and characters for the new movie, but all indications are that it will be “original.” Which I am afraid means, all those EU books are toast. Although they were all approved by Lucasfilm, the movies have blatantly ignored them before, so I would not be surprised if this installation completely throws all the books/comics out the window. It would make sense for these next movies to be about the next generation, with the original trio handing off the action to their children. Who will probably not be named Jaina, Jacen, Anakin, and Ben. Fine. But if they replace Mara Jade, I will be walking out of the theater.