1. I’m hopeful that Jar Jar makes cool Star Wars movies. (Very unfortunate initials).

    This choice is not exciting nor off putting to me. But it does seem very safe. Who should direct Star Wars? How about the guy who did a successful reboot of Star Trek.

  2. Safe is the word that I’d use to describe the choice of Abrams too. Which surely must be what the corporate types at Disney want. Auteurs taking risks isn’t something that a corporation wants.

    The guy obviously has some talent, but he’s taken his box office clout and frankly the most personal thing he’s done is a faux Spielberg film that’s frankly much worse than the films its homaging and a film that doesn’t seem to realize that its story is a mess.

    • Yeah, but it’s Michael Arndt who’s writing the script. He was the sole writer for Little Miss Sunshine, one of many for Toy Story 3 and also worked on the upcoming Tom Cruise sci-fi Oblivion and the next Hunger Games movie.

      It’s also been announced that there are 2 consultants on the Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. No idea what that means 2 consultants. Will they be reviewing the script and giving feedback and ideas? Anyways, Lawrence Kasdan wrote Empire Strikes Back with another writer and wrote Return of the Jedi with Lucas. If that wasn’t enough he worked on the Raiders of the Lost Ark screenplay. Kasdan also worked on Shadows of the Empire, the expanded Star Wars universe storyline that was told in comics, books & video games from the mid-1990’s taking place in the timeline between A New Hope & Empire Strikes Back.

      Meanwhile, Simon Kinberg worked on Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Homes (cool), also X-Men 3: The Last Stand (yikes) and Mr & Mrs Smith.

      • I see people putting way to much emphasis on script when it comes to a medium that can utilize a good one but it is far from the most important part.

        Abrams stuff all feels the same no matter what it is, and if the new Star Trek teaser is to be believed he doesn’t seem to get what is cool about science fiction.

  3. I don’t know exactly why, but this pisses me off.

    On a business level, I can’t work out what Abrams would gain from this. He has a career to protect, such as it is, and this is a suicide mission, no matter what happens.

    Just about the only good thing I can think about for this is that maybe the next Star Trek movie will get a director who actually likes Star Trek, instead of someone who was slumming to try to get something he could make like Star Wars.

    • On the bright side, from a business perspective, the upcoming Star Trek might get a Meet Joe Black boast from the Star Wars fanboys that still do not give a shit about Star Trek.

    • It pisses you off because it reveals that Abrams took Star Trek out of mercenary considerations. Not to create a legacy or anything. Or for any genuine love of the franchise. And nobody needs to be reminded that the director doesn’t really have his heart in it.

      • Well, we’re all adults here, I know that mercenary considerations come into the frame. I don’t think Joss Whedon took AVENGERS out of a prevailing personal creative commitment to that team of other peoples’ characters.

        BUT – maybe it’s more like this. For about ten years a lot of people throughout pop culture have been holding JJ Abrams up as some sort of Whedonesque creative mastermind, but what has he masterminded (thus far) in his feature film career? Big screen adaptations of two ’60s television series, and a pleasurable, if largely unsuccessful, Spielberg bake-off. Now he’s tackling the most director-irrelevant franchise in the history of cinema. Meanwhile, on TV, he cooks up pilot scenarios for shows and then hands them off to creative teams who either run with them successfully (LOST) or not (Revolution).

        Maybe JJ Abrams is just the most successful middle-manager in the corporation that is Hollywood: he knows how to walk into a room, toss out a few ideas for the meeting, and leave with some excuse about needing to take a call, before he actually has to demonstrate anything concrete in terms of talent.

        • And I’m completely with you on your assessment of Abrams lack of substance. Honestly, I think he’s Michael Bay with less visual flair and a ton more taste.

          I’m disappointed that someone with the obvious clout he has isn’t using it in any way, except to fulfill corporate mandates and to homage people with real vision.

          To me, this is the “emperor’s wearing no clothes” moment of Abrams’ career. He should be setting the agenda, but since he essentially has no themes or ideas of his own to explore, he’s settling into being a journeyman/gun for hire. Which is disappointing as we need less of those types in Hollywood.

          • Abrams is the Oskar Schindler of filmmakers:

            Itzhak Stern: Let me understand. They put up all the money. I do all the work. What, if you don’t mind my asking, would you do?
            Oskar Schindler: I’d make sure it’s known the company’s in business. I’d see that it had a certain panache. That’s what I’m good at. Not the work, not the work… the presentation.

          • oh and I go by success ratio of the brand, irrespective of how much he actually gets his hands dirty. The Abrams brand is worth more to me than the Whedon brand. When his name is attached to something it tends to be great.

        • “…he cooks up pilot scenarios for shows and then hands them off to creative teams who either run with them successfully (LOST) or not (Revolution).”

          Then on the other side of things is Fringe, which I think is one of the best tv shows in the last decade. I’m still reading and finding out how much involvement JJ Abrams had but it seemed to be a lot more than just the pilot. My understanding with Fringe is that JJ Abrams worked with writers to work out the mythology of the show and map out the majority of the long-running plot elements, including how the show would end. Perhaps some of how much they pre-planed is just bolstering, but unlike LOST or even the X-Files the big plot pieces for the most part fit together very nicely with a LOT of foreshadowing & hints

          JJ Abrams wasn’t the show runner for Fringe but he seemed to stay involved with the series. JJ Abrams was apparently even responsible for writing the theme music.

          The final season recently wrapped up and while they didn’t completely hit it out of the park, it was still pretty good. Also after so many disappointments in sci-fi series like Battlestar Galactica and LOST, it’s nice to see a series to have at least a decent ending.

  4. There was tweet today that completely contextualized this into something that makes perfect sense to me and why it irks and annoys me so much.

    “JJ Abrams marks the birth of “Hollywood as Big Two(Marvel & DC)”-style content shepherds. Film resume consisting solely of franchise maintenance/homage.”

    • I recently had a long drawn out debate over the merit of Malcolm Gladwell, and one of the criticisms being made by the other person was that, well, he just takes what other lesser known academics have said and polishes it and makes it seem new and it generates a huge buzz, and that there is something wrong about this, and further, this is why Gladwell is something to despise.

      And I disagree, first he sources the people he uses, hell he promotes the people he uses in the text, but he is adding something to the mix, a catching narrative, a way to grab an audience that the dry academics beneath him are seemingly incapable of doing.

      So I carry this over to Abrams, who while he may not be getting his hands all that dirty in the details, is by virtue of the success of his brand name, able to collate quality and weave it into something narratively fortuitous (i.e. the mystery box). He is value added, he just isn’t the kind of auteur that we are obsessed with nowadays. And I think that is part of the problem, we are so overly obsessed with hero worship, with the reality tv aspect of film-making, Abrams as a character, that we can, like with Gladwell, use that distaste of the ethics, or supposed ethics of the job, to blind us of the actual product, and whether or not it of its own merit affects us.

      It means nothing to me if Gladwell is not the inventor of the ideas he extols, I use the term ‘Gladwell’ just to easily point to the location of the thing I value. Likewise, Abrams, whether or not he is the next Spielberg, the success ratio of his brand, for me anyways, is very high. I include the stuff he just produces, the Abrams brand works. The Gladwell narratives, work. Value added, and I feel like I can trust in it. Film is a collaborative medium, I don’t care who gets what done, if Star Wars is closer to Abrams Star Trek then Phantom Menace, mission accomplished.

  5. The problem is that many people are labeling these two individuals as trailblazers. They are the Starbucks of their respective fields. Are they the worst — no. Yet, they are nowhere near greatness. The thing that bothers me the most is that they do not even attempt to be great; they all wallow in their own mediocrity.

    The only time they reach greatness is in their marketing– They all put lots of emphasis and care in cultivating their image. Pathetic stuff, in my opinion.

  6. more succinctly:

    There is a tendency to preoccupy with subtext to the oversight of text. Nerdism I guess.

    Granted Abrams is a nerd himself, and a lot of his work is geared towards nerds so he attracts this kind of piqued emotion.


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