JJ Abrams, Star Wars & Star Trek: a few thoughts

Feature Simon Brew 25 Jan 2013 - 06:33
Did you know Darth Vader had a brother? Nor did George Lucas...

With JJ Abrams seemingly landing the Star Wars job, Simon ponders whether he's the right choice, and where does it leave Star Trek?

By now, you're probably more than likely aware that Disney appears to have settled on its choice to direct the next Star Wars movie. News broke last night that JJ Abrams had become the clear frontrunner, and that he was set to be installed as the man to make Star Wars: Episode VII.

We should say right up front that neither Abrams nor Disney has of yet confirmed the news. But there appears to be substance to the reports, and it's looking very much as though Disney has found its director. [Update: on the 25th January, Disney confirmed the news.]

The Star Wars director rumour mill has been going around in circles ever since it was announced that Disney had bought Lucasfilm up, and that Episode VII was to be the first fruit of the deal. Speculation seemed to be dealing with every living successful director, in near alphabetical order, but if The Wrap's report is correct, one or two names got a lot closer than others.

Ben Affleck, for instance, was reportedly in contention for the job. Slashfilm meanwhile reports that rumours of Matthew Vaughn being in talks weren't that far wide of the mark. Vaughn reportedly was looking to cast Chloe Grace Moretz in his take on Star Wars, although again, there's no confirmation as to that.

It looks as though Steven Spielberg may have had an influence though in the final decision to go with Abrams though. The two worked together on Super 8, and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy is Spielberg's long-time producing partner. Spielberg reportedly was "instrumental" in Kennedy's choice of Abrams, according to Slashfilm.

It's no secret that Abrams is a massive Star Wars fan, although he's been traditionally coy about the project in the past. Abrams isn't one to talk about things until they're ready to be talked about, and towards the end of last year, he was quoted as saying that he believed "I will be going as a paying moviegoer", playing down any reports of him doing the movie.

Gauging early fan reaction to the news, Abrams is, on the whole, proving to be a popular (but clearly not unversally so) choice. Granted, there are more than a few lens flare comments doing the rounds (and not unfairly), but the manner in which Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise has not gone unnoticed. Star Trek Into Darkness remains one of the most anticipated films of 2013, and Abrams is nearing the end of post-production on that. You can guess what questions he's going to be asked on the press tour for the movie.

Star Trek Into Darkness is just the fourth film (five, if you count the cinematics of the Lost opening episodes) that Abrams has directed, but each project that he's tackled has had ingredients that serve him well for his next job. Mission: Impossible III was hardly a small movie to make your feature directing debut on, and from the off he was dealing with big actions sequences, a big star, and delivering a massive blockbuster to schedule and budget. Star Trek we'll come to in a minute, but we wonder if the smash-hit Super 8 might just have been the key here.

The early train crash in that film remains one of the most impressive special effects sequences we've seen in recent years. What makes it work is that Abrams shoots it in a way that makes you feel that human beings are actually at the heart of it, and are more important than the incredibly impressive effects going off around that. After the Star Wars prequel trilogy, that's something urgently required.

It should be said that not everyone has been bowled over by what Abrams has achieved with the Star Trek films. There's a core of Trek fans who feel he took the film away from the feel and style of the show too much, and there's certainly an argument there (there's certainly a lot of strength of feeling to to the debate too). However, Star Trek was one of the most exhilirating blockbusters of recent years in this writer's view at least, and it's a film that stands up to numerous rewatches.

Perhaps most of all with Star Trek, Abrams made a film that, to a degree, branched a chunk of the older audience of the franchise, whilst attracting and bringing in a lot of new fans. That's ultimately the ingredient that Disney will have been looking for here, and whether you're a fan of his work or not, it's hard not to feel that Abrams ticks many of the right boxes for what Star Wars need to do now.

Where this leaves Star Trek remains to be seen. Assuming that the Star Wars news is confirmed, it's hard to see Abrams committing to make Star Trek 3 anytime soon. Appreciating that there's been a four year gap between the two films, it's not unfeasible that Paramount will hang around until 2017 to get a new film in the series. Would Abrams alternate the two universes, and will he do more than one Star Wars film? We couldn't tell you, especially as the official Episode 7 director announcement isnt with us yet. We can but speculate that, if he didn't want to juggle two massive movie franchises (three, if you count his continued Mission: Impossible involvement) and his TV projects, that Star Trek 3 might see Abrams move to a producing or overseeing role, with a gap opening up as to the director of the next Trek adventure. If that happened, at the very least we can all recycle our Star Wars wishlist, and start linking the likes of Matthew Vaughn, Ben Affleck and Duncan Jones with a new Trek movie.

There are still clearly quite a few unknowns here, although with Disney looking to have Star Wars: Episode VII in cinemas in the summer of 2015, time isn't necessarily on it side at the moment. Michael Arndt is penning the script, and physical production will need to begin later this year or early next, especially given the extensive post-production work involved in a Star Wars movie. Therefore, things should formally start to be announced sooner rather than later.

As we wait for that to happen, we do suspect that the bottom line is arguably this: if we'd all been told 12 months ago that Star Wars: Episode VII was pressing ahead, and that JJ Abrams was directing instead of George Lucas, how many wouldn't have jumped at that?  We certainly would have done, and we're pretty sure we're not alone...

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Disqus - noscript

Disney are already releasing two massive tentpole films the summer of 2015 - 'The Avengers 2' and (sigh) the fifth 'Pirates of the Caribbean' - I wouldn't be surprised if Episode VII is moved to a Christmas 2015 release... it certainly would fill the void left by 'The Hobbit' films and is a proven highly lucrative time for big fantasy releases.

yup well said, and I think he is a great choice for the first one. If you look at the original trilogy (and it doesn't have to follow this obviously) the first movie suits being more action him while giving the 2nd film to a more character driven director like 'Empire'

It does seem extraordinary that JJ's handling both franchises. Big responsibility much?

Also, I thought Super 8 was fantastic, but I don't get why everyone raves about the train crash. Maybe it's just a case of hearing about how good it was before I saw it, but I wasn't really that impressed - it still looked like people running on a treadmill whilst CGI exploded around them. (I have no idea if that's how they filmed it; I'm just saying it didn't really convince me...)

Light sabre. Lens flare. I can see the appeal for Mr Abrams.

Now we know what the J.J. stands for... Jar Jar!

Good luck to him. Sincerely.

Can we do an alternate universe mash-up finally? Enterprise vs. Super Star Destroyer; Borg Cube vs. Death Star!!!

I'd love to see his take on the SW universe. Star Trek was an awesome film.

Simon Peg is going to be in Star Wars.

I am a LONG-term, Old-School Star Trek fan from the Original Series all the way up and I stand behind JJ Abrams 100% on his contribution to Star Trek. His film was more loyal to the Trek universe than any of the drivel pushed out by Brannon Braga (save maybe First Contact although completely non-canon). If anything, people should get down on their knees and kiss JJ's butt for rescuing the franchise from the steaming heap it was left in by a run of terrible films and tv series.

I love most of Abrams' movies but I think he's wrong for this... as in, I think he's too good. Wait, wait! Hear me out:
The thing about Star Wars is that they aren't particulary well-directed films. The excitement comes from getting carried away by the characters and the effects. The sense of scale and wonder...
But apart from the odd 'wipe transition', the actual Direction of all six movies has actually been quite basic. Un-flashy, you know? And all the better for it.
Abrams, much as I dig him, is a VERY flashy director...
If they let him bring his customary flare to proceedings here, then my concern is that it wont look, and more importantly FEEL, like Star Wars. And if they DON'T let him, then why even hire the man in the first place?
They're damned if they do, damned if they don't...

I think it could be in safe hands here. The character that has got as close to Han Solo as any other that I've seen in many years is Captain Kirk in the last Star Trek. In fact the last Star Trek was closer to the feel of the original Star Wars trilogy than the prequels were in my opinion.

Episode VII won't be moved for anything - its a May 2015 release and that will be that. Personally, I think his appointment is a fantastic choice. He will pay the due respects to the franchise, and more importantly the fans, and move the story forward. Roll on 2015!

A decent scriptwriter, a decent director, Drew doing the posters... All it needs is a decent soundtrack (is Williams coming back? I love Hans Zimmer but NO!!)

At least they aren't handing it off to some shnook who has done a couple of ho-hum movies and never delivered a decent blockbuster. You might not like everything Abrams has done, but at least he's done it with love and attention to detail. And Super 8 is practically a love letter to Spielberg. With Spielberg continually insisting he's not interested (which is a damned shame), this could be as close as we get to a 70's-feeling Star Wars flick.

It could have been worse, someone seriously suggested Michael Bay at one point. Yipes.

good safe choice. Would have been interesting to see how Ben Affleck or even David Fincher would have done.

May the Fourth I assume

Ewoks Vs Tribbles?

Very well said!!

I think he is a great choice, would also have liked to see Matthew Vaughn tackle this. I think David Fincher would have been a little bit too dark of an option, but just thank the maker we didn't get McG, Len Wiseman or Bay...

yes, I hope to god this.

he was the worst thing in Trek, really hope he doesnt get any part of SW, the guys a talent less annoying twat

This is great news. He's good with special effects, he knows key guys in the industry, he can handle the pressure of fanboys on his back and he's an excellent director. And if he doesn't cast Simon Pegg in this he's a very bad friend!

Well I'm torn because I love Star Wars but I love Star Trek even more. So I'd very much like JJ to take on Star wars VII, but not if it means he isn't involved on Star Trek 3 (or 8... or 13...). Can the man juggle both franchises? Would he want to?

Abrams is gonna have his effigy burned right next to George Lucas. The next Star Wars is gonna be about as true to the series as Highlander II.

that's awesome, he is gonna raise a doubt if darth vader was actually luke skywalker's father and if the death star really blew dantoine up. by the end of the new trilogy we will still be waiting for answers...

I can see Nick Frost in the Mos Eisley Cantina for sure.

Star Wars should be a doddle. His background makes him the perfect candidate. Trim the fat and start off with the film you intend to make.

Release the original trilogy 6 months prior to release, save on tiresome exposition and get straight into the action.

Count large piles of cash.

Look I'm a Lost fan and I think I've seen basically everything JJ has done... He has a style and he does it well...

However, we only have like two major scifi franchises, and now they will feel the same... JJ always hits the same marks... I really liked the new ST and if he didn't do that I would have said SW was an even better fit, but I think giving him both is crazy...

Why not give Nolan Spiderman while ur at it, Sam Mendes the saint, Peter Jackson dungeons and dragons (or some fantasy shiz with elves and dwarfs... i know! Willow!) and Spielberg National Treasure...

I'm sure it will make for some first rate glossy media content, a text book case study of well executed product distritubtion. The board will no doubt give him a standing ovation when the weekend boxoffice figures are announced.

How is First Contact non canon?

But the worst thing in the recent Trek movie could have easily been the best thing in any of the newer Wars movies.

I'm happy with Abrams being director of Star Wars. I liked what he did with the Star Trek film – I understand that some felt it was too far away from the feel of the shows, but I don't want that feel in the films anyway. If I want a Star Trek show feel, then I would want an actual Star Trek. And I do really want another Star Trek show.
The prequels became very special-effects heavy, so it's not as if he can make it worse and his early work on Lost was decent, so I'm hoping people will be at the centre of the next episodes.

A few months ago there was an article on Cracked noting the similarities between Star Trek 11 and Star Wars.
He seems to be the best guy suited to directing Star Wars 7 and I have faith that it will be a good movie.
I also thought Super 8 was great.

How wrong you are.

You could have replaced the word 'Wars' in your comment with 'Trek' and posted this a few years ago and made the same point. However, as shown from the critical and popular reaction to the latest Star Trek movie, it makes even more sense for someone like Abrams to turn something pedestrian and poorly directed like Star Wars into something exciting and fun.

Ben Afflec? Ohhhhhh Jesus....*shudder*

I think Super 8 is the key, but not just because of the effects sequences. It's the fact that Super 8 is explicitly a love-letter to the family blockbusters of the 70s and early 80s (specifically, Jaws, Close Encounters, E.T. and a dash of The Goonies), and it's steeped in the feel of that period.

Given that Disney's looking to revive the feel of the original Star Wars trilogy, which was very much a part of that wave of film-making, it's hardly surprising that they'd go for the director of Super 8.

And that's before you get into the obvious Star Wars influence in Abrams' version of Star Trek.

Abrams is the luckiest man alive. Being able to make a new Star Trek and a new Star Wars. What a dream come true.

He wasn't going to direct Star Trek 3 anyway. They barely got him to do this second one.

Just leave all the time travel stuff in the Star Trek universe and all will be well.

Jar Jar Binks vs a Klingon disruptor

Not happy. It's the most boring choice possible. Who can we get to do Star Wars? I know, the guy who's already doing Star Trek! This has really pissed me off because the main thing that I was excited about when the new trilogy was announced was getting a fresh, new director to do something DIFFERENT with Star Wars. Instead, we're going to get something very similar to the direction the other major sci-fi franchise is going in at the moment. As far as I was concerned, Star Trek 2009 (which I loved, by the way) pretty much WAS a Star Wars film.

Wow, you're a complete idiot! Nice way to back up your statement.

Michael Giacchino for the soundtrack if John Williams doesn't return, surely? His score for Super 8 was a pretty solid evocation of Williams' style.

I hope he takes it just so he isn't involved with Trek 13

I'm one FOR JJ abrams, I mean come on if all the people can say against him is Lens Flare then that could be said he's that good thats all they have to blast him!

So hers the campagin for him:

He save Mission Impossible franchise - MIiii was very good and they story was brilliantly told by making you actually feel that Tom Cruise is Human! not many people have done that (well Brad Bird now) but the story involving his wife stroke of genius!

The reboot of Star Trek was immense! Im a trekk fan and was really worried about the franchise as a whole. It had become stagnant and stuck in 90's story telling and cinema photography, Abrams took the core of what Trekk was and brought it right into this millenium.

Super 8 is for me a Blade Runner, in a few years people are going to look back it and say wow actually that was really good! yeah it got weird towards the end, but thats what it needed! it was a Spielburg epic done JJ's way and I loved it at the heart human with massive shots.

Thats what hes directed then lets just list what hes written movie wise

Taking Care of Buisness - Good
Regarding Henry - Great
Forever Young - Brilliant Concept
Gone Fishin - ok we cant all be perfect we are at least human
Armageddon - admit it at the time you were like best popcorn movie ever!

and we know if this is all true, you know hes gonna have some input into the story.

He can also steer stories, dont for get he's a producer as well!

Cloverfield was amazing, whether you liked the shakey cam or not story and shots were there.

The case goes on and on, so you can take your lens flare and even times it by 10 and you would still have a great director/writer/producer.
oh wait dont forget nominated and awarding winning.
I'll cap it off and say im not his fan boy, I'm nolans and if he was picked I would kill people who said different, but JJ is a GOOD choice and thats what we need as after all the boy has vision but he is also grounded


Can we please just bury star wars already? Anything new in that franchise is crap. Move on. Love the classics.

Might as well sign him up for indiana jones while they're at it.

I wonder if we'll finally find out what happens to Hurley and Ben after they take over the island. Oh, wait.... Wrong feed.

Afleck on a possible attachment to direct ST 3? The man is a good director, but I ccouldn'tsee him do sci-fi. Give Afleck the Mission Impossible job, let Abrams do Star Wars and give the Star Trek 3 gig to Joss Whedon.

And what I, as a fan, would ike to see from Star Wars Episode VII is something different to the now exhausted Jedi/Sith battles. Something like the Jedi attempting to rebuild the Jedi Order and come up against a new unknown enemy, and maybe new characters who we can all get behind, like a member of the 1313 squad.

All in, it needs new life and new direction. J J is the man for the job, let's hope he does us proud.

I hope this Lychenstein cries himself to sleep after these statementz.

disagree the boy has found his niche, he is an amazing director

Star Trek 3 ...... Joss Whedon anyone?

They would have given ti to Tim Burton but couldn't figure out how to put sooty eye makeup on the Stormtroopers.

Alderaan dude, he blew up Alderan. Dantooine was "too remote to make an effective demonstration".

Well that all depends on how much importance you put on The Next Generation. Personally, I found that card WAY overplayed - especially The Borg. Regarding First Contact as a positive 'blip', the whole franchise went quickly downhill after the TNG feature films started - mainly ruined by regurgitated writing and the bloated egos of Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart.

JJ Abrams' recent reputation came from a rebooted Trek movies. Because he rebooted ST doesn't mean he will reboot Star Wars. As a matter of fact the way Lucas has Star Wars set up in the expanded universe that it's already set in stone as far as the previous six movies and everything that leads up to and following those movies, so a reboot is very unlikely. I do support movies that follow up years after the battle over Endor including Luke's starting the New Jedi Order. However, if we were to keep to the movie's timelines then the most logical step would be Luke fighting the dark side against the reborn emperor through clone bodies. Han and Leia have their third child and so on.

There also the comments about Ewoks vs Tribbles and Mos Eisley Cantina, but those places and creatures mostly only show up in just the movies. Once the Second Death Star is destroyed Luke doesn't go back to Tatooine and Ewoks are largely ignored. I'm hoping to see Exar Kun in the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4.

VADERRRRRRRRRRR(as screamed by Jim from the inside of a dead planet)

Enterprise vs. The Sun Crusher

Everyone here would prefer a Klingon Bat'leth to take on Jar Jar, I'm sure.

wow, another lens flare crack. you are unique and funny

hopefully he ignores internet geeks and makes the film for us normal people

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz prove you incorrect.

The same normal people who watch Adam Sandler movies?

In my opinion this can only be a good thing, I think JJ will do this justice as he has done with Star Trek. I am not the biggest Trek fan in the world but arguably JJ's version of Star Trek was on the best Sci-Fi films of recent years! I truely look forward to seeing the next Star Trek film.

With regards to Star Wars I think he will be able to reboot this saga and bring it to a new audience and the next generation of Sci-Fi fans. Now that he is on board this is going to be epic and as a true Star Wars fan, I am very keen to see what he can do, not to mention JJ is a Star Wars fan himself.

I like both Wars and Trek.

My only concern is that: Star Trek traditionally is a bit sexy, and what Abrams did with the new film hit the nail on the head. Star Wars, on the other hand, is more dirty and grim. Take Leia out of it and it's just a big filthy sausage fight. If Abrams gives it the same treatment as Trek, then it could go quite badly!

Having said that, NOTHING can ruin Star Wars like Mr Lucas Did.

was it really? because by the end of the new trilogy this will also be put to question, but rest assured, you will receive no aswers...

You don't like what JJ has done with Star Trek? Why not?

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