Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
J.J. Abrams appears a good fit for 'Star Wars'
BY CHRISTY LEMIRE, AP Movie Critic
LOS ANGELES -- This may sound sacrilegious to the legions of hardcore "Star Wars" fans, but having J.J. Abrams direct "Episode VII" will be a vast improvement and the best thing to happen to the franchise in a very long time.
Yes, it was incredibly cool in 2005's "Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" to see the completion of Anakin Skywalker's transformation from plucky, love-struck teen to the embodiment of all that is deeply evil in the galaxy as Darth Vader -- to hear him take that first raspy breath from beneath the iconic black helmet.
But George Lucas' prequels were, for the most part, soulless, airless affairs and a far cry from the imagination and rough-hewn, can-do thrills of his original trilogy.
You don't go to a "Star Wars" movie -- and watch it 18,000 times, then camp out in front of a theater with your homemade light saber and Yoda sleeping bag waiting for the next one -- for the smart, complex dialogue or well-drawn characters.
But with Abrams at the helm and Oscar-winning "Little Miss Sunshine" screenwriter Michael Arndt crafting the script, there is some hope (a new hope, if you will) that the series finally will be infused with a deeper sense of humanity.
Lucas was correct in calling Abrams "an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film" in announcing the selection of a director in a late-night news release on Friday. And when he told the world in October that he was selling his Lucasfilm empire, including the lucrative and beloved "Star Wars" franchise, to The Walt Disney Co. for $4.05 billion, Abrams was at the top of many fans' lists of dream directors.
He certainly was at the top of mine when I pondered what sort of fit various filmmakers might be for this material. Back then, I wrote that Abrams was "the most obvious choice, really. His sci-fi bona fides already were beyond reproach, and he solidified them with his reimagining of the 'Star Trek' franchise in 2009. ... This just makes sense all around."
It's true. If you look at the way he handled the redo of that other revered space series, it might provide some clues as to what his "Star Wars" might look like.
Abrams clearly aimed to please the broadest possible audience by remaining faithful to the "Star Trek" mythology in some ways while shaking it up in others; the film made nearly $386 million worldwide and the follow-up, the 3-D "Star Trek Into Darkness," is due out May 17.
Some fans were thrilled that he would boldly go to such daring places while some purists balked at the vast departures he took. And that might be true of the response "Episode VII" will get in 2015, when it's scheduled to come out; people tend to get proprietary when they're so emotionally invested in the stories like this.