Destroy All Monsters: Stop J.J. Abrams

Columnist; Toronto, Canada (@tederick)
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Destroy All Monsters: Stop J.J. Abrams

I cannot overemphasize the degree to which I am convinced that basing a new Star Wars movie around the septuagenarian adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo is an extinction-level error in judgment.

The Hollywood Reporter revealed this weekend that the reason screenwriter Michael Arndt left Star Wars: Episode VII after turning in his first draft was due to a disagreement about the "emphasis" of the new project. Arndt, like any halfway-sane human with a working understanding of the difference between what an audience wants and what an audience needs, wrote a story about the next generation of Skywalker children sparking up a new adventure that would carry them through the Sequel Trilogy. Luke, Leia and Han were to be featured in supporting, Obi-Wan Kenobi-ish roles.

J.J. Abrams, whose sole creative impulse is to repeatedly complete the sentence "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" with whatever Twilight Zone-inspired minutiae is in his head at that moment, has instead determined that Episode VII should be one last adventure for the aged heroes of the original Star Wars trilogy, giving them a proper send-off before focusing the rest of the movies on that next generation of Skywalker children.

Just about the only pleasure I can take from this idea is in imagining how much fun it will be, two years hence, when a generation of born-again Star Wars haters, who have vehemently insisted for fifteen years that George W. Lucas is the sole, malicious corruptor of their once-beloved franchise, will have to accept that Episode VII is just fucking terrible for reasons that have nothing to do with their favourite whipping boy.

Now, all of this is idle speculation on my part at this point. The reasons for Arndt's departure have not been substantiated by confirmed sources. And of course, I am engaging in the timeless Internet shell game of judging a product before I've seen a frame of it. But judge, I shall.

I've lived through three Star Wars movies and three Star Wars prequels (yes, those are distinct entities), and the attendant pop cultural explosion that accompanies each one. And I can tell you unequivocally: Disney, and Kathleen Kennedy, should stop J.J. Abrams right now.

Let me return to the notion of the difference between what an audience wants and what an audience needs. Of course the (mature) Star Wars audience wants to see Luke, Leia and Han back in action.

Actually, there's an important distinction to be made there, as well: the mature fan base wants to see that. The current fan base couldn't give a fuck. (The current fan base is not allowed to say "fuck" in front of their parents.) Stop an under-9-year-old on the street and ask him or her about Star Wars, and you won't be having a conversation about Luke Skywalker.

You might hear about Anakin, or Yoda, or Ahsoka Tano, but you won't be talking about Luke. Darth Maul might be the guy who got cut in half in The Phantom Menace, but he's probably better remembered for being the guy who came back from the dead with mechanical legs in The Clone Wars. If the franchise's child-aged fans are aware of Luke Skywalker at all, they're probably thinking of the Lego version.

Don't believe me? Look for any grade-school-aged child wearing a shirt that says "Star Wars" on it. Then look at what else is on the shirt.

In other words, Star Wars fans aren't really fans of Star Wars anymore. (You will never get me to call it "A New Hope.") The people who are going to be buying the majority of the tickets for Disney's Star Wars mega-franchise weren't alive when the original films were made, and many of them weren't even alive when the prequels were made. And from a basic marketing perspective, Disney should be courting them, not me.

But, fine: say the mature Star Wars audience wants one more chance to see Luke, Leia and Han have an adventure together, giving them a big-screen send-off in a movie that presumably involves spaceships, explosions, and lightsabres. The audience may want that, but then, they also want to eat McDonalds every afternoon and never get fat. We all want a lot of things. The reason self-control was invented (if poorly applied) was because generally speaking, half of our basic impulses around "want" are at best masturbatory, or at worst, heartily self-destructive.

Harrison Ford is now 71 years old. Six years ago, he blustered his way through an atrocious motion picture called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Admittedly, Ford got himself into better fighting shape, at 65, than I was in at 25. He looked pretty good for an old guy, even when they got him down to his birthday suit to scrub atomic debris and various refrigerator detritus off his pectoral muscles.

But at certain points in the movie, when Ford/Jones was running into the usual level of resistance that the archaeologist inevitably encounters when trying to track down an object of a Crystal Skull-ish nature, the wrinkles really began to show. It turns out, if retirement-age Harrison Ford blunders around and accidentally knocks over some nuclear test mannequins in a ghost town, he looks less like Indiana Jones than a senile pensioner who has to be asked to leave the grocery store. If you throw grizzled, grey-haired Ford off a waterfall, he surfaces looking less like a drowned rat and more like... well, my dad. Or maybe my dad after 36 consecutive hours of air travel, a mugging, and an accidental dip in the swimming pool at the "retirement community."

In featuring lead characters of this age, Star Wars: Episode VII basically has two strategies to choose from. They can a) ignore the ages for the most part, and let the characters engage in the kinds of action beats required of a Star Wars movie. You've seen this strategy before: it brought us Yoda's lightsabre duels with 80-year-old Count Dooku and who-the-fuck-knows-how-old Palpatine at the tail ends of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, respectively. Or, b) the ages of the characters can be fully incorporated into the storyline, in which case we might end up with something like Jim Broadbent's escape from the old folks' home in Cloud Atlas.

What the audience wants is to see Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo again. The problem is, that's impossible. Those characters are gone. They are a creation of celluloid well over thirty years ago. Without conducting the requisite thought experiments, though, the audience - and J.J. Abrams - will continue to "want" to see their heroes again, right up until the moment that they do. At which point, I think, a rather horrible collision between wants and needs will take place, right up there on the big screen.

What the audience needs, above all, is to not have their abiding affection for the original trilogy tampered with. (Here, again, I am talking about the mature audience. The child audience, once again, couldn't give a fuck. They're in bed by 9:00 anyway.)

On a larger level, what the audience - any audience - needs first and foremost is to be told a good, convincing story. A Star Wars movie is a rousing, swashbuckling adventure, inevitably centred around a hero's journey. If that part is done well, it will look, feel (and profit) like a Star Wars movie. If not, no amount of gimmicky fan-wankery will pull it back from the abyss, as any number of original trilogy callbacks in the prequel trilogy amply demonstrated.

The ongoing criticism around the prequel trilogy has been, as I'm sure most people are aware, unbelievably offensive in its choice of metaphor, but say we were to remove the "R" word from the "George Lucas ____ my childhood" statement, and consider what's being said underneath: fans of that trilogy hold those films sacrosanct. They like them just the way they are. (No special editions, thanks.) They're part of the popular unconscious now, just as they were designed to be. (We talk a lot about how Star Wars was based on Joseph Campbell's theories; we don't often discuss how Star Wars' impact is a Campbellian wet dream writ large.)

It's all well and good to imagine a version of Episode VII where Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford have one last hurrah and are generally awesome. Ask yourself, though: what will it feel like if they fail? What will it feel like if the effect isn't convincing, even for a moment, at resurrecting the characters that you loved in your youth, as you loved them in your youth? What if all you get is a disturbing coda to Episodes IV, V and VI that looks and behaves manifestly like an affront to the original product?

Someone, please, stop J.J. Abrams.

Destroy All Monsters is a weekly column on Hollywood and pop culture. Matt Brown is in Toronto and on Twitter.

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EHmasterjediJanuary 15, 2014 10:32 AM

ur crazy lol atleast if abrams does that he TRIED sick of seeing snot nosed kids who carry no weight I want to see a good star wars movie not something made for babies Disney and all of us have the rest of our lives full of star wars movies that wont have these characters so absolutely making them the focus and AWESOME NEWS go jj go! whos cares about profit its star wars it will make great money either way look at what the last 3 mounds of crap did.

TunacanjonesJanuary 15, 2014 10:49 AM

I was 12 years old when Star Wars first came out. It exclusively was shown in the only Cinerama theater in Phoenix called the Cine Capri. It was a landmark moment in my childhood. I agree wholeheartedly with absolutely everything that was mentioned in this article. I loved the idea of new adventures with the heroes of my youth being the mentors/parent etc. I'm sure this is because of how well the novels let my heroes get older, evolve and change. I expect to see this change in the new batch of films. When I heard this news, I thought the same thing Matt did. Kids that are 8-15 years barely know who General Grievous is and that was for my sons generation. (Clone Wars -Genndy version, for the record, lol) Anyways, you hit the mark with this. Thank you for validating my newfound fears.

Mateusz R. OrzechJanuary 15, 2014 10:56 AM

The only good thing about the fact that JJ is making SW is that he is not making another Trek.

TheGhostOfGriffinMillJanuary 15, 2014 11:34 AM

"On a larger level, what the audience - any audience - needs first and foremost is to be told a good, convincing story. A Star Wars movie is a rousing, swashbuckling adventure, inevitably centered around a hero's journey."

And here Matt nails the heart of the matter.

A "good, convincing" story. That, imo, was the largest problem with the prequels -- starting with Jake Lloyd undermined the entire mythos of Darth Vader and sowed the seeds of discontent that continued into the second and third prequel chapters (also, putting Jake next to Natalie, knowing where they were headed, felt gross).

While I always understood Lucas wanting to show the sympathetic, innocent origins of Anakin/Vader, there were better ways to do it, perhaps with collapsing most of "baby Anakin" into a precis instead of pushing it out into a full film. Or something else. ANYTHING else but two-hours of "Now THIS is pod racing!"

Flash forward to the now, and I can anecdotally confirm what Matt says about the current gen of fans: they don't care about Han, Luke and Leia. At least, not as much as fans of my generation do. And they shouldn't. My son SHOULD love Anakin and Mace and Kit Fisto in THE CLONE WARS cartoons. My daughter SHOULD love Ahsoka Tano.

Building Episode VII fully on the backs of the elder statesmen of the original trilogy seems to me to be history dooming itself to a repeat, a GRUMPY OLD STAR WARS in lieu of THE BABY VADER CHRONICLES rather than giving everyone a "good, convincing story".

Give Harrison, Mark and Carrie CHOICE moments -- let them and their characters steal the show from the newbies. That I could love. Trot them out there with the inevitable Murtaugh-esque "I'm too old for this shit"? Pass.

Matthew PriceJanuary 15, 2014 11:34 AM

You understand that this unintelligible rambling is actually shoring up the argument, right?

Sean KellyJanuary 15, 2014 11:34 AM

Want and Need has been an issue surrounding Star Wars Episode VII from the get go. I'm sure that there are many people that WANT further adventures in a galaxy far, far away, but do we really NEED more Star Wars films?

I'm not really as hard on the prequel trilogy as most fanboys out there and the only Special Edition changes that truly bother me are the ones in Return of the Jedi (my favourite film of the original trilogy). I'm perfectly able to give J.J. Abrams the benefit of the doubt and watch the next Star Wars film with an open mind.

However, the thing that rubs me the wrong way is the fact that this seems to be the first Star Wars film being made for purely monetary reasons. Criticize George Lucas for the prequel trilogy all you want, but at least he had those in mind ever since he decided to put "Episode V" in front of Empire Strikes Back (and went back to add "Episode IV: A New Hope" to Star Wars in 1981).

In my opinion, Return of the Jedi wrapped up the series pretty nicely and Episode VII is really just making a Star Wars film for the the sake of making a Star Wars film. While there's nothing inherently wrong about that, at the end of the day, this film is going to be nothing more than fan service.

The more I hear about this new Star Wars film, the more I feel apprehensive about it. I'll still likely end up seeing Episode VII, but part of me wonders if Disney should have just let the series be.

KurtJanuary 15, 2014 11:41 AM

Amen Brother.

Todd BrownJanuary 15, 2014 11:45 AM

Errr ... Lucas ALSO had plans to do episodes 7, 8 and 9 when he did the first ones, the overwhelming drive towards commercialism and fueling toy sales is what led the original producer (Gary Kurtz) to walk away before Return Of The Jedi (he's been quite open about this) so the idea that Disney is somehow taking some 'pure' property and over commercializing it is outright false, given this was already a wedge issue in the original trilogy.

And if you're going to play the Want vs Need card, there hasn't been a movie made at any point in history that was Needed. At all. It's an entirely frivolous industry.

TapewormBikeJanuary 15, 2014 2:09 PM

I see we might share the passion for Star Wars, but not as much for punctuation.

Jeremy LassenJanuary 15, 2014 3:33 PM

JJA is just going to yet another visual homage to 9/11 and crash a spacheship into a sky scraper or launch predator drones at ewoks or something, so its not like it really matters. It is going to suck no matter what generation they focus on.... because, you know... JJA

.jEB.January 15, 2014 5:41 PM

Is it not possible, given Mr. Abrams's penchant for chicanery, that this is all just a stunt to grab attention? This gets exactly to the "want vs need" issue as it pertains to audiences (not the existential crisis-inducing "want-need" problem, to which Mr. Brown refers, which plagues any honest person wanting to devote their life to movies given the relative lack of potential to affect outcomes in the real world).

But to my point: teasing an audience with what they want, especially regarding an existing property with a fan base that has vested interests, is exactly the sort of tantalizing of the imagination that gets the masses buzzing (like we are now). It could be cynicism that leads me to think this is business acumen at work, but it could just as easily be the hopeful optimism that are still worthwhile stories to be plucked from the Star Wars universe.

Pa Kent Says MaybeJanuary 15, 2014 8:38 PM

I will never believe George Lucas had original intentions for any STAR WARS films beyond the very first. The intent of the scrawl at the beginning of that film was as an homage to the adventure serials Lucas loved as a kid. That's all. Nothing existed in the man's head until success suggested he ought to come up with something.

Sean KellyJanuary 15, 2014 9:41 PM


davebaxterJanuary 15, 2014 11:42 PM

I doubt Lucas would have ended the first film on such an open ending if that were the case. He also, famously refused back end points in the film, in exchange for a slice of merchandising and licensing, spotlighting how much he was betting on long term success vs. short term cash in.

Jedi4life2003January 16, 2014 12:31 AM

Patton Oswalt should be consulted and given final say for all of the new Star Wars films. If he green-lights it, I will be confident that it won't trample over our childhoods. However, since we don't actually live in that kind of world, I am feeling apprehensive and borderline despondent right now. There is a microscopic part of me that hopes .jEB. was right and JJA only intends to tantalize the fan base, but once again that is nothing more than wishful thinking. I'm hoping that calm heads will prevail, reason and logic will triumph over fear and greed, and our worse nightmares are not made real when we finally view Episode VII. I'm also hoping that somehow, as unlikely and improbable as it most definitely is, JJA or someone close to him finds this article and reads it in full along with all of our comments, then actually heeds Matt's words while acknowledging our concerns. A fan can only hope...

perdnerJanuary 16, 2014 1:30 AM

JJ Abrams sucks, but the plan was ALWAYS to have Luke be an old Jedi. It's NOT JJ Abrams' idea. It's George Lucas' idea. The story comes FIRST. And it's HIGHLY IRONIC to see the world finally admitting Lucas captured a new fanbase after the tongue lashing you have given his later work.

perdnerJanuary 16, 2014 1:35 AM

You're like an anti Lucas fundamentalist, ignoring documents, interviews and videos that prove the exact opposite of what you believe.

perdnerJanuary 16, 2014 1:38 AM

Disney doesn't care about anything but money. George Lucas only used licensing as a means to tell his own story independent of any studio meddling.

Paul MJanuary 16, 2014 5:58 AM

On the bright side, JJ was actually a fan of the original Star Wars movies, unlike Star Trek, which he was never a fan of; which explains why he turned them into perfectly-acceptable-action-oriented-sci-fi-movies-in-the-Micheal-Bay-mould.

JJ is like the Elmyr de Hory of Movies. Super 8 was such a near perfect homage it could have been done by Spielberg himself. With this in mind, I'll keep my fingers crossed for Star Wars Episode VII: An Old Hope.

John KeeganJanuary 16, 2014 8:39 AM

Haters gonna hate.

As if Abrams is the sole decision-maker in this situation, anyway...

Pa Kent Says MaybeJanuary 16, 2014 10:04 AM

Actually, no, I'm a person who was around at the time of the original release who is aware of all the many times Lucas has changed his story regarding the genesis of STAR WARS.
As opposed to someone who accepts after-the-fact blah-blah-blah as absolute truth.

DimeckJanuary 17, 2014 11:41 AM

Totally on par!'s 350 years since the destruction of the second Death Star and the Emperor and his Empire are a distant memory. Remembered, however, is the savior of the galaxy and forefather of the New Jedi Order, Luke Skywalker. The New Jedi Order is defending the galaxy from injustice and assisting a just and peaceful Republic overseeing a prosperous galaxy. In a far off portion of the galaxy, the unknown regions, a new power rises. A secret Sith Empire rises and launches an all out attack at the defenders of the Republic, dealing a devastating blow to the Jedi Order. With the Order in shambles, the [I don't know how many greats] great grandchildren of Luke, Han, and Leia. Flying away from a destroyed Jedi temple with their children and other younglings in tow, Luke's progeny seeks guidance from the only Jedi with any experience in this, Luke himself. Conjuring up the Force ghost of Luke, the great grandchild gets specialized training. Battle fleets are mustered and battle ensues against the Sith. Spread the story over 3 movies and all we will need to see is Mark Hamill, and only in ghostly blue form.

andhakaJanuary 17, 2014 11:57 AM

Can I get another amen here?



Mikołaj WawrzyniakJanuary 17, 2014 12:53 PM

Actually another Star Trek from him would be better than him destroying already destroyed by prequels Star Wars franchise

Gregory MuirJanuary 17, 2014 3:22 PM

The original stars as advisers and secondary characters works perfectly. What Disney needs to do is figure out a timeline they can stick with. The existing Expanded Universe is a dog's breakfast of shitty shit with a few nuggets of awesome.

1) Establish who the characters will be. Kids of the original stars is great. Set it when they're roughly the same age range as the original stars in Star Wars.
2) Establish what needs to have happened off-screen between Jedi and VII. Use that as the basis for Expanded Universe material.
3) Figure out what needs to be on-screen and what doesn't. Sometimes show is good, sometimes it blows. Imagine if Michael Bay directed the destruction of Alderaan. 5 minutes of CGI wank vs. what, ten seconds between "Fire when ready" to boom? Less is more. Did we need to see the senate dissolved? No. It was conveyed in the staff meeting which did triple duty of establishing exposition, the characters of Darth and Tarkin, and just who they are to each other.
4) Remember these movies are supposed to be awesome, not ponderous. Don't forget action beats,don't forget fun.
5) Ditch the goddamn shakeycam. Keep the same pacing and composition as the originals. They're classic for a reason.

None of that will happen. It will be an Abrams wankfest. It might still do well. If it doesn't, someone else will be put at the helm for VIII.

Matt BrownJanuary 17, 2014 3:26 PM

There's no "up arrow" big enough to convey how much I love this comment.

Matt BrownJanuary 17, 2014 3:27 PM

Wait'll you see how much they hate me in Portland - I figure if Portland's against me, I've pretty much solved this thing.

Matt BrownJanuary 17, 2014 3:28 PM

Well, that's a good point, and one which (initially) held off some of my Abrams distrust. But if the article is right and he actually swung Lucas on this idea, I'm a little worried that Team Lucasfilm is just going "It's JJ Abrams, he knows what he's doing" which is a little like the "It's George Lucas, he knows what he's doing" thinking that happened fifteen years ago.

Gregory MuirJanuary 17, 2014 3:57 PM

I think the prequel trilogy was completely unnecessary. But if we had to have it, we should have met Anakin pretty much where Luke was in Empire. He'd be a starfighter pilot but completely ignorant of his own strength in the Force. Obi-Wan would of course be more like a Han to him -- slightly older friend, one who is naive enough to think there are shortcuts to the Force. The story would have been about how someone with as much potential as Luke, someone who seems like one of the good guys, could fall to darkness. But I really don't think this was a story that needed telling. It is better left in the background, where the audience can imagine it, rather than trying to spell it out completely. Because all it did was just hit plot points we already knew. It'd be like doing a prequel to the Princess Bride. "Well, here's the Six-Fingered Man. Here's Montoya's dad. Here's young Montoya. Here's the sword. Here's a dead daddy. Yup, we've just taken 15 minutes to depict what we got in 30 seconds of exposition in the prior film. This was pointless."

Too much of the prequels was tied up in stuff that wasn't really interesting and nobody cared about.

Todd BrownJanuary 17, 2014 4:05 PM


BuddyJanuary 17, 2014 4:20 PM

Coming from a guy who obviously has an intense love of film, that seems like a very shitty, defeatist thing to say. Of course 97% of all films are unneeded, but there is that 3% that truly are needed in this world. I understand having experienced homeless first hand for years is no doubt overwhelming, but since you shared a personal story, I'll share one. I have a genetic disease that requires multiple trips to the hospital a year. If anyone has ever stayed overnight in a hospital, the lack of things to do is staggering. TV sucks! At best you get 10 channels, most of which is network television, the other 5 are Telemundo, or sports channels (ugh!). So having the ability to watch a great movie when all you want to do is get the fuck out and feel the sunshine is a godsend! Being able to watch Episode IV while the IV's transfer your daily, 4 hour dose of meds is quite, QUITE needed!

Todd BrownJanuary 17, 2014 4:29 PM

You don't understand what 'necessity' means. Your meds are needed. What's on TV is a frill. Nobody ever died from not watching a movie. They're not necessary. They're frivolous. Pleasant, sometimes, but frivolous and unnecessary all the time.

I followed my five year stint working homeless shelters with eight years working 911. Tell someone on the street or whose house just burned down that they NEED a movie. Any movie. They'll kick your ass. And you'll deserve it. They NEED shelter, food, clothing, water, etc.

I've more than made my peace with working in a frivolous industry.

FletchJanuary 17, 2014 5:19 PM

Some of that talk seems like, well, ageism. To be honest, I don't think it matters how old the actors are. Look at characters in the movies like Gandalf, or Professor X in the X-men who was wheelchair bound. One doesn't expect Ford et al to be running around doing action stunts but that probably won't be their part in the movie.

They'll most likely be playing senators, or Luke would be playing a statesman-like older jedi like Yoda. Yoda didn't do many action sequences in the first trilogy, but that wasn't his role. Yet, Empire wouldn't have worked without Yoda's presence.

It seems to me like too much emphasis is put on the younger leading man. But look at Clint Eastwood in GranTorino. He wasn't young. And he kicked ass.

To some of my generation, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie will always be Star Wars. Bringing them back can only be the best for the films.

Mateusz R. OrzechJanuary 17, 2014 7:31 PM

One could argue that Abrams destroyed (pretty much) destroyed Star Trek franchise too. Nemesis wasn't even close to be a good film (still better than JJ-Trek though) and Enterprise was cancelled because of poor 3rd season.

And as a Star Trek fan I'd like to watch a solid Star Trek film, not another JJ-Trek, so for me personally it's a good thing that Abrams moved somewhere else.

CutshawJanuary 17, 2014 8:15 PM

Todd Brown, I don't think many would disagree with your points, you're absolutely correct within the context that you've chosen to take the term 'need' to mean. If someone's house has burned down they absolutely are not going to give a shit about Star Wars or any other movie. I think your assertion that the industry is frivolous is debatable, I personally believe artistic expression is important from a cultural and societal perspective, even if the resultant 'art' seldom is. But I absolutely agree that there are times in our lives when these things couldn't be further from our minds and serve no genuine purpose.

However, when I hear someone question whether or not a movie is necessary I generally choose to take it within its own context, The only problem I have with the 'want or need' argument is that I generally think it shouldn't be either/or, it needs to be both. The movie business is a business, clearly Disney didn't buy the rights to Star Wars for sentimental reasons, they spent an absurd amount of money in order to make a preposterous amount more. All it takes to make the existence of a follow on trilogy 'necessary' is some creative spark or passion, some artistic drive bringing it to life. The plethora of issues with the prequel trilogy can essentially be boiled down to one, it was creatively bankrupt, its sole purpose for existing was to make money. Hopefully those involved in the forthcoming sequels have the right intentions, clearly from a business perspective it's absolutely viable. Creatively? We won't know the answer to that until they get here.

I'm not a Star Wars fanboy, my opinion of JJ Abrams is far from high, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little curious to see how it all turns out,

Of course if my house blows up between now and then I'll undoubtedly have a somewhat different perspective.

Todd BrownJanuary 17, 2014 8:18 PM

Something can be good or helpful or beautiful without being necessary.

Manuel AlejandroJanuary 17, 2014 9:28 PM

This is the weirdest article I have ever read regarding the medium of film. It sounds like it's written by a parody of an ad executive from the 90's. The audience doesn't want "old lame people" it wants new young rad extreme protagonists! He's right, from a business man point of view, from an artistic point of view this guy is full of crap. I think I've finally realized the harm Lucas did to film, he's turned it into fucking sports.

This whole article is arguing about what elements will give this movie a better batting average in order to win some weird pop culture tournament. Who gives a shit, films are about the people that make them, they are private endeavors that if people like them they pay money to see and if they don't they shun them. Now we have all turned into pr managers and executives for a franchise that we DO NOT GET ANY MONEY FROM!

What is up with this fucking fantasy football bullshit, if you want to manage the logistics of a film so bad, pick up a fucking canon 5d and make your own fucking movies. It's 2014 it's very easy to make your own shit now, stop worrying about fucking movies shooting for wrong demographics as if you salary depended on it.

Here's the thing most people don't understand about film, filmmakers do things for themselves, as an expression, people that believe in them give them money because they believe in it, and if it fails they all fail. The article above basically just described how to make a transformers movie "young and radical!"; hell he talks shit about the Crystal Skull, a film that used this same line of thinking to put fucking Shia La beuf in it because we needed "young and radical!", but then blames the "old" part of it; forgetting that it was masterminded by a man who is better at giving wild ideas and then staying the fuck away from them from the moment he cared more about toys than story, basically the moment he started thinking like the author of the article.

To suggest stoping J.J. as if he's doing some sort of harm to a village of inocents, instead of what he is actually doing, spending a corporations money to make his dream come true and by extension the dream of those who share it, is so cynical and corporatist you'd think this guy works for Disney. He acts as if his mountains of cocaine depend on this films success which to him sounds "illogical because it will be about old farts, ew".

VehgahJanuary 17, 2014 9:31 PM

To be truthful, you don't NEED anything. Food, water, these are necessary if you don't want to die. The term need is relative towards a specific aim. If SW 7,8,9 is going to be made it's best if they feel essential to the mythos and not tact on. Thus the term "needed."

Manuel AlejandroJanuary 17, 2014 9:58 PM

And my main problem with how this is being understood. Star Wars is a story, not a sports team. It was a story told well the first time around, and a story told badly the second time around. People keep saying we need young and new to revitalize the franchise, who gives a crap about the franchise? Only in sports does young and new mean better. The original trilogy was a story that stood on the brink of family friendly film and GOOD CINEMA. There is a reason why children dislike Empire as the "most boringest" star wars, because it's the Star Wars film that is actually good cinema not just a popcorn seller.

Forget about J.J., what you have is the writters of one the best films in history deciding to finish the story his way. People see this as fan service, I see it as people taking a shot at finishing an epic correctly. Don't take me wrong, it could fail, oh it could FAIL SO BAD, but if it does, it's win win, if it sucks, we get to bitch about something for ages to come, if it succeds we might see something special.

There is a reason Star Trek is weird and Super 8 is well loved. J.J. didn't love Star Trek, he just manipulated it into Star Wars so he could understand it. But he loved Spielberg, and it shows in Super 8, and I can tell you now, there is nothing J.J. loves more than Star Wars. This will not be like the lame attempts at fan service by Lucas in the last trilogies, because Lucas did NOT LOVE STAR WARS, he hated it, he thinks it ruined his artistic carrer, so when he threw in a baby boba and random c3po he did it because in his mind it was "these nerds love this shit right?". J.J. will actually try to make a love letter, like super 8, for god's sake he fired Michael Ardnt probably on the sole fact that he wanted Lawrence Kasdan only, and Michael got in the way.

Honestly Im looking forward to what's coming, good or bad, it will definately be made with the right intentions, and that to me, for better or worse, is a better reason to make film than targeting demographics.

Manuel AlejandroJanuary 17, 2014 10:15 PM

Independent of the whole want and need discussion, yes, this was the first star wars made for money. However, and I don't see how people miss this. The moment Abrams fired Arnd in favor of a purist story written by Lawrence Kasdan of Empire... in contrast of Disneys agenda of "NEW,RADICAL AND EXTREME!" this is starting to feel more and more as if it's being done by love of Star Wars. Remember, J.J. did not love Star Trek, he loved star wars and it shows. However, he did love Spielberg, and that REALLY shows in Super 8.

The_TrikeJanuary 17, 2014 11:54 PM

Something relevant from my quotelog:

“People say, ‘Let’s get the Beatles back together!’ Well,that just means you want to be young again, not that you want to see the old buggers playing; you want to be young again when they were new.” – Eric Idle, Monty Python: Almost The Truth

MrRockingJanuary 18, 2014 6:13 AM

Ultimately the point is. If you can't find a new story to tell in that universe, maybe you aren't that great a story teller.

matthewfabbJanuary 19, 2014 12:16 PM

I wonder if this happens to do with anything either the success or the popularity of comics like Dark Empire or the Thrawn trilogy. As when there was talk that the expanded Star Wars universe would be part of the canon universe, some fans got excited that this could mean characters such as Grand Admiral Thrawn could be in the next Star Wars movie. It seems that the Thrawn trilogy remains the best selling Star Wars book and I wouldn't be surprised if Dark Empire remains one of the top selling Star Wars comics of all time. So I wonder if J. J. Abrams is either a fan of these series or is just aware of how popular they are and that's why he thinks that is what audiences want.

Only both those series took place just a few years after Return of the Jedi and were the further adventures of Luke, Leia and Han. Too much time has now has gone past for any of those stories to be adapted or similar takes on such stories with the age of the actors.

However, J. J. Abrams has since done 2 Star Trek films, focusing back on the original cast rather than doing something new in the Star Trek universe. I think it was Paramount and producers that wanted that take. Still, I wonder after resurrecting old Star Trek characters into the public conscious, that he figures he can do the same with old Star Wars characters.

ErnestRisterFebruary 4, 2014 11:30 AM

"Proper Send-off" means Luke Skywalker is going to die in Episode VII, like Qui-Gon in Episode I and Ben in Episode IV. To give this death proper weight, Luke's role needed to be beefed up in the script for Episode VII, while Arndt wanted to focus on the new, younger characters, like Han Solo's kid(s). So Arndt left the project, and the world moves on.

Fr33th1nk3rJune 24, 2014 10:21 AM

All that prose and no mention of J. J. Abrams basic inability to tell a coherent story? Did anybody watch those new Star Trek movies? They had more plot loopholes than I thought it was possible to cram into a 2 hour movie.
He turned Star Trek into a teen drama with a bunch of pre-adolescents on an adventure in space-- driving around in daddy's corvette. He is not good enough of a writer to be able to link all the existing Star Trek plot elements together, so we got a shoddy "reboot" that does not even follow its own plotlines.

Augusta PreciousDecember 18, 2014 2:13 AM

Money talks. If it's the dollar, it's small talk.Big money isn't hard to come by. All it costs is a lifetime of single-minded devotion to acquiring it and making it grow into more money.A group of politicians want to replace the dollar bill with a coin. Rappers would be out of business. You can't make it rain with coins. People would get hurt. Strippers would have to wear fanny packs. You can't fill up a thong with coins. Get rid of the penny. If it's not worth bending over for, it's not worth making.Stripped of ideals, mere money making is among the coarsest of occupations.

IdlerushJanuary 15, 2015 9:25 AM

Oh no, Super 8 was terrible, lol.

IdlerushJanuary 15, 2015 9:26 AM

Weirder still is to write not one, but TWO essays in the comments section!

IdlerushJanuary 15, 2015 9:41 AM

Super 8 was soooooo bad.

IdlerushJanuary 15, 2015 9:47 AM

Oh it's a story worth telling, IMO, they just did a terrible, boring job of it.

IdlerushJanuary 15, 2015 9:52 AM

I always thought parents showed their kids the originals! I mean, there are weeks to kill from when a kid gets excited seeing the first commercials (probably longer for this bohemoth), and actually getting to the theater. Why not do that so your kids don't grow up thinking bad films are good? I certainly would. The first two prequels are objectively crap.

Not that I disagree at all w/the authors comment about the older actors in the new films.

Gregory MuirJanuary 15, 2015 10:06 AM

How many prequels do you know of that are interesting enough to be justifiable stories in their own right?

Let's take an example like Avatar and Korra. If you watch them in production order, Korra is a sequel. But it is also a strong enough story you could watch it on its own without ever seeing Avatar. Likewise, Avatar is a very strong story. You could watch Korra first and then pretend like Avatar is the prequel and watch it second. Still a great story.

The particular weakness with a Star Wars prequel is that there are enough inherent contradictions in the established backstory built in the original trilogy that you can't tell an effective story without discarding the original movies. Luke and Leia are supposed to be about 17. She supposedly knew her natural birth mother. If her mother didn't die shortly after birth, why would the twins be deliberately separated? Why would Leia be raised in public and Luke in secret? If you want him to be the last great hope of defeating the Dark Side, why not stick him with Yoda where he could train from birth? His origin story works fine in the vacuum of the original movie, before the new parts of the story were invented.

Obi-Wan was a general from the old days. He's known about the son of his former friend and greatest failure but had no particular designs upon him. He had the lightsaber but figured he would hand it over at some point, no thought of trying to make Luke into a Jedi. He then gets the call to action, one last ride into glory from Leia with the droids. He gets the inspiration to draw Luke into all of this but it's obvious he never really had a big plan for this or else Luke would have had training.

There's also the ridiculous idea of hiding Luke under his original family name! If Adolph Hitler had a secret kid somewhere, you think they'd raise him as Franz Hitler? Yeah, nobody aside from Palpatine, Vaderm Yoda and Obi-Wan know the truth at this point but surely getting an application from a Skywalker at the Imperial Academy would flag something in the computers.

There's also the matter of just how established the Jedi were. There's visual media in the Star Wars 'verse. For the Jedi and their abilities to fall into the realm of myth, they'd have to have been wiped out a very long time ago. It's difficult to reconcile Solo's total skepticism of the Jedi with his being alive when they were wiped out. Imperial censorship would have to be impossibly sweeping and universal for there not to still exist video clips of Jedis doing their thing. I mean I don't buy a kung-fu master's explanation of chi flows and mysticism but I know he can smash a thick board with his bare hands.

I could have accepted maybe one movie specifically about Anakin's temptation and fall but I've always wanted the next Star Wars movie to be after ROTJ.

Craig FFebruary 9, 2015 5:26 PM

Abrams is a hack. He's the definition of style over substance and I guarantee he will screw the new Star Wars movie up. Nothing he does on his own is innovative or unique. It's all a mash-up of bits and ideas from better directors, one of which is clearly Spielberg.

Red SkeletonFebruary 9, 2015 9:29 PM

How many of these interviews and documents are from before the success of the original film? My issue, and I believe his issue, with Lucas is that he keeps changing his story on the matter.

Christian WowraApril 30, 2015 4:37 PM

Since Disney has removed all Extended Universe (EU) things from the official encyclopedia, so they can give JJ Abrams full control.. (which he did not get from CBS for Star Trek, else he would have changed everything, also games and merchandise)

All EU items are no longer canon, that what gave fans a cozy feeling (Knights of the old Republic, X-Wing Alliance, Tie-Figher, Jedi Academy...) is abolished.

Since I LOVED the games and side stories and all the background (Holocrons, Sith Academy, Mandalorian history, Sith history...) this leaves me only one choice: Remove the new movies (7-9) from Star Wars for myself, just ignore them and know that they are not Star Wars.

Especially, in The Clone Wars Palpatine fought Darth Maul because of "THE RULE OF 2", which was set by Darth Bane, now if the EU is non canon, that does not make sense anymore.

But what am I talking about. With JJ nothing will make sense when you start thinking about it.

SargonarhesDecember 18, 2015 5:58 AM

Without spoiling it directly, although Gundam fans may understand.
Abrams' Star Wars is to the original what Gundam Seed is to Gundam.
You'll know it when you see it.
And now it's too late, the day JJ Abrams has killed Star Wars is upon us.

nilo jeyarajahDecember 22, 2015 10:38 AM

I'm ignoring the new trilogy its a bad rip off it aint star wars. Its just some hack with expensive cameras who is trying to remake the original 3.

Ocelotl ChimalpahinDecember 25, 2015 5:16 AM

Hmmm maybe. I kind of get what you're saying but Seed was a pseudo-reboot. Kira wasn't Amuro, they spring from the same template and Kira follows some of Amuro's footsteps but they never go fully beat for beat.

To me it's in the middle of Gundam Z or ZZ... leaning somewhat to ZZ

Ocelotl ChimalpahinDecember 25, 2015 5:27 AM

You nailed a lot of things here, not all but enough to demonstrate the problems with the new movie.

SargonarhesDecember 25, 2015 8:14 AM

I'd think Destiny was a bit a Z and ZZ mixed together. You probably know as well the division Gundam Seed caused among Gundam fans. Kira isn't Amuro, but he is a stand in for him. You can even identify other characters as a template for others. Although as fanatical as Yzak is, he's no Anavel Gato.

But this is about Star Wars, yeah I think we can say that Rey is a new Luke Skywalker. There are already people that believe she is his daughter, which would make Luke a dead beat dad.

Ocelotl ChimalpahinDecember 25, 2015 8:36 AM

Lol I'd never really thought of Yzak as Anavel Gato! I mean I see it but they're so different. Yzak ain't as smooth as Gato. I grew up with Wing and the UC shows they aired on toonami. I've actually never seen the original Gundam, just the manga. Man don't remind me of S Destiny. I got what they were doing but.... ach

Still I feel you but since SW wasn't a hard reboot I think ZZ is more appropriate but I get ya.I don't think Rey is quite Kira she still needs more time to develop, this movie needed more time with Rey's story....

As for Rey I hope she's no Luke's kid.... if she is Mara Jade better be the mom. Well.... we'll see what's next soon.

omnisemantic1December 25, 2015 8:43 AM

Nah the movie had quite a few issues, but the way it provided place for the old characters was definitely not among them. Actually, now that I think about it, everything that did not work is in one way or another related to having the damn Starkiller base in the plot.

Ocelotl ChimalpahinDecember 25, 2015 6:07 PM

Didn't you feel that this movie flew a little too fast? Yeah I agree on starkiller..... maybe if they didn't it again in ROTJ. This is three times and it makes less sense here. Starkiler base wans't even the principal secret. Why hasn't the New Republic stepped in? I heard that JJ cut a scene with Leia requesting troops and ships and being denied. In their rush to distance themselves from the prequels they've under-explained a lot of things

SargonarhesDecember 27, 2015 8:05 AM

It took me a while to make that connection, the only thing they have in common is the hair color and both are fanatics. Gato does have more style and gives better long speeches however.

There are those that think Dearka is supposed to be Johnny Riden, because most hard core UC fans know he has many similarities to Char Aznable.

And seeing as how Disney removed all Extended Universe from Star Wars canon, I'm not so sure there is a Mara Jade any more. I can't see why the hard core Star Wars fans aren't upset by this.

Ocelotl ChimalpahinDecember 27, 2015 8:27 PM

Oh yeah I'd take Gato (whose name means cat by the way, since I know Spanish it always made me chuckle a bit) over Yzak. Gato was a fanatic but he still had a moral center his cheap knockoff didn't really. Yzak was just a punk. A lot of those characters were wasted in my opinion. Especially Dearka. It would've been cool to see more of him and what's her name.

Disney might've wiped the EU clean it doesn't mean it's a well that's off limits. They already took Jacen's plot and The Outrider has survived the purge, not sure about Dash, and other things could still be salvaged and re-purposed. So Mara-Jade could still be reused. I'm not sure if she could still be used as Luke's wife the way he's been written in Episode VII.

Ocelotl ChimalpahinDecember 28, 2015 12:59 AM

I agree on that. What else would Luke be? He can't turn back the clock on Mark Hamill's appearance!