ENTERTAINMENT: JJ Abrams Directing Star Wars IX is a Good Thing
Not a lot of people seem pleased that director Colin Trevorrow found a bittersweet exit from the massive responsibility of carrying the weight of yet another 'final' Star Wars film to wrap up all of the mystery and engage into the true legacy of new characters like Finn, Poe, Phasma, Snoke, antagonist Kylo (not to mention his "Knights of Ren" clique), and new protagonist Rey. It was a seemingly impossible weight for J.J. Abrams to lift for The Force Awakens, let alone carry and pass on to Rian Johnson for his upcoming eighth installment, The Last Jedi, in theaters December of this year. Yet, Abrams certainly reinvigorated what is potentially the most revered and renowned science fiction metaseries of all time--doing so, no less, a mere six years after doing the same thing for Star Trek with his Chris Pine-led reboot-prequels.
Trevorrow is best known for directing 2015's Jurassic World, the entertaining fourth entry of the Jurassic Park series. The film was met with mostly positive reviews, leveraging the star power of both Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, the latter of who had only recently became a megastar thanks to his big-screen portrayal of D-tier superhero Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. Revolving around Howard's conflicted corporate success story, Pratt's Indiana-Jones gruffness and charm, and special effects ever befitting for the Hollywood of today, Trevorrow himself revived a franchise few thought needed resurrection. It worked...mostly. Enough, at least, for stark-raving Star Wars heads to accept his key role in concluding the sequel trilogy.
So what's so great about the recent news that Trevorrow will no longer be directing, and will instead be replaced by none other than J.J. Abrams?
Returning Abrams to the director's chair of Star Wars ensures us fans of a couple of things, especially considering we simply know nothing about the upcoming ninth entry.
Firstly, we know the film will be directed by someone who deeply loves Star Wars. A key problem of some legendary directors' franchises is that they highly leverage the technology of the time to make their masterpieces come to life...then unnecessarily extend that life with the technology of the time. Ridley Scott of Alien fame and Star Wars' own George Lucas are great examples of this issue. Back in 1979, Scott released the first Alien and it was a sci-fi horror show for the ages. No android, spaceship, or extraterrestrial lifeform was computer generated--it was all practical, to the very last drop of acid blood in the xenomorph's veins. Because that was the "technology of the time".
Scott returned to direct the franchise in 2012 with the philosophical, non-horror prequel Prometheus and in 2017 with its sequel, Alien: Convenant, in which Scott relied heavily on the technology of the time to produce his titular aliens in the film: from head to toe, in all scenes, they were completely and unfortunately all CGI. Lucas all relied way too much on CGI to bring his imagination to life in his 1999-2005 Star Wars prequel trilogy, much to the detriment of the films' quality. Abrams, instead of leaning so heavily on the technology of this age, deliberately drew from the original trilogy when it came to directing his seventh entry, and the results were grand as both the modern-day CG and the "old school" practical elements were celebrated.
Secondly, we know the film will be directed by someone who understands Star Wars. Once the hype of actually seeing series legends Han Solo and Chewbacca return to reclaim their proper place in the canon--not to mentioned the Millennium Falcon!!--plus the stormtroopers, Tie Fighters and X-Wings faded away after the first watch, and the "Star Wars-is-back" high wore off, it was much easier to see the parallels between The Force Awakens and A New Hope from 1977. And although The Force Awakens isn't even a "soft" reboot of A New Hope, some fans took the nods to the original film as a weak route to guide the new film's narrative forward and get introducing the next generation of heroes and villains out of the way, leaving in its wake a carbon copy of A New Hope. Again, these claims are relatively exaggerated; Abrams already understands that it'll take more than just a handful of heavy nods to Return of the Jedi to make his new, final film work.
The Star Wars franchise is definitely in good hands. The internet can stay worried, but rest assured, fans; it'll be okay. Star Wars IX is set to release May 24, 2019.