There are so many great moments in the history of Star Wars:
Darth Vadar cuts Obi-Wan Kenobi in half with his lightsaber.
Darth Vader reveals that he is Luke Skywalker’s baby daddy.
George Lucas gets an idea for a new character to provide comic relief.
Disney Corporation gobbles up Lucasfilm Corporation.
The White House rejects a petition to build the Death Star.
J.J. Abrams announced as director of Star Wars 7.
Star Wars: The Emire Stikes Back is generally accepted (by consensus of nerds) to be the best of all the Star Wars movies. No, I will not use the bloody numbering scheme invented by George Lucas to sell the concept of his Big Lie.
But even the best Star Wars movie still had one of the biggest bullshit moments of all time. I’m talking about, of course, the big reveal: “Luke, I am your father.”
Everyone knows this moment was bullshit. To those of us who were actually there the first time it happened it’s an image forever seared in our brains. It’s the moment when all Star Wars fans knew, “Oh, crap. This shit is gonna go sideways.” And it did. The next four movies from the mind of George Lucas weren’t exactly something to write home about.
I believe, and this is personal opinion, that the grand story of Lucas having a vision for a sweeping 9-part saga about the Skywalker family is one of the biggest crocks of shit in the universe. He never intended for Darth Vadar to be Luke’s dad. Luke and Leia were never brother and sister. And the Emperor was just a bit of backstory dropped in to provide a little dramatic context. If this was all true, and “A New Hope” was supposed to be one part of a nine-piece set, then the movie would have originally been release with the number IV. It wasn’t. That was edited in later.
But then something unexpected happened. The movie was gigantor. So of course there was going to be a sequel. But that wasn’t enough for George Lucas. So he came up with the idea of nine movies. And that’s what I call the Big Lie.
Now here comes J.J. Abrams to enter the fray. He was just announced as he director of Star Wars 7 (Untitled). Abrams is perhaps best known for the television series Lost and the recent “reboot” of Star Trek.
I’m sorry if I won’t have kittens about Abrams being involved in Star Wars, although we all agree he’s certainly an improvement over George Lucas who went a bit mental after A New Hope. He’s just not my kind of storyteller.
My beef with Abrams begins with Lost. I watched season one and I liked it. Every new reveal brought tantalizing possibilities. What did it all mean? We were dying to know.
Then came season two. More tantalizing stuff. But few answers. Soon it became obvious that Lost only cared about tantalizing us. It cared not one whit for providing answers, tying things up, and making the story come together in a way that made sense. Also obvious, it was not enjoyable for the audience.
To understand Abrams’ penchant here, one must understand the “Mystery Box.” It’s a box J.J. got when he was a kid from a magic store. Someone told him that as long as he never opened the box, what was inside would always be a mystery. It was a concept that totally enthralled and enamored young J.J. It was a concept that stuck with him throughout his whole life. So much so that he even gave a TED talk about it. You can watch J.J. and his beloved mystery box on Ted.com.
The problem with stories told by J.J. Abrams is the mystery box. It turns out that the shit inside the box is a factor in our enjoyment. Otherwise why aren’t movies just a series of cool random images all strewn together? The story matters. The characters matter. Not that much, but there has to be enough of it to hold things together. We’ll forgive a few isolated unexplained things in the name of moving the story along, but we won’t forgive if there are too many of them.
Then there was Star Trek. Was the alternate universe for our favorite characters a good idea? A lot of true fans of Star Trek had a hard time with that one. Sure, there are some great scenes in the movie, especially the poignant opening with Kirk’s dad. (Why are fathers such a movie meme?) The opening of the Star Trek movie is movie magic. But then weird shit happens. The planet Vulcan gets blown up. Kirk gets shot out of an escape pod to an ice planet and is almost eaten by Star Wars-like creatures. The entire timeline is different. In short, too many implausibilities and too much J.J. Abrams.
Unlike the rest of the internet, I won’t even mention the lens flares.
Does J.J. Abrams have a gift for movie making? Can he film exciting scenes? Does he know exciting ways to make cameras jiggle? Yes. But the true core of movies has always been storytelling and that is where he is weakest.
This video explains why J.J. Abrams is a bad choice for telling Star Wars stories:
College Humor: Unanswered Lost Questions