Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Reel Facts & Opinions: Return of the JJ

Ever since the famed, and at-the-time dormant STAR WARS franchise restarted its engines in 2012, any news related to the beloved series of films tends to stop the rotation of the galaxy, and today was one of those days.

Just before the lunch hour, Lucasfilm and parent company Disney announced that JJ Abrams would be returning to the franchise; officially named as the director of the as-yet-untitled EPISODE IX, set for release in December of 2019. This will be Abrams’ second trip into the STAR WARS universe, having helmed the franchise-jumpstarter THE FORCE AWAKENS (EPISODE VII) in 2015.

The news comes on the heels of a slightly dark time for Disney and Lucasfilm, who have been having a unstable time with some of their directors. Abrams is coming in as a replacement for Colin Trevorrow, who was the original director for EPISODE IX before being fired by Lucasfilm president and STAR WARS overseer Kathleen Kennedy. Trevorrow’s dismissal was chalked up to the young director being “uncooperative”, and scripting issues. Trevorrow’s firing was just a few months after the directing duo of Lord & Miller were jettisoned from the Han Solo spinoff film (read more on that HERE), and with two notable firings of personnel in key positions, one had to wonder what was going on behind the controls of STAR WARS.

With Abrams, Lucasfilm and Disney seem to be going back to what they know works. THE FORCE AWAKENS can be described as nothing other than a success, having broken several box office records, received rave reviews from critics, and earned five Oscar Nominations. Abrams also has proven to be capable of working under the massive pressures and oversight from Disney and Lucasfilm; something that the three fired directors seemingly couldn’t do.

This Blogger is thrilled and over the moon on this announcement. THE FORCE AWAKENS was not only a triumph, but it returned the old energy, spirit, whimsy, and fun to the franchise that had been lacking for well over a decade. While the main business of THE FORCE AWAKENS may have been spent moving characters around like chess pieces, those new characters became instant icons, and it set the stage for a lot more to come. Much like the perfect meetings of characters in the STAR WARS films which seem by chance, but are perhaps willed by the Force, JJ Abrams and EPISODE IX have a bright horizon ahead of them.


JJ Abrams’ other directing credits include STAR TREK (2009), SUPER 8 (2011), and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006).

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