UPDATE: There is no update concerning Episode VII. That alone should prove my point. I know better than to say it does, however. The original point of this post was to explain my theory that JJ Abrams is delaying production on the next Star Wars on purpose, which is explained ad nauseam below. Since its first posting several articles have hinted at my theory but as far as I know I’m still the only one who believes it. Also since writing this I’ve seen a video that plays right into my had. After shooting Mission Impossible 2, Abrams gave a presentation at TED, called Mystery Box. I will reference it below, and I can say that hearing Abrams talk about his processes leaves no doubt in my mind that he is totally fucking with us.
I will admit right off the bat that I thought more about what to write, than the thought I actually put into the topic. If that makes sense. Any way, my first musing is about Star Wars. I love Star Wars. A lot. When people ask me my favorite movie I tell them it’s The Godfather, not because I’m ashamed that it’s actually Star Wars, and I only say that because I can’t decide between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. My bed room right now is decorated with Star Wars Legos, an R2-D2 Xbox, and the Darth Vader Mr. Potato-Head (Darth Tater). With that being said I hate the prequels. Anyone who disagrees should visit the following site and watch the videos.
This first musing won’t be about the prequels but a theory about the next Star Wars Movie, set for release on December 18, 2015. As just about every movie fan knows by now, this new movie will be directed by JJ Abrams. The Star Trek director promises a thematic return to the original films and, according to Abrams will focus on character and drama, rather than nothing and bullshit the way the prequels did. What fewer fans know is that the project is already experiencing difficulties that have fans of the franchise worried. I am not worried, because my theory is that these delays will go on for a while because I think JJ Abrams is doing it on Purpose.
You smug fuck.
Allow me to explain.
The new star wars movie was announced early this year, and I squeed like a 3rd grade girl to an empty house. I was excited that they would continue the franchise. Excited that Disney bought LucasFilm. And, also excited that George Lucas’s fat fingers would be minimally prodding chubbily into in it. It seemed especially cool to find out that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford gave a serious maybe in regards to the possibility of their involvement in the next trilogy. Disney soon after announced that after Episode VII there would be a new, “non Episode” Star Wars film once a year every year from that point on. This is rumored to include origin stories for Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi, and the intergalactic bounty hunter Boba Fett. In the mix of these announcements other major studios started to make pretty huge announcements about action sci-fi movies set to be released the same year as Star Wars. These movies include Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Man of Steel 2 (featuring Ben Afleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, introducing Grant Gustin as The Flash, and possibly The Rock as a bad ass villain), Avatar 2, Ant Man, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, a possible Terminator sequel, and even a possible Independence Day sequel. All of these movies have something in common that Star Wars seems not to have, a definite leading man. Ant Man has already shot some action sequences, Avengers is cast, as is the Superman-Batman movie, and the others I mention are sequels which would have presumably the same big time stars that played the lead in the respective original movies. The first red flag for critics has been that there isn’t a cast for Star Wars and as of this writing they have only begun with casting calls, a process that can take a considerable amount of time. The second thing that has people worried is the script.
(UPDATE: There is still no cast).
We know who sure as shit won’t be in it, though.
Academy-Award Winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, Brave, Hunger Games) wrote a script and submitted it to LucasFilm. There seemed to be a lot of excitement from Abrams, and other people who had read this script. Arndt is a veteran writer at this point, and has never independently written a script for a movie that tanked. After all this, it was somewhat of a shock when Abrams announced he would “re-working” the script and that he was going to be doing so with screen writer Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of The Lost Ark). While the idea that Kasdan and Abrams would be working together sent me, and many others into a transcendent form of fanboy glee, critics were not able to see this as good news. Most criticisms read something like “They have no script and still think they can take this movie from nothingness to screen-ready in less than two years? They’re crazy. All 6 of the other Star Wars movie took 3 years make. What the hell is going on with Abrams and LucasFilm?” And under normal circumstances I’d agree with them, If JJ Abrams wasn’t delaying production on purpose.
The people who’ve been following this whole drama as closely as I have (I assume there’s millions) have noticed a theme in the statements and interviews Abrams has given so far. Good ol’ JJ clearly knows the prequels suck, and although he’s been shy about saying it hasn’t been so hard to read between the lines. You’re welcome to look up his interviews in which he gives almost no details about the upcoming Star Wars movies, or you can take my word for the next few things. Abrams loves Star Wars and has for most of his life, he enjoyed directing Star Trek but said his real sci-fi dream was to do Episode VII and this opportunity is a dream come true for him. You can see it in his eyes in those interviews where he charmingly deflects questions. I’ve casually liked JJ Abrams for a while now. The Star Trek movies were obviously awesome, so was Super 8. I didn’t really like Cloverfield, but the viral marketing surrounding it was really freaking cool. I didn’t really watch Lost or Alias but people seem to passionately love those shows and they’ve both gained him a pretty big fan base, especially for someone who’s almost never on camera. Now, with Star Wars he says he wants to get to the roots of the franchise. One way he’s doing this is by planning to shoot on film instead of digital video. In a recent interview, as well as the TED talk below he said he loved the mystery surrounding Darth Vader, and The Empire that is felt throughout the original franchise. And he’s right, the original trilogy raises a lot more questions that it answers, and to the story teller this clearly doesn’t matter.Once the story of Luke, Leia, Han, and Vader is told the movie is over. Sure, there are the books and comics and a lot of them are actually pretty good. But, still the original films have a sexiness that invokes the pull of the unknown that bleeds into our subconscious and has fed the popularity of the franchise.
In the video above, Abrams details how he loves questions. He shows his passion for mystery, and says that from an early age he loved questions more than answers. The title of the talk, “Mystery Box” references an unopened box of magic tricks he bought as a child, but has kept in the box since he bought it. To him it represented what separates good writing from great writing. In many ways all of the uncertainty surrounding Episode VII’s production is its own mystery box. This is often Abrams MO. In several interviews, including this one from The Daily Show he makes it very clear that he is acutely aware of the public response to his creations. He likes the creative process as much as he likes creating. To him anticipation and speculation are a part of film making. While some chose to stay close mouthed and blind to the outside world during making movies, Abrams is not that guy.
One of the billions of reasons Episodes I, II, and III were so bad was because they seemed to cycle between screaming things at your face, and whispering confusing political pseudo-mysteries that were too boring to care about. Abrams says he wants to fix that, and in a way he already is. A lot of people following this on-going story are already confused and intrigued about what is going to happen next in the film’s production and the story has people like me (again, millions) quite invested. So with his love of the movies, and an obvious understanding of the movies, why would he be delaying production on purpose? You’d think he’d want to get right into it and get started as soon as possible, right? Wrong, asshole.
The Dude might have said you’re not wrong. But he and I agree on something.
Like, I said he’s a huge Star Wars fan, and he’s a director. There’s no doubt that he’s heard the horror stories from behind the scenes of shooting A New Hope. R2-D2 constantly broke, Anthony Daniels couldn’t act very well in the C3-P0 costume because he kept falling over, and shooting the Tatooine scenes in Tunisia were apparently among the worst experiences in the lives of everyone involved. As soon as the actors and crew saw the movie however, they knew it was worth it. They instantly fell in love with their work, as well they should have. Their work was amazing.
The reason for this is the Latin phrase, Ad Astra or “art through adversity.” The idea is that the harder something is to create, the more it is worth creating. There great movies which were also made under horribly uncomfortable circumstances. Evil Dead ran out of money, and by the end of shooting it was only Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell in the freezing woods shooting together warming their hands with hot coffee because they couldn’t afford to heat the set. Stanley Kubrick psychologically tortured Shelley Duvall while shooting the The Shining, so much so that she would have PTSD flashbacks for years. Hell, making Apocalypse Now was so ass-rapingly hard to make that the behind the scenes documentary won awards. That list goes on.
The passion and dedication that went into producing these movies made them all that much better. You can feel the labor and the love in every frame of these movies. More specifically, JJ Abrams can feel them. He says he wants the new movies to have the same spirit and love put in them as the old ones did. The only problem is that the first Star Wars took 3 years to produce because a lot of the technology put into that movie didn’t exist before 1977. Nowadays shooting a big budget action movie with all sorts of explosions and shit takes practically no time at all in comparison. Just hit the “blow up planet button” on your fancy movie computer and there goes Mars, or so I assume. If you want adversity in your art in the present day you need to work at it. You would need to really fuck yourself, with precision procrastination or oddly inconvenient delays. I just read yesterday that due to an unexpectedly large turn out for casting in England the entire casting call schedule for North America has been completely changed. (UPDATE: This was further changed to so that they are now only accepting online video auditions to save travel times and, presumably the time that would be wasted not hurting people’s feelings.)
I think changes like this aren’t accidents, and they aren’t hurting the movie. The CEO of Lucasfilm asked for a delay on production for Episode VII, and Disney gave a resounding “No.” This resounded even more when they announced the a definite December 2015 release date. Is it crazy to think Abrams asked personally for a release date, just so he could put more pressure on himself to finish the movie by a certain day? Probably. But still, it would play into his hand and help put the proper pressure on him.
JJ Abrams isn’t dumb, and many if not most creative people work better when they’re under pressure. If Abrams is one of these people what he is doing with the Star Wars movies is smart, not to mention ballsy as hell. The dude is constantly pushing the envelope for the sci-fi and action genre and clearly has guts a mile long.
Thoughts? Have you been exhaustively researching Star Wars, and you wanna call bullshit? Feel free! Have new ideas about Episode VII’s production? Let me know! Wanna do anything in the comments section other than be a dickhead? Do it!