About a month ago, I posted a widely-circulated video called “Dear JJ Abrams,” created by a Star Wars fan with the help of an ad agency, in which the narrator laid out a series of “rules” to “make Star Wars great again.” The rules included (I’m paraphrasing here):
1. The Setting is the Frontier (because it’s a western)
2. Make it gritty
3. The Force is Mysterious
4. Star Wars isn’t cute
Now, see if you can see any similarities between those rules and the way JJ Abrams describes his approach to Star Wars Episode VII (which he’s now co-writing in addition to directing) in a new interview:
In a recent interview with the UK’s The Times Magazine [subscription only -Ed], director J.J. Abrams hints that Star Wars: Episode VII may return the saga to its gritty, “space western” roots. [...]
[Abrams says] he is set on returning the sense of mystery that so pervaded the original trilogy. [...] To pull that off, audiences can expect to see a dirtier aesthetic more akin to the frontiers of the Old West than the gleaming futurescapes of the prequels.
“The beauty of [the original film] was that it was an unfamiliar world,” Abrams told The Times, “and yet you wanted to see it expand and to see where it went.” [TheVerge]
God I hope he came to those conclusions on his own and not because he’s been listening to the great sputtering herd of internet dickweeds (I say as a card-carrying dickweed).
“Dear JJ Abrams,” aside from being wildly obnoxious, was a great illustration of the central problem with the fanboy community: they tend to catalog with no ability to synthesize. They can diagram what worked in the past, without an awareness that using it as a blueprint for the future sounds a lot like “GIVE ME WHAT I’VE ALREADY SEEN OR I’LL THROW A FIT! I FEAR THE UNFAMILIAR!”
I’m not saying the rules in Dear JJ Abrams are bad in and of themselves, or that Abrams and co couldn’t make a great movie within those parameters, it’s just that following them could go against the one, ONE ironclad rule of making this or any movie good: make the movie YOU want to see, not the one you think someone else wants to see*.
*George Lucas version of this rule: Keep trying to turn the film into the film you want to see even if you didn’t write or direct it and it’s been finished for 30 years.