When Luke Skywalker first ignited his lightsaber during "Star Wars: A New Hope" in 1977, movie fans knew they were witnessing something special. The low budget, ambitiously conceptual film would go on to become an international phenomenon and a staple of pop culture. Audiences worldwide could relate to Luke's humble beginnings, and his journey represented an otherworldly adventure we all secretly lust after. Sure, fans were dazzled by the movie's far-out sci-fi elements and creative mythology. But it was the collection of iconic characters (Han, Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan, etc.) and straight forward themes that made us truly feel one with the Force.
But then the prequel trilogy came along and the franchise fell on hard times. The glow from that first laser sword dimmed as "Star Wars" moved further and further away from what made the original trilogy so great. Suddenly, being a Jedi didn't seem as cool.
It is in the wake of this crossroads in which we find ourselves once again on the precipice of a new "Star Wars" trilogy. Disney, having purchased Lucasfilm for a whopping $4 billion, plans to release three new films as well as a series of standalone movies in a "Star Wars Anthology" series. Naturally, this has divided fans. Many are (rightfully) skeptical after the letdown of "Episodes I-III." But here are a few reasons why director J.J. Abrams won't let us down with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
1. He Hasn't Missed Yet
Abrams has only four big screen credits to his name, but none of them can be considered a through and through bad movie. The director may lack a subtle touch at times and he may rely a bit too much on lens flare, but he's proven capable of making fun and enjoyable tentpole films that appeal to a wide variety of audiences.
It's fine if you don't want to trust my opinion on the matter, but just take a look at his Rotten Tomatoes scores.
"Mission Impossible III" - 70% All Critics
"Star Trek" - 95%
"Super 8" - 82%
"Star Trek Into Darkness" - 87%
It's inevitable that Abrams will eventually make a film which is regarded poorly by the majority of movie goers. Even Steven Spielberg has one bad "Indiana Jones" movie on his record.
But Abrams hasn't failed yet. I'd say "Star Trek Into Darkness" is his weakest film to date, and even that movie had a great performance from Benedict Cumberbatch and a decent character arc for the normally static Kirk.
Abrams' small screen work has hit as well. "Alias" gave TV viewers their most badass female protagonist this side of Buffy, and "LOST" generated a similar type of fan frenzy as "Star Wars."
If this was a job interview, I'd be impressed with Abrams' resume.
2. He's Already Made a "Star Wars" Film
Do you know why hard core Trekkies rail against the rebooted franchise? Because they aren't traditional "Star Trek" films. The original series focused more on space exploration and the melding of different intergalactic peoples. The new series substitutes some of that for action, quality villains, and more focus on the interpersonal dynamics between the main characters. Sound familiar?
In essence, Abrams made 2009's "Star Trek" into a "Star Wars" film. It's not a coincidence that that is his most well received and second-highest grossing film. Abrams himself has even publicly admitted that he was an enormous "Star Wars" fan growing up and never really jumped on the "Star Trek" space bandwagon.
It's a good sign that "The Force Awakens" is being handled by someone who understands and appreciates what made the original trilogy so magical. It's an even better sign that this is, essentially, the second attempt he'll have at making a "Star Wars" film. He already knows which elements work and which don't. He already knows how to strike a classic "Star Wars" tone. Let's watch him go to work.
3. "I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
At its core, the original "Star Wars" trilogy is about passing the torch. It's about familial relationships and the cyclical nature of things. The son replaces the father.
If rumors are to be believed, then "The Force Awakens" will focus more on the new generation of characters (Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren). Han, Chewy, Leia and Luke will all be present, but more in supporting roles. And, to be honest, that's how it should be.
I love these characters as much as the next fan, but I'm not so sure I want to watch a two-hour, $200 million movie about heroes who are well past their prime. Han's blaster just can't fire as quickly at this point, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Millennium Falcon has lost a step.
It's great that the original "Star Wars" core will still be around, but I'm excited to see how they help our new cast of characters create their own adventure. "The Force Awakens" should be able to stand on its own while simultaneously honoring all of the great things that have come before it. It sounds as if Abrams is going to effectively bridge the gap between old and new.