Why I Like JJ Abrams For Star Wars


When Star Trek ended it’s long run of spin-off series after something like 19 years the movie franchise had already gone down in flames. People were saying it was the end of Trek. Rick Berman, the man who took over for Gene Roddenberry, had simply refused to break too far from the formula he felt still worked after all these years. The problem was the formula was making it increasingly more difficult to ever begin watching Star Trek without starting from the beginning. 

Many years of non-stop television series, ten movies over twenty five years, and constant complaints…even from the most die hard fans meant we may have seen the end of Star Trek. Thankfully Paramount wasn’t ready to accept it. They wanted a way to make Trek accessible to the masses. So they said, “To hell with the fan’s Prime Directive. We’re gonna shake things up.” And shake them up they did. After creating the best Mission Impossible up to that point Paramount was highly impressed with JJ Abrams and wanted to extend their working relationship with the man. Soon after they announced he would be taking the reigns of one of the most beloved franchises in the history of media. 

Let me say something here – I hate remakes/reboots/prequels or whatever other name they spend more time coming up with than the actual scripts of the remakes/reboots/prequels Hollywood makes. For some reason, though, after seeing Star Trek in 2009 I was completely satisfied. It was sort of a remake/reboot/prequel/sequel all rolled into one. And it worked. Abrams was not really a fan of Star Trek but two of his good friends and frequent collaborators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were. He tasked them with the near impossible – make a script that marries all of Trek together and changes everything to make it fresh and new. Abrams used his love for Star Wars by creating some great fights and seriously cool space battles, something more epic than we had seen in any of the previous Trek films. 

Star Trek Into Darkness is coming this Summer. I have seen the 9 minutes of footage they played in front of the Imax version of The Hobbit and let me say I was seriously impressed. Some say it’s a betrayal of Trek franchise for Abrams to leave it. I don’t see it that way. He has a proven history of laying the groundwork for other people to expand on the worlds he creates. With Alias he took a backseat after a couple years and allowed others to continue it on. With Lost he allowed Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse to make it into the show that became event television for six years. Fringe was left in the hands of others as well. He continued to stay on as executive producer for all of them but nurtured others into taking these shows and moving them in exciting new directions. Even after Mission Impossible III he stayed on as producer, hired a couple of writers he’d worked with in the past and entrusted the directing duties to Brad Bird. He took the fourth film and made the best one in the history of the franchise. So when it comes to Trek I have faith that Abrams will find the right person to replace him and take the franchise to new heights. 

As far as Star Wars is concerned I am very excited. Abrams has a very fertile imagination, a great eye for dynamic shots, and the ability to pace a story very well. The problem with George Lucas was that he felt bored. It was like he felt obligated to make the prequel trilogy but didn’t really want to. So he loaded it with boring stuff about trade embargoes and the inner workings of the Imperial Senate. It was like the odd numbered Star Trek films and how they were slow, boring movies with little action.

Between hiring Michael Arndt as the writer, bringing in Lawrence Kasdan to consult on the script, and hiring Abrams as director I feel like this new Star Wars film could be the best on since Empire Strikes Back.

Now, let the casting rumors begin. 

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My Thoughts On All Things Star Trek


My friend Isaac Hulke and I recently decided to do a limited series of podcasts about Star Trek. They will start posting soon here. In it we devote an hour to each series and then we will go movie by movie discussing each in detail.

We have recorded episodes about the original series and the animated series already. I have always been a very big fan of all things Trek but this has forced me to go back and rewatch many of the episodes of the various shows that made it great.

Before recording last week I went back and watch the TOS episodes “Mirror, Mirror”, “Space Seed” and “The City On The Edge Of Forever”. They made me fall in love with the series all over again. There was so much being done in the series that was not only ground breaking but just great storytelling. In that podcast we also discussed what impact the show had on our present. Many of the children who grew up watching Trek wanted to move into finding ways to create the fictional tech that was used on the show. Many things we take for granted today came from people inspired by that show.

This weekend I have been spending some time watching some of the great episodes of The Next Generation. Being a reflection of our times in the 80’s and 90’s Gene Roddenberry used many things that really took a foothold in our culture and used them in the series. One of the major things was showing a Klingon being part of the Federation. Another was designating Troi as the ship’s counsellor as therapy was such a popular thing during that time.

The Next Generation has not yet proven to be as influential on our society as TOS but some things that were created for the show have since come to pass. The tablet computer being used as a reading device rather than carrying books around became one of the staples of Star Trek and has since begun to take a hold in our society today.

Not only have these shows influenced us in technological way but they have also given us some wonderfully entertaining hours of television. In TNG we had the introduction of some of the greatest creations in all of Trek – The Borg, Ferengi, Cardassians, and many other alien races that proved to have a lasting impact on Science Fiction by holding a mirror up to our society and showing us what we are. There were also some amazing introspective stories. One of the many great episodes was “The Inner Light”. I have had conversations with the writer of that classic episode and he said he was amazed by how beloved the episode has become. He now travels around to conventions and talks about his experiences. His name is Morgan Gendel. If you ever have the opportunity to meet this man you will not be disappointed. He is a very warm and engaging person.

I have spent a lot of time this weekend watching Deep Space Nine. It is sort of the forgotten child of Star Trek. People really should put it up there as one of the greatest creations ever to come from the Trek Universe. Instead it us constantly overshadowed by its predecessors. Voyager gets talked about more because of it sucked. And that’s a shame. DS9 was an amazing series that took a decidedly different journey. It was set aboard a space station and dealt with Federation officers being placed in a war torn part of deep space. It played in an entirely different sandbox. On a regular basis they dealt with loss, religion and racial conflict much more that than any of the other series dared to do. Sure, it moved into soap opera territory from time to time. They all did. But the show was much more daring and bold than anything that came before it.

And then there was Voyager. Wanting to get back to the fun of space exploration was the idea behind the show. They came up with a Lost In Space idea where they were cut off in an uncharted quadrant so far removed from Federation space it would take over 70 years at maximum warp to return. Instead of capturing the fun of TOS they opted to make Captain Janeway a nearly spineless person who would constantly ask “what did we do to offend you?” rather than take action. The secondary cast was horribly underused. The stories were weak and Neelix was possibly the worst SciFi character outside of Jar Jar. Enough said on that until the podcast recording.

Enterprise was an uneven show but really started to come into its own in its final season. It’s a shame the show could not have run at least a little longer. I would have liked to see Captain Archer and his crew dealing more with the beginnings of the Federation. And Scott Backula is just cool.

It’s nearly unanimous how people feel about the Trek movies. The odd ones are bad, the even ones are good. But does that hold true for the reboot of the movie franchise. You will have to time into the podcast to find out my feelings on the subject. We also offer trivia. We talk about the series that never was – Star Trek: Phase II, and many other things. I will be sure to let you know when they are available.