The Best Director For Episode IIV? It May Not Be Who You Think.
So now everyone’s calmed down about the approach of Episode VII and would-be comedians the world over have finally stopped photoshopping Mickey Mouse ears onto pictures of Darth Vader and posting them on Facebook to show their shithead friends just how goddamn clever they think they are, it’s time to talk seriously about this thing. Will Harrison Ford return as Han Solo? Hopefully. Will Chewie be in it? That’d be cool, as long as they promise not to CGI him. Will George Lucas be chained to a radiator somewhere where he can’t get his sausagey little fingers on the script? Certainly, if the producers have any sense. Who’ll be in it? What’s the story like? Shit, in all the excitement we sort of forgot that as of yet we know nothing about this movie.
Is it weird to anyone else that as little as 7 years ago, when Sith was released, the amount of internet speculation about upcoming movies was perhaps half as widespread as it is nowadays? Fun facts: in 2005, Shadow of the Colossus had just been released for the PS2 , no-one had heard of Twitter or Zero Punctuation or Barack Obama, and magazines were playfully speculating that YouTube “may actually replace TV in the end” (bonus fun fact: it did). When episode VII comes out, Sith will be ten years ago. Ten years. Feeling old yet? Anyway, internet speculation in this case has been pretty spectacular, and like many film buffs, what I’m most interested in is the director. Second to that is the scriptwriter, but in this case that’s an easy matter: you hire anyone who’s not George Lucas, and you’re done. Anyone. James Nguyen, if you must. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s not Lucas.
Look, I love Lucas for making the original trilogy but more than anything else, his script is what killed the prequels. But I’m not talking about that: I’ve spent thousands on therapy to erase the prequels from my mind and despite occasionally waking up at night screaming “SAND? ‘I HATE SAND?’ FUCKING REALLY?” it’s going pretty well. No, I’m here today to talk about directors. Who’s doing what, why and when?
So, Brad Bird is apparently out, which is a real shame because he directed Ghost Protocol, which kicked ass, and a ton of the best Pixar movies, along with a couple of Simpsons episodes focussing on Krusty the Clown (my favourite character on that show). Star Wars would’ve worked for him. But I guess if he doesn’t want to, that’s fair enough. Colin Trevorrow has pretty much counted himself out. Who else?
Sam Mendes? Hmm, possibly. I mean, he’s proven to the world that he gets Bond, so maybe he’d get Star Wars too. That’d be interesti- oh, he’s out too? Sigh... OK, never mind.
JJ Abrams is a possibility - I’m sort of in two minds about him. I liked Cloverfield, but I do think Super 8 was just a bit overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but to a cynical bastard like me it felt extremely manipulative at times. My worry is that his Star Wars may carry that with it and end up like the prequels. But on the other hand, his take on Star Trek was – and I’ll accept no argument on this – fucking stupendous, so maybe he could revive Star Wars the same way, give it the same flair while still making it faithful to the source material. I’ll reserve judgement for the time being, but I’m still not entirely convinced. On his part Abrams has denied any involvement, but his name is apparently still on the cards, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Joss Whedon has apparently been approached but to be honest, I’m really not sure I’d be happy with that. To clarify, I think Joss Whedon is a god just as much as you do, but to me he doesn’t seem like Star Wars material. His works feel like comic books, that’s what it is. Even Firefly, his most Star Wars-esque creation, had that feel about it. Maybe if the movie was all about Han Solo, he’d be worth a look. But it won’t be, which is why I would tentatively cast my vote against him on this one.
M. Night Shyamalan? ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?
I want you to do something for me. If you think this man should be allowed within 100 miles of what is arguably the greatest sci-fi franchise the world has ever seen, raise your hand. Ok, thank you. Now, what I want you to do is take several steps back from your computer, so your back is against the furthermost wall... doing that? Cool. Now, I’d like you lower your head and charge full-tilt into your desk. Make sure your head slams into the wood with real force, yeah? Done? OK, now go watch The Happening again. Dumb, isn’t it?
My friend, you just performed a little DIY surgery there; through that simple task, you knocked your brain back into place. It had shifted, you see: Lady in the Water pushed it off-kilter and you started thinking Shyamalan was a good director. No need to thank me. Unless you accidentally killed yourself, in which case, wow, what a twist.
So, quick-fire, who else we got? Spielberg’s out; Zack Snyder doesn’t want it, and in all honesty I’m glad about that... Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass guy? Nah) ... Del Toro (Hmm, maybe)... Tarantino? Are you insane? Oh, he’s not interested... So who?
Well, okay, let’s look at this objectively for a moment. A Star Wars director has to get Sci-Fi, that much is obvious. But they also have to understand that part of what made the original trilogy so great was its humour, the fact that, no matter how dark things got, there was always a trace of cool unflappability. It could take itself seriously, but it kept a smile on the audience’s face throughout.
Hmm. So, Sci-Fi and humour; what else? Lovable characters, both alien and human - well, that’s a must, obviously. And I’m not talking about Jar-Jar Binks wackiness; I mean genuine lovability, like they managed to get with Chewie and Ackbar. No matter how weird the alien creatures look, they need to have that feel to them.
Wait... seriously? Is this going where I think it’s going? I mean, sure, District 9 was a great movie, but it sure as hell wasn’t Star Wars. It was way too grim and gritty. To say nothing of director Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Elysium. But... okay, I’ll follow this for the sake of argument. What else do we need? Erm... droids? R2 and 3P0 are going to be in it whether we like it or not, so we’d better hope we get someone who knows their robots.
Really, he made that? Wow. Okay. Again, it’s no Star Wars, but it shows he knows his stuff, at least. And he’s made some other robot movies as well, you say? Huh. But you know, I can’t get past the grim-and-gritty thing. Maybe if he’d already done an adaptation of some sci-fi thing that geeks love, something that was just for fun that can venture into the realms of violence and darkness without overly relying on them...
Neill Blomkamp’s Star Wars.
You Have To admit, it has a ring to it.