Thinking through JJ’s career and what it reveals about Star Wars 7

Nobody knows what the next Star Wars movie will be about.

Well, a few people know. And one of those few people is JJ Abrams.

Here’s my JJ knowledge, and what each experience has taught me about his work:

A handful of “Alias” episodes. (He loves Hitchcock. The twisting, turning plot is like techie version of North by Nothwest, which is a good thing. Twisty plots in a Star Wars movie sound good to me!)

One or two of “Felicity.” (Well, again, he loves Hitchcock. The Psycho episode was fantastic. The big hope for Star Wars based on this show is that SW would finally have a full female character. Leia is great. But her last movie really damaged her character. And Padme had potential. But, like everything else in those movies, she was wasted. Here’s hoping JJ can give life to the next generation’s female characters.)

The first four seasons of “Fringe.” (Great show. Regarding the latent Star Wars potential. Well, for one thing, this show demonstrates JJ’s team’s masterful casting. The three leads on this show are excellent. And even better together. If JJ wants to put Pacey on the new Jedi Council, I would be totally cool with that.)

Mission Impossible 3 (He likes the gritty, frenetic take on the classics. I do not like this.)

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (It’s hard to know where his influence begins and ends with this one. He neither wrote or directed it. This is tied with the first as best in the series. It’s fun, over the top, and more or less realistic to that universe’s laws.)

Revolution (Again, don’t know how involved he was. Fantastic premise, lame execution.)

What About Brian? (The first ten minutes of this sitcom/drama were wonderful. The lone single guy in a group of friends otherwise populated by couples would have been a good “Thirtysomething” style dramedy. But they abandoned that aspect within the first episode and the rest of the show hobbled along as Brian whined his way from girlfriend to girlfriend.)

Super 8 (The first half is near excellence. He nailed the ET/Poltergeist vibe. Once the aliens showed up, I lost interest. But of all his movies and shows, this is the one that gives me the most hope for his Star Wars movie. He was a boy when Star Wars started, and he is able to relay that feeling of being a little boy that loves Star Wars. Even though they’re mostly crummy, there’s a wildness to Marvel’s Star Wars comics of the time. They were produced between the movies, when the universe was huge and mysterious. The rapacious EU has only expanded the universe by giving fans a longer list of names to learn. Otherwise, it has been destructive to the purity of the original trilogy. Abrams gets how fans have ruined things with their thirst for information. Fake information. And I think he’ll be able to bring Star Wars back to something magical, unexplained, and wild.)

Star Trek (Abrams’ alternate respect/disdain for old franchises is worked to a wonderful frenzy of old, new, legendary, and dangerous in this movie. This is the best movie he has yet made and it’s precisely because of that mixture of respect and disdain he has for Star Trek fans. Being a mild Trek fan himself, he knows the big moments. Being confounded by the explosion of the franchise in the 80s and 90s, he was able to pare down what “wasn’t working,” and focus on what had worked for large audiences in the movie series’ heyday.)

Star Trek Into Darkness (Okay. This one makes me a little scared for what he might do to Star Wars. The first big fear that came to mind was sex. I really don’t want Star Wars to get sexy. Sadly, there is a stupid precedent for it in Leai’s outfit at the beginning of ROTJ. But after that, I do worry about the story. The story in this Trek movie was contrived and derivative. I would hate to see Star Wars continue down that path.)


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