The Sunday Magazine: J.J. Abrams

I think you would have had to work really hard over the last few days to have missed seeing the new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I think every geek in the world is hoping for something great with the continuation of the Star Wars saga begun in 1977 by George Lucas. I think that the reason most of us carry that hopeful outlook is because of one person, J.J. Abrams.

Alias

Mr. Abrams first jumped onto my radar with his television series “Alias” from 2001-2006. It was a loopy spy show with a crazy mythology around an inventor’s incredible artifacts which held amazing powers. There were times it was too complicated for its own good but it was always fun. For those of you who watch all of the new dramas which call themselves “twisty”; Alias was doing that well before those shows were ever a concept.

2014 NBCUniversal TCA Winter Press Tour Portraits

J.J. Abrams

Mr. Abrams would transition to the silver screen, directing 2006’s Mission: Impossible III. This seemed a natural progression from small screen spy shenanigan to big screen ones. It was one of the better movies in that franchise but it was what Mr. Abrams did next which really began his upward trajectory.

Star-Trek-poster

In 2009 he would take what is one of the two tentpole sci-fi franchises and attempt to reboot it. When it was announced he was named as the director of the new Star Trek movie I was very skeptical. On one hand Star Trek has been ridden into the ground and lumbered under the accumulated years of mythology. There wasn’t much left to screw up. On the other hand I read Mr. Abrams’ unproduced screenplay he wrote in 2002 for Superman. On another property which also suffered from a restrictive historical mythology he completely lost what it was that makes Superman the superhero he is. I worried if that approach was used he would drive the final nail in the Star Trek coffin.

What happened was he found a way to celebrate everything that made Star Trek so much fun while at the same time wiping the slate clean and allowing this cast and this story to essentially start over. It was reverential and revolutionary in respect to the source material and it was incredible. My life as a geek began in front of a television screen watching Star Trek and Mr. Abrams gave it back to me. He had been able to fully exercise his creativity within a universe which seemed impossible to work in. He would direct the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness and then he announced his next project.

Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens

If Star Trek is one sci-fi tentpole then Star Wars is the other. After Disney had acquired George Lucas’ Lucasfilm they announced there were going to be more Star Wars movies starting in 2015 with Episode VII. Then they announced Mr. Abrams would be writing and directing. This time there was no skepticism there was just relief that they were putting this in the hands of someone who I think gets it.

We are a few months away from the December release but this week the first full-length trailer was released. It starts with a voice over of Luke Skywalker and ends with Han Solo and Chewie. In between we get glimpses of our new trio of heroes and their new nemeses. If there is any chance of this being great Mr. Abrams might be the only person I would trust this to.

Come December as a scroll of words with the heading Episode VII The Force Awakens begins to move up the screen we will all know if Mr. Abrams has succeeded in bringing home the geek Daily Double. I am betting he will.

Mark Behnke

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