Good gravy, I just need to finish this challenge. Every time I pop on here to check on things or to update stuff, I’m reminded of how this is just hanging out, waiting for me to complete it. So be prepared to see a lot of this challenge over the next several days. Plus, I’m planning on doing another challenge in November (Cowboy Bebop!), so I’d like to not have two challenges running at the same time.
Anyway, I usually approach this from the perspective of plotting or character development, but for this challenge? I’m going in a different direction.
I am not a big fan of JJ Abrams. I don’t hate him or anything, and I genuinely enjoy some of the original material he puts out (Super 8 was superb, and Lost was … fine). But when he takes other IP, he just can’t seem to impress me with anything new; it’s just a rehash with flashier CGI and, more often than not, it loses whatever character the original had. For example, Star Trek is known for changing things up and making absolutely brilliant cinema, despite those changes. DS9, my favorite, was such a departure from the two previous series, but it fit within the universe completely. When I watched Abrams’ version of the original series, I was livid, and not in a “that’s not my Star Trek” kind of way. I didn’t mind the romance between Uhura and Spock, and Sulu actually being gay was a) such a nice nod to George Takei and b) beautifully executed. Chris Pine as Kirk was inspired casting (although I will love him in absolutely anything), and the acting was superb. But … it didn’t feel like Star Trek. The point of the original series was to explore, to see what humanity could accomplish, to discuss serious topics like racism in a way that wasn’t necessarily overtly calling people out on their shit – it was to start a conversation. TNG continued the concept of TOS but had a completely different approach to conflict through the ship’s captain and main character, Picard. DS9 went even further, purposefully dwelling in the gray area that neither TOS or TNG was willing to go. Even the subsequent shows – Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, and Picard – have established how they approach the basic premise of space exploration and its consequences.
What did Abrams do to add to that discussion? Absolutely nothing. Oh, timelines are different? Great. It just means we have to see other ways that they can introduce fan-favorite characters, like Khan. Which … don’t even get me started on Khan.
Back to Star Wars, though. Didn’t mean to go on a tangent there.
I feel like Abrams took one look at Star Wars and decided that he was going to play it safe. And this is coming from the girl who actually liked The Force Awakens. I saw it for what it was – literally A New Hope, but Luke’s a young woman (like he was in one of the early drafts of the original series!) – but it wasn’t this groundbreaking experience. Say what you will about The Last Jedi, but that was one of the bravest movies that has come out in this franchise. Rian Johnson had me riveted throughout the entire film, similarly to Empire – the existential crises that both Luke and Rey are dealing with are similar enough that we can compare them, but the outcomes are so different (Luke leaves before he finishes his training, Rey has to leave because there is nothing else that Luke can teach her) that it feels fresh. I don’t even want to get into The Rise of Skywalker because I have only seen one other movie that I’ve actively disliked from the get-go, which was Battlefield Earth, and ugh … I hate remembering that movie exists. Instead of allowing Rey to be just connected to the Force or whatever, oh, no, she has to be the Emperor’s granddaughter? Which … like what? Nope, I’m not going to think about it.
Basically, this is all just to say that I wish JJ Abrams had never been given the right to film Star Wars. Maybe a one-shot? But to control the direction of the next trilogy? Fuck no.
Art Credit: 99 Designs