July 12, 2015

Why the Future of Star Wars Films Concern Me



            I am scared for the future of Star Wars. The original film in ‘77, the original trilogy, the moments of the prequel trilogy, and the continuing stories throughout the saga are a dominant force (heh) in a culture, not to mention to me, personally. There is a lot at stake with the upcoming trilogy for Lucasfilm, Disney, the fans, and the film industry in general. But there is one thing that bothers me more than anything else: inexperience.  
Here is rundown of confirmed and rumored directors for the upcoming Star Wars films: 

Film
Director
Age
Directorial Debut
Number of films
VII
JJ Abrams
49
2006
4
IIX
Rian Johnson
41
2005
3
IX
Colin Trevarrow
39
2012
2
Rogue One
Gareth Edwards
40
2010
2
???
Josh Trank
31
2012
2
Han Solo
Phil Lord, Chris Miller
39
2009
4
           
            An average of the seven directors shows an age of 39 years old,  directing fewer than three films, and who began their directing careers just six years ago. Now the filmography between these filmmakers has made generally-liked movies – Super8, Looper, Monsters, The Lego Movie – movies I’ve enjoyed. However, even though they could knock them out of the park, I still do not trust these men to make a solid Star Wars movie. So I have to wonder what the logic is by Kathleen Kennedy and the Disney leadership that they make these moves. Or to put it another way, why not hire within the plethora of veteran directors who have a proven track record of +20 years? A small sample of recognized and established are the following: Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Joe Johnston, James Cameron, Wolfgang Peterson, David Fincher, Mel Gibson, Robert Redford, Frank Darabont, Kathryn Bigelow, Fernando Ferreira Meirelles, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Sam Mendes, Guillermo del Toro, Denis Villeneuve, Jonathan Demme, Brian De Palma, Joe Wright, Sam Raimi, Danny Boyle, and Andrew Niccol.
            Disney’s argument could be that they have more control over the less-experienced directors. With a veteran, there is a greater potential for unwanted back-and-forth arguing with story, scenes, and look of the films. The auteur in some of the aforementioned directors may want things their way (although we are not talking about the Terrence Malicks or von Triers of filmmaking). With just two films under a couple of these guys’ belts does not instill confidence in me. 
           A related concern of mine is that they only have experience in the sci-fi genre. Although that helps with the eye-candy that we are beginning to see with every new VII image released, are we all not concerned with the storyline? The precedent was set with Irvin Kershner for Empire Strikes Back – arguably the best of the six feature films.  Because his specialty was not in the sci-fi genre but rather in drama, he brought out the best in each character, climaxing in the greatest reveal in cinematic history. A shining example of this is the Harry Potter franchise. The Boston Globe wrote a good comparison of the four directors of those films. None of them had sci-fi/fantasy experience, but they understood drama. Four directors on the younger side (to appease the Disney execs) who I can see handling both action and drama well (a la Kershner) are Sophia Coppola, Steve McQueen, Jonathan Glazer, and Garth Jennings. Admittedly, the Potter movies’ drama might have been a little heavy-handed, but they no doubt brought an exponential maturity to the films – something that the directors of the upcoming Star Wars films do not yet have.