It’s kind of a good news/bad news situation for the new Star Wars film, Episode VII. The bad news is that Michael Arndt is no longer writing the screenplay. However, his work has not been for nothing, as they are merely taking over from where he left off. It’s also likely that they’ll go back through everything he’s written, making changes whenever and wherever necessary. We probably won’t know until the film gets closer to release whether Arndt will be credited in any way.
The good news is that J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan are the writers that are taking over the screenwriting duties. J.J. Abrams is, of course, the creator of many of the best TV shows of the last decade. Lawrence Kasdan is a name that, if you know Star Wars history, you’ll recognize as the screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s been a while since his words have been spoken in a Star Wars film, and kind of sad that he didn’t get to take a few passes on each of the Star Wars prequels. However, that is changing with the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. Kasdan is now at work on the new film, and I couldn’t be more excited about it than I am now.
J.J. Abrams has a very good understanding of what made the very first Star Wars film, A New Hope, work. Right from the start, that film had mystery after mystery, and took you on a ride. It answered some questions while raising more.
Watch this video from a Ted conference a few years ago, called The Mystery Box. It’ll give you a very good idea of what drives the stories that Abrams tells, and what’s behind the choices he makes. In it, you’ll also see a scene that he considers to be one of the greatest scenes of all time, from the movie Jaws. And it’s not a scene that people normally think of when they think about that movie.
J.J. Abrams is directing Star Wars: Episode VII
What many considered to be an impossible situation has actually happened. J.J. Abrams has quickly become one of my favorite directors, having created some of my favorite TV series, and actually did the impossible: got me to watch a Star Trek film based on his name alone. And I’ll be watching my second Star Trek film with his second film in the series: Star Trek Into Darkness. I have heard that he’s signed on for three Star Trek films, so I’m pretty sure that after he completes work on Episode VII, he’ll likely meet up with his writing team to start scripting and ultimately direct Star Trek III.
Super 8 is a film that is rich with many layers of depth. It is a love-letter to the inspiration of making movies and provides a lot of heart to match. After seeing the film, I ordered the score, composed by Michael Giacchino. Giacchino has worked with Super 8 director J.J. Abrams on every project since Alias.
Having seen the film three times, each time getting something new out of the movie, I found the music and characters began to resonate with me more and more. Perhaps it’s because my childhood was somewhat similar, but for whatever reason, the themes that the film contained touched me.
The music, masterfully composed by Giacchino, is both reminiscent of the music of John Williams and entirely original. The first time you hear the music in the film is with the studio logos, before the movie even begins, and I can remember feeling that music already transporting me back to my childhood.
It is then that the film begins, with a loss that hangs over the whole film: an accident at a plant that takes the life of Joe Lamb’s mother. It is this beat that sets up the emotional journey of Joe, as he sets off through the summer, trying to be a kid while also trying to deal with the loss of his mother and a father that doesn’t know how to be there for him. Joe holds tightly to a locket that had belonged to his mother and finds it difficult to move on. He finds himself on a journey of discovery as an alien is loose in his small town. The culmination of his journey is in the moment that he confronts the alien face to face.
“Bad things happen,” he says, “but you can still live.”