What’s up guys, Frazier here for Complex News. Turmoil has engulfed LucasFilm. Since relaunching the Star Wars franchise with the Episode 7 The Force Awakens, the production company has been beset by drama from within. Episode 7 was helmed with no issues by fan-favorite auteur J.J. Abrams, but since then? LucasFilm can’t get a new Star Wars movie without some kind of scandal dominating the conversation.
First, up-and-coming director Josh Trank, who was set to helm a standalone movie, was fired not long after reports of his Fantastic Four debacle leaked out, which, hard to blame LucasFilm there. Then there was the implication that veteran director Tony Gilroy who joined the first standalone film, Rogue One, in post-production, basically had to hold Gareth Edwards hand to save the movie with reshoots and a new ending.
But the real fireworks started when directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller were unceremoniously fired from the Han Solo movie...DURING the middle of production, over creative differences. It was a brazen move by LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy, one bolded and underlined when the job was given to Ron Howard. Replacing the young duo who gave us 21 Jump Street with a 63 year-old legend seemed to make the situation at LucasFilm clear: They’re hiring all this younger, new talent to helm the new installments of the Star Wars franchise, but it doesn’t seem like they actually trust their vision. Which brings us to the latest fracas.
Last week it was announced that Colin Trevorrow and LucasFilm had “mutually” parted ways and he would no longer direct Star Wars Episode IX, due in spring 2019. That’s the fourth production shape-up for the company, but, in all honesty, it was good news. Trevorrow is most famous for Jurassic World, and, I don’t know man, have you seen that movie??? Once you get past the awe of having dinosaurs back on-screen and the bulletproof charm of Chris Pratt, it really, really doesn’t hold up. But what probably sealed the deal for Colin was the reviews for his latest movie, The Book of Henry. I haven’t seen it, but headlines like this sure do make me want to, because I love a good trainwreck.
With Trevorrow out, fans immediately began dream-casting his replacement. But others figured a less sensational solution was going to go down. Episode VIII is being helmed by Rian Johnson, the guy behind imaginative, original cult classics like Brick and Looper, as well as some of the most visually striking episodes of Breaking Bad. That’s the rare Star Wars production to have gone down with no drama, the trailer looks awesome, and all signs indicate Johnson’s going to deliver a truly awesome final product. The man was watching old samurai classics to prepare, how can this film not be fire? So it seemed like Kennedy and LucasFilm would just ask him to stay on and close the trilogy out.
Today they swerved lightly, by instead hiring the OTHER director who gave them no problems: J.J. Abrams. Now, I’m probably a bigger J.J. fan than most—I’ll ride for Alias until I die. But while Force Awakens was a cool re-introduction to Star Wars, a lot of it felt TOO homage-y to me. The locales, the character arcs… it all felt less like a sequel and the beginning of a new era, and more like a reimagining of A New Hope. Also, not so sold on Kylo Ren as a cool bad guy just yet, sir.
It’s not fair to compare until we’ve seen both, but so far Rian seems like he struck a better balance between being respectful to a series he grew up on but also taking it further with new ideas and implementations. So while on one hand, it only seems right for J.J. to end the new chapter that he helped start, I just hope Force Awakens got the fanboy out of his system and he’s ready to really shake shit up and knock it out of the park.
J.J. is now the only director besides George Lucas himself to direct a second Star Wars film. He’ll co-write with Chris Terrio, the guy who co-wrote Argo (good) and Batman v Superman (bad). So we shall see. THat’s the news for now but for more updates on disturbances in the Force, subscribe to Complex News on Youtube today. For Complex I’m Frazier.