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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

We Hope to Avoid the Future Headline, ‘Abrams Tanked’



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After a heavy week, the final Morning Jolt of the week also features a look at what we’ve seen from the man who is now at the helm of both the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” franchises, J. J. Abrams:

J. J. Abrams, Now In Charge of All ‘Star’-Related Films

Didn’t see this coming: “J. J. Abrams is set to direct ‘Episode VII.’ Sources have confirmed the ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ filmmaker will helm the next ‘Star Wars’ movie, the highly anticipated installment in the landmark franchise scheduled to reach theaters in 2015.  ’Star Wars: Episode VII’ will be written by Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘Toy Story 3.’”

So, what can we expect, knowing what we know of J. J. Abrams’s career?

He perhaps first made it big with the television series “Alias”, which starred the delightful Jennifer Garner in a series of ever-more revealing outfits, infiltrating the operations of rogue spy agencies that were always working out of offices above nightclubs or in embassies that looked like mansions. I’d contend Alias had one of the most intriguing concepts that ended up not working at all on screen, the work and artifacts of “Milo Rambaldi,” a Nostradamus–meets–Leonardo da Vinci historical figure who was involved with some sort of mysterious prophecy and discoveries and inventions that were centuries ahead of their time. The whole thing was an attempt to add a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark–style tomb-raiding to the spy genre, and it should have worked . . . except the whole thing turned into a shaggy dog story, in which our heroes needed to find one artifact in order to find the map which will lead them to the manuscript which will lead them to the tomb which will point the way to the codex which will point the way to the clock, which will lead them to . . . wait, now I’m completely lost, except that I understand the mission is doomed to failure unless Jennifer Garner goes undercover in a blue latex dress.

The great “24” would get into that mode quite a bit:

“Chloe, it’s urgent! We need to find the witness, who can lead us to the mercenary, who knows where to find the data chip, so we can use that to find the on hacker who can decrypt the code, which can descramble the Cyrus recordings, which will reveal the plot for the remaining episodes!”

“Wait, I thought we looking for the mercenary who can decrypt the code in order to find the chip!”

“Dammit, I don’t have time to explain!”

Then Abrams did “Cloverfield,” which asked, “wouldn’t it be awesome to watch a giant monster attack New York City, with all kinds of creepy 9/11-ish echoes, through the eyes of a very shaky hand-held video camera?” And we learned . . . no, it’s not awesome at all. It’s awful. Get me some Dramamine.

Then he did “Lost,” an undisputed hit that I didn’t watch. I understand Jonah and John Podhoretz thought it was an awful con of the audience, with the writers clearly making it up as they went along.

Then he directed the reinvention of “Star Trek,” which a lot of people liked, even if the time-travel plot left some folks grumbling. It was a pretty audacious decision to recast iconic characters, and it worked in almost all of the cases. The easiest way to understand Karl Urban’s performance as Bones is to conclude he was simply possessed by the spirit of DeForest Kelley while filming. The mannerisms are just kind of spooky. Ironically, in his DVD commentary, Abrams said that he approached the Star Trek reboot by asking what Star Wars did well and what the Trek movies should emulate – thus a scene of a young, frustrated Kirk, looking up at the Enterprise and dreaming of a more adventurous life beyond the horizon . . . Of course, some audience members did leave the theater temporarily blinded from all of the lens flares.

So, should one man control the fate of the Star Trek AND Star Wars franchises? Is it too much geek power in one director?


Tags: Something Lighter


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