Sunday, February 3, 2013

J.J. Abrams to direct new Star Wars film

J.J. Abrams is about to go from Star Trek to Star Wars.

"Yes, J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy," was written in a statement published on

While I'm not a mega-fan of his work like some are, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek movie. If Abrams can bring that kind of work to the Star Wars films, it'll only mean good things.

I've been in a sci-fi kind of mood recently, as I just watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Wars: Episode II.

Both movies left a lot to be desired, so I'm all for Abrams taking a shot at re-creating Star Wars (even if it doesn't need to be revived).

Related Content:
Star Wars: Episode II - reviewed.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - reviewed.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - reviewed.

I'd never seen the original Star Trek, but J.J. Abrams' 2009 movie gave me an itch to watch a little more of the Star Trek franchise.

I figured the best place to start was square one. Turns out that may not have been the case.

The effects in the movie weren’t too bad – despite being several decades old. Granted, they kind of played it safe.

They didn't have the cast involved in a lot of the special effects. Much of the effects were done in the outer space setting, so it was probably easier to incorporate graphics into that than it would be to mix with actual human beings.

There were some primitive green screen spots as well, however, like when Spock was floating into the invading alien's ship.

The story is what was lacking. It lacked a little bit of logic (this alien ship seemed more friendly than threatening), but most of all it lacked excitement.

The alien ship, which was operated by robotics (no humans or other races aboard), didn’t really both to attack the ship or the crew. It did take possession of one of the female members of the crew in order to communicate with members of the Enterprise.

The robotics essentially invaded the body of Ilia (Persis Khambatta...who really did shave her head for the role), a navigator for The Enterprise, and took over her mind.

I was surprised to see the father from 7th Heaven (otherwise known as Stephen Collins) in the movie. I had no idea he was part of the Star Trek universe. He played Willard Decker, the new captain of the Enterprise, who was quickly demoted by Captain Kirk. He was also Ilia's love interest, so you can imagine how upset he was with Kirk after his actions as a Captain allowed Ilia to be possessed.

Their plan was to have Decker spend time with Ilia and try to find the human side of her by reigniting the spark they had. The problem is that they all developed this plan just feet away from Ilia. Apparently the robotics didn't have very good hearing.

Beyond the plot holes, there weren't any laser beams fired. I don't think there were any combat scenes or action sequences. What kind of Star Trek movie is that?

There was a little twist at the end of the movie that I didn't see coming. Although Earth was technically in danger of being destroyed, the movie didn't leave me feeling any kind of anxiousness about the possible destruction of Star Fleet's home planet.

I suppose I'll just have to look forward to battles with the Klingons and other more exciting space adventures in the next few Star Trek films on my Netflix list.

Related Content:
Star Wars: Episode II - reviewed.
Total Recall - reviewed.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - reviewed.

Star Wars: Episode II - reviewed.

I first saw this movie when it was released in the early 2000s. I don’t think I’ve seen it since then. I was going to start with Star Wars: Episode I and go through the entire hectlogy (trilogy x2), but Episode I was on a “Very Long Wait” status on Netflix.

I had the same issue with the movie this time around as I did last time: bad acting. Hayden Christensen gave such a stoic performance. After watching the movie again I have to wonder if that’s what George Lucas was going for. Natalie Portman’s performance wasn’t much better. Ewan McGregor wasn’t much better than Christensen. Their performances were a mixture of campy and unenthused. Even Samuel L. Jackson was bland.

The delivery of their lines lacked the conviction they should’ve had to make the movie truly epic.

Maybe that’s how Lucas wanted it, though. Maybe it wasn’t the actors.

Portman went on to win an Academy Award, so it’s hard to argue that she can’t act. She delivered a believable and enjoyable performance in Thor. In fact, I think I enjoyed her more as Thor’s main squeeze than I did as Queen Amidala.

The storyline wasn’t incredible, but it worked for what it was – the bridge between Episode I and Episode III aka “the birth of Darth Vader.” The romance between Amidala and Anakin developed, even if it did slow the movie down a little.

The lightsaber action was nice. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s scene against Boba Fett in the rain was cool. Seeing Yoda wield a lightsaber was pretty cool too.

The other complaint I had about the movie -- something that didn't strike me the first time I watched it over a decade ago -- is how truly unimpressive the special effects were. It got progressively worse, probably culminating with Natalie Portman on a gigantic conveyor belt – trying to dodge being processed like a robot.

I know that a lot of work is done in front of a green screen these days. We all know that. It's not something I want to think about while watching the movie though. It was so blatantly obvious that a green screen was being used, however, that it took me away from what was happening in the movie.

Maybe it was impressive in 2002. 10 years later and the effects are dated. 10 years from now and they’ll probably be somewhat embarrassing – kind of like the original Superman movie.

Compare Star Wars’ effects to the effects in Iron Man, X-Men or Transformers and you’ll see what I mean.

Considering this is Star Wars we're talking about, which I’m assuming had a huge budget, it’s disappointing that their effects couldn’t stand the test of time – or at least 10 years.

Any scenes that involved the clones or the robots were CGI overkill.

Episode II wasn't as good as I remembered it. It didn't have the very cool Darth Maul like Episode or Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader like Episode III. It's kind of disappointing when a movie doesn't live up to your memory of it

Related Content:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - reviewed.
Total Recall - reviewed.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - reviewed.