I need to get something off my chest.
I am really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really not happy that J.J. Abrams will be directing “Star Wars: Episode VII.”
Let me be clear. I am a “Star Wars” fan. “Empire Strikes Back” is my favorite obviously, though my heart always breaks at the end when Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and all Leia has to keep her warm at night is his smug response (“I know”) to her declaration of love. “Return of the Jedi” is a very close second, because I find Jabba grossly fascinating, totally covet an Ewok treehouse of my own, and, duh, love seeing Leia and Han reunited. (The three recent films, “Episode I-III,” are garbage and I refuse to acknowledge them.) I’ve seen “Star Wars,” “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” kadrillions of times, have spent way more time than I’d like to admit thinking about how I’d free myself from a trash compactor before it smushed me to death, and attempt to use the Force every time The Frisky has some sort of technological breakdown. I’ve even read multiple “Star Wars” spinoff books, which they sell in the sci-fi section of Barnes & Noble. In short, I love “Star Wars.”
But I love “Star Trek” more. And J.J. Abrams — who is behind the “Star Trek” movie reboots — needs to pick a side.
Look, as a fan, you can totally love both “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.” I do! A lot of nerds I know love both! But I firmly believe every fan of both like one more than the other. Including J.J. Abrams. To non-”Trek” and “Star Wars” fans, these two iconic series are often lumped together in one nerd bucket, when they are about as different as two things can be. I have so many reservations about Abrams’ involvement in both, starting with the fact that I think it will further muddle the waters between the two franchises. Aside from the fact that both “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” take place in space, they are nothing alike and I’m wary of the assumption that just because Abrams’ nailed “Star Trek,” he’ll be able to do the same with “Star Wars.”
The “Star Wars” franchise was kind of tarnished by the general crappiness of “Episode I-III,” and we were just starting to forget them when this new one was announced. While “Episode VII” takes place way after those films — after Darth Vader and the Emperor have been defeated and there’s a relatively blank slate for Abrams to work with, I’m wary of Disney’s involvement (they now own Lucasfilm and will be releasing “Episode VII”). Maybe I’ll be wrong, but regardless of who’s in the director’s chair, I don’t have a good feeling.
But Abrams, I think, did a really solid job with the “Star Trek” reboot. The film was fresh and exciting, and sure, some hardcore “Trek” fans were mad about his messing with the series timeline, but whatever! The movie was well cast, well written, funny, and very respectful of Gene Roddenberry’s vision without being a slave to it. People, I cried. Multiple times (I always cry during the opening credits, when the voiceover — Spock in this case — says, “Space … the final frontier …” etc.). I am so psyched for Abrams’ second effort, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” even though I am mildly irritated at this point that we don’t really know what “familiar” villain Benedict Cumberbatch is playing. I am confident that “Star Trek Into Darkness” is going to live up to the standard set by the first film and perhaps exceed it.
But what will a third “Star Trek” film helmed by Abrams be like if he spends a couple years focused on “Star Wars”? And what will Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode VII” be like after giving so much of himself to rebooting “Star Trek” for the last few years? He may be a fan of both franchises, but to be creatively in charge of both is to their detriment, I’m afraid. Now, I’m really high on cold medicine, so hopefully the analogy I’m about to make won’t be so highbrow that you can’t understand … Imagine if Ryan Gosling really did join the Backstreet Boys, replacing Kevin (of course), and he did so well with them that his old “Mickey Mouse Club” pal J.C. Chasez called him up and was, like, “Hey, Justin is too big for us now — want to be our fifth member?” Sure, maybe it would be sort of exciting to see what his sweet vocals could do on both “Stop Playing Games With My Heart” and “Gone,” but ultimately, the two groups — who you were previously free to like, albeit always with a preference — would start to sound like weaker versions of the other.
That’s what I’m afraid of seeing happen to “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” with J.J. Abrams involvement. It’s difficult enough to take on an established and beloved franchise and make it your own while still respecting the original … but to do that with two beloved series, that have often been compared to the other, at the same time?! You could be the best director/writer in the world — and J.J. Abrams is talented, but not that talented — and it would still be a crazy undertaking. Besides, isn’t it a bit greedy? Rebooting “Star Trek” for a new generation is already a pimp nerd gig that Abrams was lucky to get — snatching up “Star Wars” too (yeah, yeah, I know they wooed him, but still) is just plain gluttonous. There are other directors out there, maybe unexpected or lesser-known ones, who would jump at the chance to take on “Star Wars VII” and would be able to put 100 percent of their efforts into it. I don’t care that Abrams isn’t filming the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” films at the same time — the very fact that he’s doing them both at all leaves the potential for one to dilute the other.And given that you cannnot — cannot!!! — love “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” equally, one of these franchises is going to get the short end of the stick in Abrams’ hands. Better to give the “Star Wars” gig to someone who loves it more than “Star Trek,” you know?
And really, even if J.J. Abrams was a superhuman genius who could turn out “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” cinematic masterpieces, should he? I’m on the side of NO. I think this world is divided up into TEAMS for a reason and J.J. should have to choose his, dammit! Which is it, Abrams? “Star Trek” or “Star Wars”? Jolie or Aniston? Beatles or Stones? Toilet paper over or under? PICK. A. DAMN. SIDE. AND. STICK. WITH. IT.
And then kick ass, please.