Yes, we know Star Wars: The Force Awakens was very similar to previous Star Wars installments, especially Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. From delegating droids with the delivery of vital information, to placing the protagonist on a desert planet and ending it all with the destruction of ‘Death Star Mark (insert number here)’, Force Awakens definitely followed a familiar template. Besides the patterned plot, Force Awakens also relied heavily on homage and fan service to the point where serendipitous, narrative advances were buried under moments of ostentatious convenience. Yes, the overall reception of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was (and still is) powerfully positive, but Abram’s almost formulaic reliance on the original trilogy induced a bit of ire.
In a recent interview with our friends at the Hollywood Reporter during THR’s Awards Chatter podcast, Abrams responded to that particular bit of critical ire.
“I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!’ What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards.”
Abrams was also very aware that whatever he did with Star Wars, regardless of how masterful or meteoric, the film would come under some level of scrutiny by especially passionate Star Wars fans.
“I knew that, whatever we did, there would be a group of people — and I was just hoping and praying that it would be smaller than not — that would take issue with any number of things. But I knew we weren’t making the movie for any other reason than we believed that it could be something meaningful and special and entertaining and worthy of people’s time.”
Regarding future installments of the rebooted franchise, Abrams admitted the opportunity to continue his directorial contributions was ever present, but declined for various, understandable reasons.
“I realized when I was working on [The Force Awakens], the amount of energy that was required to tell the story, and do it justice, knowing when Episode VIII would start shooting, there was no way — if I wanted to still have my children talk to me in my old age — that doing that would make any sense,” he says. “If The Force Awakens worked, it was the perfect place to say, ‘I got to make a Star Wars movie,’ and not be a greedy bastard. If it didn’t work, no-one would want me doing it anyway.”
Of course, Abrams is still very much in the loop, seeing as his film was only the first part in a continuing narrative. Because of this, Abrams has a very good idea what the future holds for Rey, Luke, Finn, Chewie and the gang.
“Larry [Kasdan] and I had a bunch of thoughts of where certain things could go and we shared those things with Rian Johnson, who’s directing VIII,” he says. “He had things that he came up with where he asked if it was possible if we could make some adjustments with what we were doing at the end, most of which we did — there were just a couple that didn’t feel right, so he made adjustments — but it was just collaboration.”
Don’t sweat it, J.J. You done good.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts…Well, it already did, and I saw it 14 times in 3 days. It was awesome.