The news broke today. Arndt is out, JJ & Kasdan are in. Lucasfilm's official release says: Devin Faraci of BadassDigest characterizes the magnitude of the changes: I sense a major disturbance in the force. Arndt's involvement was the primary source for my optimism on the sequels. Abrams has never been impressive as a writer, his strengths have tended toward production and direction. The last good piece of writing from Kasdan happened in 1991, by my count. My confidence in the sequel trilogy has plummeted. I'm a huge fan of Arndt's gifts as a writer, specifically in his ability to bring meaning and substance to entertainment. JJ Abrams can bring fireworks and pyrotechnics, he can bring cleverness, he can bring humor, he can bring a short-term emotional connection for a character (but struggles to sustain) - and, I'm afraid he's never shown an interest or an ability to wrestle with anything substantial. Yes, the Joseph Campbell structures have become absorbed by popular culture and partly because of Star Wars's popularity, filmmakers like Abrams can cite that influence. But I've never gotten the sense that he's intellectually engaged with that kind of material, that he can understand the core of the ideas in a way to regenerate it and create something new from the same spark of fire. Hope I'm wrong, but today might be the day we learned that EP VIII was destined for Star Trekkian mediocrity. My only source of hope right now is hoping that somehow Kasdan can defy the trajectory of his late career and recapture his early brilliance, and with the added wisdom of his many experiences bring something substantial to the script.