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ST J.J. Abrams (Director Of TFA & TROS) Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Sequel Trilogy' started by Pro Scoundrel , Jan 3, 2020.

  1. Skywalker Family

    Skywalker Family Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 15, 2017
    I get whiplash just watching scenes like that.
     
  2. kylokrennic

    kylokrennic Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 31, 2020
    Yep. But they have explicitly said the hotel scenes at the end of "2001" were an inspiration.

    This is more obvious -- in my opinion -- if you look at the concept paintings in the "Art Of" book.
     
  3. cratylus

    cratylus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 9, 2001
    I didn't say it was one thing rather than the other. The point is that there is an in-universe point of reference. The connection was immediate to me, and I liked it.
     
    kylokrennic likes this.
  4. kylokrennic

    kylokrennic Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 31, 2020
    I didn't say it was one thing or the other, either. :p

    In Star Wars, it never is.
     
    cratylus likes this.
  5. boonjj

    boonjj Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 21, 2016
    JJ is such an awful director. I feel like he thinks the audience has zero attention and so he whips and pushes in the camera constantly. Regardless of what the scene calls for he just forces in movement and energy. Constantly.
     
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  6. Bob Effette

    Bob Effette Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2015
    I kind of agree with this. He has no self-regulation, and contrives energy for each scene. I think that is why characters in JJ Abrams' movies run everywhere at full pelt instead of walking. I suspect he feels that this gives every scene a bit more pizzazz. Also, everyone seems to shout all the time. I mean, Finn's unfortunate "REY!!" screaming is now its own meme, but there's a lot of hollering and shouting at each other.

    The other thing I hate that he does is when two characters talk over each other at the same time. For example when Rey and Finn escape Jakku on the Falcon in The Force Awakens, or when Rey and Poe meet again in The Rise of Skywalker. (Kirk and Spock do a fair bit of this also in Abrams' Star Trek movie)

    Yeah, his movies are a bit "fast food". Initially tasty, but no real nutrition.
     
  7. JoJoPenelli

    JoJoPenelli Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2000
    Gazes contemplatively at ceiling light fixture.

    I wonder what RoS would’ve looked like if JJ had done the final theatrical cut.
     
  8. FARK2005

    FARK2005 Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 2012
    It is something that has become predominant in modern filmmaking (especially blockbusters), and it’s being done so that the industry can deceive us into thinking that the movie we’re watching is providing us with a better experience that it actually is. By constantly moving the camera around and/or maintaining a high pace in scenes ensures that the reptilian complex in our brain is engaged with visual stimulants, which causes the release dopamine (part of our reward system). The filmmakers take advantage of the fact that our brains have been designed to be engaged by anything novel that is changing on the screen, and by continuously throwing information at us, they can keep us stuck in a basic pleasure loop so that we don’t immediately notice things like the poor quality of the story, of the characters, the plotholes, the lack of logic, the plot contrivances, etc. When we leave the theater upon fist viewing we will most likely have a positive opinion of the film and recommend it to others, ensuring box office earnings.

    It’s not until later when we see the movie again, or simply start thinking about it more thoroughly, that we realize that we have been duped, that the movie was actually just an abstract noise of visual stimulants with no substance to it – that there was nothing to engage the other parts of the brain which is what is needed to provide us with a truly rich film experience.

    Sadly, with the focus on visual stimulation, most modern filmmakers seem to have forgotten that good storytelling is what makes a great movie.
     
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  9. vaderito

    vaderito Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2016
    I think that talking over each other and finishing each other sentences is supposed to mean insta kinship. Since JJ isn't into taking time and having things stew for a bit, he has to convey somehow that something happened.right.this.moment so that he's free to move to the next. he never wants to stay in the moment. I don't think it's so much that he's afraid audience will be bored (he's heard this complaint so he knows they are not). I think it's because he is bored. Which is why he likes to interrupt scenes with something new aka moving from scene 1 and into the next without finishing what he started. Just... sigh. It's his thing and it won't change I'm afraid. There's no lesson to be learned because it's his character.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
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  10. JohnWilliamsSonoma

    JohnWilliamsSonoma Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 7, 2003
    I thought Rey and Poe talking over each other in that first scene was going to pay off later with a revelation that they had a romantic history. But no, it was just a shallow way of trying to create some kind of character conflict between them because Rey's not out there helping. Just super lame.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
  11. cratylus

    cratylus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 9, 2001
    Abrams likes having characters do things that are supposed to be impossible. This penchant on his part annoyed fans of Star Trek and Star Wars both. To me that is the worst part of his actual filmmaking. The only other thing I don't like, at least enough to really be bothered by it, is how he can be sort of dismissive about Lucas and the prequels in interviews. I think part of that was a marketing choice but it's related to an overall trend I don't like. For instance in the Rise of Skywalker interviews, I think only Oscar Isaac made a point of thanking George Lucas for creating the whole thing in the first place. I would like to hear a lot more of that, and it tends to come out a little muted when Abrams goes there. But to be fair Abrams has said thank you to George Lucas and praised him in different contexts. Those moments don't get as much attention but they did happen.

    EDIT: I decided to add the following link:
    https://www.iol.co.za/entertainment...george-lucas-letting-go-of-star-wars-37946470
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
  12. AEHoward33

    AEHoward33 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2019
    I've said it before. I think J.J. Abrams is a solid director. But I also believe he is a lousy and unoriginal storyteller.
     
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  13. Glitterstimm

    Glitterstimm Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Maybe JJ is just a producer who tricked everyone into thinking he's a director by wearing a baseball cap on set? :p
     
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  14. Arawn_Fenn

    Arawn_Fenn Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Yes, he does this in each of his Star Wars and Star Trek movies. He just doesn't like playing by the established rules of these universes.

    Hell, I was expecting to see something like that in the TROS end credits, and was shocked to discover it wasn't there. At first I assumed I had just missed it!
     
  15. AhsokaSolo

    AhsokaSolo Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Dec 23, 2015
    I don't like a lot of what he does as a director, but I still basically agree with this because I think he's really good with actors.

    But he's definitely lost me since RoS. I defended him for a long time even though I can't really say I respect the work he did on Star Trek or TFA. I just felt he did his job and made entertaining popcorn flicks. RoS makes me look at all of it without any desire to be charitable. The fact the matter is imo, he's a bad writer and a shallow story teller. He covers that up with undeserved and manipulative emotion and plastic-pretty action sequences.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
    Darth_Bertie likes this.
  16. Darth PJ

    Darth PJ Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2013
    I think it really comes down to how one defines a 'good director'. Most studios will think a good director is someone who works to timescales/budgets and basically do what they are told. The world is full of those kind of directors. Although it's never a single element alone, IMHO, a good director is someone who can translate/transpose dialogue or a scene on a page, and turn it into something that is overtly visual in nature. The likes of Bergman, Kubrick, Lean and Ford could do this with two characters talking in a room (without resorting to overt camera movement), and most of these guys were great at directing action too. Abrams (IMHO) is right down near the bottom of the list of contemporary filmmakers, in terms of talent... although undeniably he's made some popular films. For me (in terms of action/event films) the likes of Scott, Nolan, Fincher, Villeneuve, Boyle et al are vastly superior to Abrams.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  17. AhsokaSolo

    AhsokaSolo Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Dec 23, 2015
    I agree with your whole post, but based on this definition I'd have to conclude that JJ is a good director. Individual scenes of his can look great and seem to carry a lot of emotion in a vacuum. It's when it's put in context that it falls apart imo. I don't think he's particularly compling as an artist with visuals, but I'd liken his visuals to like a Disney Land theme park. They have mass appeal for a reason. He's good at creating visuals that a lot of people like in, imo, a kind of shallow, simple way.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  18. godisawesome

    godisawesome Sequel Trilogy Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2010
    I look at it this way; Abrams is more of a producer than a storyteller, and his directing skill reflects that. It’s a handy thing to be for TV shows or when allied with a good storyteller, and it’s by no means fatal as long as, for whatever reason, you end up with a useful story to produce.

    I mean, him and Kasdan worked very well in my opinion for TFA, but Kasdan is, if anything, a guy who was usually storyteller first and director second. So that wound up being a system that worked pretty well: Kasdan and Abrams together could create in depth character arcs like Finn’s, or to invert expectations with Rey, Kylo, and Han, with Kasdan doing much of the original brainstorming, while Abrams adjusted his direction to better exploit his causing in the film.

    Chris Terrio, in contrast to Kasdan, is really all dialogue for his main skill - that’s been the one consistent feature of his work; give him a good story, and he can fine tune it, but he’s at a loss if the story isn’t good. So Abrams had no storytelling counterpoint while making TROS, even though production wise he clearly was still an asset in getting the film out on time. So the end result is a production that honestly lacks story.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  19. vaderito

    vaderito Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2016
    JJ is good at set up but terrible at following up and wrapping up. he's good at casting but terrible at plotting. he doesn't have original ideas and he seems lost when he cannot follow already existing pattern. he values mystery over storytelling. he's too indecisive and prone to pandering and then forgetting about fan service he was about to implement. TROS was more than he could chew because he or Disney decreed that it was going to wrap up the whole Saga not just ST.
     
  20. AEHoward33

    AEHoward33 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2019
    I don't think Kasdan's work in TFA really held up for me. Unless he was simply held back by Abrams' input. Aside from a twenty-minute segment in the middle of the film, I have a very low opinion of TFA. Very unoriginal and too many plot holes.
     
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  21. godisawesome

    godisawesome Sequel Trilogy Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2010
    I tend to find that I value the character arcs so much on a personal level that all the unoriginal framework around them with the military plot didn’t really stick to me for that film.

    And I know that Kasdan is the guy who brainstormed making Finn a deserting Stormtrooper, which is easily the most wholly original part of the film and the fuel behind that character. Rey and Kylo are largely inversions of Luke and Vader, so they’re “originality” is more in the different formula that creates, especially when interacting with Finn as the new variable and Han as the too-familiar variable.

    Of the three films, TFA has easily the most adequate plot in my view, with the best character arcs. The plots adequacy was already a weakness, it’s just that the other two films somehow manage to be worse.

    I tend to think that’s because Abrams was laser focused on trying to make the characters the selling point, which by and large worked in the short term, but then the Trilogy ran afoul of its development process causing Johnson to throw a monkey wrench into those elements by not getting the characters (in part because Abrams refused to do any actual planning ahead for Johnson to follow), and then Abrams was given the wrong assignment and objectives for his limited storytelling skills with TROS, with a framework made up of an entirely unoriginal military plot, a small Galaxy and scale, and devastated character arcs that would require stronger storytelling choices and probably greater conflict than Abrams would provide.

    Kasdan had helped paper over some of the weaknesses, and I think he and Abrams were actually a good team as far as characterization went... but there was no one to act as the Lucas of the story. It’s a bit like if you removed Lucas from the formula for ESB - that film had valuable input from Lucas, Kirshner, and Kasdan working in concert and sometimes in contention with each other. We’ve seen that Lucas excels at scale, world building, original ideas, and characterization arcs in a broad sense, but Kirshner and Kasdan helped refine the personal details. Lucas and Kasdan were still part of ROTJ’s formula, but Marquand was efficiently a third wheel instead of a third engine, leading to decent to great characters arcs, but a little repetitiveness.

    Abrams basically *needed* a smart storyteller to follow behind him, evaluate his story’s strengths and weaknesses, and adjust/exploit accordingly. Instead, what happened was a that a smart storyteller *did* follow him but didn’t evaluate TFA correctly at all, resulting in the strengths being handicapped and the weaknesses exacerbates. Then Abrams was called in to do the smart storyteller job himself, but had nothing because that’s never really been his skill set, and just produced a film, not direct a story.
     
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  22. chris hayes

    chris hayes Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 13, 2012
    you can't deny TFA was a huge success but what would it have looked like if JJ was never born ? I believe GL treatment would have been adapted fully....
     
  23. Darth PJ

    Darth PJ Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2013
    To be honest, I think any sequel to ROTJ would have been a huge success... especially given the return of Luke, Leia and Han Solo. However, I do think Lucasfilm/Abrams managed to maximise the popularity of a sequel, conceptually speaking. X-Wings, stormtroopers, Han saying "Chewie we're home" etc. All designed, IMHO, to get that ground swell of good will. To what extent that carried through and beyond is open to interpretation and largely down to personal opinion of the sequels themselves.
     
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  24. Darth_Bertie

    Darth_Bertie Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 30, 2014
    I did believe Abrams-Arndt-Lucas was the dream team back in early 2013. I remember how much I loved Super 8, Lost, or even how refreshing I found the frist two Star Trek movies, when I was never a fan. I remember thinking Lucas would ensure the entire story would make sense, while new talent was brought into the house to be the next generation. Kind of like with TCW and Filoni.

    Now the ST is over, I see the holes in Abrams as an artist. He is brilliant with casting as posing interesting questions, but he lacks so many other qualities I value in the directions I like. Pacing has been mentioned a lot here, I won't comment on that, since I agree with most of the opinions around. The big but for Abrams is the lack of originality in what he has done. Super 8 was a modern ET. Star Trek was just a reboot. And TFA proved he did not know how to evolve SW into the future. Sorry, but you can't repeat so many OT themes.

    How could he thought the best substitute for the Emperor was another cloaked, deformed hologram? How could he thought the Jedi needed to be gone again and a new Skywalker had to be responsible again? I would argue bringing back OT designs like the X-Wings and creating the First Order as the Empire 2.0 was a mistake too. He is basically responsible of making the ST so dependent of the OT in terms of mostly everything.

    With TROS he screwed up big time. No excuses here. While TFA, even being a soft remake of ANH still had some charm and style about it, TROS has neither of those. This is a movie that ridicules the legacy of what comes before, that confirms trying to do the same Lucas did with a slightly changed recipe was never a good idea. There is no lore in the entire ST. Nothing you can tell that enriches the story. No interesting character to follow beyond what we see on screen. No new character that can be compared to the ones Lucas created.

    So, overall, JJ is now a director I am no longer insterested in. I don't feel the need of seeing anything else he has to create or remake.
     
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  25. MaverickJedi85

    MaverickJedi85 Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2019
    One thing is for sure: JJ can write (treatment) a story and direct it, but he cannot write a proper script with the necessary amount of informative dialogue (not to be confused with blatant exposition). The lore of ST remains incredibly thin. When you need wookiepedia, comics and a novelization to fully understand the movie (both TFA and TROS) you know the writing is bad.

    And of course when there's KK behind you, forcing you to make "2 hours-2 hours and 15 minutes tops" films, you have extra-trouble to tell a coherent-clear story.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020