All Right, Fine, Here’s What I Think About JJ Abrams Directing Star Wars Episode VII

It’ll be fine. Really. 

One, JJ Abrams is a perfectly decent director, who does a decent job with human beings, which is more than you can say about the last dude who directed a Star Wars film.

Two, as Super 8 made explicitly clear, Abrams thinks of himself as being in the Spielberg school of filmmaking, i.e., make it entertaining or go home. He’s not artistically conflicted, as Lucas so clearly was, about being a producer of mass entertainment.

Three, as again Super 8 made clear, Abrams understands at least on a productive surface level the visual and schematic ethos of 70s-era filmmakers, of which Lucas was one, so he has a better than fair chance in capturing the specific flavor of the first trilogy — well, the first two films of the trilogy, anyway — that the (older) fans love so well.

Four, his track record as director and producer shows he doesn’t condescend to genre entertainments. He may let his screenwriters (including himself) screw up the science, but only nerds like me give a crap about that; everyone else is there to shovel popcorn into their maws, and Abrams is steeped in the cinematic traditions of science fiction adventure and appears to geek out about them himself. Fair enough.

Five, he’s been here before, as in, he took a moribund franchise (Star Trek, which plowed into irrelevance with the appallingly forgettable Nemesis) and did exactly what was needed to get butts into seats, delighting both geeks (Yay! More Star Trek! Forever!) and Paramount’s executives (Yay! More Star Trek franchise income! Forever!). Does anyone think Disney, the most relentlessly commercial of all the movie studios, would settle for less? Come on, people.

Six, sure, there are other directors who could possibly do a better and/or more interesting job of it. I would be happy to see Star Wars films from Guillermo Del Toro, Alex Proyas, Alfonso Cuaron, Kathryn Bigelow or Paul Verhoeven (oh, God, Paul Verhoeven). But here’s the thing. At the end of it all, I suspect that most Star Wars fans don’t want interesting, i.e., novel new interpretations of Star Wars. They want their Star Wars to be Star Wars, which is to say, the thing with the light sabers and droids and screen wipes and Campbellian heroes and the Force and Manichaeism on the easiest possible setting. They want to sit down, get blasted by the John Williams fanfare and tear up with joy at the first text scroll followed by the downward pan to a spaceship over a planet followed by Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars. 

The guy who is going to give them that? JJ Abrams.

So, yeah. It’ll be fine, folks.

210 thoughts on “All Right, Fine, Here’s What I Think About JJ Abrams Directing Star Wars Episode VII

  1. I’m down with this. I’d ask for fewer racist alien races as we go forward, but this being Hollywood, I won’t hold my breath. As for the rest, I await the scriptwriters’ names. That will be at least as telling as picking Abrams.

  2. sigh, can you imagine a Duncan Jones Star Wars. That would’ve been interesting (yes I did you read your last argument). But Source Code was the perfect amalgamation of dumb (an explosion every seven minutes! Guaranteed!) and thoughtful (quantum-mechanical-body-swapping weirdness).
    But I’m sure JJ will be fine too.

  3. But isn’t this like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters? Star Trek and Star Wars living together? We’re headed towards a disaster of Ishtar proportions.

  4. I literally made the same argument to a friend of mine. It lacked the gravitas of your argument, of course. I mentioned something about Super 8, Spielberg, cinematic savant. But still, I completely agree.

  5. I heard it here first. For some reason I wouldn’t have thought of Abrams for Star Wars, but I believe your assessment and think he’s a good choice. I suppose there are fans of each franchise who will think it sacrilegious for Abrams to work on both Star Wars and Star Trek, but I’m not one of them.

  6. I just want my Star Wars movies to contains some Wars amongst the friggin’ Stars. Of which the prequels had very little (outer space combat that is).

  7. With a script by the usual Abrams writers–Orci, Kutzman, and Lindelof, the results will be standard: an interesting first half hour and a bland, paint-by-the-numbers action-packed finale.

  8. “One” is the key element here, Abrams has a track record of actually understanding how real human beings speak, and writing and directing dialog along those lines. It will be a big improvement.

  9. I seem to be in the very small camp of people who are not happy about this as at best I found one of his pieces of work to be interesting if not great (Cloverfield), most of his stuff boring (all his TV shows) and actively hated his version of Star Trek. I’m still willing to wait and see what he actually does with hit though, there are lots of writers and directors out there we’re I’ve hated everything they’ve done until that one movie or show just clicked with me. But I’m very leery.

  10. Abrams is probably the best director there could be for a new Star Wars movie, considering Star Trek 2009 (aside from Spielberg taking over). In fact, I’m really looking forward to the movie now. The plot might be a mess of contrivances and holes (as with Star Trek 2009), but it will be fast-paced and almost certainly very entertaining.

    As to point five, I have but two words: John Carter.

    There’s also the Narnia franchise and Prince Caspian. That said, John Carter actually was an entertaining and often funny movie – its main problems were just pacing and terrible promotion/publicity choices on the part of Disney.

    Moreover, John Carter suffered from the book series being largely unknown outside of SFF fan circles (and not even in most of those). Narnia wasn’t that bad, but most of the books outside of the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe aren’t that popular anymore. Disney won’t have that problem with Star Wars.

  11. As a SW die-hard, count me in with all of this. Especially point #6; especially after the prequel trilogy, I’m looking forward to a SW story arc that’s both fun and good. One great thing about SW films now going on ad infinitum, presumably, is that hopefully there will be room for interesting interpretations somewhere down the road.

  12. “Now if we can just get Mr Abrams to direct a Babylon 5 movie…”

    Holy sh*t. Never mention Babylon 5 where anyone even remotely affiliated with Hollywood might hear it. I’ve had enough beloved fictional universes ruined for me lately, not least Star Trek (yes, I’m one of those who detests the new ones^^).

  13. “Star Wars to be Star Wars, which is to say, the thing with the light sabers and droids and screen wipes and Cambellian heroes and the Force ”

    I have no problem with that, just make it good, not too insulting to my intelligence like Trek 2009.
    Luckily Michael Arndt.wrote one of my favorite movies Little Miss Sunshine hope he keeps it up with the SW script

  14. I’m not bracing for an oncoming collision because of two words: Lawrence Kasdan.

    Writer of Empire Strikes Back. Writer of Return of the Jedi. Writer of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    If it’s on the page… J.J. won’t let it not be on the screen.

  15. I’m perfectly happy with Abrams. The only person I think would do better is Whedon, but we knew he was too busy going into it. So yah, could’ve done much worse.

    I was also interested to read that Ben Affleck was considered

  16. I’m very excited to see what JJ Abrams does with Star Wars!
    I loved his take on Star Trek, but didn’t like the lens flare.

  17. If Lucas made such a bad job originally, and fails as a director, why are we still here? Who knows what the next Star Wars will be like, but i think we can all agree that it will NOT be like the original trilogy that captured our hearts and imaginations. And thats not simply because JJ Abrams will be directing, but also because so much has changed in the whole franchise over the years.

  18. It’s possible that Abrams will bring in his regular writers. But with the likes of Michael Arndt (who’s writing Ep. VII) and Lawrence Kasdan laying the foundation, I suspect he’s smart enough to trust them.

    The really important point in all of this is that Abrams directing will likely mean MICHAEL GIACCHINO IS SCORING STAR WARS. The awesomeness of this cannot be stressed enough.

  19. Abrams was not a fan of Star Trek and it showed in his reboot. He’s also said he wasn’t interested in Star Wars at first, which leads me to think Disney threw so much money at him he couldn’t say no. Hopefully the next Trek or Star Wars film won’t involve lens flares and time travel!

  20. If we’re lucky, Abrams will do it in Spielberg style.

    (I realize that “Super 8″ was *intended* to be Spielbergian, and Spielberg produced it, but still … it was surreal.)

  21. “(oh, God, Paul Verhoeven)”

    No. Just no. I have no interest in seeing how the Empire and Rebellion are actually secretly being manipulated by a cabal of military-industrial corporations for profit, and that they are the ones that actually started every war in that galaxy far, far way; that idea has already been done with the Combine War in the first prequel anyway. I have zero interest in seeing him take yet another sci-fi series and twist it into his own personal soap box. I prefer my Star Wars to be fun, not preachy.

    I’m actually very pleased that JJ Abrams is doing Star Wars. I thought his reboot of Star Trek was refreshing and entertaining.

  22. I’m okay with another person scoring incidental music for Star Wars: The Reboot, but how can it be Star Wars without John Williams’ theme? How many people remember the non-Alexander-Courage scores for any followup Star Trek movie, except for the first one, which was revamped to be the new theme for ST:TNG?

  23. “oh, God, Paul Verhoeven”
    I’d say that too, but not for the same reason. After he deliberately butchered Starship Troopers, I’m done with that scumbag. Abrams I can live with.

  24. I was pretty on the fence about Abrams, but I have to say that after seeing Star Trek (which I went into with highly negative expectations) I’m willing to give him a shot on pretty much anything. Anyone who had anything to do with casting Karl Urban as McCoy gets to show me what they do with a film before I decide whether or not I like it.

  25. You know what I love about “Whatever..”? No one has come on to the comments section and said “You mean CORELLIAN heroes, not Cambellian…” implying an intellectual understanding that seems to escape some other sites.

    Although what does it say about me, that I thought of this? Oh dear.

  26. I consider Giacchino better than Williams. Yes, I said it and I mean it.

    “They want their Star Wars to be Star Wars, . . Manichaeism on the easiest possible setting.”

    And now I want Neill Blomkamp to direct. Just imagine what evil he could do . .

  27. You know George Lucas didn’t actually direct V or VI, George did a great job creating a world many love and is an amazing technical director, but he sucks at getting a performance our of an actor. For example, the worst performance ever given by Natalie Portman, “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart!” Albeit, III was better than I (with the exception of the pod race and Liam Neeson) and II, but it still didn’t hold a candle to the original three, but then again, what could?

  28. TheMadLibrarian says: “How many people remember the non-Alexander-Courage scores for any followup Star Trek movie, except for the first one, which was revamped to be the new theme for ST:TNG?”

    Shut your mouth. James Horner, another deity of movie scores, scored KHAN! and Reverend Jim! (2 & 3). I still whistle the main theme.

  29. “I’m okay with another person scoring incidental music for Star Wars: The Reboot, but how can it be Star Wars without John Williams’ theme? How many people remember the non-Alexander-Courage scores for any followup Star Trek movie, except for the first one, which was revamped to be the new theme for ST:TNG?”

    Your second point first: Horner’s music on II was magnificent, and succeeded in capturing the nautical air Goldsmith originally strove for on the first film (check out the rejected early cues on La-La Land’s magnificent rerelease of ST:TMP). Rosenman’s and McCarthy’s, I can entirely do without. But Goldsmith’s return on V was EASILY the best thing about the film, and I’m a big fan of his and Joel’s work on First Contact. And Giacchino’s score on the reboot made me a believer.

    Which brings me back to your first point: From his earliest work in video games (think “Medal of Honor: Frontline”) to “Super 8″ and “John Carter,” Giacchino has revealed himself as a composer steeped in the lessons of John Williams (indeed, one of his first major gigs was scoring the “Lost World: Jurassic Park” game). I can’t imagine him not using Williams’s themes (and using them with a nerd’s absolute glee), and if Williams himself (everyone’s first choice, I’m sure we can agree) proves unavailable, I can’t think of a composer better suited to the task

  30. It will be fine, yes. But forgive me a moment for wishing for it to be great – and a well done, commercially tuned movie isn’t likely to be great. And disney is a lot less likely than paramount in allowing 99% of canon and fan investment to fly out the window…

  31. @Sara R: But JOHN CARTER proves Scalzi’s other points perfectly – it was directed by an artistically conflicted megafan of the source material (Pixar animator Andrew Stanton, who clearly wanted to outdo his Pixar colleague Brad Bird who’d had a big live-action hit with MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL) – so he tended to get a bit into the weeds, and spend too much time establishing stuff that could have been elided and left for later movies. Even so, it’s a surprisingly enjoyable SF action feature once it gets rolling – cutting most of the framing story set in the Old West and Victorian London would have helped immensely, IMO – and it was miserably marketed (I didn’t even know it was coming out until it was already out!).

  32. Yes, re your point four: Star Trek was a great movie but a so-so version of Star Trek. I look forward to post-Abrams Star Trek. Alias, Lost, Alcatraz, Revolution, all more about the punchline and twist than the actual story. Constant suspension of disbelief speedbumps that keep pulling me out of the story. I’d be much happier with another season of Enterprise. (Not to say Nemesis wasn’t really, really lame.)

  33. John Carter’s major downfall was the name of the movie, it sounds more like a movie about an accountant than an epic SF flick. Disney sucks at movie titles, i.e. Mars Needs Moms.

  34. I dunno what the heck the movie would be about.
    They’ll have to invent some completely new bad guy or something.

    I mean, they saved the galaxy, killed the most evil man in the universe the emporer, redeemed Anakin’s soul, and we got to see Luke go from a farm boy to a Jedi knight by the end of Ep6.
    How do you follow that?

    I think there’s something about Star Wars, something about the Joseph Campbell
    story arc of the hero, that doesn’t lend itself to turning into an Star Trek approach,
    (you’re the only ship in the quadrant please save the Earth again today) franchise.

    I mean, they can do it, but I think they’ll have to shift StarWars into something the first
    six episodes aren’t.

    oh, God, Paul Verhoeven

    Oooooh, shiny.

  35. Well, neither Goldsmith will be available for any scoring duties as they have both passed on. Jerry in 2004 and his son Joel in late April last year. That both of them did some very good work.

  36. I think it’ll be a great JJ Abrams movie. He makes great JJ Abrams movies. His style is instantly recognisable the world over as JJ Abrams style. So if you love JJ Abrams movies, with JJ Abrams sstyle of dialogue, and JJ Abrams themes, and JJ Abrams signature visuals, then you’ll love this.

  37. I think JJ is a pretty decent director. He gets results from his performances and his visuals. He just needs to get results from a decent script and we’ll be fine.

  38. Verhoeven shamed himself with Starship Troopers, no matter how good the film is if you’d forget about the novel.
    I hoped Disney would call Whedon but I guess we’re stucked with JJ’s mediocrity

  39. I think that in addition to the inevitable (I hope!) Mark Hamill/Carrie Fisher/Harrison Ford appearances, he should just bring over the entire cast from Star Trek — Pine, Quinto, etc.

  40. @random.

    Wasn’t Joss Whedon’s version of Star Wars already produced? Called it Serenity, didn’t he?

  41. I’m a browncoat but have to vote no on Whedon for Star Wars. SW is about cheering uncomplicatedly for good vs. evil, a western in space. Or should be, I refuse to believe the prequels happened. Anyway, JW would have Luke & Leia exchange snarky comments & then kill off R2D2.

  42. If JJ Abrams could bring Star Trek back from the dead, he can probably do likewise for Star Wars. I think he’d be even more revisionist with SW, because (as Greg said) SW has a completed arc. However, Abrams is also enamored of Father (or at least Parental) issues, which SW had in abundance.

    You know what would be a gas? If Abrams went Full Metal Revisionist, had Obi Wan rather than Anakin go to the Dark Side, and set the entire SW universe on its ear.

    Also: I would love to see Kathryn Bigelow do a Star Wars movie. Blue Lightsaber: Strange Days of the Zero Dark Jedi.

  43. Lens flares! Oh, the lens flares! Anyone who thinks intentionally adding lens flares is good movie making is a horrible, horrible person on that basis alone. He hates people with eyes.

    I would have preferred Brad Bird.

  44. For ‘interesting’, i’m awaiting the Star Wars version done by Richard Linklater. Or, perhaps, David Lynch?

  45. TheMadLibrarian says: “How many people remember the non-Alexander-Courage scores for any followup Star Trek movie, except for the first one, which was revamped to be the new theme for ST:TNG?”

    Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the films are amazing. The Klingon Battle theme!

  46. At least there will be better dialogue. I like JJ Abrams. He makes enjoyable movies. Star Wars is supposed to be enjoyable, not Pulp Fiction or Zero Dark Thirty. I just watched Super 8 last night. He did a great job on it. There were a few places where I went “plot hole” and then realized it was an editing plot hole that was created. I loved the reboot of Star Trek. Let’s see what he can do with Star Wars. I want to see what part Greg Grunberg is going to play. He’s in almost every movie/tv show Abrams has ever made.

  47. My view of ST: LENS FLARE is that It’s a Fun SF Adventure – But It’s Not STAR TREK. If you go in like that, you’ll enjoy it just fine.

    Tammy’s never even seen the movie – largely because she can’t get past Zachary Quinto’s casting as Spock after his Sylar in HEROES! She said she was sure he was cutting open McCoy’s head and eating his brains….

  48. I don’t know Tammy, but she should see it just to see Karl Urban play McCoy. I don’t know what dark ritual he performed to trap DeForrest Kelley’s soul, or where he’s keeping it, or how he’s getting it to inhabit his body when he performs, but it’s eerie in the most awesome way possible.

    I’m not saying I condone the dark arts used to capture souls and coerce them to do our bidding, I’m just saying I can see how it paid off in this case.

  49. Wes Anderson, goddamit. With Bill Murray as retired Wedge Antilles. And The Royal Guardsman’s “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” on the soundtrack as he suits up for his do-or-die battle to win the heart of Lena Dunham as the Queen of Naboo? C’MON, people, use your imaginations! TO THE ONLINE PETITIONS!

    (Also, my favorite current movie scorer is Alexander Desplat. He’d he awesome for the job.)

  50. I’m another person who was hoping for Whedon, but here’s hoping Abrams can pull it off. At least with Whedon, I wouldn’t have to worry about the women in the film being nothing more than eye candy and brood mares. *cough*Padmé*cough*

  51. Pretty much anyone is going to be an improvement over Lucas as director, so I’m just hoping for a lack of 3D.

  52. I’m confident Abrams will ruin Star Wars for me just as he ruined Star Trek. Looking at the arc of his work, one thing stands out: he has no respect for his audience (he just wants lots of behinds in the seats, and by that criterion only, he’s a “good” director). Think of how all the folks who hated the technobabble in ST will react to Abrams’s version….One cannot be, pretty much by definition, a good director of SF if you have no respect for science.

  53. I note that although several people mentioned other ST composers, no one mentioned the same one consistently. I rest my case, and abandon the thread; I win :D Seriously, John Williams’ music is as integral to SW as the Alexander Courage theme is to ST. While other composers may yet do the franchises justice, completely having to reinvent the music and make it as catchy as the original isn’t going to be easy.

  54. I’m excited. Add to all of the above, As a female fan, Abrams isn’t afraid of having females kick ass either, and do it in a way that doesn’t make me cry for feminism. (I mean, is he a feminist visionary… no. But this is the man who gave us ALIAS. The short skirts are always there for a reason and not just to make the fan boys… happy) I’m rooting for some more ladies being a part of the plot!

  55. So am I the only one who wants him to do Star Wars with the entire LOST cast? Don’t tell me that would not be AWESOME. Jorge Garcia as the main hero (of course), Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway as the Han Solo of the time…with Naveen Andrews, Terry O’Quinn, and Michael Emerson. There’s also Daniel Dae Kim, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agabe, Michelle Rodriguez, and Mira Furlan who would all be excellent in any role.

  56. Anything will be better than Lucas, I feel. Well, let’s just say Abrams will be better than Lucas. I mean, thanks, George, for the whole idea and the special effects. That was way cool. No, it was mass cool. I remember seeing Star Wars when I was in college back in ’77 and it blew me away (Alien in ‘79 scared the living crap out of me however. Talk about 30 minute sets of pure horrific tension). But, George, sorry dude, Sir Alec was right: you write atrocious dialogue. How you have taken as vibrant a universe as you’ve created, and induced cinematic comas with regularity is unbelievable.

    I liked Abrams’ Star Trek and I’m a fan of the whole Roddenberry thing (unlike you, John?). Sure, it was whacky in some ways, but he stuck to most of the essential ST canon stuff and it ended up being very entertaining–and maybe even a tad more realistic.

  57. This may offend.

    But it’s the perfect choice. Anyone hoping for an arty reinvention of Star Wars needs to step back and remember what we’re dealing with here. The only good properties in that bloated drooling franchise are Episode IV, Episode V and Knights of the Old Republic. If J.J. Abrams can deliver a fun action flick, it’ll be more than Star Wars deserves. There’s no reputation to ruin here.

  58. I’m predisposed to think well of JJ Abrams because my spouse proposed to me at Star Trek 2009. So I have warm, fuzzy feelings in spite of the red matter (which I consider to be a flying snowman, personally. Whenever people start complaining to me about Trek science, all I can hear is “I expect better from the universe that brought us Pon Farr, instant devolution at Warp 10, and oh, the Heisenberg Compensator.” And I can’t for the life of me figure out why).

    I’m a little sad that they chose not to buck the ‘you must be this white and this male to direct a tentpole franchise’ trend (because if ever there was a ‘safe’ franchise to bet on a director who’s not been given a chance to shine, Star Wars is it). But I didn’t actually think they would. Disney isn’t interested in breaking down racial and gender barriers in film-making; they’re interested in very large stacks of money. Abrams can bring them that, and along with it, a film that’s worth watching. Fair enough.

    Mostly I’m just really really really hoping the rumor that the new film will be about Luke’s daughter is true. Because that is a film I want to see.

    Also, having cut my nerd-teeth in the Star Wars fandom, I’m really excited for the wave of new fans the movie’s going to bring into the fold (and if Episode I is any indication, that’s going to happen even if the next movie is a crime against cinematography). We’re a big, sprawling bazaar of a fandom–loud, dirty, kinda rude, and pretty argumentative–but poke around long enough, and you’ll find some really neat stuff buzzing around our wretched hive of scum and villainy. There’s nothing quite like watching brand-new fans get swept up in that. Plus, more fans means a bigger bazaar and more neat stuff. So that’s exciting.

  59. One cannot be, pretty much by definition, a good director of SF if you have no respect for science.

    Hmmm. The Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in how many parsecs again?

    Seriously, I remember reading an old Analog magazine where none other then Ben Bova wrote an editorial ripping Star Wars on the grounds that it was ridiculously bad science, was offensive to science, and was an insult to anyone who took science fiction seriously. My reaction was immediate, and I won’t repeat it here, because I’m a guest, but it rhymed with a phrase that could be translated as an exhortation to turn into a Mallard.

  60. My only complaint is that they’re not starting by going back and doing movies 1-3. Cuz HOT DAMN I would pay to watch those with a competent director involved…

  61. Hmmm. The Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in how many parsecs again?

    Zing!

    Star Wars isn’t Science Fiction. I mean obviously, space ships, and I’m not one of those people who excommunicates anything with fuzzy science from the genre (Star Trek, red matter or no, is definitely SF). Thematically and aesthetically, though, Star Wars is a fantasy universe. Midichlorians weren’t out of place because they were bull**** science; they were out of place because nobody puts The Force under a microscope. I mean hell, this is a universe where even a former queen doesn’t know she’s carrying twins until they’re actually born (It’s Almost Like She’s A Princess In A Fantasy Epic).

    And even if we’re confining ourselves to the original trilogy: Evil Emperor.

    Who shoots lightning from his fingertips.

    And was defeated in his throne room.

    Aboard a flying fortress.

    Fantasy.

    The most ‘respectful’ thing Star Wars can do for science is not try to pretend it has any.

  62. I think Brad Bird would have been a great choice.

    My issue with JJ Abrams isn’t even so much what he might do with it, so much as it feels kind of antithetical to the spirit of Sci Fi to concentrate so much of the output in the hands of so few people. I’d rather have a wide variety of directors producing the big sci fi properties, instead of the same people getting to do all of them.

  63. Does anyone think Disney, the most relentlessly commercial of all the movie studios, would settle for less? Come on, people.

    No I don’t. And I’d note that Lucasfilm is being run by Kathleen Kennedy — who has been in the production game for thirty years, has one or two (dozen) commercial/critical hits on her resume and was handpicked to take over by Lucas himself, The Sith Grandmaster of Passive-Aggressive Control Freaking.

    I’m sorry to say this, but Disney didn’t spend over four billion dollars on Lucasfilm so every Star Wars geek could get an individual fan-wank. Wish they had, but wishing doesn’t make it so.

  64. Oh. Oh no…. I can’t believe I’m going to do this but…. *pushes up glasses* -sigh-

    @Christopher Wright – “Hmmm. The Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in how many parsecs again?”

    Actually the Kessel Run goes right past a Black Hole. Doing the run in 12 parsecs as opposed to something higher meant going extremely close to the hole, thus getting it done faster.
    It not only showed that Han was a good pilot, or fast, he was also willing to do the crazy stuff.

    *takes glasses off* God, what has the Extended Universe turned me into?

    On the other hand, there is no way George Lucas actually planned that. So any time before the Extended Universe, then sure… zing!

  65. Yeah, Edward, that was a serviceable retcon on the Expanded Universe’s part, but (1) Lucasfilm doesn’t consider Lucasbooks canon and never has (and neither do the vast majority of people who’ve seen the films), and (2) let’s not pretend that in the context of a conversation about the speed of the Falcon, Lucas or anyone else was thinking about black holes.

    They were just Wrong about what a parsec is, and in the context of the film that didn’t matter one bit, because science is not an integral (or in most cases, even a peripheral) part of Star Wars‘s plot. Because it’s not Science Fiction.

  66. I have been saying this to people since it was announced that Disney had bought Star Wars: no one could screw the franchise up any worse than Lucas has with the last three films. Perhaps the evil side of the entertainment gods would take this as a dare, but somehow the one to screw things up worse than Lucas is probably not JJ Abrams.

  67. JJ Abrams is a very good choice. His (and Orci and Kutzman’s) “Star Trek” is the third best of them, IMHO, behind only Khan and VI, and the casting in that movie–whether Abrams did it himself or just followed a very good casting director–is so, so good. Also, with Michael Arendt and Lawrence Kasdam himself involved (so crucial to the success of Empire and Jedi, and so inexplicably not involved in I,II, and III) I am optimistic.

    Directors: It would be nice to see Kasi Lemmons given the chance to do either a Star Wars movie or another sci-fi epic (and if for some reason Wolfgang Petersen can’t direct Old Man’s War, she’d be an excellent choice for that–just check out “Caveman’s Valentine”). Bear McCreary would be the perfect OMW composer after four seasons on BSG.

  68. I thought the official story behind the “Kessel run” remark was that it was meant to show that Solo was just boasting and bigging himself up with obvious bullshit, and that Obi-Wan was supposed to give him a withering look to establish Solo as being a bit of a braggart and Obi Wan as a man with hidden depths. Only Harrison Ford had a lot more charisma than was planned for, Alec Guinness was basically phoning in the performance while only thinking of the money, and Lucas wasn’t experienced enough as a director to correct it all with appropriate weighting in edit. It is true that Obi Wan does give an odd sort of glance, but it is all kind of skipped over quickly.

    The black hole thing was a much later retcon to deal with the perceived mistake generated.

    And crap, am I nerdy or what.

    Personally I hope they skip the who EU thing entirely, no matter who the director is.

  69. Josh Jasper: you and me both. It’s pretty much a guarantee that the new films are going to completely ignore the EU, and I must admit to a certain amount of childish glee about that. A fresh start will do the expanded universe a galaxy of good.

    As for the parts of it I’m fond of, no one’s going to come into my house and take my books/comics/video games away. If my fictional stories about a fictional galaxy become slightly more fictional… man, like I care.

  70. @Annalee

    If you read the bottom of my comment, I think you’ll see that I get that point. Here, I’ll quote:
    “On the other hand, there is no way George Lucas actually planned that.”

    See there? :P

  71. Sorry Edward–that’s why my comment started with the word “yeah.” That wasn’t a sarcastic “yeah,” that was an “I’m agreeing with you” yeah.

  72. I agree with Zoe earlier about not putting all our scifi eggs in one basket, some variety would be nice. And in the spirit of encouraging such, Kenneth Branagh would have been an interesting choice!

    That said, I think Abrams will probably be just fine!

  73. John Carter: Just try getting a conservative to go see a movie with Carter in the title. (I warned Stallone but he didn’t listen either.)

    Kathryn Bigelow: I had her pencilled in for Starship Troopers. That remake is due.

    Neill Blomkamp: Maybe we should see how his Class Wars, er Elysium, does this summer.

  74. I think I’ve seen people suggest using the @ sign as a sarcasm mark, like a question mark or an exclamation point. I’m ok with that not catching on, though.

    And now it’s time for me to close this page for a while, because I am so far off-topic that I can’t even see it with a telescope.

  75. “he just wants lots of behinds in the seats”
    Well duh. Hollywood is a business not a charity and Star Wars is a product not high art. The whole point is to get buts in seats to make money, not become the zenith of civilization for the culturally pretentious. Oh the mewoeful battle cry of bitter hipsters and geeks who feel otherwise. Special effects don’t grow on trees.

  76. @ProtoVulcan He’s getting kicked upstairs to producer only on NuTrek 3 (assuming the grosses on NuTrek 2 are good enough for there to be a NuTrek 3).

  77. New Star Trek was like that. Old Star Trek could be different, but usually only the the TV series. The best Trek movies tended to be like that, particularly The Wrath of Khan (“Horatio Hornblower in space”).

    Star Wars is going to be like that. People don’t seem to like it when there is more complexity in the politics, like with Phantom Menace (where the whole series of events is due to Palpatine ginning up a phony crisis to get himself into the Supreme Chancellor spot while looking like he’ s “reluctantly assuming new powers for the good of the Republic”).

  78. I have to say I hope most people are joking when they suggest directors like Tarantino or Guillermo Del Toro or whoever. Some people are Just Not Right for Star Wars, and Quentin Tarantino is near the head of the list. (Top of the list? Lars von Trier.)

    One thing which George Lucas did VERY well in 1977 (less so as time went on) was being a “transparent” director. His audience was immersed in the film, with no jokey winks at the camera and no shots which were the director mugging for the critics. Tarantino does both of those things a LOT. His films are almost always films about being films, so to speak.

  79. Star Wars has set such a low bar over the past couple of decades that I’m not too outraged by this choice. It’s about the most unimaginative, albeit safe, decision that could be made. I’m sure he’ll come up with a serviceable film, though I’m not jazzed about any one director assuming control of so many beloved franchises.

    Paul Verhoeven! Now, I would actually line up to see his version of Star Wars. Or maybe even David Cronenberg. Everyone would have at least one prosthetic limb, and Jabba would be covered in erupting pustules.

  80. All the things that JJ Abrams did wrong with Star Trek (with the possible exception of excessive lens flare) are what make him the perfect director for the next Star Wars. Abrams doesn’t care about science or progressive themes; neither does Star Wars. Abrams is about golly-gosh-wow, with enough characterisation that the viewer actually cares. That’s perfect Star Wars.

    As for Paul Verhoeven, he’d turn it into a satire about religious extremism. I really like Robocop and Starship Troopers, but I’d rather not mix that stuff with my Star Wars, thank you!

  81. Everything
    that
    happened
    ,
    has
    happened
    before.

    Star Wars XII – Return of Episode I and sort of Episode IV

    OPEN

    The destruction of the original death star by the incomplete, yet operational death star seen later in the series. It was hijacked by Romulans and taken back in time to avenge the deaths of all those Bantha’a on Tattooine. Mystical swirling winds take command of an x-wing and safely jettison a woman giving birth before it burns into the death star. yaauugh! She has no one to mourn, because there is no father.

    CUT

    Anakin drives a speeder off a canyon wall for fun, playing beastie boys and being chased by a fet.

    CUT

    Han Solo is trained as a Jedi Knight on a secret ship travelling the Universe. You don’t need to know how he got there. He will not be seen again. But, it is a very serious scene. He has a strange creature for a friend. It is not chewbacca, who will not be feature in this film in any way.

    CUT

    Sam Jackson accidentally kills Senator Palpatine while escorting him to an audience with Yoda.

    From here, the series spirals into new territory. A war between the hutts and the time traveling romulans ensues. They eventually ally with their logic driven brothers, the Jedi. And, an entirely story line starts.

    BOOM. I’ll take ten percent domestic. The next eight movies write themselves.

    J.J. Abrams: “A billi, a billi, i’m a billi-on-aire.” ::plays himself off into the night with a jazz flute solo, never to be seen again::

  82. @ David Gustafson

    Now if we can just get Mr Abrams to direct a Babylon 5 movie…

    Don’t even joke about that. I’m fine with his revival of Star Trek and I’m sure he’ll rescue Star Wars, but Babylon 5 doesn’t need to be rescued. It needs to stay in JMS’s hands. I don’t know he does it – Crusade sucked – but he always nails it when he’s working on the B5 characters.

    @ mintwitch

    (oh, God, Paul Verhoeven)

    Goodness gracious, oh yes. Please!

    I’m with mintwitch on this. Star Wars has just the right mix of Platte River complexity and pulp special effects that Verhoeven could hit it right out of the galaxy.

    @ Christopher Turkel

    Cloverfield was a big, dumb monster flick. It had huge plot holes but it was great entertainment.

    Don’t you need a plot to have plot holes?

    @ Marie Brennan

    Regarding lens flare, I believe even Abrams has admitted he went way overboard with that and regrets it. So I think we’re safe from that here. :-)

    Sure, now that he’s burned out half our retinas’ rods.

    @ MRAL

    The only good properties in that bloated drooling franchise are Episode IV, Episode V and Knights of the Old Republic. If J.J. Abrams can deliver a fun action flick, it’ll be more than Star Wars deserves. There’s no reputation to ruin here.

    You forgot Star Wars on Trial:

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars_on_Trial

    @ Other Bill

    He has a strange creature for a friend. It is not chewbacca, who will not be feature in this film in any way.

    I hear Big Bird may be looking for work.

  83. I think JJ is a good director. I think he knows how to visualize the story, he can do action without the shakey-cam, and his track record is pretty solid (I would argue Super 8 is actually pretty average, but it’s not the worst). I’m just hoping he leaves two of his regular collaborators behind for this one:

    Damon Lindelof – Look, I gave this guy a chance. There were seasons of Lost that were pretty crazy and tense (and others… not so much). And I have to admit, his two calling cards – pseudo-deep mysticism and daddy issues – are kind of perfect for Star Wars. But after the travesty of Prometheus, I wouldn’t want him working on another established franchise. Arndt is fantastic, and doesn’t need Lindelof’s special brand of script polish.

    Michael Giacchino – I can’t understand why people like his music. He’s just the blandest of the bland. Seriously, try to hum the score from Star Trek 2009. You can’t, because there’s no melody. When he’s not predictable, he’s completely forgettable.

  84. @Gulliver:

    “I hear Big Bird may be looking for work.”

    SPOILER ALERT – NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE: Han Solo’s origin is re-revealed to be Elliot, from E.T. And E.T. is a friend of Yoda. E.T. phoned his home away from home when things started looking bad for the Galaxy because of the Ko-Dan Empire. He trained him in the ways of the Jedi to enhance his pilot skills for their super weapon platform fighter cargo ship – The Millenium Falcon. This will be the plot of the tie in movie: The Wrath of Han: The Last Hope

  85. patfinley: Verhoeven shamed himself with Starship Troopers, no matter how good the film is if you’d forget about the novel.

    I don’t think he shamed himself at all. He made an excellent satire of a fascist book, simply by filming exactly what was in the book. If anything, the one mistake he made was not making it satircal enough:

    http://www.overthinkingit.com/2009/11/26/starship-troopers-fascism/?page=all

    I think the guy who made Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and Robocop has some sense about science fiction. The problem for Verhoeven directing StarWars is that he gets that we’re all shades of grey morality, but StarWars is black and white morality. Verhoeven’s version of Episode 7 would have Luke demostrate that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Han would return to piracy and branch out into smuggling drugs that are addictive and harm people and guns for warlords.

    This would also be the problem of having Tarantino direct StarWars. His movies, Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs, and Kill Bill, are basically a cast of characters whe ALL are on the spectrum from dark-grey to pitch-black on the morality scale of things. Tarantino wouldn’t have Lando Calrissian regret betraying Han in Ep5 and then help save him in Ep6. He’d have Calrissian gleefully sell out Han in 5 and have him go after Luke in Ep6 just for kicks. Luke would kill Vader and kill the Emporer, and take both their places. Chewbacca would go full berserker mode and kill at least one minor character every major scene. Leia would know she is Luke’s sister but try to seduce him anyway to rule the galaxy with him. C3PO would have tourettes syndrome. And R2D2 would have a minigun inside him instead of a stun gun.

    Whedon actually tends to view the world in terms of black and white in his works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and probably would be a good fit for writing the script for Star Wars.

    JJ Abrams seems to have a lot of stories revolve around some unknown mystery or weirdness (Lost, Fringe, Alcatraz, etc) but sometimes I get the impression that these stories are made up as they go along and not neccessarily planned out and sometimes write themselves into a corner. The Star Trek reboot seemed directed well, but the script had a couple largish plot holes in it. Abrams is one of the writers who worked on Armeggedon, and as cheesy as the movie is sometimes, it’s immensely fun to watch.

    I dunno. I think one of the problems with Star Wars is that it will be hard to keep the black/white view of the universe with all the evil vanquished. It’s about a hero’s journey, but that journey is complete by Ep6. Ep 1 through 6 are battles between good and evil. Ep 7 starts with evil vanquished. What is there to do but nation building and mopping up operations?

    The other problem is that Star Trek has a captive crew. They’re all stuck on the same ship. All that is needed to get everyone’s favorite characters in on the next big movie is to make the Enterprise “the only ship in the quadrant”, and Kirk, Spock, Bones, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, and everyone else, are all there. StarWars has a bunch of characters who all tend to go their own ways. How would they all be put on a plot arrow pointing in the same direction?

    Star Trek also has the Enterprise, which is a big enough ship to save the world. The good guys on Star Wars have single seat fighters and the Millenium Falcon, and various random flag ships that no one can identify. You can’t have Han without the Falcon. And if you have the Falcon, you’ve already split up the party, because the Falcon isn’t big enough to save the Galaxy. Leia will command a flag ship, Luke will probably fly an Xwing. Han will be in the Falcon with Chewy. 3PO and R2 will be bouncing around from one ship to another. If its done right, it will probably feel something like “Empire Strikes Back” where everyone is split up doing their part to save the galaxy, and then brought together for the climax. But there seems to be so many ways that could go wrong.

    I do not envy the writer for Ep 7.

  86. J.J. Abrams is obviously an evil mastermind with plans to completely take-over all popular, televised or Filmed science Fiction entertainment franchises. He’s already remade “Star Trek”, “Super 8″ had a lot of “E.T.” ethos going on, “Fringe” was his highly-successful attempt to turn the mess that was “X-Files” into something worth watching, and now he has “Star Wars”. What next “Indiana Jones”, “Battlestar Galactica” (already done, I know).

    On the other hand: come on, dude, you’re obviously talented. So go out and make your own, damn franchise, the world would be a better place if you did.

  87. On second thought, maybe he could take on “Dune” and make something worth watching to the general public and not just the die-hard David Lynch fans and Science Fiction geeks.

  88. Look like Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) is writing the script. OK, that has my attention. There’s a half dozen directors I’d prefer over Abrams (hey, what about Edgar Wright?) but he’s hardly the worst. They could have gone with Bay or Ratner. Now there would have been a colossal eff-up.

  89. In my opinion, there is nowhere to go but up for the franchise after Episodes I, II, and III. Any slightly competent director and screenwriter could put those films to utter shame. I think even the staunchest critics of J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt would have to admit that they’re at least slightly competent in their respective careers, so where totally golden there. That’s not to say that Episode VII should be expected to compare favorably with the original trilogy. Anyone (among those who are fans of the original trilogy BEFORE the prequels were even in production, i.e., actual Star Wars fans) who is expecting something on par with The Empire Strikes Back is bound to be disappointed. Those films are icons, and if you expect anything to match them, you might as well resign yourself to total disappointment right now. You cannot remake an icon. It cannot be done.

  90. Paul Verhoeven

    I was right with you until this point. Why would you want a director who brags about not reading the source material to have anything to do with any series, much less one as loved as Star Wars? Indeed, Verhoeven reminds me very strongly of a certain RHSD in both linguistic abilities and depth of thought.

    Let Verhoeven go play with his sadistic fantasies elsewhere.

  91. I have to say, I was OK with it until I read this post. Now I’m thinking “ugh.” I know that’s the opposite of what you intended, and usually I find you fairly convincing, but…not feeling it.

    I’m sure you’re absolutely right that it will work and make a buttload of money. I just don’t think *I* will like it.

  92. I’m fine with Abrams. He does Science Fantasy well enough, though seeing Vulcan implode from the surface of another planet far away was… oof. my brain. Little too much.

    But he got the characters just about perfectly. To me, that is so much more important, and Star Wars needs that desperately.

  93. @JohnD

    I was right with you until this point. Why would you want a director who brags about not reading the source material to have anything to do with any series, much less one as loved as Star Wars? .

    Because hiring Nicholas Meyer did wonders for a certain well-loved SF movie franchise?

  94. Star Trek was a terrible Star Trek film but a great popcorn space action movie. Seeing as how that’s a perfect description of Star Wars, I think he’ll do a fine job.

  95. @ Greg

    I don’t think he shamed himself at all. He made an excellent satire of a fascist book, simply by filming exactly what was in the book.

    First off, he made a fun popcorn satire of propaganda and civilian cluelessness sprinkled with sophomoric philosophy, ridiculous larger-than-life characters and a force-of-nature enemy. Secondly, he admitted to not even finishing the book after the first part depressed him, and then shoehorning his bizzaro interpretation of the story into a film already in prepro apparently provisionally titled Bug Hunt. My guess is he was on the hook for a piece of crap and wanted to make it interesting and take out his Heinlein frustration with one stone. The fascist Terran Federation (not the fascist book) is about the only thing that made it intact from page to screen. Calling it true to the source because it borrowed a few scenes and lines is so laughable it’s not even wrong; the themes as stories are completely different. That review, which does make many good points, nevertheless offers the popular watered-down definition of fascism as a synonym for totalitarianism, whereas in historical practice fascism (and Nazism) as a political theory promotes direct government control (not mere ownership or regulation) over business and a monopoly on religion and information. In both book and movie the Terran Federation clearly demonstrates the latter and strongly implies the former.

    From the review:

    And that’s what makes Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers a work of satiric genius. It forces us to cheer for an ideology we know is wrong.

    No, that’s precisely what the book got us to do. The movie was merely entertaining.

    @ scorpius

    On second thought, maybe he could take on “Dune” and make something worth watching to the general public and not just the die-hard David Lynch fans and Science Fiction geeks.

    Oh gawd, not another one. Look, Dune just doesn’t work on screen. Give up.

  96. Oh Lord, when you said “Campbellian heroes” I thought Bruce before Joseph and gave a little “Hell yeah!”

  97. JJ Abrams doing a movie from a series that started off well and became increasingly nonsensical as time goes on? Who’d’ve thought?

    (For what it’s worth with the parsec stuff, apparently it was supposed to be Han bluffing the naive farmboy by using words he didn’t actually understand. This was in the script–Obi-Wan was supposed to scoff. But given Lucas’ inability to actually direct people, it never came across in the final product.)

  98. “patfinley: Verhoeven shamed himself with Starship Troopers, no matter how good the film is if you’d forget about the novel.

    I don’t think he shamed himself at all. He made an excellent satire of a fascist book, simply by filming exactly what was in the book. If anything, the one mistake he made was not making it satircal enough:

    I think the guy who made Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and Robocop has some sense about science fiction. ”

    What @Gulliver said, and:

    That moron admitted he hadn’t finsished the book. FFS! The movie is an excuse and doesn’t fit the book at all.

    I honestly reject the popular catalog of the novel as fascist. I honestly don’t think it matches with the definition of fascism. It does represent some kind of timocracy, but I honestly don’t think is that bad. I suppose if it had been a sophocracy it would have been more politically correct but… not fascist at all.

  99. On the other hand: come on, dude, you’re obviously talented. So go out and make your own, damn franchise, the world would be a better place if you did.

    @Scorpius: Would you say that a little louder so the author of Redshirts and Fuzzy Nation can hear you?

  100. @ patfinley

    I honestly reject the popular catalog of the novel as fascist. I honestly don’t think it matches with the definition of fascism.

    The Terran Federation is definitely totalitarian in both book and movie. Part of the problem is that the book doesn’t actually show a whole lot of the Federation save at the very beginning and one scene where the protagonists are on liberty. The movie works around this with the “march to war” style propaganda interludes, and Verhoeven clearly takes the view that the society we don’t see much of in the book must be not only totalitarian but fascist.

    Part of that can be explained by the change in the antagonists. In the book they’re a loose coalition of alien powers not unlike the Covenant of the Halo franchise or, for that matter, the warring factions in Scalzi’s own Old Man’s War universe. In the movie, on the other hand, they’re basically giant insects and it’s strongly indicated that they only struck the Federation after human colonists tried to settle an Arachnid planet. The book implies a morally complex galactic stage with many players all locked in a fight for survival (which should surprise no one who’s even passingly familiar with Heinlein’s view that sheep get eaten by wolves), whereas the movie reduces it to Us vs. Them show it can satirically show us the common trope in nationalist propaganda of demoting the enemy to the status of rabid animals.

    Paul Verhoeven is no moron. He’s a visionary cinematographer and director, a skill no less valuable just because he fails to appreciate Heinlein’s insight bildungsroman about the civic relationship between rights and responsibilities, or the fact that many of the screenplays he tackled have suck eggs (I’m looking at you Showgirls and Hollow Man).

  101. I think the guy who made Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and Robocop has some sense about science fiction. The problem for Verhoeven directing StarWars is that he gets that we’re all shades of grey morality, but StarWars is black and white morality. Verhoeven’s version of Episode 7 would have Luke demostrate that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Han would return to piracy and branch out into smuggling drugs that are addictive and harm people and guns for warlords.

    It’s also worth pointing out that several of the Expanded Universe works set within +/-20 or so years, (Dark Empire and the Jedi Knight games are the first to come to mind) investigate the whole shades of grey morality issue. Mmmm…Paul Verhoeven Dark Empire trilogy…*drools*

  102. @ Greg

    [Joss]Whedon actually tends to view the world in terms of black and white in his works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and probably would be a good fit for writing the script for Star Wars.

    Yeah, but that would mean Leia would give up wearing shoes and be played by Summer Glau, every single other role would be filled by Nathan Fillion with the exception of one character to be played by Eliza Dushku (also sans shoes). And in order to be self-referential Eliza’s character would be called Nathan Fillion, just to make fan arguments more complicated. The Millennium Falcon with all the original cast would explode killing everyone in the first ten minutes.

    There you are, Joss Whedon’s Star Wars Episode 7: Watch Me Make Pop-Culture Jokes.
    There would be of course no Episode 8 or 9 because its a Whedon production, so it would be cancelled.

    One thing I would like to see though is Ep 7 tackling the problem that a lot of its fighters are in fact nasty, law breaking people. Which is fine in a rebellion, but once they become the government they have a problem. Lets face it, most of those rebels aren’t going to do anything but return to be smugglers and thieves again, what happens when you have a genuine hero of the rebellion up on a charge of child trafficking? How do they reward their heroes as a government, when some of those heroes are likely to have committed genuine punishable crimes? A problem for every successful rebellion everywhere. Former ally turned against former ally.

    You could fill a whole trilogy with that.

  103. Gulliver: First off, he made a fun popcorn satire of propaganda and civilian cluelessness

    Civilian cluelessness if rampant in the novel. Go here http://www.warhw.com/2012/02/26/starship-troopers-novel/ and search for “Heinlein seems to make sure that the military folks are often *demonstrably* better than civilians in his fictional world, whereas when civilians try to put down the military, they’re usually shown in Heinlein’s fictional world to be exercising an undeserved privilege, or a result of cluelessness, or both.”

    Read the part after that for all the examples from the novel where Heinlein makes a point of making every single civilian in the novel look clueless.

    sprinkled with sophomoric philosophy

    In the movie, the instructor for “History and Moral Philosophy” is taken directly, and sometimes word-for-word, from the book. The sophoric philosophy exists because Verhoeven quotes it directly from the book.

    ridiculous larger-than-life characters

    Yet again, you’re describing the novel, and the movie mirrors the novel.

    and a force-of-nature enemy

    Seriously? Did you read to novel? It was a bug hunt. Communist bugs, to be specific. But a bug hunt against a non-individualistic, hive mind, animalistic swarm.

    shoehorning his bizzaro interpretation of the story

    The movie follows the novel beat for beat.

    Here’s a chapter-by-chapter break down of the novel:

    Chapter 1: flash forward to Johnny in combat
    Chapter 2: Johnny kid in High School, polemic, enlists.
    Chapter 3: Johnny’s first day of bootcamp
    Chapter 4: Johnny at training
    Chapter 5: Hendrick’s flogged and bad conduct discharge
    Chapter 6: Johnny gets mail, polemics
    Chapter 7: Johnny gets flogged
    chapter 8: polemic. beat your puppy to train him.
    chapter 9: Johnny gets in a fight on R&R, graduate
    chapter 10: Johnny assigned a ship, Beunus Aries destroyed
    chapter 11: Johnny signs up for OCS.
    chapter 12: Johnny sees his Dad. Polemics.
    Chapter 13: Johnny is a third lieutenant. Combat.
    Chapter 14: Johnny is an officer. preparing to drop.

    The movie starts in chapter 2 highschool, quickly goes to bootcamp (chapter 3,4), has Johnny get whipped and he quits (5,7). Thank the gods Verhoeven skipped all the monologuing and sophomoric philosophy in chapters 6, 8, and 9. Beunus Aries destroyed and his parents are killed (chapter 10). In the book, Johnny signs up to be an officer, in the movie, Johnny asks to re-enlist (chapter 11). We skip chapter 12 because it was all about how Johnny’s father, who said he hated the military, has now realized the error of his ways and is now in the military, and in the movie, Johnny’s parents are both killed. The rest of the movie encompasses a never ending bug hunt, which is exactly what we see in the remaining chapters: chapters 1 (which is out of sequence anyway) and chapter 13.

    Every chapter has a place in the movie except for the 3 chapters of polemics from Mr Dubois are thankfully reduced to a few lines from Mr Dubois. Chapter 12 was removed because his dad is killed in the movie. The book has a lot more time spent with Johnny going back to OCS to be an officer, and this is condensed in the movie by having Johnny’s chain of command get killed and Johnny gets field promotions.

    The biggest difference between novel and movie is the power armor suits are gone. But that doesn’t change Johnny’s plot arc in any way. It doesn’t change the story arc in any way. The suits are nothing more than a special effect. And the main reason they were dropped is because the movie Pandora hadn’t been made yet, the technology to make that kind of movie didn’t exist yet, the cost to try it would have been massive, and it wouldn’t have made any difference to Johnny’s story.

    There is no “bizzaro interpretation” of the novel going on. The movie is beat for beat a replication of the novel tranformed and condensed to fit into a 90 minute movie.

    The one and only difference is that Verhoeven saw Heinlein’s material for the fascism it is. Heinlein couldn’t see his own fascism.

    From the review: “It forces us to cheer for an ideology we know is wrong.” No, that’s precisely what the book got us to do.

    Heinlein didn’t view his novel as fascism. He didn’t view it as wrong. He wasn’t trying to get people to cheer for something he knew was wrong. He thought his view was right and he wanted people to cheer for it because he wanted people to adopt the philosophy expressed by Mr Dubois.

    Heinlein himself said that the reason he wrote the book was because he opposed SANE’s call for a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, that he wanted us to keep testing nukes, that his position was opposed by a lot of other people he knew, and he wrote Starship Troopers in part to explain why he thought what he thought. And the reason why becomes abundantly clear in the novel. In the novel, earth is fighting a ravenous horde of communist bugs, and the only way us puny humans are able to hold any ground against these communist bugs is because we use nukes like they were hand grenades. In the novel, the rockets on Johnny’s powered armor suit aren’t tipped with high explosives. They’re tipped with tactical nuclear weapons.

    This is the one fundamental difference I’ll grant you between the novel and movie. In the novel, Heinlein is using the novel to advocate for nuclear weapons. A couple years after writing the novel, Heinlein told people at a SF convention that massive nuclear war would happen in a couple years, that the US would lose, and that Americans should stock up on unregistered guns and go out in a blaze of glory.

    Heinlein was a doomsday prepper. And he wrote his novel totally sympathetic to his doomday philosophy, and in an effort to justify his doomsday prepper ideology to others.

    Verhoeven saw Heinlein for what he is, and simply used Heinlein’s own words to show everyone else what Heinlein really was.

    There’s a saying that goes something like this: A libertarian is someone who takes a statement of fact about what a normal government does for its people, and puts an exclamation point on the end.

    Normal person: the government collects taxes to provide services to its people.
    Libertarian: The government! Collects taxes! To provide services for its people!

    Verhoeven, did nothing but show Heinlein’s exclamation points. And he did so, by using Heinlein’s actual words from the novel.

    patfinley: That moron admitted he hadn’t finsished the book. FFS!

    So what? Edward Neumeier wrote the screenplay for Starship Troopers. And it seems pretty clear that he read the novel all the way to the end. As for Verhoeven not reading the novel, all one has to read is the first chapter and get that it is nothing more but a glorious infatuated view of war. And if Verhoeven made it to the second chapter, he saw enough of Mr. Dubois’s polemics in favor of fascism to know exactly what kind of book it is. If he made it to chapter 3, he would see a military training facility that breaks the bones of trainees, whips them, hangs them, beats them, stabs them, all as a normal part of training. That right there demonstrates clearly what sort of world Heinlein is writing about.

    I honestly reject the popular catalog of the novel as fascist.

    Well, you’d be wrong.

  104. Oh, look, yet another iteration of the now almost two-decades-old discussion of Starship Trooprs, movie and film, and in a comment thread that’s not about that particular topic! Who’d’ve thought that could happen!

    Wrap it up, guys. You’re not adding anything new to that particular mix.

  105. Thinking back on what I said earlier about Lucas, the man deserves better than to refer to his dialogue as ‘atrocious’ and ‘inducing cinematic comas’. They are bad, but it doesn’t help to add salt to the wound. Leave it at that. Abrams will do a great job of revitalizing Star Wars as film.

  106. Meh, whatever he does it can’t be worse than the last 3 SW movies, it would be nice if it were better than the second and third ones. Lets make the pre-movie freak out interesting at least:
    – Sam Peckinpah (yes, I know we’d need a time machine but let me run here please)
    – John Woo
    – Quentin Tarantino
    – George Romero

    With these guys even if the movie was as awful as the last three at least there would be great entertainment value in the foaming at the mouth melt down that would ensue.

    Actually, a reboot with Tarantino might be the best! Non-linear story telling, hyper violent Sith, witty repartee between Yoda and Anakin. I think he could save the franchise! ;)

  107. One of the more intriguing rumors is the return of Darth Vader. (Don’t freak just yet.) It actually could make a potentially borderline good storyline; rumors of Vader’s return, Luke’s insistence that Anakin Skywalker is dead, the realization that Darth Vader is back. The question, of course, is who is in the suit, since Batman has led the way in the notion that it’s the symbol that counts, not the guy in the suit. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea, as I think that bringing characters endlessly back from the dead is rarely anything more than sloppy, lazy writing, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Vader make a comeback.

  108. CEB: among those who are fans of the original trilogy BEFORE the prequels were even in production, i.e., actual Star Wars fans

    If you’re going to turn your nose up at new fans because you were into Star Wars before it was cool, I feel bad for you.

    ‘Actual Star Wars fans’ are anyone and everyone who is a fan of Star Wars. Even if they only like Episode I and their favorite things about the franchise are Jar Jar Binx and Pod Racing. Or if they’ve only seen the films once (in chronological as opposed to release order) but really love the fan fiction community. Or if they’re not much fans of the films at all, but really like the Clone Wars TV show, the video games, or the books.

    New fans are what make fandom awesome. If you’re too cool for anyone that wasn’t standing in line for tickets to ESB on opening night, you’re setting yourself up to miss out on the most fun the new movie’s going to send our way.

    You cannot remake an icon. It cannot be done.

    Steven Soderbergh might disagree with you on that point.

    So might Ron Moore.

    Or, heck, even our illustrious host*.

    Like all classics, ESB is inextricably woven into its time. It exists in conversation with the films, filmmaking, aesthetics, and culture of 1980, and Disney would be completely foolish to try to ‘remake’ it in the way you’re suggesting. Even if they could re-create that context, which they can’t, it’s almost a guarantee that they’d have to sacrifice good filmmaking in the process. Even Super 8 is a modern take on 70s-era filmmaking (and by most reports, a successful one at that).

    But a good director with a good script is entirely capable of creating a film that holds a similar place in 2015’s conversation of filmmaking as ESB held in 1980. A film that honors the original trilogy while taking full advantage of the ways that films and filmmaking (and our culture in general) have moved on since the OT came out.

    Do I think we’re going to see that film? Eh. Jury’s still out. I don’t actually think that’s as tall an order as it’s made out to be. ESB was a good film, but it is hardly unsurpassed, nor unsurpassable.

    But man, I hope JJ Abrams has fun trying to bring it to us. Because if he does, we probably will, and that’s good enough for me.
    ————–
    *(who I’m in no way buttering up because I know he’ll have to kick this link-laden comment out of the moderation queue).

  109. In the end all that matters is we are going to have new Star Wars movies in 2 years. I’m pretty happy about that, as everyone should be.

  110. Oh, look, yet another iteration of the now almost two-decades-old discussion of Starship Trooprs, movie and film, and in a comment thread that’s not about that particular topic! Who’d’ve thought that could happen!

    You had to know that it would happen just as soon as you mentioned Verhoeven.

    As the comments on the thread clearly show, there are those who read for comprehension and those who read for umbrage. And they are bout evenly distributed on this particular topic.

  111. Regarding point five, I think J.J. pissed off more geeks than he pleased.

    My story with Star Trek 2009 started with me buying the DVD to see the movie for the first time, as I missed it in the theater. I watched the movie once, and liked it. I watched it a second time, and I though, “That Romulan ship was a lot like a Death Star.” All of the plot points that Star Trek ripped off from A New Hope came to me in a flood after that first realization. Scotty 3PO is my favorite. I got so mad, I donated the DVD to the public library and have never had the urge to watch the movie again.

    I am expecting that Peter Weller, who is reportedly the real villain of Star Trek Into Darkness, is really Kirk’s father.

    In addition, this geek wasn’t too happy with Star Trek 2009 either.

  112. Someone way upthread said we need to get Lawrence Kasdan to write it. If there’s just ONE thing they can do to help Episode VII to not suck, that would be it. (And, sweet Eris, am I the only person on the planet who didn’t mind the lens flares in Abram’s Star Trek?)

  113. Yeah, but that would mean Leia would give up wearing shoes and be played by Summer Glau, every single other role would be filled by Nathan Fillion with the exception of one character to be played by Eliza Dushku (also sans shoes).

    And the problem with this is…?

  114. Brian, I beg to differ. It merely indicates that Greg has not read for comprehension, as he makes the fundamental mistake of confusing “strong military” with “fascist”. (Hint: folks, there is a dictionary definition of fascist and the novel doesn’t fit it.) But Scalzi has asked us not to continue this topic, so we should probably move it elsewhere.

  115. JohnD, the strong military is only part of fascism. There’s also the identification of the people with the State, the Us vs. Them mentality, the subsuming of all resources into national domination, and the constant propaganda to reinforce all of this. Heinlein’s novel is dripping with this on every page, and Verhoeven did what any good satirist does–turned it up to 11.

    (And OGH did this himself in Old Man’s War, then subverted it further in the sequels. I point this out in the hopes that he’ll be flattered enough to let me have this comment and not pull out the Mallet just yet. No more, I promise.)

  116. Brian, please go read the textbook definition of fascism. It includes a dictator – where is that in the novel? It includes mythologizing a “pure” race – where is that in the novel? It includes state control of industry – where is that in the novel? As you note, it includes identification of people with the state – where is that in the novel? (As you may remember, there were plenty of people who denigrated both the state and military service in the novel.)

    There is no “subsuming of all resources into national domination” in the novel. If you think there is, then please point to the chapter and line. There is no propaganda in the novel. Again, if you think that there was,then please point to where it is.

    What Heinlein’s novel satirized was turning our young men into slaves for the convenience of the state (which is what the USA did back then). Unfortunately, too many people see that it praises military service and conflate that with fascism, not realizing that there are many good and honorable things about military service. (Rodger Young, Arthur Currie, and Pal Maleter being three examples of that.)

  117. “I think J.J. pissed off more geeks than he pleased.”

    I doubt it, and I am sure it doesn’t matter. His Star Trek was the most financially successful of the franchise, even adjusted for inflation. If he pissed off geeks, it was less than the number of nongeeks he brought in.

  118. @Chris Sears:

    Regarding point five, I think J.J. pissed off more geeks than he pleased.

    Well, up to a point.

    I’d say Abrams pissed off 100% of Trekkies who’d decided his take was going to be a rancid abortion from the moment his name was announced. YMMV, but I don’t put much stock in people who pan a film without going to the trouble of seeing it.

    Neither Paramount nor Disney are a geek brothel specializing in fan-wanks. They’re publicly held companies with shareholders who are rather fond of seeing returns on their investments. Now you may well think J.J. Abrams is the Uwe Boll of lens flare, but he’s got a pretty solid record of making films people actually want to see.

  119. JohnD: I would just LOVE to respond to your last comment, because there is just so, so much you get wrong. But I’m already wary of pissing off our beloved host, so I will (with difficulty) restrain myself.

  120. I’m prone to wanting to see what the most inappropriate directors would come up with: RIGET-era Lars Von Trier, Cronenburg, Lynch, Romero…heck…Clint Eastwood.
    Might also be interesting to reimagine the Jedi by way of Crouching Tiger and similar Chinese action films.

  121. Brian, that’s why I included the link to my blog. We can debate the matter to our heart’s delight over there without annoying our host nor abusing the patience of his many other readers.

    For the record, I am a scientist, which means that you can prove me wrong and I will thank you for it. But I will require some pretty hard proofs that I am wrong.

  122. Greg: Whedon actually tends to view the world in terms of black and white in his works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

    I’m stunned by this. I can’t believe that anyone who has watched Buffy, let alone Firefly or Dollhouse, can believe that Whedon sees the world in terms of black and white. All his works are filled with ambiguous characters; people going bad out of grief or (quite righteous) rage; bad characters being redeemed or just becoming increasingly ambiguous; seemingly-evil characters who turn out to be ruthless in the service of a laudable goal; characters who are in service of a seemingly-laudable but actually evil goal; and evil rotten characters with one stunningly redeeming characteristic.

    If you have watched all of Buffy, I think you have either lost your mind, or you have a dramatically-different read on it. I think such a different read would require extraordinary arguments to be convincing.

    Rodney’s Saga: I’m a browncoat but have to vote no on Whedon for Star Wars. SW is about cheering uncomplicatedly for good vs. evil, a western in space. Or should be, I refuse to believe the prequels happened. Anyway, JW would have Luke & Leia exchange snarky comments & then kill off R2D2.

    Agreed on all counts. But I’d point out two things. One, Firefly is exactly a Western in space, but is NOT uncomplicatedly good vs. evil. Two, R2D2 would either be reassembled from parts, or bits of his personality would pop up in the computer from time to time…used by an evil computer program. That would then be useful to the good guys. Who would turn bad.

    Christopher Wright: “One cannot be, pretty much by definition, a good director of SF if you have no respect for science.”

    Hmmm. The Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in how many parsecs again?

    I don’t see the contradiction here. George Lucas directed that. He’s a CRAP director. Not really a counterargument. Star Wars was wonderful in many ways, but direction was not one of those ways. Also, space opera.

  123. Brian: Greg’s comment from a couple hours ago

    To avoid the Mallet (or the Kitten), we can continue here (also more to read over there if you’re interested):

    http://www.warhw.com/2012/02/26/starship-troopers-novel/

    David: One of the more intriguing rumors is the return of Darth Vader. (Don’t freak just yet.)

    Too late. I just freaked out. That would be horrible.

    Marc: reimagine the Jedi by way of Crouching Tiger

    What a great movie that was. (sigh) I can’t even imagine what Ep7 would look like through a Crouching Tiger lense, but the thought gives me butterflies.

    crypticmirror: The Millennium Falcon with all the original cast would explode killing everyone in the first ten minutes.

    Ya know, it seems that Joss only did this when Firefly the series turned into Serenity the movie.

    The overall connecting story arc of Firefly the series was the mystery of River’s origin, how she got crazy, what she knew that the government wanted covered up. Had the series continued, I imagine the crew would be dealing with various short term episodic adventures like robbing banks or delivering cattle or whatever it is they do, with a steady but faint drip, drip, drip of information being revealed, discovered, and uncovered about River.

    When it turned into Serenity, the movie, it seems that Joss decided that the mystery of River had to be revealed and even concluded. At which point, the overall connecting story arc of a continuing series was brought to an end. At which point, I imagine Joss decided, well, if the story is gonna end, might as well pull out the stops and kill some of hte main characters.

    It seems that for various reasons, Serenity was never meant to have a sequel. If so, then killing some of the characters involved in a life-and-death battle with the two biggest threats in the system, reavers and the government, kinda makes sense.

    And at that point, Serenity is sort of like Star Wars, only inverted. The plot arc has been brought to an end. Except in Serenity, the rebellion lost and the government won. The sequels would be following underdogs eeking out their existence at the fringes. But what would make it worse is that River’s mystery revealed and concluded, Serenity goes from having what was held as a great secret that could harm the govenrment, and Mal and his crew are important in the system because they carry and protect River, and turns into River’s secret revealed, and the government doesn’t change afterall. Mal and his crew go from important in the universe to irrelevant. It would be hard to come up with a story that follows the end of Serenity the movie.

    So, I can kind of see why Joss killed some of the characters in Serenity.

  124. Xopher: I can’t believe that anyone who has watched Buffy, let alone Firefly or Dollhouse, can believe that Whedon sees the world in terms of black and white. All his works are filled with ambiguous characters; people going bad out of grief or (quite righteous) rage; bad characters being redeemed or just becoming increasingly ambiguous

    Whedon’s fiction may have characters on various paths between good and evil, but the point is Whedon’s fiction clearly holds a space for good and for evil.

    Compare this to Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” or “Kill Bill”. Neither of those works hold the space for “good”. All the characters are various shades of evil.

    Pulp Fictions cast of charactes from wikipedia: Vincent Vega (Travolta) [hitman], Jules Winnfield (Jackson) [hitman], Mia Wallace (Thurman) [wife of boss Marsellus Wallace], Butch Coolidge (Willis) [boxer who agrees to take a fall, then bets on himself not taking a fall], The Wolf (Keitel) [a man who hides dead bodies and evidence there of], Pumpkin and Honey Bunny [to small time crooks], Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) [mob boss], Lance (Eric Stoltz) [drug dealer]. Then there’s the guys who rape Willis and Rhames in the pawn shop.

    None of these characters will ever land in the category that is known as “good”. they’re all very dark shades of grey. Jules was talking about giving up the hitman life, but we don’t really see him out of his profession yet. Christopher Walken’s part was morality-neutral, we don’t know what Captain Koons is like in the rest of his life. We know he was intensely loyal to Bruce Willis’s father. But loyalty can be found among truly evil people.

    Kill Bill is similar. All the characters are on the spectrum from pitch-black to dark-grey. There are no true good guys.

    Joss, on the other hand, has people on various shades of grey, but Joss makes a point of showing that there is something known as good, and there is something known as evil, and various characters hold the different spots on the spectrum. This fits much more closely with Star Wars. Yoda and Ben were Good. Vader and the Emporer were Evil. Han and Lando were grey but got lighter as time went on. And Luke, the hero, journeyed through that maze. He even pulled Vader from the dark to the light by the end, like Joss has people in transition as well.

    But the point is, both Joss and StarWars as a universe have the full spectrum with Good on one end and Evil on the other. Tarantino often shows us worlds where the characters fill the spectrum from pitch-black-evil to dark-grey evil.

  125. There’s also the identification of the people with the State, the Us vs. Them mentality, the subsuming of all resources into national domination, and the constant propaganda to reinforce all of this.

    Wow, you just succinctly described the Obama Administration’s playbook, with “them” being the GOP or any dissenters. ;)

  126. Xopher, I said: Whedon actually tends to view the world in terms of black and white in his works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and probably would be a good fit for writing the script for Star Wars.

    Whedon would be a good pick for writing Ep7, cause he groks the good-versus-evil notion that’s in StarWars.

    Tarantino would certainly make an interesting version of Ep7, but it would be entirely divorced from all the previous StarWars films. We would probably find out that there really is only a Dark Side of the Force, and its only a matter of how Dark a Jedi goes.

  127. The comments have the scope of a JJ epic. I’m not a huge fan but I’m always interested in the next project.

  128. Whedon’s fiction may have characters on various paths between good and evil, but the point is Whedon’s fiction clearly holds a space for good and for evil.

    Wow. That’s a weird definition of “black and white.”

    (and still no tank, right? I gave up on that other thread after you crossed the 2000 word mark).

  129. @ John Scalzi

    Oh, look, yet another iteration of the now almost two-decades-old discussion of Starship Trooprs, movie and film, and in a comment thread that’s not about that particular topic! Who’d’ve thought that could happen!

    Do I detect a subtle hint of sarcasm? Arguing with Greg is so fun :)

    Wrap it up, guys. You’re not adding anything new to that particular mix.

    Wilco. Closing statements:

    @ Greg

    Heinlein didn’t view his novel as fascism. He didn’t view it as wrong.

    I didn’t know if it was his intent, but the effect was that he got us to cheer for a totalitarian government with at least some of the defining elements of fascism. I have little interest in whether Heinlein thought the Terran Federation was a desirable model because, from what little consistency I can glean from his many well-written and entertaining novels, he and I have little common ground. And yes, I know the story that he took a break from writing something else to pen Starship Troopers because he wanted to offer a view of what he thought was the ideal military strategy for combating “communism” – to wit, a first strike doctrine.

    In the novel, Heinlein is using the novel to advocate for nuclear weapons.

    Among other things.

    A couple years after writing the novel, Heinlein told people at a SF convention that massive nuclear war would happen in a couple years, that the US would lose, and that Americans should stock up on unregistered guns and go out in a blaze of glory.

    An entirely possible outcome at the time. This was also, IIRC, around when he and Asimov had a falling out.

    Heinlein was a doomsday prepper.

    Yup.

    And he wrote his novel totally sympathetic to his doomday philosophy, and in an effort to justify his doomsday prepper ideology to others.

    I don’t know if that was one of his explicit reasons for writing it, even to himself. I will say that, although I am not a survivalist prepper, no one need write a novel to justify preparing for the next to worst case scenario. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Better yet, have a continuum of plans ranging from worst to best, and be flexible.

    Verhoeven saw Heinlein for what he is, and simply used Heinlein’s own words to show everyone else what Heinlein really was.

    I’m sure Verhoeven thinks so.

    There’s a saying that goes something like this: A libertarian is someone who takes a statement of fact about what a normal government does for its people, and puts an exclamation point on the end.

    I know libertarians are a hobby horse of yours, and I don’t really mind because my politics is not my identity, but nearly every time you harp on libertarians, you show that you don’t really understand libertarian philosophy. Heinlein was, as best can be discerned from his writings, a rational anarchist, which some people would place under the aegis of libertarianism. Even rational anarchism is not the exclamatory addendumizer you view libertarianism to be.

    An excellent discussion, as always (even if it was the hundredth repeat). I’ll concede that it’s been over a decade since I read the book and I saw the movie before I’d even started reading SF. While I remember the book being very different from the movie, I can’t go toe-to-toe with you on how well the scenes line up.

  130. Greg, David is right. Saying that there’s a scale of good to evil with people at all points on it is pretty much the opposite of “viewing the world in terms of black and white.”

  131. 1) Heinlein’s politics are weird and not really internally consistent. He wrote and probably agreed with the ideas in both Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers. He falls in the same camp of Orsen Scott Card where he wants to try out new and weird politics in addition to tech in his Sci-Fi. Pretty much the opposite of Roddenbery or Asimov.

    The idea that some director is revealing the “jackboot hidden within his work” is kind of short sighted. The movie dismisses the entire experiment of “what if humanity was at risk of being wiped out by giant bug aliens, what kind of gov’t or society could handle that threat” in favor of cheap entertaining shots at failed political systems. OTOH it did make some valid points re: politics in the early 2000s.

    2) Even though I enjoyed the Star Trek reboot and felt like it was a Star Trek movie, though not a Rodenberry ST movie, I don’t have the trust level I might have with other directors. Still Lucas managed to single handedly ruin his rep and trash the franchise with the last 3 movies and I’m at least not worried about that happening with JJ. The people at Disney are also highly invested in making sure this succeeds, which is probably more studio support than most genre directors ever get.

    3) Setting aside the whole debate over Tarentinos morality, I’m not convinced he could make a good Sci Fi film as his style is more hyper stylized reality than any other director in Sci Fi. The problem with that is you can take a cool gunfight or action scene and push it over the limit like he does, and it works because they are grounded in a real life that people are familiar with, but if you take a weird ray gun/ lightsaber duel, and run it through his reality distortion field, you risk turning it into cartoon farce instead.

  132. Did folks not get John’s strong implication that he didn’t want to rehash the same old Starship Troopers debate? Does he have to say everything explicitly?

  133. David: and still no tank, right?

    Xopher: David is right.

    Xopher, see that line up there, “and still no tank, right?”. Over here, David made some assertions about how “PG anti-tank weapons, portable anti-aircraft missiles, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, artillery, and fully-automatic assault weapons” are all illegal and that someone was arguing for them to be legalized. Some people who actually know a thing or two about firearms pointed out that he is in fact wrong about almost every item on that list. Almost all of them are legal with a Class 3 Federal Firearms License. I was one of those people trying to explain the legal facts to David.

    But it turns out, David can’t simply admit that his legal advice was in fact wrong and move on. And instead, he’s become my latest stalker. The “and still no tank, right?” is his attempt to pretend that the only thing he said had something to do with M1 Abrams tanks being for sale on the internet, and that he wasn’t wrong about anything at all. He was wrong. The link above shows exactly where his legal advice is almost completely wrong. But he is incapable of admitting it.

    So, you can rest assured, that if David says I’m wrong about anything, that it has nothing to do with me being wrong or right, and eveyrthing to do with David being a stalker, and being a troll, all because he is being too childish to admit he made a mistake.

    That isn’t to say that I’m never wrong, but if David is saying I’m wrong, it’s only because he’s begrudging me. And anytime you see the “still no tank, right” he is simultaneously pretending he never made a mistake and attempting to troll me.

    Like I said, he’s become my latest stalker.

    yay!

    pretty much the opposite of “viewing the world in terms of black and white.”

    Well, in my first reply to you I tried to explain it like this:

    the point is Whedon’s fiction clearly holds a space for good and for evil.

    I had been talking about Tarantino’s movies being pitch-black to dark-grey evil mother fuckers. And I said that StarWars had both black AND white. I said that Whedon’s stories also had both black and white.

    My point was Whedon actually has both ends of the spectrum, black and white, good and evil, compared to Tarantino who only has the black and dark-grey part of the spectrum.

    Not that StarWars or Whedon’s worlds are only black and white, good and evil, with no in between. StarWars has grey characters. Han is a pirate. He bailed on the big fight in Ep4, only to come back at the very end of Ep4 to save Luke. In the original movie, Han is a cold-blooded killler and shot Greedo. Lucas later decided that was too dark-grey for Han and rewrote it so that Greedo shot first and Han shot back in self-defense.

    It’s kind of weird to me to see people with shirts saying “Han shot first”. It means they’re basically campaigning for the more evil version of Han Solo, the one who shot Greedo in cold blood. Yeah, yeah, bounty hunter, verbal threat, ‘over my dead body’, whatever. The entire point of that particular debate is some poeople WANT the version of Han Solo who shot Greedo before Greedo drew a weapon. The reason they WANT that is because it casts Han in a darker (more evil) light than the verion of Han who shoots in pure self defense.

    But whatever. My point being that Tarantino’s worlds dont even HAVE the concept of good. Tarantino’s worlds don’t even have the concept of “falling from grace” and they don’t have the concept of “redemption”. In Tarantino’s world, Jules could decide he didn’t want to be a hitman anymore and simply retire. In Kill Bill, Kiddo was an assassin who wanted to retire and Bill didn’t want her to leave so he tried to kill her. Kiddo ends up killing bill and everyone else, and it ends with her driving off in the sunset, into retirement, with no issue as to whether she is redeemed from being an assassin or not.

    In StarWars, Vader couldn’t simply retire. He had to be redeemed. That’s the Black and White, the Good and Evil, concept that Tarantino’s worlds of dark-grey to pitch-black do not get.

  134. shorter: “holds a space for good and for evil” doesn’t mean there is ONLY good and evil, with no grey in between.

  135. Greedo was holding a weapon on Han through most of that scene. He announced his intention to kill Solo or turn him over to Jabba, who would kill him. Shooting Greedo was self-defense, but Han didn’t wait to be shot at first. Not evil, just not a Lawful-Good Paladin. Lawful-Good Paladins are stupid.

    But Greg, when you say someone sees things in black and white, that means they DON’T have the middle range, that everything is either good or evil. Sorry if you meant something else; if so, you simply misused the phrase.

  136. No, “holds a space for good and evil” doesn’t mean that. But “tends to view the world in terms of black and white” does.

  137. I’m of two minds about Abrams. I enjoyed Cloverfield and Super 8; early Fringe before it got so wonky. Hated Lost and mixed on Star Trek. Granted I was irritated by Star Trek because of things like being able to see mountains in Iowa(not to mention that whole big-assed canyon) but was able to put that aside until the destruction of Vulcan. The last couple of Star Wars turned me off entirely( I walked out of the lava field fight when I realized that I would rather have been anywhere else). So we’ll see–I’m not really fired up to see a Star Wars movie at this time–maybe a good script will change that.
    And you might as well not argue about Heinlein and the whole fascist thing. After all, Spider Robinson did it best–
    http://www.heinleinsociety.org/rah/works/articles/rahrahrah.html

  138. Mountains? In Iowa? Are you serious?

    Goddam Californians.

    They did the same thing when they made a TV series set in Hoboken. They filmed some establishing shots, but they had a bar on Bloomfield Street with a brick staircase going UP and giant potted palms outside. That may be what bars look like in Burbank, but it’s not only NOT what they look like in Hoboken, it’s impossible.

  139. I think my favorite movie “what the…” was at the end of “Puppet Masters” when the Des Moines Civic Center was surrounded by PALM TREES.

  140. Are they too cheap to use realistic locations, or just too stupid to know that most of the country looks nothing like California?

  141. Xopher: No, “holds a space for good and evil” doesn’t mean that.

    But that was the first sentence of my first reply to you. i.e.

    Whedon’s fiction may have characters on various paths between good and evil, but the point is Whedon’s fiction clearly holds a space for good and for evil.

    i.e. I acknowledge that you are correct in that Whedon’s stories have characters in various shades of grey, but my point is that Whedon clearly holds a space for both good and for evil.
    As opposed to Tarantino, who only has pitch-black to dark-grey characters.

  142. Since they actually did shoot part of the movie in Iowa I’m assuming it had something to do with finances. That, and the old “no one will really notice” syndrome

  143. Greg! In your comment on January 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm, you said

    Whedon actually tends to view the world in terms of black and white in his works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and probably would be a good fit for writing the script for Star Wars.

    That was what I was reacting to. Now you’re trying to act like I was reacting to you saying Whedon holds a space for good and evil. I have no problem with that. It’s your earlier statement that I have a problem with.

    Stop trying to pretend you didn’t say that. It’s there in the comment thread for all to see.

    Stop trying to pretend I’m objecting to something more reasonable that you said later. Everyone can see what’s really happening.

    You said something dumb. OK, we all do that sometimes. Now you don’t want to stand behind it. Good, better not to stand behind something dumb. But you can’t claim you didn’t say it.

    I really don’t care about Terantino. And the fact that Whedon believes there’s good in the universe is all to his credit as far as I’m concerned. If I want a choice between bad and worse, I can read the newspaper; it’s not what I go to entertainment for.

    Shorter: “Holds a space for good and evil,” OK. “[V]iew[s] the world in terms of black and white,” stooopid.

  144. @ Xopher Halftongue

    Did folks not get John’s strong implication that he didn’t want to rehash the same old Starship Troopers debate? Does he have to say everything explicitly?

    He said wrap it up and that’s what I did, with a final attempt to clarify my arguments and concede my hazy memory of the specifics, lest anyone think I was arguing from crystal recollection and give those arguments more credence than they deserved.

    You said something dumb. OK, we all do that sometimes. Now you don’t want to stand behind it. Good, better not to stand behind something dumb.

    Sometimes the things people say do a poor job to conveying what they’re trying to communicate. I should know, I step in that regularly.

    @ Harold Osler

    Since they actually did shoot part of the movie in Iowa I’m assuming it had something to do with finances. That, and the old “no one will really notice” syndrome

    Except the five or six people who live in Iowa :-D

    I loved the Roddenberry Trek as much as the next geek, but it was played out. If somewhat dumber action flicks are this generation’s Trek, so be it. Sooner or later things change or they become stale. Sometimes the change is for the better and sometimes it’s for the worse, and usually it’s some combination of both. History moves on. Classic Trek was choking on its own phlegm. I’d rather have something new a different to keep the tradition alive so maybe future generations will remember and care enough to make something greater of it, than to suffocate rejuvenation by insisting it have all the same merits of the old and that any deviation in style or spirit is evidence of the lapsarian decline of my childhood.

    TL:DR – Bemoaning the Fall of Trek just makes you look like a grouchy grousing grinch. Remember, Comic Book Guy is a stereotype worth dispelling, not reinforcing.

  145. Harold: After all, Spider Robinson did it best–

    OK. Wow. I’ve never read that before. That reads like…. Like a schoolgirl gushing over her favorite teen pop music star.

    Above all Heinlein is better educated, more widely read and traveled than anyone I have ever heard of,

    Isn’t he dreamy.

    SF critics, parasitic on a field which would not exist in anything like its present form or size without Heinlein, feel compelled to bite the hand that feeds them. Constitutionally unable to respect anything insofar as it resembles themselves, some critics are compelled to publicly display disrespect for a talent of which not one of them can claim the tenth part.

    LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!

    I do not worship Robert Heinlein.

    If you have to say that, you might want to consider that eveyrthing you’ve said up to that point sounds like you do, in fact, worship Heinlein.

    Xopher: your comment on January 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm … That was what I was reacting to.

    yes, I saw your post at January 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm. And I replied to it on January 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm. And in that reply, I said “the point is Whedon’s fiction clearly holds a space for good and for evil.”

    It’s your earlier statement that I have a problem with.

    You reported the problem at 5:58 and I replied and clarified at 6:49.

    Stop trying to pretend you didn’t say that. It’s there in the comment thread for all to see.

    Um. I don’t understand how I’m pretending I didn’t say that.

    I posted at 9:48. You queried at 5:58. I replied and clarified at 6:49.

    Stop trying to pretend I’m objecting to something more reasonable that you said later.

    You objected, I clarified, and you continued to object, ignoring the clarification.

    at 7:00 you questioned again.

    At 7:28 I clarified again: [Whedon] groks the good-versus-evil notion that’s in StarWars. Tarantino doesn’t.

    At 7:42, you question again, and again, you ignore the earlier clarifications

    at 11:20, I try yet again to point out my earlier clarification: Well, in my first reply to you I tried to explain it like this: the point is Whedon’s fiction clearly holds a space for good and for evil.

    at 11:26: I post “shorter”: “holds a space for good and for evil” doesn’t mean there is ONLY good and evil, with no grey in between.

    at 11:30, you yet, yet, again, again ignore all earlier clarifications.

    at 12:08, I reiterate and point out the original clarification and say: I acknowledge that you are correct in that Whedon’s stories have characters in various shades of grey, but my point is that Whedon clearly holds a space for both good and for evil. As opposed to Tarantino, who only has pitch-black to dark-grey characters.

    But you can’t claim you didn’t say it.

    Uh what? At no point did I ever disclaim any of my words. I don’t even know where you got that from.

    You started out questioning what I said, I clarified, and you have managed to ignore that clarification and every clarification since.

    I really don’t care about Terantino.

    Well, maybe that’s the problem. This whole thing started when I spent a long paragraph talking about what a Tarantino StarWars would look like:

    This would also be the problem of having Tarantino direct StarWars. His movies, Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs, and Kill Bill, are basically a cast of characters whe ALL are on the spectrum from dark-grey to pitch-black on the morality scale of things. Tarantino wouldn’t have Lando Calrissian regret betraying Han in Ep5 and then help save him in Ep6. He’d have Calrissian gleefully sell out Han in 5 and have him go after Luke in Ep6 just for kicks. Luke would kill Vader and kill the Emporer, and take both their places. Chewbacca would go full berserker mode and kill at least one minor character every major scene. Leia would know she is Luke’s sister but try to seduce him anyway to rule the galaxy with him. C3PO would have tourettes syndrome. And R2D2 would have a minigun inside him instead of a stun gun.

    Tarantino would have every character be somewhere on the short spectrum from pitch-black evil to dark-grey evil. As opposed to Whedon who groks the full moral spectrum. If you don’t care about Tarantino, then you probably aren’t going to understand what I was trying to say in that first post. It was a contrast between the two.

    I don’t know how else to explain it to you.

    And the fact that Whedon believes there’s good in the universe is all to his credit as far as I’m concerned.

    I… What??? I’m all in favor of Whedon’s view of morality. I think there is “good” and there is “evil”. And there’s a hard boundary between them. I don’t even know that this came from.

    If I want a choice between bad and worse, I can read the newspaper; it’s not what I go to entertainment for.

    uh… OK, I’m completely lost now. I… I don’t even know that this is about. If you don’t watch Tarantino movies because all his characters are various shades of evil, that’s fine by me. He makes entertaining movies, but you probably wouldn’t want your kids learning their morality from his movies. You’d probably want your kids learning their morality from StarWars or a Joss Whedon movie, not Pulp Fiction.

    So… yeah… Uhm… I think….

  146. BTW, I still would love to see what would have happened in that alternate timeline/universe had “ST: Enterprise” not been cancelled, allowed to finish it’s fifth year (and not had it truncated into a gawdawful TNG ep) and done the movie series it was planned to do. Despite what is said ENT was better than Voyager and was getting better than even TNG (in it’s fourth season).

    Scorpius, patron saint of lost shows.

  147. So the screen writer is supposed to be Michael Arndt.

    Luke, Leia, and Hans are supposed to be back as much older characters (presumable as the parents of the major characters of the third trilogy as they were the children in the second).

    In the late 70s, Lucas said there would be “about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years”.

  148. David says I’m wrong about anything, that it has nothing to do with me being wrong or right

    Actually, I only chime in when you’re wrong. The tank stuff is just gravy.

  149. Abrams is a safe choice, but hardly inspiring. Star Trek reboot was okay, not great. “Alcatraz” was a crime against nature. Still, one can expect Abrams will at least demand decent dialogue.

    Ridley Scott would be a better choice. Then we could have films with deep, ambiguous themes. Is Darth Vader really a manifestation of a deeply ambivalent God seeking to determine meaning in his creation? Are Ewoks an ancient mysterious race and precursor to Ted? Do I have a cavity or is that just a popcorn kernel stuck between my teeth. Ah, the potential…

  150. David: I love hearts and flowers and pretty bows! I could dance in sparkly showers all the day long! Fa la la la la la!

    Erm, ok. I just don’t see what that has to do with JJ Abrams directing Star Wars Episode 7.

  151. Greg: ” I think there is ‘good’ and there is ‘evil’. And there’s a hard boundary between them.”

    That has been my impression of your belief system in other threads too. Unfortunately, it means that you and some of the people you discuss with sometimes talk past each other. Not everyone agrees that there is a hard boundary between them. I certainly don’t, and when I think about “the full spectrum,” I am thinking about a gray area in the middle that has no hard boundaries, and I find that an interesting area for writers, film makers, and other creative people to explore *because* there is no hard boundary. Apparently, you mean something else by “the full spectrum,” and I think this may have led to misunderstandings between you and the people who are looking at it from a different perspective than yours.

  152. The Star Wars prequels (Episodes 1 through 3) were nothing more (in my mind, anyway) than one big fat advertising campaign for ILM. George Lucas had a whole bunch of new technology at his disposal, and what better way for him to let the industry know what his team was capable of than to finally go through with what was probably one of the most eagerly awaited trilogies ever. The problem was, when was the last time he’d sat behind the director’s chair of a successful film? It focused on the special effects and not enough on the storyline or characters. Anakin came off to me as one of the whiniest spoiled brats ever and completely altered the impression of Darth Vader that I grew up with, that of being the most evil being ever to exist in the universe (ok, next to Palpatine, maybe). Lucas should have stuck with the role of Producer and left the direction to a new generation of up and coming directors, which is what Disney has done. I’m looking forward to it.

  153. BW: <i. I find that an interesting area for writers, film makers, and other creative people to explore *because* there is no hard boundary.

    Well, I would say there is a substantial difference between:

    Tarantino: Pitch-black evil to dark-grey evil characters, and no characters are morally better than “dark-grey”. (i.e. Kill Bill:: Bill==Evil. Kiddo==dark grey. No white hats at all)

    versus

    Star Wars: Pitch-black evil characters, Pure white good characters, and a various characters in the middle/grey. (i.e. Emperor/Vader==Evil, Yoda/Kenobi/Luke/Leia==Good, Han/Lando==Grey)

    Whether it is interesting to play around in a moral system with no hard boundaries is orthogonal to how wide the moral spectrum in the fictional world is.

    Tarantino’s world of Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction have this moral spectrum:
    Pitch Black/Pure Evil====dark-grey

    StarWars and Buffy have this moral spectrum:
    Pitch Black/Pure Evil====dark-grey=====light-grey====White Lighters/Pure Good

    I don’t know what phrase or terminology you use to describe that difference, but they’re clearly different. I think Tarantino’s world might be a kind of “film noir”, where no characters are “good”. It is a limited moral spectrum.

    Whether there are hard boundaries within the spectrum, whether characters can move about on the spectrum, is kind of orthognal to how wide the moral spectrum of the fictional world is in the first place.

    And the only reason I brought up the “real” world morality (I think there is ‘good’ and there is ‘evil’.) was because Xopher said “the fact that Whedon believes there’s good in the universe is all to his credit as far as I’m concerned.”, which started getting into the moral order of the real world. Whether I think the real world is black/white or shades of grey wasn’t relevant. I just brought it up because Xopher seemed to be looking at Whedon’s moral view of the real world.

  154. Rick: Ridley Scott would be a better choice.
    Greg: Holy crap. That could be mind blowing.

    Yes, that would be amazingly bad, given that Ridley Scott has about as much success with Sci-fi as George Lucas (i.e. one unequivocal success, and one that is a success largely in hindsight and mostly from an stylistic, rather than entertainment, context, followed by abject failure on every level but the visual).

  155. I agree with John Scalzi – as much as I liked the Star Trek movie, it wasn’t intellectually engaging Trek. Star Wars also is about much more than just action. Star Wars has always been about something more than just action. Star Wars engages with important philosophical and mythological themes, such as “man vs. machine” or the difference between good and evil. Say what you will about the prequels, Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side raises some fascinating moral questions.

    I worry that Abrams’ choice means that Disney is taking it safe. I hope to be proven wrong though – perhaps Abrams is a closet student of history and mythology.

  156. Paul Verhoeven? Of “Total Recall” and “Starship Troopers” Infamy? (Yes, it’s capitalized. On purpose.)

    Seriously?

    “Oh God…”, indeed. Pass the brain-bleach, please.

  157. @comment-429559

    That is exactly what I was about to say. I’m so psyched. Cannot wait to see what he cooks up. And in some ways, I’m excited about how secretive he is. Means it will be a surprise!

  158. No. No, no, no. NonononononoNONONONONONO!!! Despite the idiotic masses of Trek fans that claim Abrams revived the franchise I say this: poop to you. Star Trek and (at this point just an assumption) it’s sequel are good Sci-Fi movies, but not good Star Trek movies. They fuck around with too much. Oh hey, let’s completely change the look of the Romulans. Let’s have a supernova threaten an entire galaxy. Let’s have Starfleet building different types of ships BEFORE the changes to the timeline. And now he proposes bringing that same bullshit attitude to Star Wars? Wow. Who was smoking what when they decided to let that happen?

  159. Star Trek and (at this point just an assumption) it’s sequel are good Sci-Fi movies

    I would disagree that Star Trek was even good fiction, much less science fiction. All that Nero had to do to keep his planet alive was send the Vulcan Science Academy a postcard saying “Hey, guys? In about 100 years, you’re going to leave to stop a supernova. Do us all a favor and leave a year earlier, ok?”

    No muss, no fuss, and plenty of time to get into time traveler paradoxes powering an intelligent plot. What do we get instead? A lightning field stolen from Flash Gordon and a bad guy with an Ahab complex playing Elmer Fudd to James Dean’s (excuse me, Chris Pine’s) Buggs Bunny.

    I’ll watch the sequel when it comes out on Netflix, but I’m sure not wasting precious dollars on seeing it at the movies.

  160. No. No, no, no. NonononononoNONONONONONO!!! Despite the idiotic masses of Trek fans that claim Abrams revived the franchise I say this: poop to you.

    Michael W.: Please share with the group why you think Paramount didn’t green light another Trek movie immediately after the heartbreaking work of staggering genius that was Nemesis. I double-dog mega-dare you.

  161. That STAR TREK was a piece of shit in which they destroyed Vulcan. The author, director and anyone associated with it should never be allowed to work again. I pray for mindeipe technology to erase this putris piece ofpig slopfrom my memory!

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