Can J.J. Abrams do for Star Wars what he did for Star Trek? And should he?

I am a big Star Trek and Star Wars Fan - read this opinion article and tell me what you think.

Charlie Jane Anders


It's hard to overstate how boring Star Trek seemed in 2008. A pointless prequel had sucked the life out of it, the movies were crud, and the whole thing become a source of bland jokes on late-night TV. There were comics, games and novels for the die-hard fans, but as far as mainstream culture was concerned, Trek was toast.

J.J. Abrams brought Star Trek back. And now, with Star Wars in a not totally dissimilar situation, he's been brought in to repeat the feat. Can he do it again?

So first of all, yes, the comparison between Star Wars circa 2013 and Star Trek circa 2008 does seem apt. This happens to every popular universe from time to time: malaise sets in, everything feels like a retread, and too many iterations of the same old thing have invoked the Law of Diminishing Returns, which is way more unbreakable than the Prime Directive.

True, Star Wars has the Clone Wars cartoon, which is keeping it exciting for a new generation. And the Expanded Universe has a bigger reach than things like Star Trek's attempts to create an extended continuity. But to most people, Star Wars is still mostly a set of six movies that first captured our collective imagination... and then starved it.

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Replies to This Discussion

I hope so, but Star Trek was never in as bad of shape as Lucas put the Star Wars franchise in. It's a long way to recover, but hey Christopher Nolan brought the Batman franchise back from a painful/nippley death.

I'm hopeful Abrams will do a good job, but waiting till its done to see whats hes come up with. Of course I'll watch it, and probably enjoy it. I fully enjoyed episodes 1-3, even though they were well below the quality of the original trilogy.

Wait and see.

That's true Ruth - we will find out soon.

    I agree-- Seems much from Lucas (lately) started a death knell for the Saga. Though with the Clone wars going into a huge gap of 2-5 years seems that the tides should be turning towards ending the intermediate saga. I think JJ, will soar onto many new heights like he did Star Trek (even though he rewrote the ST franchise a new timeline). Though I wonder which story will be told and how will it be told. Will there be a cloned emperor? Grand Admiral Thrawn? I could go on... but Either way I will be happy for another round inside the Star Wars franchise.  Btw James, nice touch in referencing the comical Batman flick.

Some good question Tony. Yes, JJ Abrams did change the Star Trek timeline.

I think that what he did with the timeline worked. You're never going to please purists. I'd love to see a Clone Wars reboot. Imagine- no Jar-Jar, no annoying little boy Darth Vader. Leaving the Galactic Civil War timeline intact but completely rewriting the Clone Wars would be ok with me.
Imagine no Jar Jar - yay - bye bye Jar Jar. I posted a funny video about that Andrew.

Abrams' reboot of Star Trek was pure space opera.  I seriously suspect that if Roddenberry had seen it, he would have FREAKED.  There were so many screw-ups in his take on the original, so little respect for the characters that I came a hair's breadth from walking out of the theater.

Now ... on the other hand, Star Wars is pretty much space opera by definition.  The question remains, though: does the writer or writing team they bring on board up to the challenge?  Lucas clearly was out of ideas when it came time to do the prequels.  They are, without exception, LAME, unimaginative, with the POOREST dialogue I have ever heard.  That Lucas is out is good.  The question is: will whoever replaces him be any better.

To date, the jury's out.

I'm surprised that you didn't like it but I was never a big original series fan.  Where did he disrespect the characters?

I am an original Trekker, James, subscribed as of 8 September, 1966, episode: "The Man-Trap."  I Grew Up With The Original Series!  Kirk was 34 years old when he took command of the Enterprise and had paid considerable dues in lesser positions before he took command.  Chekov was at least 12 years Kirk's junior and positively soaked behind the ears when he took the navigator's post.  Most of all, Spock Did NOT Make Out With Uhura ... EVER!  Give me time and I could very likely cite multiple other examples.  Abrams' take on Star Trek was a bad joke to anyone who actually had any investment in the characters originally represented by Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Nichols, Koenig, Doohan and Takei, and it was those characters and the painstaking work that Roddenberry put into them which made them memorable and powerful in an age where science-fiction on television was largely characterized by camp (Lost in Space) and very nearly dismissed by most television network executives.

When I say there was no real science-fiction in Abrams' take on Star Trek, it's because there was NONE.  The first season of TOS had more original thoughts, more creativity, and more reality as regards a somewhat uncertain thrust "where no man has gone before" by a nascent United Federation of Planets than J. J. Abrams has the remotest imagination for.  Science-fiction isn't about whiz-bang displays or battles in space.  It is about IDEAS.  That is something Gene Roddenberry knew damned well about, even though he went astray as things progressed ... and it is something Abrams has demonstrated no substantial clue about.

The ONLY thing I like about Abrams' Star Trek (and I mightily doubt it was Abrams' idea) was the line Karl Urban delivered in introducing himself to Kirk - "All she left me was my bones" ... and thus a creative foundation for a very famous nickname ... but that by itself does not excuse the execrable noise which inflicted itself onto movie screens in 2009.  The Original Series is the reason why Abrams had anything to work with in the first place.  From where I sit, Abrams completely disrespected that foundation in favor of glitz, sizzle instead of steak.

Into Darkness may be an improvement, but based on the trailers I've seen, my impression is that we're dealing with more of the same ... and that is why I think Abrams is better suited to Star Wars than Star Trek.

I guess I felt a little different about where he was trying to go with the film.  There was a change in the timeline which excuses any differences in when and where people were at the time.  But more importantly, the whole movie seemed to put forth this idea that there was something special about that particular crew, that one way or another they were fated to end up together.  He especially drew this point out through Kurk who was deprived of a lot of the influences that originally set him on the track to be captain, but ended up in that seat anyway.  But I can't speak as any sort of authority because I'm more of a TNG fan.  I can tell you that Abrams movie inspired me to watch a few OS episodes though.

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