Why Rian Johnson will bring balance to the force in new 'Star Wars' movies

By Will Ashton,

Through yesterday’s announced hire of filmmaker Rian Johnson to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII, and write the treatment for Episode IX, Kathleen Kennedy has solidified a notion that seemed evident before, but now is particularly guaranteed.

Unlike Marvel Studios, the new running heads over at Lucasfilm are bringing the power of studio films to the filmmakers. Through hiring J.J. Abrams to direct, and later co-write, Star Wars: Episode VII, and grabbing up-and-coming filmmakers like Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Josh Trank (Chronicle, the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot) to make solo spin-off movies, they understand the power of hiring those filmmakers that not only showcased their talent in the past, but have gained and appreciated a strong understanding and love for this property.

Of course, every filmmaker and their brother who has been making films since at least the early ‘00s will say that they were inspired by the original Star Wars trilogy. Quite frankly, at this point, it would be more shocking to hear that a filmmaker was NOT inspired by Lucas’ first series of Star Wars films. But there are only a few that can demonstrate that fine balance between appreciation and talent. So far, Kennedy and her team have proven that they have been grabbing all the right people to be on their team on the field, and, if everything works out, they will likely prove to have demonstrated the balance when these movies hit the big screen in the next couple years.

With this recent hire of Johnson, however, they have found a way to take the next step. While Abrams has demonstrated his severe fandom to Star Wars in the past, and has proven that he can make a greatly paced action film with technical expertise while remembering the characters, of late, it seems that his grasp of story has become somewhat muddled in favor of action set pieces and keeping the movie at a face clip. As much fun as Star Trek Into Darkness was, the movie did have a couple problems when it came to plot holes and questionable character decisions.

Not to say that the same fate is in line with the newest Star Wars movie, but even if the movie becomes just good, or even worse, the choice to bring in Johnson should make everything alright for the series. For Johnson, through movies like Looper, The Brothers Bloom and Brick, has proven that he can bring that tight balance between character, story line and genre. In fact, this attention to character in connection to action set pieces in Looper was one of that movie’s strongest characteristics.

But, more than that, the decision to hire him to write AND direct the movie is quite commendable. It is one thing to grab this promising up-and-comer as a director for hire on the big tent-pole movie, but knowing that his talent comes both from his writing and directing, and using both, is perhaps what is most exciting about this news. For, even if the plot becomes derailed in the new movie, he can save the story, and make sure that the transition between character and action is continued in the new movies.

Of course, this is all very, very early in the development process, and it is always possible that everything may go south once the movie hits production. After all, things were looking great for Marvel and Edgar Wright on Ant-Man for years, and then look how that turned out. Ultimately, though, if this is the direction that they are going to be taking their movies in for the next couple years, then everything should be alright. Until, of course, it’s not.

Now, does this mean that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to be in a Star Wars movie?

Image courtesy of Walter McBride/INFphoto.com

 
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