Friday, November 2, 2012

Top 11 Directors who should helm Star Wars Episode VII



With Lucasfilm's recent acquisition by Disney, there has been an all out onslaught of questions from fans all over the internet trying to wrap their heads around this historic merging of the two entertainment titans while also trying to figure out what exactly this means for the future of their beloved Star Wars franchise (among many other properties).

This list is going to focus strictly on only one question among the hundreds being asked at the moment, which is who exactly will direct the next Star Wars film? It's been announced, it's happening but there is one major difference this time around...George Lucas will not be making it. What makes this such a big deal you ask? First of all, put aside the fact that Lucas has had a vice-like grip on the franchise and completely refused to let anyone else near his baby. The problem with only one person directing a series of films is it leaves no room for improvement or at the very least, change. The argument for a singular director for an entire franchise can be made with an example such as Peter Jackson who made all three of the Lord of the Rings films (and soon The Hobbit films), his singular vision made those films a much more cohesive experience as opposed to multiple directors all trying to infuse their individual visions into a single series.

But when you look at long running franchises such as Harry Potter and the James Bond films, it is more than evident that having different directors can be a huge benefit to a series, especially one that has burned its bridges with its most loyal and dedicated fans. The best example of all however are the Star Wars films themselves. Arguably the two best films in the franchise were NOT made by George Lucas ("Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi") and instead of being a one man show they greatly benefited from multiple influences and a strong sense of creative collaboration, a term that has seemed to escape Lucas for the past two decades. Regardless of your feelings on Lucas, it is more than apparent that the franchise needs a kick in the ass and letting a talented filmmaker take the reigns is the best way to do it.

So, looking to the future of the franchise with the official announcement of Episode 7 coming out in 2015 (which means production will start in the next year or two), it is time to start hypothesizing about who will take over the director's chair for one of the most lucrative and inspirational film franchises of all time. This is something fans have been pondering for decades now and since this transfer of ownership has taken place, it has gone from fantasy to reality. The only question remaining is who will get the gig?

Below you will find a list of eleven current filmmakers/directors who would not only breath new life into the franchise for new fans, but also respect the older fans who have supported the franchise over the decades (something that unfortunately wasn't part of Lucas' agenda with the prequels). The possibilities are limitless but this list unfortunately, isn't. Every single one of the directors mentioned below would no doubt make a great Star Wars film, but only one can make Episode 7 and that one person will be given the task of making the first film in the franchise since 1983 that isn't named George Lucas. So without further ado, here are the eleven filmmakers (listed in order of their potential to make the best Star Wars film possible) who have the greatest chance at making Star Wars viable once again and return it to its former glory. It's time to get excited about Star Wars again!

P.S. Keep in mind that the potential is based purely on their skill as a filmmaker, if the script is bad then it is out of their hands for the most part.

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11.


Why him?

Bryan Singer is a director who appreciates special effects as a tool to tell a story. His "X-Men" films, and even the poorly received "Superman Returns", showed off his ability to infuse a great deal of character into these larger than life stories and still give the thrill seekers what they are looking for. One of the many issues with the prequels were that they had poorly written characters with very little depth to them in comparison to the original trilogy's colorful and beloved characters. If there is one thing Singer has proven in his career behind the camera thus far, it is that he knows how to take established characters and give them the attention fans will appreciate. For anyone burned by the lack of love shown to the original trilogy and the legacy of its characters, Bryan Singer is the perfect choice to make sure they are treated with respect while also providing the expected spectacle of a Star Wars film.

LOW MIDICHLORIAN LEVELS

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Public Access (1993)

Number of films directed: 7

Standout films:


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10.


Why him?

Looking at Gore Verbinski's filmography it is clear the man certainly has a motif he likes to stick to. Usually dark with a sly sense of humor, his films have this balance of the macabre and the imaginative that are quite unlike any other filmmaker out there. This style of filmmaking was of course seen mostly in the Pirates trilogy, but even in the horror film "The Ring" or the family film "Mouse Hunt" you get the sense that the man doesn't like to be predictable or fall into a genre's conventions. That unpredictability is an asset that would greatly benefit the Star Wars franchise as would the dark overtones that pervade most of his films. The counter to all of his accolades however are those dreaded Pirates sequels which leads one to believe perhaps he isn't too good with continuing franchises, but even the best directors out there lose touch from time to time. At least he bounced back with and proved his worth with "Rango"...

MODERATE MIDICHLORIAN LEVELS

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Mouse Hunt (1997)

Number of films directed: 8

Standout films:


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9.


Why him?

Danny Boyle is a chameleon in the director's chair. It is near impossible to attach him to one specific genre or label him in any way. He has run the gamut of children's films, science-fiction, horror, drama, comedy and even fantasy. With his experience in all of those different categories there is no question that he has the talent and know-how to make a Star Wars film unlike anything anyone could ever imagine. Seeing what he did with "Sunshine" (one of the most underrated films of the past decade), he appears more than capable of creating a unique science-fiction experience that is both intellectually stimulating and exciting. The only problem with him in charge, and this is an issue with most of his films, is his experimental nature. Often it is a camera style or a form of guerrilla filmmaking, his films usually end up with a limited appeal despite their quality. However, being attached to such a lucrative franchise as this could broaden his appeal and open him up to much grander possibilities while also providing a Star Wars film experience that is both unique and extraordinary.

HIGH MIDICHLORIAN LEVELS

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Shallow Grave (1994)

Number of films directed: 9

Standout films:


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8.


Why him?

Duncan Jones is probably the most unproven director on this list with the fewest features under his belt and the least amount of time behind the camera. It is only due to the sheer brilliance of his only two films that he has made this list at all and beat out other filmmakers that have had a much longer but more spotty career. Both films provide evidence of a filmmaker who knows how to let the special effects support the story being told without ever overwhelming it. With "Moon" he displayed his ability to work within the confines of a micro budget and provide impressive visuals with a lot of restraint. With "Source Code" he showed that a larger budget could not corrupt him by delivering a smart and exciting science-fiction fable that had no equal last year. If you were to gauge an individuals skill by how much they grow from project to project then Duncan Jones will likely surpass everyone on this list within the next decade. Just about the only hitch to having him helm the sequel is his relative inexperience compared to others further down this list. Regardless though, his Star Wars would put the story before all else while still retaining the fantasy aspect fans love and that is something the franchise desperately needs.

THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Moon (2009)

Number of films directed: 2

Standout films:


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7.


Why him?

This one should be a no-brainer for any self appreciating science-fiction fans out there. Not only was Ridley Scott responsible for two completely distinct visions of the future, both bleak as hell. But he also set a standard for both the science-fiction and horror genres that have never been surpassed to this day. Scott has also shown himself to be a rather diverse director with a number of features that span numerous genres but it has been and always shall be his ventures into science-fiction that have set him apart from everyone else. What he could bring to the Star Wars universe is near limitless in terms of scope and artistic beauty, however he does share one quality with Lucas that may make him not such an ideal choice. That is his inability (or unwillingness) to place a solid narrative with intriguing characters before the look of the film. If we are willing to accept a Star Wars film that will look leaps and bounds better than anything we could ever imagine over story and character, then Ridley Scott will provide the most visually stunning Star Wars film you are ever likely to see.

JEDI INITIATE

Feature Film Directorial Debut: The Duelists (1977)

Number of films directed: 20

Standout films:

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6.


Why him?

Despite Alfonson Cuaron landing at the number six spot, he is without a doubt the most intriguing possibility on this list. He made not only one of the best films of the past decade with his dark and haunting film "Children of Men", but he was also responsible for the best film in the Harry Potter franchise, "The Prisoner of Azkaban". Those films provide the blueprint for just how much of a strangely unique fit he is for the Star Wars franchise. His skill behind the camera comes from his ability to use such radical ideas as extremely long single-shot film takes while still retaining the integrity of the story and characters. He may be showy with elaborate camera set ups, but never to the detriment of the film. There really is no downside here, he has the experience with fantasy and effects and has proven he can weave a complex and interesting narrative while still adding his own personal touch to it. A Star Wars film from Alfonso Cuaron would be something no one would soon forget and something very special.

JEDI PADAWAN

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Love in the Time of Hysteria (1991)

Number of films directed: 6

Standout films:


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5.


Why him?

Let's put aside for a second the fact that he made one of the most important film trilogies of all time that was not only better received by fans and critics alike than the Star Wars prequels (which released the same time) but also set a near unattainable standard for all fantasy films that followed. Let's instead look at what Peter Jackson would bring to a Star Wars film that would make it something special. First would be his extreme commitment to the material, although he made alterations to the LotR films from the books and changed or moved things around, he none-the-less remained 100% percent faithful to the spirit of what he was adapting. It's not too much of a stretch to think he would bring that same commitment to the Star Wars brand and give the fans something unique and familiar while also wowing them with amazing sights. That's to say nothing of his prowess as a visual filmmaker to boot. The only problem here would be which visual effects house would get the gig, his pals at WETA digital or ILM? This could also be the most gooey film in the franchise as well considering his background in horror. With his now standard trilogy formula of filming all three films at the same time, perhaps he would do the entire trilogy himself and show George why he beat him over a decade ago. Oh, and don't forget about those extended cuts released on home video bumping its runtime up to over three hours....

JEDI KNIGHT

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Bad Taste (1987)

Number of films directed: 10

Standout films:


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4.


Why him?

David Fincher has to be the strangest addition to this list, but that is what makes him so perfect. Dark, gritty, moody, precision filmmaking is what he is known for, that and a bit of social commentary for good measure. His film catalog doesn't exactly make one immediately think of Star Wars but some fans may remember he is not exactly a stranger to the science-fiction genre. The closest Fincher ever got to making something outside his comfort zone was his very first feature, "Alien 3" which is widely considered the worse film in the series (and a film Fincher has disowned). What that film did show however was that he can make a visually striking science-fiction film experience even when faced with adversity. His only equal in this category, and in this list, when it comes to such a demanding and meticulous force to be reckoned with behind the camera would be Ridley Scott, and look how his science-fiction ventures turned out! David Fincher is a brilliant filmmaker whose attention to detail is near legendary at this point and is one of the few directors whose films feature a large amount of visual effects and digital trickery without ever drawing attention to themselves. Just imagine the David Fincher we have now back in the saddle making a Star Wars film and you will most likely be imagining something quite extraordinary and definitely something tailored to perfection.

JEDI MASTER

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Alien 3 (1992)

Number of films directed: 8

Standout films:


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3.


Why him?

Brad Bird is probably the toughest sell out of everyone on this list, but strangely is also one of the most qualified to make a new Star Wars film. You look at the themes for each of his films about the strong bonds of family and friendship and his dedication to story and it should become clear as day why he is the right man for the job. The Star Wars saga has always been about family, albeit a very dysfunctional family, and that is his strong suit. Combine that with his mastery over visual storytelling from his animation background, his well established relationship with Disney and you have all the ingredients needed to make a successful, entertaining and exciting fresh start to the Star Wars franchise. The only real drawback here is that he has only ever made one live action feature film at this point which may be a little too risky for some when it comes to helming one of the biggest franchises in the world, but when every other film in his filmography has a rottentomatoes rating no lower than 94%, how can anyone doubt his prowess?

MASTER OF THE ORDER

Feature Film Directorial Debut: The Iron Giant (1999)

Number of films directed: 4

Standout films:


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2.


Why him?

Are you kidding? Why wouldn't you want the guy who single handedly brought the Star Trek franchise back from the dead in one of the most amazing franchise reboots ever created? Abrams is the guy who makes the type of film experiences geeks and nerds adore because he is a film geek himself. If there is one person on this list who can be trusted unequivocally to transform the Star Wars franchise back into the sweeping saga we all loved as a child, it is J.J. Abrams. His casting decisions are without equal, he shares a love of film like no other and is just a pretty awesome guy all around. Despite him landing at the number two spot (you will find out why soon enough), he is the one person who NEEDS to make a Star Wars film. This needs to happen, if not now then at some point, perhaps with one of the other sequels. If he can make Star Trek relevant again, he can do the same for Star Wars.

GRAND MASTER

Feature Film Directorial Debut: Mission Impossible 3

Number of films directed: 3

Standout films:


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1.


Why him?

It wasn't even a contest for who would take the number one spot. This list was generated by the potential each filmmaker has at making the best possible Star Wars film and there isn't one person who would disagree that Steven Spielberg is not only the best fit, but is the one person on here that actually deserves to make ANY Star Wars film. It is a crime that this hasn't happened already and even more baffling considering his close friendship with George Lucas of whom he collaborated a total of four times with on the Indiana Jones films. The legendary filmmaker needs no defense as to why he should get the job (just look at those films listed below!). Every sci-fi geek in the world should be clamoring for this to happen, this is quite literally a dream combination. If this seems a little too brief for the number one spot then that is because there really isn't much more to say. A Steven Spielberg directed Star Wars film would have no equal and has the potential to not only be the best film in the franchise but one of the best films ever made.

THE CHOSEN ONE


Feature Film Directorial Debut: Duel (1972)

Number of films directed: 27

Standout films:


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Reactions:

4 comments:

Brian said...

HELL no to Speilberg. He is to close to Lucas. See last Indy movie.
Dont want Abrams because Star Wars has a certain style and lens flare isnt one of them
It looks like Bird may be the guy after all.
http://www.aintitcool.com/node/59411

David Weaver said...

I still have faith in Spielberg, Indy 4 was indeed a catastrophe, but I have always wanted to see what he could do with the Star Wars franchise.

As for Abrams' style, yes he does have his own look to his movies, all of those directors do and it is my opinion it is time to rattle the cage, shake things up and give us a Star Wars film that ISN'T like the other ones. If you have a problem with the lens flares then that's fine, but after seeing his kick ass vision for Star Trek (which was almost like a Star Wars movie all things considered), I can't imagine him turning in anything other than an amazing Star Wars movie.

Brad Bird would be awesome (all of these guys would be) and if that is the way they go then I will have no problem with that. If you couldn't tell, I didn't really trash anyone, just listed a few strengths and maybe a couple of detractors for each. So if ANY of these guys get the job, that is a good thing in my eyes.

Brian said...

Star Wars Episode 7 needs to look like Ep 1-6 not be in a Abrams style. It will be a continuation of the story and his style will make it look off. It worked for Star Trek because it was a reboot of the Star Trek story.

One name I didn't see was Edgar Wright. If not Bird I would want Jackson.

David Weaver said...

Wright would be an interesting choice for sure.

And just fyi, I consider this new trilogy a reboot because that is what it needs. If we get anything even resembling the prequels then i'm out.

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