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Rian Johnson Takes the Helm of ‘Star Wars: Episode 8’

In news that I didn’t expect for quite sometime, it has been pretty much confirmed that Rian Johnson (Looper) is sitting in the director’s chair for ‘Star Wars: Episode 8.’ And he isn’t just directing: he’ll also take a crack at writing ‘Episode 8,’ arguably the more important of the two jobs.

It’s hard to say whether this is good news, as we have basically no idea how Abrams’ ‘Episode 7’ will turn out, so we–and when I say “we” I mean the entire Star Wars fandom–will have to keep our opinions mild. Then again, when does the internet keep anything mild? I’m excited to see an Abrams ‘Star Wars’ movie (I’m a fan of the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ films, lens-flares and all), as I’ve felt honest-to-Yoda joy when watching any film directed by the guy. He’s a fan of shaky-cam, which I don’t think will play a role in these new ‘Star Wars’ films (I still can’t REALLY believe that we can say “new ‘Star Wars’ films” and actually mean it!), but I think he’ll have enough producers/actors/Star-Wars-lovers screaming at him to keep his style under wraps that we should hope to see a film whose techniques imitate those of the original trilogy. This is all to say that I’m looking forward to what he has planned for ‘Episode 7.’

All of which says nothing about Rian Johnson, of course.

‘Looper,’ Johnson’s most recent picture, was a fast-paced, future noir that embraced its time travel premise right from the opening credits and never looked back. And in genre films, you can hardly ask for more than that. Can he pull off a space opera with about 45 “main” characters on the cast, though? That remains to be seen. Johnson, in what amounts to a de facto confirmation of the news, tweeted a perfect clip today from ‘The Right Stuff’:

My sentiments exactly, my friend. My sentiments exactly.

I will never in my life experience the kind of pressure that Abrams and Johnson are responsible for shouldering and I’m glad for that. Still, I will judge them relentlessly if they screw up. And you all will be the first to hear about it! This announcement could mean that J.J. Abrams can’t take the immense, diamond-forging pressure of directing ‘Star Wars’ and is eager to get out. But who’s to say? Really, though, by the laws of physics or something these movies absolutely must be better than ‘Episode I.’ …Right?

Kurt Wooden

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