It’s got to be an odd position as the director of the second new Star Wars film, waiting in the wings to really get into the nitty-gritty of the new trilogy. Speaking with the Girls in Hoodies podcast recently, Rian Johnson said that visiting the set of Episode VII is both helpful and not, since he feels a bit out of place not actually working on the film. But as for looking ahead to his own stint in the director’s chair, he says, “I don’t have the terror I expected I would, at least not yet. I’m sure I will at some point.”
Johnson explains that the prequels were actually good for something:
…Coming at the time it does where, like if there’d been no Star Wars movies since Return of the Jedi, there’d be a lot more pressure. But the fact we’ve had the prequels, we’ve had the TV shows, we’ve had Angry Birds Star Wars—I play it all the time!
To be fair, Angry Birds’ gameplay is off the chain. If producers are looking to throw some Easter eggs into the new films, they should take a page from that game.
But Johnson makes a fair point: The bar is set much lower than it would have been had there not been the first attempted Star Wars resurgence in the early ’00s. But that doesn’t mean Johnson and co. can get complacent! We do expect the films to be at least as good as Clone Wars.
The first step towards higher quality seems to be returning to the kinds of special effects from the original trilogy that actually felt, you know, special. Johnson can talk all grumpy old man as long as he wants, if it gets us creatures and sets that the actors can actually engage with:
They’re doing so much practical building for this one, it’s awesome. They’re doing it all right. …I think people are coming back around [to practical effects]; it seems like there’s a gravity pulling us back towards it. …I think more and more people are hitting a critical mass as far as the CG-driven action scene, lending itself towards a very specific type of action film, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick, and I probably sound like a grumpy old man talking about it. I do wonder, kids are growing up watching those and that’s the thing they love now. So, I don’t know if it’s a generational thing.
Nah. We have faith that the kiddos will be as entranced by the “retro” effects as we were when they were still new to us.