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J.J. Abrams a fine choice to direct new ‘Star Wars’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at 11:32 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, at 6:26 a.m.

U pdate on “Star Wars” — When the official word came out recently that J.J. Abrams (“Super 8,” “Star Trek”) would direct the next “Star Wars” film, you could hear a veritable sigh of relief from fanboys across the globe.

Sure, there were some grumblings from some who wanted Steven Spielberg or Brad Bird to direct, but the general consensus on Abrams seemed positive. Even George Lucas, the creator of the “Star Wars” universe, approves.

“I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller," Lucas said in a statement released by Walt Disney Studios. “He’s an ideal choice to direct the new ‘Star Wars’ film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”

I personally think Abrams is a fine choice, especially because he readily admits that he is indeed a “Star Wars” junkie. You could absolutely feel his love for sci-fi films in “Super 8,” a sort of homage to the movies he grew up with.

Of course, the storyline for the new “Star Wars” is being kept tighter than Princess Leia’s hair bun, although we do know that Oscar winner Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”) is writing the screenplay.

The film was originally slated for release in 2015 — a mere two years away. But — for the first time since it was announced that there would be a new trilogy — we’re hearing that “Episode VII” may not be ready by then.

Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy told the Hollywood Reporter last week that “our goal is to move as quickly as we can, and we’ll see what happens. The timetable we care about is getting the story.”

While everyone is anxious to see the next “Star Wars” installment, the commitment to good storytelling is reassuring. Many were skeptical that the new films would concentrate too much on special effects and not enough on plot (as the so-so prequels did).

Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger said Tuesday that screenwriters Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are working on stand-alone “Star Wars” movies that aren’t part of the new trilogy.

“There has been speculation about some stand-alone films that have been in development, and I can confirm to you today that in fact we are working on a few stand-alone films,” Iger told CNBC.

Iger said the movies would be based on “great ‘Star Wars’ characters that are not part of the overall saga.” The films would be released during the six-year period of the new trilogy.

But — contradictory rumors surfaced this week via the Ain’t It Cool News gossip blog (www.aintitcool.com).

Movie geek and industry pest Harry Knowles says he knows who the first spin-off film will be about.

Knowles says his “insider sources” say it will be — wait for it — Yoda! Any other specifics are unknown.

Yoda’s backstory would certainly be vast — he’s like a billion years old. There would be lots of ground to cover.

Obviously none of this has been confirmed, though Knowles says his sources are solid.

Interesting news, this is.

Valentine event — Tallgrass Film Association and the Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, are teaming up for a special — and refreshingly unromantic — event on Valentine’s Day.

A special screening of “Reservoir Dogs” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday featuring a Tallgrass cask ale and cheese pairing.

The groundbreaking 1992 hyper-violent film was the debut of Quentin Tarantino and spawned countless parodies and knock-offs.

The story follows a gang of criminals after a jewelry heist gone wrong. Their true identities kept secret, save for names such as Mr. Pink, the surviving members start to suspect that one of them is a police informant. Starring are Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Steve Buscemi.

Tickets are $25.64 (includes tax, not tip) and admission includes the beer-and-cheese plate, a souvenir pint glass and the film. There also will be food and alcohol specials for additional purchase.

Tickets are available online (with no surcharge) at www.tallgrassfilmfest.com. Advanced purchase is recommended as seating is limited.

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Rod Pocowatchit at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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