Every joke and snide comment that can be made about remakes and relaunches has already been said. By now, it should be clear to even the most jaded film goer that remakes and relaunches aren’t going to disappear. So perhaps it’s time to start looking at the trend in a way that accentuates the possibilities of a fresh start, instead of bemoaning the apparent lack of creativity.
Star Wars is a likely candidate for remaking, if not necessarily inevitable. Unlike Bond or Star Trek, Wars still remains the property of George Lucas. That means that as long as his heart is pumping, Lucas is the only man capable of making the decision to start over again. But if there’s one thing Lucas has proved he loves, it’s his collection of authentic movie props from classic sci-fi films. And if there are two things Lucas has proved he loves, the second has to be the money it takes to amass such a collection.
So who should helm the (nearly) inevitable remake/relaunch of Star Wars? Here are five directors that have proven themselves worthy of consideration, along with the title of the movie that gives them their best claim.
5. M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable)
No doubt about it, Shyamalan is an off-the-wall choice. His output of movies runs the gamut from the sublimely-crafter The Sixth Sense to the putrid The Happening. We won’t know how Shyamalan handles action-packed fantasy adventures until after his The Last Airbender finally hits theaters. But one thing we do know is that Shyamalan has a knack for finding the unexpected. For all intents and purposes, Shyamalan’s Unbreakable is a superhero tale — but the brooding, slow-paced flick certainly doesn’t feel like any superhero movie in cinema history.
Shyamalan can be expected to bring a new twist to the series — not necessarily a plot twist (although he’s well-known for those), but maybe a twist to his approach to the story. A new viewpoint, a new concept, but definitely something new from a director who can’t stand the idea of looking at the world the same way other people see it.
4. Sam Raimi (Spider-Man)
Prior to taking on the superhero world, Raimi was best known for his outrageous horror work (often tinged with comedy) such as the Evil Dead trilogy. But it’s his dream project — the Spider-Man movies — that gives this director an inside track to the short list for Star Wars relaunchers.
Raimi’s portrayal of Peter Parker captures (for the first two movies of the series, at least) the balance between the born loser and the man of immense power. Sam Raimi’s Star Wars would present us with the story of a know-nothing, backwater kid from a desert planet who suddenly has to cope with being the last survivor of an order dedicated to maintaining the balance of the universe. And we would probably get a lot of laughs along the way. Not to mention the prospect of Bruce Campbell as Han Solo.
3. Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
Cuarón’s The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the more controversial installments of the Harry Potter series. Fans of the books disliked Cuarón’s willful departure from details as simple as allowing the kids to wear something other than their school uniforms, and fans of the films disliked the dark and chilly look of the movie when compared to the brighter glow of the first installments.
What was missed in the shuffle was the fact that Cuarón accurately mirrored the shift in tone of the Harry Potter books. The Prisoner of Azkaban was a darker and colder film because it was also a darker and colder book. Cuarón’s decision to change details, as well, was not simply out of disrespect for the source material, but an attempt by the director to correct what he saw as a distraction from the characters and the story.
What was also missed was the fact that Cuarón managed to take a whimsical series about a boy wizard and his friends in the direction that it needed to go, and kept the fun while discarding the cutesy in the process. In many ways, Cuarón is still an unknown element. That makes him unpredictable. But one prediction that can be made is that Cuarón would most likely never make a mistake along the lines of Jar Jar Binks.
2. Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride)
Rob Reiner? The same Rob Reiner who played Meathead in “All in the Family?” This is Spinal Tap? When Harry Met Sally? That Rob Reiner?
The answer is: Yes. That Rob Reiner. Because children of the 80’s can remember a little movie called The Princess Bride. With a screenplay by the brilliant William Goldman, Rob Reiner proved that he could mix broad comedy with keen wit and blend romance with swashbuckling adventure on a grand scale, all while creating one of the most quotable movies of all time (second only, perhaps, to Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail).
For evidence that Rob Reiner should fill George Lucas’ loafers, look no further than Westley and Inigo’s duel atop the Cliffs of Insanity. In one scene, the film advances plot, develops character, and dazzles with some of the purest swashbuckling swordplay the silver screen has ever seen, all while keeping up a riotously funny stream of patter. Give him a screenwriter of even half the caliber of William Goldman, and a Reiner-helmed Star Wars would be a hell of a lot of fun.
1. Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings)
Like Raimi, Jackson also cut his teeth doing low-budget shock and horror flicks. But Jackson’s magnum opus, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, proves that he has the chops to revive Star Wars in a big way.
Jackson has a talent for making a little bit of money in the budget look like a lot of money on the screen — something that the very first installment of Star Wars did well — and his sprawling epic films prove that he has a sense of grandeur that a galaxy-spanning science fiction opera demands. On occasion, Jackson can get a little too precious (witness his equally stunning flop, King Kong), but when the man is on, he’s on. With a decent budget, Jackson would provide a Star Wars remake or relaunch that would be just as memorable as the original.
Honorable Mention: Joss Whedon(Serenity)
Joss Whedon is the mad genius of genre television and film as it exists today. He’s notorious for crafting brilliant work that builds devoted followings while being unable to stir up enough business to keep things running. Blame it on the networks, blame it on the audience, or blame it on whoever you choose, the fact of the matter is that it happens.
What a lot of people miss about Star Wars is the fact that it blends so many genres together. It’s got elements of Kurosawa that film students like to pick over, but it also blends the over-the-top sci-fi adventure of Flash Gordon with the gutsiness of classic John Wayne westerns.
Serenity, on the other hand, combines the fun of Star Trek with the guts and grit of a classic spaghetti western. He understands strong characters, intricate plots, epic stories, and mixes it all with a little bit of genre-busting here and there. The only reason he’s not officially on the list? Because he doesn’t need Star Wars to mix western and sci-fi adventure — he’s already gone and done it on his own.