Monday, January 14, 2013

Disney hires Zack Snyder to helm a stand-alone Star Wars film. Three (3) reasons why it's great news.

Update: Hollywood Reporter just debunked the story.  Apparently you can't trust a blog post from the frigging New York Magazine!  And *this* is why I don't generally comment on breaking news!!!  Anyway, all the opinions below still stand.

Well, we now have a big clue as to what Disney has in store for the Star Wars universe and it's the best news I could have hoped for in this capacity.  Vulture is reporting that Zack Snyder has been hired by Disney to make a film that exists in the Star Wars universe aside from the promised "Episode VII" and the related ongoing 'episodes'.  It will apparently be a loose remake of The Seven Samurai which of course makes all-too much sense if you've ever seen The Hidden Fortress.  The secret hope that I had when Disney acquired Star Wars is that we'd see a whole host of interesting filmmakers try their hands in the Star Wars galaxy.  And this announcement seems to indicate that this is indeed the plan, with side-films in the Star Wars mythology helmed by the likes of well, Zack Snyder.  We now have the hope of any number of dynamic filmmakers trying their hand, be it obvious contenders like Joss Whedon or Brad Bird, or the old-guards of the film school generation like Spielberg, Scorsese, DePalma, or Coppola, or somewhat off-the-grid choices like M. Night Shyamalan, Tim Burton, or Kathryn Bigelow.  Depending on how often Disney is pumping these out and/or how reasonably budgeted the off-shoot films are going to be, we may end up seeing a Terrence Malick Star Wars movie after all!  

Second of all, I'm not going to defend Sucker Punch for the 1 millionth-time, but even those who didn't like the film know full well that Zack Snyder is a master visual stylist, crafting genuinely eye-popping action scenes and generally knowing how to cut them for maximum clarity.  He is a far better and more visually imaginative filmmaker than many of his peers.  While I can and will defend the likes of Brett Ratner (superb casting instincts), McG (a keen eye and a willingness for long takes), and/or Michael Bay (when Michael Bay gets out of his own way, he's among the best action directors around), Snyder combines all of those things along with a willingness to tell interesting stories.  Legend of the Guardians took a cartoon about owls and turned it into a somber mediation on how we idealize warfare and lionize the soldier.  Sucker Punch was an angry critique of the pervasiveness sexism of pop culture, specifically geek culture.  Snyder is the real deal and I'm thrilled to see that he'll get another chance at critical reevaluation.

Speaking of which, Man of Steel is coming out six months from today.  There were rumors after Sucker Punch bombed that Warner Bros. wanted him off Man of Steel but that Chris Nolan fought to keep him around.  The fact that Disney wants Snyder to helm the first 'off-the-beaten path' Star Wars film can only mean one thing: Disney executives (along with Warner executives) have seen enough of Man of Steel that they feel they can trust him with their new crown jewel.  In short, this probably means that Man of Steel is every bit as good as the last trailer promised.  So it's a good news day for genre fans.  Star Wars is going in a completely expanded and promising direction.  Disney got the right director to start things off.  And Man of Steel apparently rocks.  Okay, your turn, folks.  Any thoughts on today's surprising news?  Which filmmakers would you like to see take a crack at a Star Wars film (Malick!  Herzog!  Sophia Coppola!)?  Sound off below.

Scott Mendelson

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