J.J. Abrams Weighs In On The STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Lightsaber, CGI vs. Practical VFX, and More

From the moment the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted, a majority of the discussion has centered on Kylo Ren's new crossguard lightsaber. You know the one: there have already been fan recreations of it, a demonstration of how it could actually work, and multiple videos making fun of the escalation in the fan community. Now director J.J. Abrams himself is weighing in on the topic.

Collider caught up with Abrams at an awards show last night, and the writer/director spoke about his reaction to seeing the fans react online:

“I will say that what’s been funny is, since the lightsaber’s come out, I cannot tell you how many contradictory emails I have received from people who have both defended it with unbelievably detailed graphics…I’ve gotten things that are nuts, and I’ve gotten people who’ve shown how it’ll kill you and how it doesn’t make any sense.  It’s been the funniest thing to see the arguments that have developed over this thing.”
“It was a number of conversations [that led to the design].  It was a sketch that became a whole thing and, you know, this was not done without a lot of conversation and it’s fun to see people have the conversation that we had, but in reverse.”

Abrams also spoke about the balance between utilizing practical elements and employing CGI effects on the movie:

“I feel like the beauty of this age of filmmaking is that there are more tools at your disposal, but it doesn’t mean that any of these new tools are automatically the right tools. And there are a lot of situations where we went very much old school and in fact used CG more to remove things than to add things.”
“There are obviously an enormous amount of CG effects in the film, and I can’t wait for you to see the combination. But it was very important that we build as many sets as we could and that the film have a tangible, sort of authentic quality that you believed that these things were actually happening in a real space with real sunlight, if it was an exterior scene, or if we could build a big portion of a scene and not have anything be blue screen, do it where we could. It was a very important piece of work.”

No big surprises there. All of that aligns with what he's been saying from the beginning.

One last thing that I thought was worth mentioning. Abrams is executive producing Star Wars VIII and IX, and even though Looper director Rian Johnson has been hired to write and direct at least Episode VIII (and possibly IX as well), Disney/Lucasfilm has yet to officially confirm his hiring with any sort of formal announcement. This is very strange, especially considering Johnson has been openly tweeting about working on the movies ever since word came out that he was attached.

Anyway, Collider asked Abrams about the future movies, and he confirmed what we all knew: Johnson is on board to direct the next installment in the franchise (not counting the spin-offs).

“I wouldn’t say 8 and 9 are my baby, Rian will be working at least on 8, but I’m executive producing those films, yeah.”

So there you have it. Not that there was any doubt before, but it's exceedingly strange that Disney/Lucasfilm would keep quiet about Johnson's involvement in an official capacity when everyone knows the truth. Maybe they're just waiting to figure out whether Johnson will write and direct both VIII and IX so they can make one announcement instead of two? Who knows.

What do you think about Abrams' comments?

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