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One of the sharpest criticisms levied against George Lucas' Star Wars prequels was focused on the writer/director's abandonment of practical effects and puppetry in favor of CGI - which was quite a good deal less advanced than it is today. Fortunately, that's not the direction that the new trilogy of films will be looking in. Both director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy have previously talked about their desire to make Star Wars: Episode VII feel real and feature more non-digital wizardry, and now Star Wars: Episodes VIII and IX director Rian Johnson is joining the chorus with a shared sentiment about the direction of the franchise.
Johnson was recently a guest on the Girls in Hoodies podcast, and while he really couldn't go into any detail about what's in store for Star Wars: Episodes VII and IX, he did laud all of the non-computer generated effects work that is currently going into the making of the next chapter of the sci-fi saga. Describing the work being done by Abrams and his crew as being "awesome," the filmmaker talked about how there is now actually a certain quality to practical effects work that really has a special draw for audiences, especially because of how many CGI-driven blockbusters are out in theaters nowadays. Said Johnson,
"I think people are coming back around to [practical effects]. It feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back toward it. I think that more and more people are hitting kind of a critical mass in terms of the CG-driven action scene lending itself to a very specific type of action scene, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick."
This is particularly true for older members of the audience who can look at practical effects and conjure memories of the movies that they grew up with - but this fact isn't lost on Rian Johnson either. Thinking about the material kids are growing up on today, the director admitted that aspect of filmmaking may end up just being a "generational thing." But what better place than Star Wars for the two worlds to collide? Even with a good amount of emphasis put on practical effects, the new trilogy is guaranteed to also feature a good amount of CGI, and there's nothing wrong with that - provided that the artists are given enough time to do their best work.
J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII is still in production and likely will be for at least a few more weeks, the film still aiming for its announced December 18, 2015 release date. Rian Johnson, meanwhile is already working on the script for Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will be out some time in 2017.