By Drew Taylor | The Playlist January 25, 2013 at 10:57AM
Again. It's getting on eight years since John Williams, the composer of all six "Star Wars" movies to date, wrote a score for anyone but Steven Spielberg (2005's "Memoirs Of A Geisha"). Williams will be close to 85 years old when this new film is being finalized and there's a high probability he'll actually be really-for-real retired by that point. But it's possible that Abrams may not even go back to that well at all. Michael Giacchino, Abrams' longtime composer, will certainly do a bang-up job if he's called for the gig. The musical groundwork has already be laid, as the films will undoubtedly utilize the famous themes that are hummed the world over. What Giacchino will do is fill in the gaps, creating music that harkens back to the beloved original score while striking new, thematically appropriate ground. For Abrams' "Super 8," Giacchino created a dew-dipped score that lovingly recalled Williams' most adored work, and Giacchino already has a longstanding history with Disney having worked extensively with Pixar and scored a number of the parent company's films, like last year's decidedly "Star Wars"-y "John Carter." He's already the "Star Wars" musical heir apparent anyway; last year he created new music based on Williams' original compositions for the recently revised Star Tours attraction at Disneyland in California and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.
One of the things that was sorely missing from the new films was a character that exemplified the devil-may-care spirit embodied by lovable rascal Han Solo (Harrison Ford, who starred in one of Abrams' first-produced screenplays, "Regarding Henry") in the original trilogy. While it's unknown whether or not Solo (or, by extension, Ford) will be returning to the franchise, since Michael Arndt's script remains a mystery box few have opened, it was pretty clear to anyone who isn't George Lucas that this was a huge issue with the prequels, and something that Abrams will be quick to address. This is the kind of character, after all, that Abrams is obviously fascinated by, the most notable example being the conman Sawyer (Josh Holloway) in "Lost." That said, rumors have suggested that Arndt's script has a female lead (Matthew Vaughn was said to be pitching the idea of Chloe Moretz when he was in the running), and thanks to his TV stable of "Felicity," "Alias," "Fringe" and "Lost," among others, Abrams has form in that regard. Some kind of combination of the two seems likely, but don't expect a bland Luke Skywalker type to be the main character.
Monsters are a hallmark of Abrams' oeuvre – everything from the Abrams-conceived "Cloverfield" to "Star Trek" to "Super 8" to "Lost" have had some manner of thing that goes bump in the night. "Star Wars," obviously, will be no different. We are positively giddy at the idea of Abrams populating a Mos Eisley Cantina-type bar with his decidedly whacked-out take on intergalactic creatures. We would be very surprised if his go-to creature designer Neville Page wasn't one of the first people Abrams called after he got the job. As the prequels wore on, their aliens, robots and creatures became blander and more anonymous, failing to stand out from their equally phony backgrounds. If there's one person to make the "Star Wars" monster mash really shimmy, it's Abrams, who will insist on imaginative design work and an emphasis on practical, on-set critters, though we hope that he stays mostly away from the "Cloverfield"/"Super 8" template for the beasties.
Thoughts? What do you think Abrams can bring to the table that will help redefine "Star Wars"? Will he play safely within the parameters of the franchise or will he making some bold changes? Just how much creative leeway will he get and will Lucas really and truly keep his nose out of it? Lots of questions, but we'll find out in about two years. "Star Wars: Episode VII" is scheduled to hit theaters in 2015.