If there's one aspect of these new Star Wars movies that have hard-core fans most excited, it's the selection of visionary directors Disney's hired to bring these stories to life. After J.J. Abrams gets the ball rolling with Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015, we have Josh Trank (Chronicle, Fantastic Four) and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) tackling solo spin-off movies that may or may not be origin stories following characters like Han Solo, Yoda and/or Boba Fett. Then, circling back to the trilogy of sequels, Rian Johnson (Looper) will helm the follow-up to Abrams' movie, Star Wars: Episode VIII.
Know what that list is missing? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves.
If it isn't already obvious, Disney is paying close attention to those up-and-coming, buzzed-about filmmakers who have distinct visions. They're smart and resourceful, and are really good at delivering the kind of spectacle that never sacrifices story. That's hard to do, especially on a big franchise movie, but Reeves does all of that with this Apes sequel, and more.
With strong themes of family, compassion, home and hope, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the rare summer blockbuster that just makes you feel so much. It's incredibly powerful in the way it weaves in, out and around all of its makeshift families, forcing them to confront hard truths about who they are and what makes them tick.
Honestly, it's a lot like Star Wars. Many of those same themes are all over the original trilogy (heck, the first movie is called A New Hope). Star Wars has always been about family first and foremost, whether the characters are related by blood or by a particular experience that bonds them together.
This is one of the main reasons why Star Wars is universally beloved, because when it comes down to it, the most important people in our lives are our family. Not just the one we're born into, but the family we discover as the years tick on. The wives, husbands, children, friends -- the people we turn to on our darkest days; the ones we look to share our most intimate moments with. When you create a movie about those people--those feelings, those concepts, those memories--it doesn't matter if your main character is an ape that talks or a giant Wookie because underneath it all is the very essence of what makes us who we are.
With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Matt Reeves tells this fantastical story about a postapocalyptic city divided between creatures (both human and ape) who are just trying to survive, not just the outside elements, but also each other. Put aside the unbelievable motion-capture effects work, his friendship with J.J. Abrams, the fact that his first movie was tied to Star Wars and Reeves' haunting shot selection on Apes (there's this moment on top of a tank that features one of the year's best shots) because all of those things easily put him on any list of potential Star Wars directors.
But it's the way he delivers those goods, through your mind and soul instead of one massive action sequence after another, that really make him stand out as a guy who needs to be part of this Star Wars contingent. If Disney wants to evoke those same feelings we had after discovering the original Star Wars trilogy, then it needs a director who knows how to make you feel.
Matt Reeves knows how to make you feel everything. Give him a Star Wars movie already, and let's really get this party started.
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