Gareth Edwards is a name not too many knew prior to the recently rebooted Godzilla film. If you were still in the dark about this young independent director, chances are you heard the news about the first Star Wars spin-off film. On May 22, it was announced he would be directing that first spin-off using a screenplay written by Gary Whitta who has previous ties to projects such as the Book of Eli and the Walking Dead video game.
With a majority of news focusing on the JJ Abrams directed film, it was only a matter of time before information about the first spin-off emerged. With the scheduled Disney plan being a spin-off released between each episodic story, it makes sense the first film outside of the sequel trilogy would be hitting theaters some time in 2016. In much the same fashion the first news morsels of Episode VII hit, it’s fitting the bits about this film focus on the director and writer as well.
That leaves audiences with one big question: Who is Gareth Edwards? Besides the success he’s recently had with Godzilla, he’s a relative unknown to many major film-going audiences. While some might shutter at the lack of depth with his filming credentials, most should take comfort in it. He’s a bright young talent who’s already proven he has the creative chops to pull off a major motion picture.
These are 10 reasons fans need to be excited about Gareth Edwards
10. Young Director
While JJ Abrams is a more seasoned director, it makes a lot more sense giving him control of the sequel trilogy. He’s been in the business his whole life and knows how to handle a large scale, epic franchise. Although that alone should not be a qualifier for other directors moving forward with the Star Wars franchise, it’s the smart money for Disney using someone like Abrams right out of the gate.
Disney can break the mold though with the spin-off films. If audiences look at at these films as one-shot stories focusing on already established characters from the Star Wars Universe, Disney might be willing to take a few risks with who they choose to put behind the camera. Take a look at some of the Marvel films for example; they’re using big name director Joss Whedon with the Avengers but have taken their fair share of chances with Shane Black and Alan Taylor. Both were men with little experience directing mega budget films that had immense success.
With Gareth Edwards being named the first director to do a Star Wars spin-off, the stakes are undoubtedly high. Disney has to be commended for taking a shot and putting their faith in someone that is in the business because of the Star Wars franchise. Fans need to be excited about Edwards directing because of his passion for Star Wars. It has to be an amazing feeling for someone like him, a Star Wars fanboy at heart, getting an opportunity to put his own story and vision into pictures.
9. Independent Background
If there’s any lack of faith with the casting of Gareth Edwards as the director of the Star Wars spin-off, have no fear, as he’s taking a path not all that unfamiliar from someone else within the franchise. Although Edwards doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with major motion features, he does have experience in the independent circuit. His most famous independent film is Monsters (2010); a film he crafted, story boarded and directed while using low budget commercial special effects to complete a number of shots.
Much the same way the original Star Wars had low exposure actors, Monsters was very similar with the main cast of Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able having limited credentials of their own. Monsters isn’t up to the caliber of a major Hollywood motion picture, mostly due to its limited budget, but it does showcase the talents of a young director with a passion for the industry and a unique eye for the art of cinema.
Much like George Lucas had American Graffiti prior to Star Wars, Edwards has Monsters. Edwards has received more positive acclaim than Lucas did prior to his mainstream launch with the success of Star Wars. He’s proven he has raw talent and the ability to take it to the next level with the success of Godzilla. His independent background will help him tremendously in keeping the story much more grounded and character focused the same way the original Star Wars did.
Even with a limited catalog to tout his work, Edwards has already been fortunate with great success. Besides the success of his early independent work and his explosive summer action film Godzilla, he’s accomplished a lot for a man still in his 30s. Edwards has already been a part of major nominations and awards such as the Primetime Emmy’s, BAFTA and many others. His biggest win though is most likely the award for Best Director at the British Independent Film Awards in 2010.
It’s difficult to measure young talent based on their independent run but even though Edwards has proven to do well, he has made the jump to mainstream films better than most. The best way to measure his success with Godzilla was his enduring responsibility to stay true to the original monster. When it was announced in January 2011 that Edwards was on board to do the new Godzilla film, he made it a point to stay true to the original origins of the monster – a big risk considering the appeal of monster movies and destruction in 21st century cinema.
With Star Wars fans clamoring for a film more in line with the original, Edwards taking over the director’s chair should come as a massive relief. Although Godzilla did suffer a bit with some production delays and issues, it was out of a respect for the original movies and getting the tone corrected – all steps he demanded should be made to get the film right. Whether he’ll be able to take the same kind of stance with Disney is yet to be seen.
7. Inspired By Star Wars
Take a look at a number of interviews with some of the most famous directors in the industry – Jon Favreau, Marc Webb, James Cameron, Joe Johnston. These are just a few of Hollywood’s hottest directors in the game today and all of them are on the record stating Star Wars played a massive role influencing them. Gareth Edwards is no different. He’s maintained George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Quinton Tarantino are some of his most influential filmmakers.
It’s refreshing to have someone else, along with JJ Abrams, taking over the reigns of something they grew up idolizing. Think of the millions of people that love something and have claimed it’s shaped them into the person they are today. They’re then given the opportunity to add to it and shape it more into their own image. That’s an opportunity and dream of a lifetime most people will never have the chance to do.
Edwards has also asserted one of the things he loved most about Spielberg’s Jaws was that the monster isn’t seen until much later in the movie – a theme he carried over into Godzilla. Having a man now in control of a franchise he once idolized as a child is amazing news, as he will easily transition original themes and styles into his own Star Wars film. The franchise is in good hands with someone that grew up worshiping the characters he now has an opportunity to transform. If his’ spin-off film does well, Disney will see it as a valuable lesson to use other directors moving forward.
6. George Lucas Similarities
When taking a look at Gareth Edwards, the comparison has to be made: He’s on a path very similar to a young George Lucas back in the 1970s. Although Lucas has a slight edge over Edwards in the age department, they both reached the zenith of success in their 30s. Lucas has claimed to imitate and pay homage to his own brand of inspirational film icons much the same way Edwards does. Both men also had their own independent films, American Graffiti for Lucas and Monsters for Edwards, before making the leap to Hollywood feature films.
Their paths aren’t unique only to them, as Hollywood is full of other young talented directors who have similar stories but the comparison is obviously valid with these two and the world they occupy. From the film delays they both encountered with their first mainstream pictures to the love of special effects that defines both men, there’s so much that could be said about the comparison between the two
At this point it’s easy to map out the entire career of George Lucas and compare it to what Edwards has done with his small sample. Whether the two stay on a similar course or split off will obviously be something determined through the course of time. As a labeled film consultant for the Star Wars franchise, it will be interesting to see if Edwards contacts Lucas to ask him about the Star Wars Universe and any opinions or thoughts he might have. Besides, when your path has already been so similar to a film maker you hold in high esteem, why not use him for some creative input?
5. Monster Movie Origins
Is it possible fans see their first Star Wars monster movie? Revenge of the Sarlacc? Return of the Dianoga? There’s at least a little bit of questioning to the tonal direction Edwards’ Star Wars picture will take. He’s most notably known for his monster themed films, taking much of his inspiration from the early classics. It’s highly unlikely we see a film centered on the Sarlacc, it’d be fun, but where he takes his spin-off is something fans will speculate about until it’s announced whom the film will focus on.
If fans remove the literal sense of the word “monster”, big and scary creatures, from Edwards’ film history, it’s possible he could focus on a different kind interpretation in the form of a Star Wars villain. Edwards would appear to be the perfect choice in doing a Boba Fett film just by looking at his interpretation of Godzilla – a monster that represents balance in nature rather than a beast set on destruction.
Any fan familiar with Telltale Games and their Walking Dead video game are no stranger to difficult moral decisions that have to be made throughout the narrative. With writer Gary Whitta on board with a screenplay for the film, it could be assumed some ethical decisions could come into play in a Boba Fett story. We’d see another monster that represents balance and an obligation to getting the job done who’s neither a villain nor a hero. Who would have thought there could be a moral debate involving both Boba Fett and Godzilla?
4. Passion For Storytelling
One of the major things that disappeared from the Star Wars saga when the prequels came around was the passion for telling a simple story. Gone were the days of characters fans could relate to, as they were replaced with actors forced to imagine their surroundings and environments even though they hadn’t been created. As time passes, the prequels hold a different place in the Star Wars chronicle. They will be remembered as films that contributed to the bigger picture of the universe but were set apart by two very different foundations.
What made Godzilla such a success for Edwards, yet hindered many fans unfamiliar with the story, was his patient dedication to the original films and the story they told. Rather than painting a picture of Godzilla vs. humankind and massive amounts of pointless destruction, fans were treated to a deeper story aligned more with humankind vs. nature. This is very much parallel with the original Godzilla movies rather than what fans saw back in the 1990s from Roland Emmerich.
As a director brought up on the fruit of Star Wars, there’s no doubt Edwards will maintain the same kind of faithfulness he did with Godzilla. Depending on which side of the line you fell with Godzilla, it’s a bonus for Star Wars fans that Edwards got a big budget film under his belt before embarking to a galaxy far, far away as he can use the experience to only better his craft.
3. Small And Large Scale Story Telling
Many feel where Star Wars lost its way was when the scale got too large. There’s no denying the goose bumps millions felt when they witnessed the gladiator arena in Attack of the Clones or the numerous battles that sprung up all over Revenge of the Sith. The original trilogy had its fair share of epic battles as well but each individual film told a more emotional and personal story. Think about Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi – Each film only takes the viewer to three planets where Revenge of the Sith takes you on a galactic tour by films end.
Make no mistake; the new films will be epic in proportion. The new trilogy will focus more on a character centric story while making our eyes pop with all kinds of special effects and battles putting the other films before it to shame. What’s exciting about the spin-off films is their potential for a smaller scale. These films will still be massive budgetary undertakings but shouldn’t take the viewer all over the galaxy, as there just won’t be the time in a 2-hour span.
Edwards is an excellent choice for these very reasons. Not only does he have the abilities to produce on a smaller scale and budget, he also has the chops to bring the boom stick where it will be most needed. If he’s been given the nod to do a Boba Fett spin-off, it will be both brutal and personal all at the same time. It was rumored Disney was having difficulties in getting a Boba Fett spin-off right because of his dark qualities. In only makes sense to bring on the guy who just portrayed Godzilla in a similar fashion and hit a home run while doing it.
2. Militaristic Style
Anyone who grew up a Star Wars fan loved the Galactic Empire. Whether you hummed the theme, played the video games, read the Republic Commando novels or immersed yourself in comic books, the Empire is a military machine everyone wants to see more of on screen. Fans of the Expanded Universe got a major nod with the introduction of Darth Vader’s 501st legion in Revenge of the Sith. Seeing something that expanded on the military might of the Empire even further would be jaw dropping.
Godzilla is full of action scenes featuring all branches of the military. It was hard to watch Godzilla, knowing this director was taking over a Star Wars film, and not imagine what he could do with the Empire or a group of bounty hunters. Think about the possibilities of an ensemble group of Imperial Clone Troopers, the guys that can still shoot and hit their mark, teamed up with an unaltered genetic clone of themselves, Boba Fett, and the carnage they could carve out across the galaxy. Hell, introduce a monster theme and Gareth Edwards is right at home.
No one knows at this point what kind of film Edwards is linked up to. It could be the rumored Boba Fett spin-off or it could be something else entirely different such as Han Solo, Yoda, or a completely different character. Regardless of what fans get, you almost have to assume the Galactic Empire will be a factor in the story.
1. Handling A Classic Franchise
It can’t be reiterated enough that the Star Wars franchise is in good hands with a creative talent like Gareth Edwards. He’s paid his dues and done amazing things with little resources in his independent days, brought a legend back to life 50-years after its creation and now has the ability to put his name in the stars. Not since the days of the original Star Wars has an opportunity like this been available to a young director in this galaxy.
The parallels have to be made between Godzilla and what Edwards will do with Star Wars. He was insistent the story stay true to its original roots – Lets hope he’s able to hold onto that same passion while working on pre-production for the Star Wars spin-off. Disney is known to have its battles with creative talent, both directors and actors alike. Look at the recent news with Edgar Wright. It’d be a travesty to see something similar happen to Edwards because the studio and the director don’t see eye to eye.
Godzilla was a major success, something Disney most likely took into consideration when choosing their man to take the lead director gig. Warner Bros. Pictures has already announced they plan to move forward with a Godzilla sequel and it’s believed Edwards is attached to that project as well. The reason for that success is because a studio took a chance on a relatively unknown guy with a big imagination who got to play in a sandbox he loved. Disney is making the same choice – and it’s the right choice. Only this box has a lot more sand in it.
What do you think: Will Gareth Edwards hit it out of the park like he did with Godzilla? Let us know your thoughts!
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